Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Improved Retention/Improved Utilization, 50888 [E8-20162]

Download as PDF 50888 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 169 / Friday, August 29, 2008 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 RIN 0648–AR72 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Improved Retention/ Improved Utilization National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Final rule: agency decision. AGENCY: NMFS announces the approval of Amendment 72 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. Amendment 72 amends the FMP to state that the Council will annually review information on the discard of shallowwater flatfish in Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries. After review of this annual information, the Council may recommend revisions to retention and utilization requirements if the discard rate for shallow-water flatfish falls above or below a specified threshold. This action is necessary to support the Council’s initiatives to monitor and reduce bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resource in the Gulf of Alaska in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. DATES: This agency decision is effective on August 25, 2008. ADDRESSES: Copies of Amendment 72 and the Categorical Exclusion for this ebenthall on PRODPC60 with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:42 Aug 28, 2008 Jkt 214001 action may be obtained from the NMFS Alaska Region website at https:// alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Hartman, 907–586–7442. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires that each regional fishery management council submit any fishery management plan amendment it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial approval by the Secretary of Commerce. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a fisheries management plan amendment, immediately publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing that the amendment is available for public review and comment. The Council submitted Amendment 72 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) to NMFS on May 15, 2008. The notice of availability (NOA) for Amendment 72 was published in the Federal Register on May 28, 2008 (73 FR 30598). The public comment period closed on July 28, 2008. NMFS received one public comment and considered this comment in determining whether to approve this FMP amendment. NMFS has summarized and responded to the public comment received in this notice under Response to Public Comments, below. In April 2003, the Council unanimously recommended Amendment 72 to the GOA FMP. The purpose of Amendment 72 is to annually provide the best available data to the Council on discards of shallow- PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 water flatfish as a percentage of total groundfish catch by area and target fishery. Based on that data, the Council could review the effectiveness of existing Improved Retention/Improved Utilization (IR/IU) regulations for shallow-water flatfish, or consider recommendations to change IR/IU regulations for shallow-water flatfish. A Categorical Exclusion was prepared for Amendment 72 concluding that the amendment will not result individually or cumulatively in significant impacts on the quality of the human environment (see ADDRESSES). Response to Public Comments Comment 1: The commenter supports approval of Amendment 72, but notes an error in the NOA. The NOA incorrectly states that the shallow-water flatfish species group in the GOA includes flathead sole, which incorrectly implies that IR/IU requirements in the GOA apply to flathead sole. Response: NMFS agrees. Flathead sole is not included in the shallow-water flatfish species group, is not subject to IR/IU, and would not be included in a shallow-water flatfish discard data report to the Council. No change to the FMP amendment text is necessary because it does not list individual species in the shallow-water flatfish group. Dated: August 25, 2008. James W. Balsiger, Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–20162 Filed 8–28–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S E:\FR\FM\29AUR1.SGM 29AUR1

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[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 169 (Friday, August 29, 2008)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 50888]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-20162]



[[Page 50888]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 679

RIN 0648-AR72


Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Improved 
Retention/Improved Utilization

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

ACTION: Final rule: agency decision.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces the approval of Amendment 72 to the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. Amendment 72 
amends the FMP to state that the Council will annually review 
information on the discard of shallow-water flatfish in Gulf of Alaska 
groundfish fisheries. After review of this annual information, the 
Council may recommend revisions to retention and utilization 
requirements if the discard rate for shallow-water flatfish falls above 
or below a specified threshold. This action is necessary to support the 
Council's initiatives to monitor and reduce bycatch in the Gulf of 
Alaska groundfish fisheries. The intended effect of this action is to 
conserve and manage the groundfish resource in the Gulf of Alaska in 
accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act.

DATES: This agency decision is effective on August 25, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Copies of Amendment 72 and the Categorical Exclusion for 
this action may be obtained from the NMFS Alaska Region website at 
https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Hartman, 907-586-7442.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires that each regional 
fishery management council submit any fishery management plan amendment 
it prepares to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial 
approval by the Secretary of Commerce. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also 
requires that NMFS, upon receiving a fisheries management plan 
amendment, immediately publish a notice in the Federal Register 
announcing that the amendment is available for public review and 
comment.
    The Council submitted Amendment 72 to the Fishery Management Plan 
for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) to NMFS on May 15, 2008. The 
notice of availability (NOA) for Amendment 72 was published in the 
Federal Register on May 28, 2008 (73 FR 30598). The public comment 
period closed on July 28, 2008. NMFS received one public comment and 
considered this comment in determining whether to approve this FMP 
amendment. NMFS has summarized and responded to the public comment 
received in this notice under Response to Public Comments, below.
    In April 2003, the Council unanimously recommended Amendment 72 to 
the GOA FMP. The purpose of Amendment 72 is to annually provide the 
best available data to the Council on discards of shallow-water 
flatfish as a percentage of total groundfish catch by area and target 
fishery. Based on that data, the Council could review the effectiveness 
of existing Improved Retention/Improved Utilization (IR/IU) regulations 
for shallow-water flatfish, or consider recommendations to change IR/IU 
regulations for shallow-water flatfish.
    A Categorical Exclusion was prepared for Amendment 72 concluding 
that the amendment will not result individually or cumulatively in 
significant impacts on the quality of the human environment (see 
ADDRESSES).

Response to Public Comments

    Comment 1: The commenter supports approval of Amendment 72, but 
notes an error in the NOA. The NOA incorrectly states that the shallow-
water flatfish species group in the GOA includes flathead sole, which 
incorrectly implies that IR/IU requirements in the GOA apply to 
flathead sole.
    Response: NMFS agrees. Flathead sole is not included in the 
shallow-water flatfish species group, is not subject to IR/IU, and 
would not be included in a shallow-water flatfish discard data report 
to the Council. No change to the FMP amendment text is necessary 
because it does not list individual species in the shallow-water 
flatfish group.

    Dated: August 25, 2008.
James W. Balsiger,
Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. E8-20162 Filed 8-28-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S