[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 3 (Thursday, January 5, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 438-440]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33849]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 101126522-0640-02]
RIN 0648-XA917


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason 
Adjustment to the 2012 Gulf of Alaska Pollock and Pacific Cod Total 
Allowable Catch Amounts

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; inseason adjustment; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is adjusting the 2012 total allowable catch (TAC) amounts 
for the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) pollock and Pacific cod fisheries. This 
action is necessary because NMFS has determined these TACs are 
incorrectly specified, and will ensure the GOA pollock and Pacific cod 
TACs are the appropriate amounts based on the best available scientific 
information for pollock and Pacific cod in the GOA. This action is 
consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan 
for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska.

DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), January 5, 2012, 
until the effective date of the final 2012 and 2013 harvest 
specifications for GOA groundfish, unless otherwise modified or 
superseded through publication of a notification in the Federal 
Register. Comments must be received at the following address no later 
than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., January 20, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2011-0307, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To 
submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ``submit a 
comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2011-0307 in the keyword search. 
Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and 
click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon on that line.
     Mail: Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, 
AK 99802-1668.
     Fax: Address written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant 
Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region 
NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Fax comments to (907) 586-7557.
     Hand Delivery to the Federal Building: Address written 
comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, 
Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen 
Sebastian. Deliver comments to 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, 
AK.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address) submitted voluntarily by the sender 
will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will 
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you 
wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be 
accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file 
formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Obren Davis, (907) 586-7228.

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 (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 final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications for groundfish in 
the GOA (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011) and Pacific cod revision (76 FR 
81860, December 29, 2011) set the 2012 pollock TAC at 121,649 metric 
tons (mt) and the 2012 Pacific cod TAC at 58,650 mt in the GOA. In 
December 2011, the Council recommended a 2012 pollock TAC of 116,444 mt 
for the GOA, which is less than the 121,649 mt established by the final 
2011 and 2012 GOA harvest specifications. The Council also recommended 
a 2012 Pacific cod TAC of 65,700 mt for the GOA, which is more than the 
58,650 mt established by the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications 
for groundfish in the GOA. The Council's recommended 2012 TACs, and the 
area and seasonal apportionments, are based on the Stock Assessment and 
Fishery Evaluation report (SAFE), dated November 2011, which NMFS has 
determined is the best available scientific information for these 
fisheries.
    Steller sea lions occur in the same location as the pollock and 
Pacific cod fisheries and are listed as endangered under the Endangered 
Species Act (ESA). Pollock and Pacific cod are a principal prey species 
for Steller sea lions in the GOA. The seasonal apportionment of pollock 
and Pacific cod harvest is necessary to ensure the groundfish fisheries 
are not likely to cause jeopardy of extinction or adverse modification 
of critical habitat for Steller sea lions. The regulations at Sec.  
679.20(a)(5)(iv) specify how the pollock TAC will be apportioned. The 
regulations at Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii) and Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i) 
specify how the Pacific cod TAC shall be apportioned.
    In accordance with Sec.  679.25(a)(1)(iii) and (a)(2)(i)(B), the 
Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has 
determined that, based on the November 2011 SAFE report for this 
fishery, the current GOA pollock and Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly 
specified. Consequently,

[[Page 439]]

pursuant to Sec.  679.25(a)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator is 
adjusting the 2012 GOA pollock TAC to 116,444 mt and the 2012 GOA 
Pacific cod TAC to 65,700 mt.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv), Table 6 of the final 2011 and 
2012 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (76 FR 11111, 
March 1, 2011) is revised for the 2012 pollock TACs in the Western, 
Central, and Eastern GOA consistent with this adjustment.

 Table 6--Final 2012 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the GOA; Seasonal Biomass Distribution, Area Apportionments;
                                                          and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC
                             [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.01]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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                          Season \1\                                   Shumagin
                                                                       Chirikof
                                                                        Kodiak            Total \2\
                                                                      (Area 610)
                                                                      (Area 620)
                                                                      (Area 630)         ...........
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A (Jan 20-Mar 10)............................................        5,797     (22.64%)       14,023     (54.76%)        5,787     (22.60%)       25,607
B (Mar 10-May 31)............................................        5,797     (22.64%)       17,221     (67.25%)        2,589     (10.11%)       25,607
C (Aug 25-Oct 1).............................................        9,338     (36.47%)        7,282     (28.44%)        8,986     (35.10%)       25,606
D (Oct 1-Nov 1)..............................................        9,338     (36.47%)        7,282     (28.44%)        8,986     (35.10%)       25,606
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Total.............................................       30,270  ...........       45,808  ...........       26,348  ...........      102,426
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\1\ As established by Sec.   679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 to March 10, March 10 to
  May 31, August 25 to October 1, and October 1 to November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore
  components are not shown in this table.
\2\ The WYK and SEO District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table.
Note: Seasonal allowances may not total precisely to annual TAC total due to rounding down, rather than up.

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii) and Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i), 
Table 8 of the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the GOA (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011) and Pacific cod 
revision (76 FR 81860, December 29, 2011) is revised for the 2012 
Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA consistent 
with this adjustment.

 Table 8--Final 2012 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocation of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts in the GOA; Allocations for the Western GOA and
                                   Central GOA Sectors and the Eastern GOA Inshore and Offshore Processing Components
   [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton and percentages to the nearest 0.01. Seasonal allowances may not total precisely to annual allocation
                                                                         amount]
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                                                                                A Season                                      B Season
                                                    Annual   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Regulatory area and  sector             allocation    Sector % of annual    Seasonal allowances     Sector % of annual    Seasonal allowances
                                                     (mt)          non-jig TAC                (mt)               non-jig TAC                (mt)
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Western GOA:
    Jig (1.5% of TAC)..........................          315                    N/A                    189                    N/A                    126
    Hook-and-line CV...........................          290                   0.70                    145                   0.70                    145
    Hook-and-line C/P..........................        4,100                  10.90                  2,257                   8.90                  1,843
    Trawl CV...................................        7,952                  27.70                  5,736                  10.70                  2,216
    Trawl C/P..................................          497                   0.90                    186                   1.50                    311
    All Pot CV and Pot                                 7,869                  19.80                  4,100                  18.20                  3,769
     C/P.......................................
                                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total..................................       21,024                  60.00                 12,614                  40.00                  8,410
                                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central GOA:
    Jig (1.0% of TAC)..........................          427                    N/A                    256                    N/A                    171
    Hook-and-line < 50 CV......................        6,174                   9.32                  3,938                   5.29                  2,235
    Hook-and-line >= 50 CV.....................        2,835                   5.61                  2,372                   1.10                    464
    Hook-and-line C/P..........................        2,158                   4.11                  1,736                   1.00                    422
    Trawl CV...................................       17,581                  21.14                  8,936                  20.45                  8,645
    Trawl C/P..................................        1,775                   2.00                    847                   2.19                    928
    All Pot CV and Pot                                11,755                  17.83                  7,538                   9.97                  4,217
     C/P.......................................
                                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total..................................       42,705                  60.00                 25,623                  40.00                 17,082
                                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eastern GOA....................................        1,971        Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) 1,774
                                                  Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 197
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Note: Seasonal apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.


[[Page 440]]

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 allow for harvests that exceed the appropriate allocations for 
Pacific cod based on the best scientific information available. NMFS 
was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment 
because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of 
December 29, 2011, and additional time for prior public comment would 
result in conservation concerns for the ESA-listed Steller sea lions.
    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. Under Sec.  679.25(c)(2), interested 
persons are invited to submit written comments on this action to the 
above address until January 20, 2012.
    This action is required by Sec.  679.22 and Sec.  679.25 and is 
exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: December 30, 2011.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-33849 Filed 1-4-12; 8:45 am]
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