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Rule

Fisheries of the Economic Exclusive Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish Fishery by Non-Rockfish Program Catcher Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; modification of closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is opening directed fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, by non-Rockfish Program catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to fully use the 2015 groundfish total allowable catch available for non-Rockfish Program catcher vessels directed fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, using trawl gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), August 10, 2015, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2015. Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., August 25, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2014-0118, by any of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/​#!docketDetail;​D=​NOAA-NMFS-2014-0118, 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.

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), 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 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 prohibited directed fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, by non-Rockfish Program catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, effective 1200 hours, A.l.t., May 3, 2015 (May 6, 2015, 80 FR 25967) under § 679.21(i)(7)(i).Start Printed Page 48468

On August 10, 2015, NMFS published an emergency rule (80 FR 47864, August 10, 2015) establishing a Chinook salmon prohibited species catch (PSC) limit of 1,600 for non-Rockfish Program catcher vessels directed fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, using trawl gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA that is available from August 10, 2015 until December 31, 2015 (§ 679.21(i)(8)). Therefore, in accordance with § 679.25(a)(1)(i), (a)(2)(i)(C), and (a)(2)(iii)(D), and to fully utilize the 2015 groundfish total allowable catch available for non-Rockfish Program catcher vessels directed fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, using trawl gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA, NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is opening directed fishing for non-Rockfish Program catcher vessels directed fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, using trawl gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA.

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) and § 679.25(c)(1)(ii) 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 opening directed fishing for groundfish, other than pollock, by non-Rockfish Program catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of August 7, 2015.

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 groundfish, other than pollock, by non-Rockfish Program catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of 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 August 25, 2015.

This action is required by §§ 679.20, 679.21, and 679.25 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Start Authority

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

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Dated: August 10, 2015.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

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[FR Doc. 2015-19926 Filed 8-10-15; 4:15 pm]

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