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Fisheries Off West Coast States; Modifications of the West Coast Commercial Salmon Fisheries; Inseason Actions #4 and #5

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Modification of fishing seasons and landing and possession limits; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

NOAA Fisheries announces two inseason actions in the ocean salmon fisheries. These inseason actions modified the commercial fisheries in the area from U.S./Canada Border to Queets River.

DATES:

The effective dates for the inseason actions are set out in this document under the heading Inseason Actions. Comments will be accepted through June 27, 2013.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2012-0248, by any one of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/​#!docketDetail;​D=​NOAA-NMFS-2012-0248, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, Northwest Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA, 98115-6349
  • Fax: 206-526-6736, Attn: Peggy Mundy

Instructions: 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 by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. 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, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Peggy Mundy at 206-526-4323.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

In the 2013 annual management measures for ocean salmon fisheries (78 FR 25865, May 3, 2013), NMFS announced the commercial and recreational fisheries in the area from the U.S./Canada Border to the U.S./Mexico Border, beginning May 1, 2013, and 2014 salmon seasons opening earlier than May 1, 2014. These management measures include a May-June guideline of 8,700 Chinook salmon Start Printed Page 35154in the area between the U.S./Canada Border and the Queets River, with provisions for an inseason conference call when it is projected that 6,525 Chinook will be landed in this area to consider modifying the open period and adding a landing and possession limit to ensure the 8,700 Chinook guideline is not exceeded (78 FR 25865, May 3, 2013).

NMFS is authorized to implement inseason management actions to modify fishing seasons and quotas as necessary to provide fishing opportunity while meeting management objectives for the affected species (50 CFR 660.409). Inseason actions in the salmon fishery may be taken directly by NMFS (50 CFR 660.409(a)—Fixed inseason management provisions) or upon consultation with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and the appropriate State Directors (50 CFR 660.409(b)—Flexible inseason management provisions). Prior to taking flexible inseason action, the Regional Administrator (RA) consults with the Chairman of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and the appropriate State Directors (50 CFR 660.409(b)(1)).

Management of the salmon fisheries is generally divided into two geographic areas: north of Cape Falcon (U.S./Canada Border to Cape Falcon, Oregon) and south of Cape Falcon (Cape Falcon, Oregon to the U.S./Mexico Border). The inseason actions in this document apply north of Cape Falcon.

Inseason Action

Inseason Action #4

The RA consulted with representatives of the Council, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) on May 20, 2013.

The information considered during this consultation related to catch and effort to date in the commercial salmon fishery from the U.S./Canada Border to the Queets River. Inseason action #4 closed the commercial salmon fishery in this area at 11:59 p.m. (midnight), May 20, 2013 due to projected attainment of the 6,525 interim guideline for Chinook salmon catch in the area and to provide a more complete accounting of the catch to date before proceeding with additional fisheries. On May 20, 2013, the states recommended this action and the RA concurred; inseason action #4 took effect on May 20, 2013, and remained in effect until May 24, 2013. Inseason action to modify quotas and/or fishing seasons is authorized by 50 CFR 660.409(b)(1)(i).

Inseason Action #5

The RA consulted with representatives of the Council, WDFW, and ODFW on May 23, 2013.

The information considered during this consultation related to catch and effort to date in the commercial salmon fishery from the U.S./Canada Border to the Queets River. Inseason action #5 reopened the commercial salmon fishery in this area at 12:01 a.m. (midnight), May 24, 2013 through 11:59 p.m. (midnight), May 28, 2013 with a landing and possession limit of 28 Chinook salmon per vessel. Vessels that fish during this open period and north of the Queets River are limited to a total landing and possession limit of 28 Chinook regardless of area of catch until the catch from their trip has been delivered. This action was taken to allow access to remaining salmon quota in the area without exceeding the quota. On May 23, 2013, the state of Washington recommended this action and the RA concurred; inseason action #5 took effect on May 24, 2013, and remained in effect through May 28, 2013. Inseason action to modify quotas and/or fishing seasons is authorized by 50 CFR 660.409(b)(1)(i).

All other restrictions and regulations remain in effect as announced for the 2013 Ocean Salmon Fisheries and 2014 fisheries opening prior to May 1, 2014 (78 FR 25865, May 3, 2013).

The RA determined that the best available information indicated that catch and effort projections supported the above inseason actions recommended by the State of Washington. The state manages the fisheries in state waters adjacent to the areas of the U.S. exclusive economic zone in accordance with these Federal actions. As provided by the inseason notice procedures of 50 CFR 660.411, actual notice of the described regulatory actions was given, prior to the time the action was effective, by telephone hotline number 206-526-6667 and 800-662-9825, and by U.S. Coast Guard Notice to Mariners broadcasts on Channel 16 VHF-FM and 2182 kHz.

Classification

The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that good cause exists for this notification to be issued without affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) because such notification would be impracticable. As previously noted, actual notice of the regulatory actions was provided to fishers through telephone hotline and radio notification. These actions comply with the requirements of the annual management measures for ocean salmon fisheries (78 FR 25865, May 3, 2013), the West Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan (Salmon FMP), and regulations implementing the Salmon FMP, 50 CFR 660.409 and 660.411. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment was impracticable because NMFS and the state agencies had insufficient time to provide for prior notice and the opportunity for public comment between the time the catch and effort projections were developed and fisheries impacts calculated, and the time the fishery modifications had to be implemented in order to ensure that fisheries are managed based on the best available scientific information, thus allowing fishers access to the available fish at the time the fish were available while ensuring that quotas are not exceeded. The AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness required under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), as a delay in effectiveness of these actions would allow fishing at levels inconsistent with the goals of the Salmon FMP and the current management measures.

These actions are authorized by 50 CFR 660.409 and 660.411 and are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

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Dated: June 7, 2013.

Kara Meckley,

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

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[FR Doc. 2013-13986 Filed 6-11-13; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P