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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher/Processors Using Trawl Gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska

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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 cod by catcher/processors using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to fully use the 2015 total allowable catch apportioned to catcher/processors using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 6, 2015, through 1200 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., September 21, 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 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).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Obren Davis, 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. Regulations governing sideboard protections for GOA groundfish fisheries appear at subpart B of 50 CFR part 680.

NMFS closed directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher/processors using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA under § 679.20(d)(1)(iii) on January 1 pursuant to the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications for groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (80 FR 10250, February 25, 2015).

NMFS has determined that as of September 2, 2015, approximately 463 metric tons of Pacific cod remain in the 2015 Pacific cod apportionment for catcher/processors using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. Therefore, in accordance with Start Printed Page 54441§ 679.25(a)(1)(i), (a)(2)(i)(C), and (a)(2)(iii)(D), and to fully use the 2015 total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific cod in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA, NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is opening directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher/processors using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. The Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, (Regional Administrator) considered the following factors in reaching this decision: (1) The current catch of Pacific cod by catcher/processors using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA 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 directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher/processors using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. NMFS was unable to publish notification providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of September 2, 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 Pacific cod by catcher/processors using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area 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 September 21, 2015.

This action is required by § 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: September 4, 2015.

Jennifer M. Wallace,

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

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[FR Doc. 2015-22783 Filed 9-4-15; 4:15 pm]

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