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National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Temporary rule; closure.
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for “other flatfish” in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2011 allocation of “other flatfish” in the BSAI.
Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), November 16, 2011, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2011.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Josh Keaton, (907) 586-7269.
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NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the BSAI exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (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.
The 2011 TAC of “other flatfish” in the Bering Sea Subarea is 3,000 metric tons (mt) established by the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (76 FR 11139, March 1, 2011) and apportionment of the reserves (76 FR 53840, August 30, 2011).
In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, has determined that the TAC of “other flatfish” in the BSAI will soon be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 2,900 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 100 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance has been reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for “other flatfish” in the BSAI.
“Other flatfish” includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), Alaska plaice, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.
After the effective dates of this closure, the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip.
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 a 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 closure of the “other flatfish” fishery in the Bering Sea Subarea of the BSAI. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent and relevant data only became available as of November 14, 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.
This action is required by § 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
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Dated: November 16, 2011.
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-30000 Filed 11-16-11; 4:15 pm]
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