[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 57 (Friday, March 23, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 16949]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7043]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 111207737-2141-02]
RIN 0648-XB112


Pacific Cod by Catcher Vessels Greater Than or Equal to 50 Feet 
(15.2 Meters) Length Overall 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 vessels (CVs) greater than or equal to 50 feet (15.2 meters 
(m)) in length overall (LOA) 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 CVs greater than or equal to 50 
feet (15.2 m) LOA using hook-and-line gear in the Central Regulatory 
Area of the GOA.

DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 20, 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 CVs greater than or equal to 50 feet (15.2 
m) LOA using hook-and-line gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the 
GOA is 2,372 metric tons (mt), as established by the final 2012 and 
2013 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (77 FR 15194, 
March 14, 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 CVs greater than 
or equal to 50 feet (15.2 m) LOA 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 
2,272 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 100 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 CVs greater than or 
equal to 50 feet (15.2 m) LOA 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 Acting 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 closure of directed fishing for Pacific cod 
for CVs greater than or equal to 50 feet (15.2 m) LOA 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 March 19, 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: March 20, 2012.
Steven Thur,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-7043 Filed 3-20-12; 4:15 pm]
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