National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Temporary rule; closure.
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using trawl gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), except for directed fishing for pollock by vessels using pelagic trawl gear in those portions of the GOA open to directed fishing for pollock. This closure also does not apply to fishing by vessels participating in the cooperative fishery in the Rockfish Program for the Central GOA. This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2016 Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limit specified for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA.
Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), October 22, 2016, through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2016.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Obren Davis, 907-586-7228.
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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.
The 2016 Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for vessels using trawl gear was established as 1,515 metric tons by the final 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (81 FR 14740, March 18, 2016).
In accordance with § 679.21(d)(6)(i), the Regional Administrator has determined that the 2016 Pacific halibut PSC limit allocated to vessels using trawl gear in the GOA has been reached. Therefore, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using trawl gear in the GOA, except for Start Printed Page 74314directed fishing for pollock by vessels using pelagic trawl gear in those portions of the GOA that remain open to directed fishing for pollock. This closure also does not apply to fishing by vessels participating in the cooperative fishery in the Rockfish Program for the Central GOA.
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 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 closing directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using trawl gear in 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 October 20, 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 § 679.21 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
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Dated: October 21, 2016.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-25902 Filed 10-21-16; 4:15 pm]
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