[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 182 (Tuesday, September 21, 1999)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 51079-51081]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-24487]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 981231333-8333-01; I.D. 091399D]


Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Fixed Gear Sablefish Mop-Up

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

ACTION: Announcement of fixed gear sablefish mop-up fishery; fishing 
restrictions, request for comments.

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[[Page 51080]]

SUMMARY: NMFS announces adjustments to the management measures for the 
Pacific Coast groundfish fishery off Washington, Oregon, and 
California. This action establishes beginning and ending dates and the 
cumulative period landings limit for the mop-up portion of the limited 
entry, fixed gear sablefish fishery. These actions are intended to 
provide for harvest of the remainder of the sablefish available to the 
1999 limited entry, fixed gear primary sablefish fishery. This action 
applies only in waters north of 36 deg. N. lat.

DATES: The fixed gear sablefish mop-up fishery will begin at 1201 hours 
local time (l.t.), September 20, 1999, and will end at 1200 hours l.t., 
September 25, 1999, at which time the limited entry daily trip limit 
fishery resumes. The daily trip limits for the fixed gear sablefish 
fishery will remain in effect, unless modified, superseded or 
rescinded, until the effective date of the 2000 annual specifications 
and management measures for the Pacific coast groundfish fishery, which 
will be published in the Federal Register. Comments will be accepted 
until October 6, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments to William Stelle, Jr., Administrator, 
Northwest Region (Regional Administrator), NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way 
NE., Bldg. 1, Seattle WA 98115-0070; or Rodney McInnis, Acting 
Administrator, Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 
4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4213.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Yvonne deReynier, Northwest Region, 
NMFS, 206-526-6140.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The limited entry, fixed gear sablefish 
fishery consists of a ``primary'' fishery, composed of the ``regular'' 
fishery described here, during which most of the fixed gear sablefish 
allocation is taken, and then a ``mop-up'' fishery, during which the 
remainder of the amount available to the primary fishery is taken.
    The regulations at 50 CFR 660.323(a)(2) provide a season structure 
for the limited entry, fixed gear primary (regular + mop-up) sablefish 
fishery. During the regular season, each vessel with a limited entry 
permit with a sablefish endorsement that is registered for use with 
that vessel may land up to the cumulative trip limit for the tier to 
which the permit is assigned. For the August 16-25, 1999, regular 
season, participants fished under the following tier limits: Tier 1, 
84,800 lb (40,823 kg); Tier 2, 38,300 lb (17,373 kg); Tier 3, 22,000 lb 
(9,979 kg). Other than the large, tiered cumulative limits, the only 
trip limit in this fishery was for sablefish smaller than 22 inches (56 
cm). The 1999 regular season started at noon on August 16, 1999, and 
lasted until noon on August 25, 1999.
    Preseason estimates of the likely total harvest in the regular 
season fishery were conservative in order to minimize the risk of the 
fishery exceeding its total allocation. Because of the conservative 
projections, the regular fishery was not expected to harvest all of the 
limited entry, fixed gear allocation for north of 36 deg. N. lat. in 
excess of that required for the daily trip limit fishery. The Regional 
Administrator is authorized to announce a mop-up fishery for any 
excess, if it is large enough, about 3 weeks after the end of the 
regular season and consisting of one cumulative trip limit for each 
vessel (50 CFR 660.323(a)(2)(v)). Approximately 3 weeks are needed for 
the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Groundfish Management 
Team to compile all of the landings receipts from the regular season 
and to calculate the amount available for the mop-up season, if any. 
This action establishes the 1999 mop-up fishery for limited entry, 
fixed gear permit holders with sablefish endorsements.
    The 1999 limited entry nontrawl sablefish allocation is 2,516 mt 
(5,546,824 lb), of which 2,137 mt (4,711,315 lb) is available to the 
primary (regular + mop-up) season. The best available information on 
September 8, 1999, indicated that approximately 2,085 mt (4,596,527 lb) 
of sablefish were landed during the regular season. Therefore, 52 mt 
(114,788 lb) remain available to the mop-up fishery. The Regional 
Administrator, after consulting with Council representatives via 
telephone on September 9, 1999, has determined that the mop-up fishery 
will occur, and that a cumulative trip limit of 1,100 lb (499 kg) 
(round weight) in a 5-day period (September 20 - September 25, 1999) 
would give limited entry permit holders with sablefish endorsements the 
opportunity to harvest the remainder of the sablefish available to the 
primary fishery without exceeding the amount of sablefish set aside for 
that fishery. The 5-day time frame for the 1999 fishery is shorter than 
in past years (2 weeks in 1997 and 1998,) because the cumulative limit 
amount is relatively small, and leaving the mop-up fishery open for an 
overly long period would unnecessarily limit the number of daily trip 
limit fishing days available to limited entry permit holders without 
sablefish endorsements. The same trip limit for sablefish smaller than 
22 inches (56 cm) total length, or 15.5 inches (39 cm) for sablefish 
that are headed that was in effect during the regular season is in 
effect during the mop-up season.
    Only limited entry permit holders with sablefish endorsements may 
participate in the mop-up fishery. No vessel may land more than one 
cumulative limit. There is no limited entry, daily trip limit fishery 
during the mop-up fishery period. Therefore, holders of limited entry 
permits without sablefish endorsements may not land any sablefish 
during the mop-up period. Similarly, once a vessel with a sablefish 
endorsed limited entry permit has been used to land its 1,100 lb (499 
kg) cumulative trip limit in the mop-up fishery, it may not be used to 
land more sablefish until the daily trip limits resume at 1201 hours on 
September 25, 1999. Also, acquiring additional limited entry permits 
does not entitle a vessel to more than one cumulative limit.
    Following the mop-up fishery, daily trip limits are reimposed until 
the end of the year, or until modified. The next opportunity for the 
Council to recommend modifications to the daily trip limit fishery will 
be at its September 13-17, 1999, meeting. The sablefish daily trip 
limit for the limited entry fishery north of 36 deg. N. lat. after the 
mop-up season is 300 lb (136 kg) per day, with no more than 2,100 lb 
(953 kg) cumulative per calendar month. Since the daily trip limits 
apply to a 24-hour day starting at 0001 hours, but the mop-up fishery 
begins and ends at 1200 hours, it will be lawful for a vessel in the 
limited entry fishery to land a daily trip limit between 0001 hours and 
1200 hours on September 20, 1999, just before the start of the mop-up 
season, and between 1201 hours and 2400 hours on September 25, 1999, 
following the mop-up season.
    A daily trip limit is the maximum amount that may be taken and 
retained, possessed, or landed per vessel in 24 consecutive hours, 
starting at 0001 hours local time. Only one landing of groundfish may 
be made in that 24-hour period. Daily trip limits may not be 
accumulated. If a trip lasts more than 1 day, only one daily trip limit 
is allowed. Daily trip limits were in effect until the closed period 
before the regular season, and went back into effect after the post-
season closure ended on August 26, 1999. A cumulative trip limit is the 
maximum amount of sablefish that may be taken and retained, possessed, 
or landed per vessel in a specified period of time, with no limit on 
the number of landings or trips.

[[Page 51081]]

NMFS Actions

    NMFS announces the dates of the fixed gear sablefish limited entry 
mop-up fishery. All other provisions remain in effect. In the January 
8, 1999 Federal Register (64 FR 1316), annual management measures, 
paragraph IV.B.(6)(d)(i) is revised to read as follows:
    IV. * * *
    B. * * *
    (6) * * *
    (d) * * *
    (i) Mop-Up Season. The mop-up season will begin at 12 noon l.t. on 
September 20, 1999, and end at noon on September 25, 1999. The 
cumulative trip limit for the mop-up fishery is 1,100 lb (499 kg). No 
vessel may be used to take more than one mop-up cumulative trip limit. 
(Note: The States of Washington, Oregon, and California use a 
conversion factor of 1.6 to convert dressed sablefish to its round-
weight equivalent. Therefore, 1,100 lb (499 kg) round weight 
corresponds to 688 lb (312 kg) for dressed sablefish.)
* * * * *

Classification

    This action is authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery 
Management Plan, which governs the harvest of groundfish in the U.S. 
exclusive economic zone off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and 
California. The determination to take these actions is based on the 
most recent data available. Because of the need for immediate action to 
start the mop-up fishery for sablefish, NMFS has determined that 
providing an opportunity for public notice and comment would be 
impractical and contrary to public interest. Delaying this rule could 
push the mop-up season into inclement autumn weather. Therefore, the 
agency believes that good cause exists for this document to be 
published without affording a prior opportunity for public comment or a 
30-day delayed effectiveness period.
    These actions are taken under the authority of 50 CFR 
660.323(a)(2), and are exempt from review under E.O. 12866.

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

    Dated: September 15, 1999.
Bruce C. Morehead,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 99-24487 Filed 9-20-99; 8:45 am]
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