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Rule

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Temporary rule; modification of closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is opening directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to fully use the A season allowance of the 2021 total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.

DATES:

Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 20, 2021, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., June 10, 2021. Comments must be received at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., February 3, 2021.

ADDRESSES:

Submit your comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2019-0102 by any of the following methods:

  • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/​#!docketDetail;​D=​NOAA-NMFS-2019-0102, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Records. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.

Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the comment period ends. All comments received are a part of the public record, and NMFS will post the comments for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter Start Printed Page 6861“N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Krista Milani, 907-581-2062.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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 A season allowance of the 2021 Pacific cod TAC apportioned to catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA is 1,701 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2020 and 2021 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020) and inseason adjustment (85 FR 83834, December 23, 2020).

NMFS closed directed fishing for Pacific cod TAC apportioned to catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA under § 679.20(d)(1)(iii) on January 20, 2021 (85 FR 13802, March 10, 2020).

As of January 20, 2021, NMFS has determined that approximately 1,701 metric tons (mt) remain of the Pacific cod TAC apportioned to catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. Therefore, in accordance with § 679.25(a)(1)(i), (a)(2)(i)(C), and (a)(2)(iii)(D), and to fully utilize the A season allowance of the 2021 TAC of Pacific apportioned to catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA, NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is reopening directed fishing for Pacific cod apportioned to catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA, effective 1200 hours, A.l.t., January 20, 2021.

The Administrator, Alaska Region (Regional Administrator) considered the following factors in reaching this decision: (1) The catch of Pacific cod apportioned to catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA and, (2) the harvest capacity and stated intent on future harvesting patterns of vessels in participating in this fishery.

Classification

NMFS issues this action pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action is required by 50 CFR part 679, which was issued pursuant to section 304(b), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on this action, as notice and comment would be 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 opening of Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of 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 January 14, 2021.

Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: January 15, 2021.

Kelly Denit,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2021-01434 Filed 1-19-21; 4:15 pm]

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