[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 2 (Thursday, January 3, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 270-274]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-31635]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 111207737-2141-02]
RIN 0648-XC423


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Inseason 
Adjustment to the 2013 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pollock, Atka 
Mackerel, 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 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) pollock, Atka mackerel, 
and Pacific cod fisheries. This action is necessary because NMFS has 
determined these TACs are incorrectly specified, and will ensure the 
BSAI pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod TACs are the appropriate 
amounts based on the best available scientific information. This action 
is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management 
Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management 
Area.

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 BSAI 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superseded through publication of a notification in the Federal 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-2012-0253 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-2012-0253, 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 
BSAI exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan 
for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area 
(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.
    The final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications for groundfish in 
the BSAI (77 FR 10669, February 23, 2012) set the 2013 BSAI pollock TAC 
at 1,220,900 metric tons (mt), the 2013 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC at 
42,083 mt, and the 2013 BSAI Pacific cod TAC at 262,900 mt. In December 
2012, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) 
recommended a 2013 BSAI pollock TAC of 1,266,100 mt, which is more than 
the 1,220,900 mt TAC established by the final 2012 and 2013 harvest 
specifications for groundfish in the BSAI. The Council also recommended 
a 2013 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC of 25,920 mt, which is less than the 
42,083 mt TAC established by the final 2012 and 2013 harvest 
specifications for groundfish in the BSAI. Furthermore, the Council 
recommended a 2013 BSAI Pacific cod TAC of 260,000 mt, which is less 
than the 262,900 mt TAC established by the final 2012 and 2013 harvest 
specifications for groundfish in the BSAI. 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, Atka 
mackerel, and Pacific cod fisheries and are listed as endangered under 
the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific 
cod are a principal prey species for Steller sea lions in the BSAI. The 
seasonal apportionment of pollock, Atka mackerel, 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) 
specify how the BS pollock TAC will be apportioned. The regulations at 
Sec.  679.20(a)(7) specify how the BSAI Pacific cod TAC will be 
apportioned. The regulations at Sec.  679.20(a)(8) specify how the BSAI 
Atka mackerel TAC will be apportioned.
    In accordance with Sec.  679.25(a)(1)(iii), (a)(2)(i)(B), and 
(a)(2)(iv), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS

[[Page 271]]

(Regional Administrator), has determined that, based on the November 
2012 SAFE report for this fishery, the current BSAI pollock, Atka 
mackerel, and Pacific cod TACs are incorrectly specified. Pursuant to 
Sec.  679.25(a)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator is adjusting the 
2013 BSAI pollock TAC to 1,266,100 mt, the 2013 BSAI Atka mackerel TAC 
to 25,920 and the 2013 BSAI Pacific cod TAC to 260,000 mt. Therefore, 
Table 1 of the final 2012 and 2013 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the BSAI (77 FR 10669, February 23, 2012) is revised 
consistent with this adjustment.
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(5)(i), Table 3 of the final 2012 and 
2013 harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (77 FR 10669, 
February 23, 2012) and reallocation (77 FR 12214, February 29, 2012) is 
revised for the 2013 BSAI allocations of pollock TAC to the directed 
pollock fisheries and to the Community Development Quota (CDQ) directed 
fishing allowances consistent with this adjustment.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR03JA13.074


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BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(8), Table 4 of the final 2012 and 2013 
harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (77 FR 10669, 
February 23, 2012) and reallocation (77 FR 61300, October 9, 2012) is 
revised for the 2013 seasonal and spatial allowances, gear shares, CDQ 
reserve, incidental catch allowance, and Amendment 80 allocation of the 
BSAI Atka mackerel TAC.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR03JA13.076


[[Page 273]]


    Pursuant to Sec.  679.20(a)(7), Table 5b of the final 2012 and 2013 
harvest specifications for groundfish in the BSAI (77 FR 10669, 
February 23, 2012) is revised for the 2013 gear shares and seasonal 
allowances of the BSAI Pacific cod TAC consistent with this adjustment.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR03JA13.075

BILLING CODE 3510-22-C

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 
pollock, Atka mackerel, and Pacific cod in the BSAI 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 26, 2012, and additional

[[Page 274]]

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. 2012-31635 Filed 12-28-12; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P