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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Exchange of Flatfish in 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; reallocation.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is exchanging unused flathead sole Community Development Quota (CDQ) for rock sole CDQ acceptable biological catch (ABC) reserves in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow the 2016 total allowable catch of flathead sole and rock sole in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area to be harvested.

DATES:

Effective July 26, 2016 through December 31, 2016.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Steve Whitney, 907-586-7228.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

The 2016 flathead sole and rock sole CDQ reserves specified in the BSAI are 2,232 metric tons (mt), and 5,760 mt as established by the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (81 FR 14773, March 18, 2016) and following revision (81 FR 41253, June 24, 2016). The 2016 flathead sole and rock sole CDQ ABC reserves are 4,857 mt and 11,478 mt as established by the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (81 FR 14773, March 18, 2016) and following revision (81 FR 41253, June 24, 2016).

The Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation has requested that NMFS exchange 400 mt of flathead sole CDQ reserves for 400 mt of rock sole CDQ ABC reserves under § 679.31(d). Therefore, in accordance with § 679.31(d), NMFS exchanges 400 mt of flathead sole CDQ reserves for 400 mt of rock sole CDQ ABC reserves in the BSAI. This action also decreases and increases the TACs and CDQ ABC reserves by the corresponding amounts. Tables 11 and 13 of the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (81 FR 14773, March 18, 2016), and following revision (81 FR 41253, June 24, 2016), are revised as follows:

Table 11—Final 2016 Community Development Quota (CDQ) Reserves, Incidental Catch Amounts (ICAS), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole Tacs

[Amounts are in metric tons]

SectorPacific Ocean perchFlathead soleRock soleYellowfin sole
Eastern Aleutian DistrictCentral Aleutian DistrictWestern Aleutian DistrictBSAIBSAIBSAI
TAC7,9007,0009,00020,58557,150144,365
CDQ8457499631,8326,16015,773
ICA20075105,0006,0003,500
BSAI trawl limited access6856181610014,979
Amendment 806,1695,5587,86613,75344,990110,113
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative3,2712,9474,1711,41111,12943,748
Alaska Seafood Cooperative2,8982,6113,69512,34233,86166,365
Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.
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Table 13—Final 2016 and 2017 ABC Surplus, Community Development Quota (CDQ) ABC Reserves, and Amendment 80 ABC Reserves in the BSAI for Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole

[Amounts are in metric tons]

Sector2016 Flathead sole2016 Rock sole2016 Yellowfin sole2017 Flathead sole2017 Rock sole2017 Yellowfin sole
ABC66,250161,100211,70064,580145,000203,500
TAC20,58557,150144,36521,00057,100144,000
ABC surplus45,665103,95067,33543,58087,90059,500
ABC reserve45,665103,95067,33543,58087,90059,500
CDQ ABC reserve5,25711,0786,8794,6639,4056,367
Amendment 80 ABC reserve40,40892,87260,45638,91778,49553,134
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2016 14,14522,97424,019n/an/an/a
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2016 136,26369,89836,437n/an/an/a
1 The 2017 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2016.

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 flatfish exchange by the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation in the BSAI. Since these fisheries are currently open, it is important to immediately inform the industry as to the revised allocations. Immediate notification is necessary to allow for the orderly conduct and efficient operation of this fishery, to allow the industry to plan for the fishing season, and to avoid potential disruption to the fishing fleet as well as processors. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of July 14, 2016.

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.

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

Start Authority

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

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Dated: July 20, 2016.

Emily H. Menashes,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2016-17593 Filed 7-25-16; 8:45 am]

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