[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 53 (Tuesday, March 21, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 14479-14480]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-05536]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 161020985-7181-02]
RIN 0648-XF296

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Northern 
Rockfish 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 closure.


SUMMARY: NMFS is opening directed fishing for northern rockfish in the 
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI). This action is 
necessary to fully use the 2016 total allowable catch (TAC) of northern 
rockfish in the BSAI.

DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 16, 2017, 
through 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 2017. Comments must be received 
at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m., A.l.t., April 5, 

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2016-0140, by either 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-2016-0140, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit 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.
    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), 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).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Whitney, 907-586-7228.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the 
BSAI 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.
    Pursuant to the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for 
groundfish in the BSAI (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017), NMFS closed 
the directed fishery for northern rockfish under Sec.  
    As of March 14, 2017, NMFS has determined that approximately 4,000 
metric tons of northern rockfish initial TAC remains unharvested 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 2017 TAC of 
northern rockfish in the BSAI, NMFS is terminating the previous closure 
and is opening directed fishing for northern rockfish in the BSAI. This 
will enhance the socioeconomic well-being of harvesters in this area. 
The Administrator, Alaska Region (Regional Administrator) considered 
the following factors in reaching this decision: (1) The current catch 
of northern rockfish in the BSAI and, (2) the harvest capacity and 
stated intent on future harvesting patterns of vessels in participating 
in this fishery.


    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) and Sec.  679.25(c)(1)(ii) 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 northern rockfish in 
the BSAI. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public 
comment because the most recent,

[[Page 14480]]

relevant data only became available as of March 14, 2017.
    The acting 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 the fishery 
for northern rockfish 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 5, 2017.
    This action is required by Sec. Sec.  679.20 and 679.25 and is 
exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: March 16, 2017.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-05536 Filed 3-16-17; 4:15 pm]