National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Temporary rule; modification of a closure.
NMFS is opening directed fishing for shallow-water species by vessels using trawl gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) for 48 hours. This action is necessary to fully use the fourth seasonal apportionment of the 2011 Pacific halibut bycatch allowance specified for the trawl shallow-water species fishery in the GOA.
Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 14, 2011, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., September 16, 2011. Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., September 28, 2011.
You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2011-0224, by any one of the following methods:
- Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web site at http://www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the “submit a comment” icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2011-0224 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and click on the “Submit a Comment” icon on the right of that line.
- Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, NMFS, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
- Fax: (907) 586-7557; Attn: Glenn Merrill.
Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Obren Davis, 907-586-7228.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679.
NMFS closed directed fishing for shallow-water species by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA under § 679.21(d)(7)(i) on September 3, 2011 (76 FR 55726, September 7, 2011).
As of September 12, 2011, NMFS has determined that approximately 149 metric tons remain in the fourth seasonal apportionment of the 2011 Pacific halibut bycatch allowance specified for the trawl shallow-water species fishery in the GOA. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.25(a)(1)(i), (a)(2)(i)(C) and (a)(2)(iii)(D), and to fully utilize the fourth seasonal apportionment of the 2011 Pacific halibut bycatch allowance specified for the trawl shallow-water species fishery in the GOA, NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is opening directed fishing for trawl shallow-water species by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. This will enhance the socioeconomic well-being of harvesters dependent upon shallow-water species in this area. The Administrator, Alaska Region (Regional Administrator) considered the following factors in reaching this decision: (1) The current catch of halibut by trawl vessels participating in the shallow-water species fisheries and, (2) the harvest capacity and stated intent on future harvesting patterns of vessels participating in this fishery.
In accordance with § 679.21(d)(7)(i), the Regional Administrator has determined that the fourth seasonal apportionment of the Pacific halibut bycatch allowance specified for the trawl shallow-water species fishery in the GOA will be reached after 48 hours. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for the shallow-water species fishery by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. The species and species groups that comprise the shallow-water species fishery are pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates, and “other species.” This prohibition does not apply to fishing for pollock by vessels using pelagic trawl gear in those portions of the GOA open to directed fishing for pollock. This inseason action does not apply to vessels fishing under a cooperative quota permit in the cooperative fishery in the Rockfish Program for the Central GOA.
This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public Start Printed Page 57680interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay the opening of directed fishing for shallow-water species by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent and relevant data only became available as of September 12, 2011.
The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon the reasons provided above for waiver of prior notice and opportunity for public comment.
Without this inseason adjustment, NMFS could not allow the fishery for shallow-water species by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA to be harvested in an expedient manner and in accordance with the regulatory schedule. Under § 679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit written comments on this action to the above address until September 28, 2011.
This action is required by § 679.20 and § 679.25 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: September 13, 2011.
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-23827 Filed 9-13-11; 4:15 pm]
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