Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations; Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP), 25492-25495 [05-9602]

Download as PDF 25492 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 92 / Friday, May 13, 2005 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Navy 32 CFR Part 701 [Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5211.5] Privacy Act; Implementation Department of the Navy, DoD. Final rule. AGENCY: ACTION: SUMMARY: The Department of the Navy is exempting the records contained in the Privacy Act system of records notice N12410–2, entitled—NCIS Training Academy Records. The exemption is intended to preserve the objectivity and/ or fairness of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) test or examination process. EFFECTIVE DATE: April 27, 2005. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mrs. Doris Lama at (202) 685–6545 or DSN 325–6545. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The proposed rule was published on February 25, 2005, at 70 FR 9262. No comments were received; therefore, the Department of the Navy is adopting the rule as published below. Executive Order 12866, ‘‘Regulatory Planning and Review’’. The Director of Administration and Management, Office of the Secretary of Defense, hereby determines that Privacy Act rules for the Department of Defense are not significant rules. The rules do not (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy; a sector of the economy; productivity; competition; jobs; the environment; public health or safety; or State, local, or tribal governments or communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another Agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs, or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or the principles set forth in this Executive order. Public Law 96–354, ‘‘Regulatory Flexibility Act’’ (5 U.S.C. Chapter 6) The Director of Administration and Management, Office of the Secretary of Defense, hereby certifies that Privacy Act rules for the Department of Defense do not have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because they are concerned only with the administration of Privacy Act systems of records within the Department of Defense. VerDate jul<14>2003 19:24 May 12, 2005 Jkt 205001 Public Law 96–511, ‘‘Paperwork Reduction Act’’ (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35) The Director of Administration and Management, Office of the Secretary of Defense, hereby certifies that Privacy Act rules for the Department of Defense impose no information requirements beyond the Department of Defense and that the information collected within the Department of Defense is necessary and consistent with 5 U.S.C. 552a, known as the Privacy Act of 1974. Section 202, Public Law 104–4, ‘‘Unfunded Mandates Reform Act’’ The Director of Administration and Management, Office of the Secretary of Defense, hereby certifies that the Privacy Act rulemaking for the Department of Defense does not involve a Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure by State, local and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more and that such rulemaking will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Executive Order 13132, ‘‘Federalism’’ The Director of Administration and Management, Office of the Secretary of Defense, hereby certifies that the Privacy Act rules for the Department of Defense do not have federalism implications. The rules do not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. List of Subjects in 32 CFR Part 701 Privacy. 1. The authority citation for 32 CFR part 701, Subpart G continues to read as follows: I Authority: Pub. L. 93–579, 88 Stat. 1896 (5 U.S.C. 552a). 2. Section 701.118, is amended by adding paragraph (h) to read as follows: I § 701.118 Exemptions for specific Navy record systems. * * * * (h) System identifier and name: N12410–2, NCIS Training Academy Records. (1) Exemption: (i) Testing or examination material used solely to determine individual qualifications for appointment or promotion in the federal or military service, if the disclosure would compromise the objectivity or fairness of the test or examination process may be exempt pursuant to 5 PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Dated: May 5, 2005. Jeannette Owings-Ballard, OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. [FR Doc. 05–9418 Filed 5–12–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 229 [Docket No. 030221039–5125–21; I.D. 050605A] Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations; Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule. AGENCY: PART 701—[AMENDED] * U.S.C. 552a(k)(6), if the disclosure would compromise the objectivity or fairness of the test or examination process. Therefore, information within this system of records may be exempt pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a, subsection (d). (ii) Portions of this system of records are exempt from the following subsection of the Privacy Act: (d). (2) Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(6). (3) Reason: From subsection (d) because this system relates to testing or examination materials used solely to determine individual qualifications for appointment or promotion in the Federal service. Access to or amendment of this information by the data subject would compromise the objectivity and fairness of the NCIS test and evaluation system. * * * * * SUMMARY: The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (AA), NOAA, announces temporary restrictions consistent with the requirements of the ALWTRP’s implementing regulations. These regulations apply to lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen in an area totaling approximately 1,235 nm2 (4,236 km2), southeast of Chatham, MA for 15 days. The purpose of this action is to provide protection to an aggregation of northern right whales (right whales). DATES: Effective beginning at 0001 hours May 15, 2005, through 2400 hours May 29, 2005. ADDRESSES: Copies of the proposed and final Dynamic Area Management (DAM) rules, Environmental Assessments E:\FR\FM\13MYR1.SGM 13MYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 92 / Friday, May 13, 2005 / Rules and Regulations (EAs), Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team (ALWTRT) meeting summaries, and progress reports on implementation of the ALWTRP may also be obtained by writing Diane Borggaard, NMFS/Northeast Region, One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Diane Borggaard, NMFS/Northeast Region, 978–281–9300 x6503; or Kristy Long, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, 301–713–1401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Electronic Access Several of the background documents for the ALWTRP and the take reduction planning process can be downloaded from the ALWTRP web site at http:// www.nero.noaa.gov/whaletrp/. Background The ALWTRP was developed pursuant to section 118 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to reduce the incidental mortality and serious injury of three endangered species of whales (right, fin, and humpback) due to incidental interaction with commercial fishing activities. In addition, the measures identified in the ALWTRP would provide conservation benefits to a fourth species (minke), which are neither listed as endangered nor threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ALWTRP, implemented through regulations codified at 50 CFR 229.32, relies on a combination of fishing gear modifications and time/area closures to reduce the risk of whales becoming entangled in commercial fishing gear (and potentially suffering serious injury or mortality as a result). On January 9, 2002, NMFS published the final rule to implement the ALWTRP’s DAM program (67 FR 1133). On August 26, 2003, NMFS amended the regulations by publishing a final rule, which specifically identified gear modifications that may be allowed in a DAM zone (68 FR 51195). The DAM program provides specific authority for NMFS to restrict temporarily on an expedited basis the use of lobster trap/ pot and anchored gillnet fishing gear in areas north of 40° N. lat. to protect right whales. Under the DAM program, NMFS may: (1) require the removal of all lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishing gear for a 15–day period; (2) allow lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishing within a DAM zone with gear modifications determined by NMFS to sufficiently reduce the risk of entanglement; and/or (3) issue an alert to fishermen requesting the voluntary VerDate jul<14>2003 19:24 May 12, 2005 Jkt 205001 removal of all lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet gear for a 15–day period and asking fishermen not to set any additional gear in the DAM zone during the 15–day period. A DAM zone is triggered when NMFS receives a reliable report from a qualified individual of three or more right whales sighted within an area (75 nm2 (139 km2)) such that right whale density is equal to or greater than 0.04 right whales per nm2 (1.85 km2). A qualified individual is an individual ascertained by NMFS to be reasonably able, through training or experience, to identify a right whale. Such individuals include, but are not limited to, NMFS staff, U.S. Coast Guard and Navy personnel trained in whale identification, scientific research survey personnel, whale watch operators and naturalists, and mariners trained in whale species identification through disentanglement training or some other training program deemed adequate by NMFS. A reliable report would be a credible right whale sighting. On May 4, 2005, an aerial survey reported a sighting of five right whales in the proximity 41° 12.4′ N. lat. and 69° 24.4′ W. long. This position lies southeast of Chatham, MA. After conducting an investigation, NMFS ascertained that the report came from a qualified individual and determined that the report was reliable. Thus, NMFS has received a reliable report from a qualified individual of the requisite right whale density to trigger the DAM provisions of the ALWTRP. Once a DAM zone is triggered, NMFS determines whether to impose restrictions on fishing and/or fishing gear in the zone. This determination is based on the following factors, including but not limited to: the location of the DAM zone with respect to other fishery closure areas, weather conditions as they relate to the safety of human life at sea, the type and amount of gear already present in the area, and a review of recent right whale entanglement and mortality data. NMFS has reviewed the factors and management options noted above relative to the DAM under consideration. As a result of this review, NMFS prohibits lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet gear in this area during the 15–day restricted period unless it is modified in the manner described in this temporary rule. In May, the DAM Zone overlaps SAM East and the Great South Channel Critical Habitat, and because the May 4 right whale sightings occurred within the area of a previously identified DAM zone triggered by the April 5, 2005, aerial-based sighting of 9 right whales PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 25493 (70 FR 20484, April 20, 2005), the coordinates for this DAM zone will encompass the same area, which is bound by the following coordinates: 41°52.8′ N., 69°57.5′ W. (NW Corner) 41°52.8′ N., 69°24′ W. 41°48.9′ N., 69°2′’ W. 41°40′ N., 69°45′ W. 41°09′ N., 69°14.4′ W. 41°09′ N., 70°07′ W. 41°14.4′ N., 70°07′ W. and follow the Nantucket coastline eastward, northward and then southward to 41°18′ N., 70°07′ W. 41°39.6′ N., 70°07′ W. and follow the Cape Cod coastline eastward and then northward back to NW Corner In addition to those gear modifications currently implemented under the ALWTRP at 50 CFR 229.32, the following gear modifications are required in the DAM zone. If the requirements and exceptions for gear modifications in the DAM zone, as described below, differ from other ALWTRP requirements for any overlapping areas and times, then the more restrictive requirements will apply in the DAM zone. Special note for gillnet fisherman: During May, a portion of this DAM zone overlaps the Northeast multispecies seasonal Georges Bank Closure Area found at 50 CFR 648.80(g). Due to this closure, sink gillnet gear is prohibited from this portion of the DAM zone during the month of May. Lobster Trap/Pot Gear Fishermen utilizing lobster trap/pot gear within the portion of the Northern Nearshore Lobster Waters and Northern Inshore State Lobster Waters that overlap with the DAM zone are required to utilize all of the following gear modifications while the DAM zone is in effect: 1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line. Floating groundlines are prohibited. 2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of the buoy line. 3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per trawl. 4. A weak link with a maximum breaking strength of 600 lb (272.4 kg) must be placed at all buoys. Fishermen utilizing lobster trap/pot gear within the portion of the Offshore Lobster Waters Area that overlap with the DAM zone are required to utilize all of the following gear modifications while the DAM zone is in effect: 1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line. Floating groundlines are prohibited. E:\FR\FM\13MYR1.SGM 13MYR1 25494 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 92 / Friday, May 13, 2005 / Rules and Regulations 2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of the buoy line. 3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per trawl. 4. A weak link with a maximum breaking strength of 1,500 lb (680.4 kg) must be placed at all buoys. Anchored Gillnet Gear Fishermen utilizing anchored gillnet gear within the portion of the Other Northeast Gillnet Waters that overlap with the DAM zone are required to utilize all the following gear modifications while the DAM zone is in effect: 1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line. Floating groundlines are prohibited. 2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of the buoy line. 3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per string. 4. Each net panel must have a total of five weak links with a maximum breaking strength of 1,100 lb (498.8 kg). Net panels are typically 50 fathoms (91.4 m) in length, but the weak link requirements would apply to all variations in panel size. These weak links must include three floatline weak links. The placement of the weak links on the floatline must be: one at the center of the net panel and one each as close as possible to each of the bridle ends of the net panel. The remaining two weak links must be placed in the center of each of the up and down lines at the panel ends. 5. All anchored gillnets, regardless of the number of net panels, must be securely anchored with the holding power of at least a 22–lb (10.0–kg) Danforth-style anchor at each end of the net string. The restrictions will be in effect beginning at 0001 hours May 15, 2005, through 2400 hours May 29, 2005, unless terminated sooner or extended by NMFS through another notification in the Federal Register. The restrictions will be announced to state officials, fishermen, ALWTRT members, and other interested parties through e-mail, phone contact, NOAA website, and other appropriate media immediately upon filing with the Federal Register. VerDate jul<14>2003 19:24 May 12, 2005 Jkt 205001 Classification In accordance with section 118(f)(9) of the MMPA, the Assistant Administrator (AA) for Fisheries has determined that this action is necessary to implement a take reduction plan to protect North Atlantic right whales. Environmental Assessments for the DAM program were prepared on December 28, 2001 and August 6, 2003. This action falls within the scope of the analyses of these EAs, which are available from the agency upon request. NMFS provided prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on the regulations establishing the criteria and procedures for implementing a DAM zone. Providing prior notice and opportunity for comment on this action, pursuant to those regulations, would be impracticable because it would prevent NMFS from executing its functions to protect and reduce serious injury and mortality of endangered right whales. The regulations establishing the DAM program are designed to enable the agency to help protect unexpected concentrations of right whales. In order to meet the goals of the DAM program, the agency needs to be able to create a DAM zone and implement restrictions on fishing gear as soon as possible once the criteria are triggered and NMFS determines that a DAM restricted zone is appropriate. If NMFS were to provide prior notice and an opportunity for public comment upon the creation of a DAM restricted zone, the aggregated right whales would be vulnerable to entanglement which could result in serious injury and mortality. Additionally, the right whales would most likely move on to another location before NMFS could implement the restrictions designed to protect them, thereby rendering the action obsolete. Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the AA finds that good cause exists to waive prior notice and an opportunity to comment on this action to implement a DAM restricted zone to reduce the risk of entanglement of endangered right whales in commercial lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet gear as such procedures would be impracticable. For the same reasons, the AA finds that, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), good cause exists to waive the 30–day delay in effective date. If NMFS were to delay for 30 days the effective date of this action, the aggregated right whales would be vulnerable to entanglement, which could cause serious injury and mortality. Additionally, right whales would likely move to another location between the time NMFS approved the action creating the DAM restricted zone PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 and the time it went into effect, thereby rendering the action obsolete and ineffective. Nevertheless, NMFS recognizes the need for fishermen to have time to either modify or remove (if not in compliance with the required restrictions) their gear from a DAM zone once one is approved. Thus, NMFS makes this action effective 2 days after the date of publication of this document in the Federal Register. NMFS will also endeavor to provide notice of this action to fishermen through other means as soon as the AA approves it, thereby providing approximately 3 additional days of notice while the Office of the Federal Register processes the document for publication. NMFS determined that the regulations establishing the DAM program and actions such as this one taken pursuant to those regulations are consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of the approved coastal management program of the U.S. Atlantic coastal states. This determination was submitted for review by the responsible state agencies under section 307 of the Coastal Zone Management Act. Following state review of the regulations creating the DAM program, no state disagreed with NMFS’ conclusion that the DAM program is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of the approved coastal management program for that state. The DAM program under which NMFS is taking this action contains policies with federalism implications warranting preparation of a federalism assessment under Executive Order 13132. Accordingly, in October 2001 and March 2003, the Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental and Legislative Affairs, Department of Commerce, provided notice of the DAM program and its amendments to the appropriate elected officials in states to be affected by actions taken pursuant to the DAM program. Federalism issues raised by state officials were addressed in the final rules implementing the DAM program. A copy of the federalism Summary Impact Statement for the final rules is available upon request (ADDRESSES). The rule implementing the DAM program has been determined to be not significant under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq. and 50 CFR 229.32(g)(3) E:\FR\FM\13MYR1.SGM 13MYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 92 / Friday, May 13, 2005 / Rules and Regulations Dated: May 9, 2005. John Oliver, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 05–9602 Filed 5–12–05; 2:34 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S VerDate jul<14>2003 19:24 May 12, 2005 Jkt 205001 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\13MYR1.SGM 13MYR1 25495

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 92 (Friday, May 13, 2005)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 25492-25495]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-9602]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 229

[Docket No. 030221039-5125-21; I.D. 050605A]


Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing 
Operations; Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP)

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

ACTION: Temporary rule.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (AA), NOAA, 
announces temporary restrictions consistent with the requirements of 
the ALWTRP's implementing regulations. These regulations apply to 
lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen in an area totaling 
approximately 1,235 nm\2\ (4,236 km\2\), southeast of Chatham, MA for 
15 days. The purpose of this action is to provide protection to an 
aggregation of northern right whales (right whales).

DATES: Effective beginning at 0001 hours May 15, 2005, through 2400 
hours May 29, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the proposed and final Dynamic Area Management 
(DAM) rules, Environmental Assessments

[[Page 25493]]

(EAs), Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team (ALWTRT) meeting 
summaries, and progress reports on implementation of the ALWTRP may 
also be obtained by writing Diane Borggaard, NMFS/Northeast Region, One 
Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Diane Borggaard, NMFS/Northeast 
Region, 978-281-9300 x6503; or Kristy Long, NMFS, Office of Protected 
Resources, 301-713-1401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    Several of the background documents for the ALWTRP and the take 
reduction planning process can be downloaded from the ALWTRP web site 
at http://www.nero.noaa.gov/whaletrp/.

Background

    The ALWTRP was developed pursuant to section 118 of the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to reduce the incidental mortality and 
serious injury of three endangered species of whales (right, fin, and 
humpback) due to incidental interaction with commercial fishing 
activities. In addition, the measures identified in the ALWTRP would 
provide conservation benefits to a fourth species (minke), which are 
neither listed as endangered nor threatened under the Endangered 
Species Act (ESA). The ALWTRP, implemented through regulations codified 
at 50 CFR 229.32, relies on a combination of fishing gear modifications 
and time/area closures to reduce the risk of whales becoming entangled 
in commercial fishing gear (and potentially suffering serious injury or 
mortality as a result).
    On January 9, 2002, NMFS published the final rule to implement the 
ALWTRP's DAM program (67 FR 1133). On August 26, 2003, NMFS amended the 
regulations by publishing a final rule, which specifically identified 
gear modifications that may be allowed in a DAM zone (68 FR 51195). The 
DAM program provides specific authority for NMFS to restrict 
temporarily on an expedited basis the use of lobster trap/pot and 
anchored gillnet fishing gear in areas north of 40[deg] N. lat. to 
protect right whales. Under the DAM program, NMFS may: (1) require the 
removal of all lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishing gear for a 
15-day period; (2) allow lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishing 
within a DAM zone with gear modifications determined by NMFS to 
sufficiently reduce the risk of entanglement; and/or (3) issue an alert 
to fishermen requesting the voluntary removal of all lobster trap/pot 
and anchored gillnet gear for a 15-day period and asking fishermen not 
to set any additional gear in the DAM zone during the 15-day period.
    A DAM zone is triggered when NMFS receives a reliable report from a 
qualified individual of three or more right whales sighted within an 
area (75 nm\2\ (139 km\2\)) such that right whale density is equal to 
or greater than 0.04 right whales per nm\2\ (1.85 km\2\). A qualified 
individual is an individual ascertained by NMFS to be reasonably able, 
through training or experience, to identify a right whale. Such 
individuals include, but are not limited to, NMFS staff, U.S. Coast 
Guard and Navy personnel trained in whale identification, scientific 
research survey personnel, whale watch operators and naturalists, and 
mariners trained in whale species identification through 
disentanglement training or some other training program deemed adequate 
by NMFS. A reliable report would be a credible right whale sighting.
    On May 4, 2005, an aerial survey reported a sighting of five right 
whales in the proximity 41[deg] 12.4' N. lat. and 69[deg] 24.4' W. 
long. This position lies southeast of Chatham, MA. After conducting an 
investigation, NMFS ascertained that the report came from a qualified 
individual and determined that the report was reliable. Thus, NMFS has 
received a reliable report from a qualified individual of the requisite 
right whale density to trigger the DAM provisions of the ALWTRP.
    Once a DAM zone is triggered, NMFS determines whether to impose 
restrictions on fishing and/or fishing gear in the zone. This 
determination is based on the following factors, including but not 
limited to: the location of the DAM zone with respect to other fishery 
closure areas, weather conditions as they relate to the safety of human 
life at sea, the type and amount of gear already present in the area, 
and a review of recent right whale entanglement and mortality data.
    NMFS has reviewed the factors and management options noted above 
relative to the DAM under consideration. As a result of this review, 
NMFS prohibits lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet gear in this area 
during the 15-day restricted period unless it is modified in the manner 
described in this temporary rule.
    In May, the DAM Zone overlaps SAM East and the Great South Channel 
Critical Habitat, and because the May 4 right whale sightings occurred 
within the area of a previously identified DAM zone triggered by the 
April 5, 2005, aerial-based sighting of 9 right whales (70 FR 20484, 
April 20, 2005), the coordinates for this DAM zone will encompass the 
same area, which is bound by the following coordinates:
    41[deg]52.8' N., 69[deg]57.5' W. (NW Corner)
    41[deg]52.8' N., 69[deg]24' W.
    41[deg]48.9' N., 69[deg]2'' W.
    41[deg]40' N., 69[deg]45' W.
    41[deg]09' N., 69[deg]14.4' W.
    41[deg]09' N., 70[deg]07' W.
    41[deg]14.4' N., 70[deg]07' W. and follow the Nantucket coastline 
eastward, northward and then southward to
    41[deg]18' N., 70[deg]07' W.
    41[deg]39.6' N., 70[deg]07' W. and follow the Cape Cod coastline 
eastward and then northward back to NW Corner
    In addition to those gear modifications currently implemented under 
the ALWTRP at 50 CFR 229.32, the following gear modifications are 
required in the DAM zone. If the requirements and exceptions for gear 
modifications in the DAM zone, as described below, differ from other 
ALWTRP requirements for any overlapping areas and times, then the more 
restrictive requirements will apply in the DAM zone. Special note for 
gillnet fisherman: During May, a portion of this DAM zone overlaps the 
Northeast multispecies seasonal Georges Bank Closure Area found at 50 
CFR 648.80(g). Due to this closure, sink gillnet gear is prohibited 
from this portion of the DAM zone during the month of May.

Lobster Trap/Pot Gear

    Fishermen utilizing lobster trap/pot gear within the portion of the 
Northern Nearshore Lobster Waters and Northern Inshore State Lobster 
Waters that overlap with the DAM zone are required to utilize all of 
the following gear modifications while the DAM zone is in effect:
    1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant 
line. Floating groundlines are prohibited.
    2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally 
buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a 
section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of 
the buoy line.
    3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per trawl.
    4. A weak link with a maximum breaking strength of 600 lb (272.4 
kg) must be placed at all buoys.
    Fishermen utilizing lobster trap/pot gear within the portion of the 
Offshore Lobster Waters Area that overlap with the DAM zone are 
required to utilize all of the following gear modifications while the 
DAM zone is in effect:
    1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant 
line. Floating groundlines are prohibited.

[[Page 25494]]

    2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally 
buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a 
section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of 
the buoy line.
    3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per trawl.
    4. A weak link with a maximum breaking strength of 1,500 lb (680.4 
kg) must be placed at all buoys.

Anchored Gillnet Gear

    Fishermen utilizing anchored gillnet gear within the portion of the 
Other Northeast Gillnet Waters that overlap with the DAM zone are 
required to utilize all the following gear modifications while the DAM 
zone is in effect:
    1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant 
line. Floating groundlines are prohibited.
    2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally 
buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a 
section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of 
the buoy line.
    3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per string.
    4. Each net panel must have a total of five weak links with a 
maximum breaking strength of 1,100 lb (498.8 kg). Net panels are 
typically 50 fathoms (91.4 m) in length, but the weak link requirements 
would apply to all variations in panel size. These weak links must 
include three floatline weak links. The placement of the weak links on 
the floatline must be: one at the center of the net panel and one each 
as close as possible to each of the bridle ends of the net panel. The 
remaining two weak links must be placed in the center of each of the up 
and down lines at the panel ends.
    5. All anchored gillnets, regardless of the number of net panels, 
must be securely anchored with the holding power of at least a 22-lb 
(10.0-kg) Danforth-style anchor at each end of the net string.
    The restrictions will be in effect beginning at 0001 hours May 15, 
2005, through 2400 hours May 29, 2005, unless terminated sooner or 
extended by NMFS through another notification in the Federal Register.
    The restrictions will be announced to state officials, fishermen, 
ALWTRT members, and other interested parties through e-mail, phone 
contact, NOAA website, and other appropriate media immediately upon 
filing with the Federal Register.

Classification

    In accordance with section 118(f)(9) of the MMPA, the Assistant 
Administrator (AA) for Fisheries has determined that this action is 
necessary to implement a take reduction plan to protect North Atlantic 
right whales.
    Environmental Assessments for the DAM program were prepared on 
December 28, 2001 and August 6, 2003. This action falls within the 
scope of the analyses of these EAs, which are available from the agency 
upon request.
    NMFS provided prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on 
the regulations establishing the criteria and procedures for 
implementing a DAM zone. Providing prior notice and opportunity for 
comment on this action, pursuant to those regulations, would be 
impracticable because it would prevent NMFS from executing its 
functions to protect and reduce serious injury and mortality of 
endangered right whales. The regulations establishing the DAM program 
are designed to enable the agency to help protect unexpected 
concentrations of right whales. In order to meet the goals of the DAM 
program, the agency needs to be able to create a DAM zone and implement 
restrictions on fishing gear as soon as possible once the criteria are 
triggered and NMFS determines that a DAM restricted zone is 
appropriate. If NMFS were to provide prior notice and an opportunity 
for public comment upon the creation of a DAM restricted zone, the 
aggregated right whales would be vulnerable to entanglement which could 
result in serious injury and mortality. Additionally, the right whales 
would most likely move on to another location before NMFS could 
implement the restrictions designed to protect them, thereby rendering 
the action obsolete. Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the AA 
finds that good cause exists to waive prior notice and an opportunity 
to comment on this action to implement a DAM restricted zone to reduce 
the risk of entanglement of endangered right whales in commercial 
lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet gear as such procedures would be 
impracticable.
    For the same reasons, the AA finds that, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), 
good cause exists to waive the 30-day delay in effective date. If NMFS 
were to delay for 30 days the effective date of this action, the 
aggregated right whales would be vulnerable to entanglement, which 
could cause serious injury and mortality. Additionally, right whales 
would likely move to another location between the time NMFS approved 
the action creating the DAM restricted zone and the time it went into 
effect, thereby rendering the action obsolete and ineffective. 
Nevertheless, NMFS recognizes the need for fishermen to have time to 
either modify or remove (if not in compliance with the required 
restrictions) their gear from a DAM zone once one is approved. Thus, 
NMFS makes this action effective 2 days after the date of publication 
of this document in the Federal Register. NMFS will also endeavor to 
provide notice of this action to fishermen through other means as soon 
as the AA approves it, thereby providing approximately 3 additional 
days of notice while the Office of the Federal Register processes the 
document for publication.
    NMFS determined that the regulations establishing the DAM program 
and actions such as this one taken pursuant to those regulations are 
consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable 
policies of the approved coastal management program of the U.S. 
Atlantic coastal states. This determination was submitted for review by 
the responsible state agencies under section 307 of the Coastal Zone 
Management Act. Following state review of the regulations creating the 
DAM program, no state disagreed with NMFS' conclusion that the DAM 
program is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the 
enforceable policies of the approved coastal management program for 
that state.
    The DAM program under which NMFS is taking this action contains 
policies with federalism implications warranting preparation of a 
federalism assessment under Executive Order 13132. Accordingly, in 
October 2001 and March 2003, the Assistant Secretary for 
Intergovernmental and Legislative Affairs, Department of Commerce, 
provided notice of the DAM program and its amendments to the 
appropriate elected officials in states to be affected by actions taken 
pursuant to the DAM program. Federalism issues raised by state 
officials were addressed in the final rules implementing the DAM 
program. A copy of the federalism Summary Impact Statement for the 
final rules is available upon request (ADDRESSES).
    The rule implementing the DAM program has been determined to be not 
significant under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq. and 50 CFR 229.32(g)(3)


[[Page 25495]]


    Dated: May 9, 2005.
John Oliver,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 05-9602 Filed 5-12-05; 2:34 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S