Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska, 8992-8993 [06-1622]

Download as PDF 8992 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 35 / Wednesday, February 22, 2006 / Rules and Regulations cprice-sewell on PROD1PC66 with RULES nautical miles, has created ongoing special environmental conditions that make trawling with TED-equipped nets impracticable. Therefore, the AA issues this notification to extend the current authorization for the use of restricted tow times as an alternative to the use of TEDs in inshore and offshore waters off Alabama, westward to the Louisiana/ Texas border, and extending offshore 10 nautical miles, through 11:59 p.m., local time, March 20, 2006. Tow times must be limited to no more than 75 minutes measured from the time trawl doors enter the water until they are retrieved from the water. Continued Use of TEDs NMFS encourages shrimp trawlers in the affected areas to continue to use TEDs if possible, even though they are authorized under this action to use restricted tow times. NMFS gear experts have provided several general operational recommendations to fishermen to maximize the debris exclusion ability of TEDs that may allow some fishermen to continue using TEDs without resorting to restricted tow times. To exclude debris, NMFS recommends the use of hard TEDs made of either solid rod or of hollow pipe that incorporate a bent angle at the escape opening, in a bottom-opening configuration. In addition, the installation angle of a hard TED in the trawl extension is an important performance element in excluding debris from the trawl. High installation angles can trap debris either on or in front of the bars of the TED; NMFS recommends an installation angle of 45°, relative to the normal horizontal flow of water through the trawl, to optimize the TED’s ability to exclude turtles and debris. Furthermore, the use of accelerator funnels, which are allowable modifications to hard TEDs, is not recommended in areas with heavy amounts of debris or vegetation. Lastly, the webbing flap that is usually installed to cover the turtle escape opening may be modified to help exclude debris quickly: the webbing flap can either be cut horizontally to shorten it so that it does not overlap the frame of the TED or be slit in a fore-and-aft direction to facilitate the exclusion of debris. The use of the double cover flap TED will also aid in debris exclusion. All of these recommendations represent legal configurations of TEDs for shrimpers fishing in the affected areas. This action does not authorize any other departure from the TED requirements, including any illegal modifications to TEDs. In particular, if TEDs are installed in trawl nets, they may not be sewn shut. VerDate Aug<31>2005 13:17 Feb 21, 2006 Jkt 208001 Due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, tow time authorizations have been granted in the affected area since September 23, 2005. Evidence from state and Federal investigations indicate that more fishermen are using TEDs even though tow times are authorized because TEDs are effective at shooting the debris from the trawl. This indicates that although there is still much debris in the affected areas, the problem is dissipating. The end of this authorization will represent five months of tow time authorizations. This amount of time will have allowed fishermen to find areas that can be trawled effectively with TEDS. Therefore, based on the dissipating debris problem and the amount of time fishermen have had to fish under tow time restrictions NMFS believes that this will be the last time tow time authorizations will be required due to debris problems caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Alternative to Required Use of TEDs The authorization provided by this rule applies to all shrimp trawlers that would otherwise be required to use TEDs in accordance with the requirements of 50 CFR 223.206(d)(2) who are operating in inshore and offshore waters affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita off Alabama, westward to the Louisiana/Texas border, and extending offshore 10 nautical miles, through March 20, 2006. Through this temporary rule, shrimp trawlers may choose either restricted tow times or TEDs to comply with the sea turtle conservation regulations, as prescribed above. Alternative to Required Use of TEDs; Termination The AA, at any time, may withdraw or modify this temporary authorization to use tow time restrictions in lieu of TEDs through publication of a notice in the Federal Register, if necessary to ensure adequate protection of endangered and threatened sea turtles. Under this procedure, the AA may modify the affected area or impose any necessary additional or more stringent measures, including more restrictive tow times, synchronized tow times, or withdrawal of the authorization if the AA determines that the alternative authorized by this rule is not sufficiently protecting turtles or no longer needed. The AA may also terminate this authorization if information from enforcement, state authorities, or NMFS indicates compliance cannot be monitored effectively. This authorization will expire automatically at 11:59 p.m., local time, March 20, 2006, unless it is PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 explicitly extended through another notification published in the Federal Register. Classification This action has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. The AA has determined that this action is necessary to respond to special environmental conditions to allow effective fishing for shrimp, while providing adequate protection for endangered and threatened sea turtles pursuant to the ESA and applicable regulations. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the AA finds that there is good cause to waive prior notice and opportunity to comment on this rule. The AA finds that unusually high amounts of debris has created ongoing special environmental conditions that make trawling with TED-equipped nets impracticable. Prior notice and opportunity to comment are impracticable and contrary to the public interest in this instance because providing notice and comment would prevent the agency from providing the affected industry relief from the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in a timely manner. The AA finds that there is good cause to waive the 30–day delay in effective date pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to provide alternatives to comply with the sea turtle regulations in a timely manner. Many fishermen may be unable to operate under the special environmental conditions created by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita without an alternative to using TEDs. Providing a 30–day delay in effective date would prevent the agency from providing the affected industry relief from the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in a timely manner. For the reasons stated above, the AA finds that this temporary rule should not be subject to a 30–day delay in effective date, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1). Since prior notice and an opportunity for public comment are not required to be provided for this action by 5 U.S.C. 553, or by any other law, the analytical requirements of 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. are inapplicable. The AA prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) for this rule. Copies of the EA are available (see ADDRESSES). Dated: February 16, 2006. William T. Hogarth, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 06–1623 Filed 2–16–06; 1:42 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\22FER1.SGM 22FER1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 35 / Wednesday, February 22, 2006 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 041126333–5040–02; I.D. 021506A] Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: cprice-sewell on PROD1PC66 with RULES SUMMARY: NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2006 total allowable catch (TAC) of pollock for Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), February 15, 2006, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., March 10, 2006. 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 VerDate Aug<31>2005 13:17 Feb 21, 2006 Jkt 208001 under authority of the MagnusonStevens 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 A season allowance of the 2006 TAC of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA is 4,159 metric tons (mt) as established by the 2005 and 2006 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (70 FR 8958, February 24, 2005). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional Administrator has determined that the A season allowance of the 2006 TAC of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA will soon be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed fishing allowance of 4,013 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 146 mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator finds that this directed fishing allowance has been reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. After the effective date of this closure the maximum retainable amounts at § 679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip. Classification This action responds to the best available information recently obtained PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 8993 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 delay the closure of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of February 14, 2006. 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. This action is required by § 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: February 15, 2006. James P. Burgess, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 06–1622 Filed 2–16–06; 1:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\22FER1.SGM 22FER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 35 (Wednesday, February 22, 2006)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 8992-8993]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-1622]



[[Page 8993]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

[Docket No. 041126333-5040-02; I.D. 021506A]


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in 
Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in 
Statistical Area 630 of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is 
necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2006 total 
allowable catch (TAC) of pollock for Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.

DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), February 15, 
2006, through 1200 hrs, A.l.t., March 10, 2006.

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 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 A season allowance of the 2006 TAC of pollock in Statistical 
Area 630 of the GOA is 4,159 metric tons (mt) as established by the 
2005 and 2006 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (70 FR 
8958, February 24, 2005).
    In accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional 
Administrator has determined that the A season allowance of the 2006 
TAC of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA will soon be reached. 
Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing a directed 
fishing allowance of 4,013 mt, and is setting aside the remaining 146 
mt as bycatch to support other anticipated groundfish fisheries. In 
accordance with Sec.  679.20(d)(1)(iii), the Regional Administrator 
finds that this directed fishing allowance has been reached. 
Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in 
Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.
    After the effective date of this closure the maximum retainable 
amounts at Sec.  679.20(e) and (f) apply at any time during a trip.

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 delay the closure of pollock in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA. 
NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment 
because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of 
February 14, 2006.
    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.
    This action is required by Sec.  679.20 and is exempt from review 
under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: February 15, 2006.
James P. Burgess,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 06-1622 Filed 2-16-06; 1:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S