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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 allocations of Amendment 80 cooperative quota (CQ) for Amendment 80 acceptable biological catch (ABC) reserves. This action is necessary to allow the 2017 total allowable catch of flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area to be harvested.

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DATES:

Effective November 20, 2017, through December 31, 2017.

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 2017 flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole Amendment 80 allocations of the total allowable catch (TAC) specified in the BSAI are 8,949 metric tons (mt), 37,060 mt, and 114,871 mt as established by the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017). The 2017 flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole Amendment 80 ABC reserves are 48,024 mt, 96,444 mt, and 95,372 mt as established by the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017).

The Alaska Seafood cooperative has requested that NMFS exchange 2,500 mt of rock sole Amendment 80 allocations of the TAC for 500 mt of flathead sole and 2,000 mt of yellowfin sole Amendment 80 ABC reserves under § 679.91(i). Therefore, in accordance with § 679.91(i), NMFS exchanges 2,500 mt of rock sole Amendment 80 allocations of the TAC for 500 mt of flathead sole and 2,000 mt of yellowfin sole Amendment 80 ABC reserves in the BSAI. This action also decreases and increases the TACs and Amendment 80 ABC reserves by the corresponding amounts. Tables 11 and 13 of the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017) and as revised (82 FR 51168, November 3, 2017) are further revised as follows:

Table 11—Final 2017 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
TAC7,9007,0009,00014,57644,325156,699
CDQ8457499631,1284,76517,177
ICA10060104,0005,0004,500
BSAI trawl limited access6956191610018,151
Amendment 806,2595,5727,8669,44934,560116,871
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative3,3192,9544,1719189,16845,638
Alaska Seafood Cooperative2,9402,6173,6958,53125,39371,233
Note: Sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.

Table 13—Final 2017 and 2018 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]

Sector2017 Flathead sole2017 Rock sole2017 Yellowfin sole2018 Flathead sole2018 Rock sole2018 Yellowfin sole
ABC68,278155,100260,80066,164143,100250,800
TAC14,57644,325156,69914,50047,100154,000
ABC surplus53,702110,775104,10151,66496,00096,800
ABC reserve53,702110,775104,10151,66496,00096,800
CDQ ABC reserve6,17811,83110,7295,52810,27210,358
Amendment 80 ABC reserve47,52498,94493,37246,13685,72886,442
Alaska Groundfish Cooperative for 2017 14,92623,85737,891n/an/an/a
Alaska Seafood Cooperative for 2017 142,59875,08755,481n/an/an/a
1 The 2018 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, 2017.

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 Alaska Seafood cooperative 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 Start Printed Page 55055public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of November 7, 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.

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Dated: November 15, 2017.

Emily H. Menashes,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2017-25121 Filed 11-15-17; 4:15 pm]

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