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Rule

Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; White Hake Trimester Total Allowable Catch Area Closure for the Common Pool Fishery

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ACTION:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

This temporary rule closes the White Hake Trimester Total Allowable Catch (TAC) Area to all common pool groundfish vessels fishing with trawl gear, sink gillnet gear, or longline/hook gear for the remainder of Trimester 2, through December 31, 2012. This action is necessary to prevent the common pool fishery from exceeding its Trimester 2 TAC or its annual catch limit for white hake. This rule is expected to slow the catch rate of white hake in the common pool fishery for the remainder of Trimester 2.

DATES:

Effective December 5, 2012, through 2400 hours, December 31, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Brett Alger, Fisheries Management Specialist, 978-675-2153, Fax 978-281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulations governing the NE multispecies fishery are found at 50 CFR part 648, subpart F. Beginning in fishing year (FY) 2012 (May 1, 2012—April 30, 2013), the common pool's sub-annual catch limit (ACL) for each stock is apportioned into trimester TACs (Trimester 1 May 1—August 31; Trimester 2 September 1—December 31; and Trimester 3 January 1—April 30). The regulations at § 648.82(n) require the Regional Administrator to close the Trimester TAC Area for a stock when available information supports a determination that 90 percent of the Trimester TAC is projected to be caught. The Trimester TAC Area for a stock will close to all common pool vessels fishing with gear capable of catching that stock for the remainder of the trimester. Any overages of a trimester TAC will be deducted from Trimester 3, and any overages of the common pool's sub-ACL at the end of the FY will be deducted from the common pool's sub-ACL the following FY. Any uncaught portion of the Trimester 1 and Trimester 2 TAC will be carried over into the next trimester. Any uncaught portion of the common pool's sub-ACL may not be carried over into the following FY.

The FY 2012 common pool sub-ACL for white hake is 26 mt (57,320 lb). The Trimester 2 TAC is 8.1 mt (17,853 lb). Because only a few vessels are responsible for the white hake catch, it was difficult to project when 90 percent of the Trimester TAC would be reached. Therefore, NMFS has monitored the white hake catch very closely to determine when 90 percent was exceeded. Based on the best available data, which includes vessel trip reports (VTRs), dealer reported landings, and vessel monitoring system (VMS) information, NMFS has projected that 90 percent of the Trimester 2 TAC for white hake was harvested on November 26, 2012. Therefore, effective December 5, 2012, the White Hake Trimester TAC Area is closed for the remainder of Trimester 2, through December 31, 2012, to all common pool vessels fishing with trawl gear, sink gillnet gear, and longline/hook gear. The White Hake Trimester TAC Area will reopen to common pool vessels fishing with trawl, sink gillnet, and longline/hook gear at the beginning of Trimester 3, at 0001 hours, January 1, 2013.

Classification

This action is required by 50 CFR part 648, and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment because it would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This action closes the White Hake Trimester TAC Area for common pool vessels fishing with trawl gear, sink gillnet gear, or longline/hook gear through December 31, 2012. The regulations at § 648.82 require this action to ensure that the common pool fishery does not exceed its catch limits for white hake in FY 2012. The catch data indicating that 90 percent of the Trimester 2 TAC for white hake has been caught only recently became available. If implementation of this closure is delayed to solicit prior public comment, the white hake Trimester 2 TAC could be exceeded, thereby undermining the conservation objectives of the Fishery Management Plan. Any overage of the Trimester 2 TAC must be deducted from the Trimester 3 TAC, and any overage of the total sub-ACL in FY 2012 must be deducted from the FY 2013 sub-ACL. This would have adverse economic consequences on common pool vessels. The AA further finds, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), good cause to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness period for the reasons stated above.

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

Dated: November 29, 2012.

Lindsay Fullenkamp,

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

[FR Doc. 2012-29401 Filed 11-30-12; 4:15 pm]

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