[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 62 (Friday, March 30, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 19147]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7583]



[[Page 19147]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 111213751-2102-02]
RIN 0648-XB118


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod 
by Catcher Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian 
Islands Management Area

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; modification of a closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is opening directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher 
vessels using trawl gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands 
management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to fully use the A 
season apportionment of the 2012 Pacific cod total allowable catch 
(TAC) allocated to trawl catcher vessels in the BSAI.

DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 29, 2012, 
through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., April 1, 2012. Comments must be received at 
the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., April 10, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2012-0073, 
by any one 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-2012-0073 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: Josh Keaton, 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.
    NMFS closed directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels 
using trawl gear in the BSAI under Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii) on February 
29, 2012 (77 FR 13013, March 5, 2012).
    As of March 21, 2012, NMFS has determined that approximately 3,000 
metric tons of Pacific cod remain in the 2012 A season directed fishing 
allowance allocated to trawl catcher vessels in the BSAI. Therefore, in 
accordance with Sec.  679.25(a)(1)(i), (a)(2)(i)(C), and 
(a)(2)(iii)(D), and to fully utilize the A season apportionment of the 
2012 Pacific cod TAC allocated to trawl catcher vessels in the BSAI, 
NMFS is terminating the previous closure and is reopening directed 
fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the 
BSAI.
    The Administrator, Alaska Region (Regional Administrator) 
considered the following factors in reaching this decision: (1) The 
current catch for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in 
the BSAI, and (2) the harvest capacity and stated intent on future 
harvesting patterns of vessels in participating in this fishery.

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 opening of directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher 
vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI. 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 and processors. NMFS 
was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment 
because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of 
March 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.
    Without this inseason adjustment, NMFS could not allow Pacific cod 
fishery by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the BSAI to be harvested 
in an expedient manner and in accordance with the regulatory schedule. 
Under Sec.  679.25(c)(2), interested persons are invited to submit 
written comments on this action to the above address until April 10, 
2012.
    This action is required by Sec.  679.25 and is exempt from review 
under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: March 26, 2012.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-7583 Filed 3-26-12; 4:15 pm]
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