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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Ocean Perch in the Bering Sea Subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area

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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 Pacific ocean perch in the Bering Sea subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to fully use the 2013 total allowable catch of Pacific ocean perch specified for the Bering Sea subarea of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), December 2, 2013, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., December 13, 2013. Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., December 17, 2013.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS Docket Number “NOAA-NMFS-2012-0210” by any of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/​#!docketDetail;​D=​NOAA-NMFS-2012-0210, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.
  • Fax: Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Fax comments to 907-586-7557.

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:

Mary Furuness, 907-586-7228.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (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.

NMFS closed the directed fishery for Pacific ocean perch (POP) in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI under § 679.20(d)(1)(iii) (78 FR 13813, March 1, 2013).

NMFS has determined that approximately 6,400 metric tons of POP remain in the directed fishing allowance. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.25(a)(1)(i), (a)(2)(i)(C), and (a)(2)(iii)(D), and to fully utilize the 2013 total allowable catch of POP in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI, NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is opening directed fishing for POP in Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI, effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., December 2, 2013, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., December 13, 2013. This will enhance the socioeconomic well-being of harvesters dependent on POP in this area.

In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance will be reached after four weeks. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for POP in Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI, effective 1200 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2013. The Administrator, Alaska Region considered the following factors in reaching this decision: (1) The current catch of POP in the BSAI and, (2) the harvest capacity and stated intent on future harvesting patterns of vessels participating in this fishery.

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 POP directed fishing in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of November 29, 2013.

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 POP in the Bering Sea subarea of the BSAI 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 December 17, 2013.

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

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

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Dated: December 2, 2013.

Sean F. Corson,

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

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[FR Doc. 2013-29059 Filed 12-2-13; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P