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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pacific Cod 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 reallocating the projected unused amount of Pacific cod from vessels using jig gear and catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet (18.3 meters) length overall (LOA) using hook-and-line gear to catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 meters) LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow the 2017 total allowable catch of Pacific cod to be harvested.

DATES:

Effective August 30, 2017, through 2400 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), December 31, 2017.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Obren Davis, 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 (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 2017 Pacific cod total allowable catch (TAC) specified for vessels using jig gear in the BSAI is 1,293 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2017 and Start Printed Page 419002018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017) and one inseason adjustment (82 FR 8905, February 1, 2017).

The Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, (Regional Administrator) has determined that jig vessels will not be able to harvest 1,612 mt of the remaining 2017 Pacific cod TAC allocated to those vessels under § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(A)(1). Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iii)(A), NMFS apportions 1,612 mt of Pacific cod to the annual amount specified for catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear.

The 2017 Pacific cod TAC specified for catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line gear in the BSAI is 426 mt as established by final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017).

The Regional Administrator has determined that catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line gear will not be able to harvest 426 mt of the remaining 2017 Pacific cod TAC allocated to those vessels under § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(A)(3). Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iii)(A), NMFS apportions 426 mt of Pacific cod to catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear.

The harvest specifications for Pacific cod included in the final 2017 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017) and inseason adjustment (82 FR 8905, February 1, 2017) are revised as follows: 107 mt for vessels using jig gear, 0 mt for catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line gear, and 7,571 mt to catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear.

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 reallocation of Pacific cod specified from other sectors to catcher vessels less than 60 feet LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear. Since the fishery is 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 August 29, 2017.

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.

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: August 30, 2017.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2017-18733 Filed 8-30-17; 4:15 pm]

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