[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 2 (Thursday, January 3, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 267-270]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-31627]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 111207737-2141-02]
RIN 0648-XC422


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason 
Adjustment to the 2013 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 2013 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.), December 28, 
2012, until the effective date of the final 2013 and 2014 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superseded through publication of a notification in the Federal 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 18, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS 
Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2012-0252 by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2012-0252, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     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 sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. 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, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. 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, Excel, 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 (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 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications for groundfish in 
the GOA (77 FR 15194, March 14, 2012) set the 2013 pollock TAC at 
125,334 metric tons (mt) and the 2013 Pacific cod TAC at 68,250 mt in 
the GOA. In December 2012, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council 
(Council) recommended a 2013 pollock TAC of 121,046 mt for the GOA, 
which is less than the 125,334 mt established by the final 2012 and 
2013 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA. The Council also 
recommended a 2013 Pacific cod TAC of 60,600 mt for the GOA, which is 
less than the 68,250 mt established by the final 2012 and 2013 harvest 
specifications for groundfish in the GOA. The Council's recommended 
2013 TACs, and the area and seasonal apportionments, are based on the 
Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation report (SAFE), dated November 
2012, 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

[[Page 268]]

regulations at Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii) and Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i) 
specify how the Pacific cod TAC will 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 2012 SAFE report for this 
fishery, the current GOA pollock and Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly 
specified. Consequently, pursuant to Sec.  679.25(a)(1)(iii), the 
Regional Administrator is adjusting the 2013 GOA pollock TAC to 121,046 
mt and the 2013 GOA Pacific cod TAC to 60,600 mt. Therefore, Table 2 of 
the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications for groundfish in the 
GOA (77 FR 15194, March 14, 2012) is revised consistent with this 
adjustment.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(iv), Table 4 of the final 2012 and 
2013 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (77 FR 15194, 
March 14, 2012) is revised for the 2013 TACs of pollock in the Central 
and Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR03JA13.077

    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(6)(ii) and Sec.  679.20(a)(12)(i), 
Table 6 of the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the GOA (77 FR 15194, March 14, 2012) is revised for the 
2013 seasonal apportionments and allocation of Pacific cod TAC in the 
GOA consistent with this adjustment.
    The proposed 2013 and 2014 harvest specifications for groundfish of 
the GOA were published in the Federal Register on December 5, 2012 (77 
FR 72297). In accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector 
allocations may increase to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and 
Central GOA Pacific cod TACs depending on the annual performance of the 
jig sector. NMFS has proposed increasing the jig sector's Pacific cod 
allocation in the Western GOA to 2.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod 
TAC. This includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and an additional 
1.0 percent because this sector harvested greater than 90 percent of 
its initial 2012 allocation in the Western GOA. NMFS also has proposed 
increasing the jig sector's Pacific cod allocation in the Central GOA 
to 2.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC. This includes a base 
allocation of 1.0 percent and an additional 1.0 percent because this 
sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its initial 2012 allocation 
in the Central GOA. Therefore, as described in the proposed 2013 and 
2014 harvest specifications for the GOA (December 5, 2012, 77 FR 
72297), the final 2013 and 2014 Pacific cod sector allocations may be 
adjusted to incorporate the increased allocation to the jig sector. The 
proposed increased percentage allocations to the jig sectors in the 
Western and Central GOA are not included in the following table.
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[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR03JA13.078

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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,

[[Page 270]]

relevant data only became available as of December 27, 2012, 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 18, 
2013.
    This action is required by Sec.  679.20 and Sec.  679.25 and is 
exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: December 28, 2012.
Lindsay Fullenkamp,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-31627 Filed 12-28-12; 4:15 pm]
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