[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 61 (Wednesday, March 31, 1999)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 15307-15308]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-7889]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[I.D. 032299A]


Fisheries Off West Coast States and in the Western Pacific; 
Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Renewal of Exempted Fishing Permits

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and

[[Page 15308]]

Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, Commerce.

ACTION: Renewal of Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) for monitoring 
salmon bycatch in the Washington-Oregon-California (WOC) shore-based 
Pacific whiting fishery.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces the receipt of an application, and NMFS' intent 
to renew EFPs to vessels participating in an observation program to 
monitor the incidental take of salmon and groundfish in the shore-based 
component of the Pacific whiting fishery. These EFPs are necessary to 
allow trawl vessels fishing for Pacific whiting to delay sorting of 
prohibited species and groundfish catch in excess of cumulative trip 
limits until the point of offloading. These activities are otherwise 
prohibited by Federal regulations.

DATES: The EFPs will be effective no earlier than April 1, 1999, and 
would expire no later than May 31, 2000, but could be terminated 
earlier under terms and conditions of the EFPs and other applicable 
laws.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the EFPs are available from Katherine King, 
Northwest Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Bldg. 1, Seattle, WA 
98115-0070.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Katherine King 206-526-6145.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This action is authorized by the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 600.745, which state that EFPs may be used to 
authorize fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited.
    NMFS received an application requesting renewal of these EFPs from 
the States of Washington, Oregon, and California at the March 8-12, 
1999, Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) meeting in Portland, 
OR. An opportunity for public testimony was provided during the Council 
meeting. The Council recommended that NMFS issue the EFPs, as requested 
by the States.
    Renewal of these EFPs, to about 40 vessels, would continue an 
ongoing program to collect information on the bycatch of salmon and 
groundfish in whiting harvests delivered to shoreside processing 
facilities by domestic trawl vessels operating off WOC. Sorting the 
catch at sea can hurt the whiting quality because whiting deteriorates 
rapidly if it is not immediately chilled. Issuing EFPs will allow 
vessels to delay sorting of groundfish catch in excess of cumulative 
trip limits and prohibited species until offloading. Delaying sorting 
until offloading will allow state biologists to collect bycatch data 
for total catch estimates and will enable whiting quality to be 
maintained. Without an EFP, groundfish regulations at 50 CFR 660.306(b) 
require vessels to sort their prohibited species bycatch and return 
them to sea as soon as practicable with minimum injury. To allow state 
biologists to sample unsorted whiting, it is also necessary to include 
provisions for potential overages of groundfish trip limits which is 
prohibited by regulations at 50 CFR 660.306(h).

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

    Dated: March 25, 1999.
Gary C. Matlock,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 99-7889 Filed 3-30-99; 8:45 am]
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