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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Shallow-Water Species by Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Gulf of Alaska

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; modification of a closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is opening directed fishing for shallow-water species by Start Printed Page 59065vessels using trawl gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). 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 of the GOA.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 20, 2011. Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., October 11, 2011.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by RIN 0648-XA722, 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.
  • Mail: Submit written comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
  • Fax: (907) 586-7557.
  • Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK.

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 to http://www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may 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, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe portable document file (pdf) formats only.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Josh Keaton, 907-586-7228.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY 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) and subsequent reopener from September 14, 2011 to September 16, 2011 (76 FR 57679, September 16, 2011).

As of September 19, 2011, NMFS has determined that approximately 481 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 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.

The species and species groups that comprise the shallow-water species fishery are pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, skates, sharks, sculpins, and octopus.

Classification

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 interest 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 19, 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 October 5, 2011.

This action is required by § 679.20 and § 679.25 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: September 20, 2011.

Emily H. Menashes,

Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2011-24499 Filed 9-20-11; 4:15 pm]

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