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Rule

Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Georges Bank Cod Trimester Total Allowable Catch Area Closure for the Common Pool Fishery

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; area closure.

SUMMARY:

This action closes the Georges Bank Cod Trimester Total Allowable Catch Area to Northeast multispecies common pool vessels fishing with trawl gear, sink gillnet gear, and longline/hook gear for the remainder of Trimester 1, through August 31, 2016. The closure is required by regulation because the common pool fishery has caught 90 percent of its Trimester 1 quota for Georges Bank cod. This closure is intended to prevent an overage of the common pool's quota for this stock.This action is effective July 13, 2016, through August 31, 2016.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Liz Sullivan, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 282-8493.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Federal regulations at § 648.82(n)(2)(ii) require the Regional Administrator to close a common pool Trimester Total Allowable Catch (TAC) Area for a stock when 90 percent of the Trimester TAC is projected to be caught. The closure applies to all common pool vessels fishing with gear capable of catching that stock for the remainder of the trimester.

As of July 11, 2016, the common pool fishery caught between 79 and 89 percent of the Trimester 1 TAC (3.3 mt) for Georges Bank (GB) cod. We project that 90 percent of the Trimester 1 TAC will be caught within a few days. The fishing year 2016 common pool sub-annual catch limit (sub-ACL) for GB cod is 13.2 mt.

Effective July 13, 2016, the GB Cod Trimester TAC Area is closed for the remainder of Trimester 1, through August 31, 2016, to all common pool vessels fishing with trawl gear, sink gillnet gear, and longline/hook gear. The GB Cod Trimester TAC Area consists of statistical areas 521, 522, 525, and 561. The area reopens at the beginning of Trimester 2 on September 1, 2016.

If a vessel declared its trip through the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) or the interactive voice response system, and crossed the VMS demarcation line prior to July 13, 2016, it may complete its trip within the Trimester TAC Area.

Any overage of the Trimester 1 or 2 TACs must be deducted from the Trimester 3 TAC. If the common pool fishery exceeds its sub-ACL for the 2016 fishing year, the overage must be deducted from the common pool's sub-ACL for fishing year 2017. Any uncaught portion of the Trimester 1 and Trimester 2 TACs is carried over into the next trimester. However, any uncaught portion of the common pool's sub-ACL may not be carried over into the following fishing year.

Weekly quota monitoring reports for the common pool fishery are on our Web site at: http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/​ro/​fso/​MultiMonReports.htm. We will continue to monitor common pool catch through vessel trip reports, dealer-reported landings, VMS catch reports, and other available information, and, if necessary, we will make additional adjustments to common pool management measures.

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, finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) and 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment and the 30-day delayed effectiveness period because it would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest.

Regulations require the Regional Administrator to close a trimester TAC area to the common pool fishery when 90 percent of the Trimester TAC for a stock has been caught. Updated catch information only recently became available indicating that the common pool fishery will catch 90 percent of its Trimester 1 TAC for GB cod in the week of July 11, 2016. The time necessary to provide for prior notice and comment, and a 30-day delay in effectiveness, prevents the immediate closure of the GB Cod Trimester 1 TAC Area. Delaying the effective date of a closure increases the likelihood that the common pool fishery will exceed its quota of GB cod to the detriment of this stock, which could undermine management objectives of the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. Additionally, an overage of the common pool quota could cause negative economic impacts to the common pool fishery as a result of overage paybacks in a future trimester or fishing year.

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

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Dated: July 13, 2016.

Emily H. Menashes,

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

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[FR Doc. 2016-16891 Filed 7-13-16; 4:15 pm]

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