National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Start Printed Page 47163Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Temporary rule; reallocation.
NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amount of Pacific cod from catcher vessels equal to or greater than 60 feet (18.3 meters) length overall (LOA) using pot gear to catcher/processors using pot gear and 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.
Effective October 6, 2017, through 2400 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), December 31, 2017.
Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Josh Keaton, 907-586-7228.
End Further Info
Start Supplemental 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 catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet LOA using pot gear in the BSAI is 17,889 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017).
The Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS, (Regional Administrator) has determined that catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet LOA using pot gear will not be able to harvest 2,500 mt of the remaining 2017 Pacific cod TAC allocated to those vessels under § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(A)(5). Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iii), taking into account the capabilities of the sectors to harvest reallocated amounts of Pacific cod, and following the hierarchies set forth in § 679.20(a)(7)(iii)(A) and § 679.20(a)(7)(iii)(B), NMFS reallocates 1,000 mt of Pacific cod to C/Ps using pot gear and 1,500 mt to catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 m) 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 two inseason adjustments (82 FR 8905, February 1, 2017 and 82 FR 41899, September 5, 2017) are revised as follows: 15,389 mt for catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA using pot gear, 4,194 mt for C/Ps using pot gear, and 9,071 mt for catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear.
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 catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA using pot gear to C/Ps using pot gear and catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear in the BSAI management area. 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 September 28, 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.
End Supplemental Information
Dated: October 6, 2017.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-22073 Filed 10-6-17; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P