Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pacific Cod in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area


Published: 2015-10-28

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ACTION:
Temporary rule; reallocation.
SUMMARY:
NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amounts of Pacific cod from catcher vessels greater than 60 feet (18.3 meters (m)) length overall (LOA) using pot gear, American Fisheries Act (AFA) trawl catcher processors (C/Ps), and catcher vessels using trawl gear to Amendment 80 (A80) C/Ps, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, and C/Ps using pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow the 2015 total allowable catch of Pacific cod to be harvested.
DATES:
Effective October 23, 2015, through 2400 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), December 31, 2015.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Josh Keaton, 907-586-7228.
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 2015 Pacific cod TAC specified for catcher vessels greater than 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA using pot gear in the BSAI is 17,641 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015) and reallocation (80 FR 57105, September 22, 2015). The Regional Administrator has determined that catcher vessels greater than 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA using pot gear in the BSAI will not be able to harvest 1,000 mt of the remaining 2015 Pacific cod TAC allocated to those vessels under § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(A)( 5 ).
The 2015 Pacific cod TAC specified for catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI is 43,224 mt as established by the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015) and reallocation (80 FR 57105, September 22, 2015). The Regional Administrator has determined that catcher vessels using trawl gear will not be able to harvest 3,870 mt of the remaining 2015 Pacific cod TAC allocated to those vessels under § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(A)( 9 ).
The 2015 Pacific cod TAC specified for AFA trawl C/Ps in the BSAI is 5,623 mt as established by the final 2015 and 2016 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015) and reallocation (80 FR 57105, September 22, 2015). The Regional Administrator has determined that AFA trawl C/Ps will not be able to harvest 1,000 mt of the remaining 2015 Pacific cod TAC allocated to those vessels under § 679.20(a)(7)(ii)(A)( 7 ).
Therefore, in accordance with § 679.20(a)(7)(iii)(A) and § 679.20(a)(7)(iii)(B), NMFS reallocates 5,870 mt of Pacific cod to A80 C/Ps, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, and C/Ps using pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area.
The harvest specifications for Pacific cod included in the final 2015 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (80 FR 11919, March 5, 2015, 80 FR 51757, August 26, 2015, and 80 FR 57105, September 22, 2015) are revised as follows: 16,641 mt for catcher vessels greater than 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA using pot gear, 39,354 mt for catcher vessels using trawl gear, 4,623 mt to AFA trawl C/Ps, 32,216 mt to A80 C/Ps, 111,071 mt for C/Ps using hook-and-line, and 5,829 mt for C/Ps using 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 multiple sectors to A80 C/Ps, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, and C/Ps using pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 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 October 19, 2015.
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.
Authority:
16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
Dated: October 23, 2015.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-27429 Filed 10-23-15; 4:15 pm]
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