[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 39 (Tuesday, February 28, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 11776]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-4702]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 101126522-0640-2]
RIN 0648-XB004


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod 
by Catcher/Processors Using Hook-and-Line Gear in the Central 
Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by 
catcher/processors (C/Ps) using hook-and-line gear in the Central 
Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary 
to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod 
total allowable catch apportioned to C/Ps using hook-and-line gear in 
the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA.

DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), February 23, 
2012, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., September 1, 2012.

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 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. Regulations governing sideboard 
protections for GOA groundfish fisheries appear at subpart B of 50 CFR 
part 680.
    The A season allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod total allowable 
catch (TAC) apportioned to C/Ps using hook-and-line gear in the Central 
Regulatory Area of the GOA is 1,736 metric tons (mt), as established by 
the final 2011 and 2012 harvest specifications for groundfish of the 
GOA (76 FR 11111, March 1, 2011), revision to the final 2012 harvest 
specifications for Pacific cod (76 FR 81860, December 29, 2011), and 
inseason adjustment to the final 2012 harvest specifications for 
Pacific cod (77 FR 438, January 5, 2012).
    In accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska 
Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator) has determined that the A season 
allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod TAC apportioned to C/Ps using hook-
and-line gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA will soon be 
reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a 
directed fishing allowance of 1,721 mt, and is setting aside the 
remaining 15 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish 
fisheries. In accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional 
Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance has been 
reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific 
cod by C/Ps using hook-and-line gear in the Central Regulatory Area of 
the GOA. After the effective date of this closure the maximum 
retainable amounts at Sec.  679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during 
a trip.

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 directed fishing closure of Pacific cod for C/Ps using 
hook-and-line gear in the Central 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 February 21, 
2012.
    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 Sec.  679.20 and is exempt from review 
under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: February 23, 2012.
Steven Thur,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-4702 Filed 2-23-12; 4:15 pm]
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