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Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries; Annual Specifications

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National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.


Final rule.


NMFS issues this final rule to implement the annual harvest guideline (HG) for Pacific mackerel in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Pacific coast for the fishing season of July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010. This HG has been determined according to the regulations implementing the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and establishes allowable harvest levels for Pacific mackerel off the Pacific coast. The total HG for the 2009-2010 fishing year is 10,000 metric tons (mt) and is divided into a directed fishery HG of 8,000 mt and an incidental fishery of 2,000 mt.


Effective February 8, 2010 through June 30, 2010.


Copies of the report Pacific Mackerel (Scomber japonicus) Stock Assessment for U.S. Management in the 2009-2010 Fishing Year may be obtained from the Southwest Regional Office by contacting Rodney R. McInnis, Regional Administrator, Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4213.

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Joshua Lindsay, Southwest Region, NMFS, (562) 980-4034.

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The CPS FMP, which is implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 660, subpart I, divides management unit species into two categories: actively managed and Start Printed Page 933monitored. The HGs for actively managed species (Pacific sardine and Pacific mackerel) are based on formulas applied to current biomass estimates.

During public meetings each year, the biomass for each actively managed species within the CPS FMP is presented to the Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Pacific Council) Coastal Pelagic Species Management Team (Team), the Council's Coastal Pelagic Species Advisory Subpanel (Subpanel) and the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). At that time, the biomass, maximum HG and the status of the fisheries are reviewed and discussed. This information is then presented to the Council along with annual HG recommendations and comments from the Team and Subpanel. Following review by the Council and after hearing public comments, the Council makes its HG recommendation to NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The annual HG is published in the Federal Register as close as practicable to the start of the fishing season.

For the 2009-2010 Pacific mackerel management season a full assessment for Pacific mackerel was conducted and then reviewed by a Stock Assessment Review (STAR) Panel in May 2009. This most recent full assessment for Pacific mackerel estimates the current biomass to be 282,049 mt. Applying this biomass estimate to the harvest control rule (established in the CPS FMP) a maximum HG of 55,408 mt is produced.

At the June 2009 Pacific Council Meeting, the Council reviewed the current Pacific mackerel stock assessment, biomass numbers, ABC and STAR Panel Report, as well as heard statements/reports from the SSC, Team and Subpanel. Although the assessment for Pacific mackerel was reviewed by a STAR Panel and was approved by the SSC as the best available science for use in management, concerns were expressed by all the advisory groups regarding the data sources that informed the assessment and the uncertainty in the assessment results. Taking into consideration these reports and statements, the Council adopted and NMFS approved the most recent assessment for Pacific mackerel along with the calculated ABC, but recommended setting an overall HG for the July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, fishing season at 10,000 mt. The Council also recommended and NMFS approved that 8,000 mt of this total HG be allocated for a directed fishery and 2,000 mt be set aside for incidental Pacific mackerel landings in other fisheries should the 8,000 mt directed fishery HG be attained. Should the directed Pacific mackerel fishery attain landings of 8,000 mt NMFS will close the directed fishery and establish a 45 percent incidental catch allowance when Pacific mackerel are landed with other CPS (no more than 45% by weight of the CPS landed per trip may be Pacific mackerel), except that up to 1 mt of Pacific mackerel can be landed without landing any other CPS.

On September 29, 2009, a proposed rule was published for this action that solicited public comments (74 FR 4845). One comment was received, which was in support of the proposed action.

Information on the fishery and the stock assessment can be found in the report Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus) Stock Assessment for U.S. Management in the 2009-10 Fishing Season (see ADDRESSES).


The Administrator, Southwest Region, NMFS, determined that this final rule is necessary for the conservation and management of the CPS fishery and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other applicable laws.

This final rule is exempt from Office of Management and Budget review under Executive Order 12866.

The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule (74 FR 4845) and is not repeated here.

No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared.

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Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

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Dated: December 31, 2009.

James W. Balsiger,

Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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[FR Doc. 2010-21 Filed 1-6-10; 8:45 am]