Fisheries Off West Coast States; the Highly Migratory Species Fishery; Closure, 31486 [2015-13601]

Download as PDF 31486 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 106 / Wednesday, June 3, 2015 / Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 031125294–4091–02] RIN 0648–XD945 Fisheries Off West Coast States; the Highly Migratory Species Fishery; Closure National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: NMFS is prohibiting fishing with large-mesh drift gillnet (DGN) gear (≥14 inches mesh) off the coast of southern California east of 120° W. meridian from the effective date of this rule through August 31, 2015. This prohibition is based on the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries’ (AA) ˜ determination that El Nino conditions are occurring off the coast of southern California. This action protects Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), specifically the endangered North Pacific Ocean Distinct Population Segment. DATES: Effective 12:01 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), May 29, 2015, through 11:59 p.m. PDT, August 31, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lyle Enriquez, West Coast Region (WCR), NMFS, (562) 980–4025, lyle.enriquez@ noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The DGN fishery is managed under the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (HMS) (50 CFR part 660, subpart K). The fishery occurs off the coast of California. The regulations provide that ‘‘No person may fish with, set, or haul back drift gillnet gear in U.S. waters of the Pacific Ocean east of the 120° W. meridian from June 1 through August 31 during a forecasted, or ˜ occurring, El Nino event off the coast of southern California’’ (50 CFR 660.713(c)(2)). This area, which falls asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:13 Jun 02, 2015 Jkt 235001 within the Southern California Bight (SCB), is referred to in the regulations as the ‘‘Pacific loggerhead conservation area.’’ Under 50 CFR 660.713(c)(2)(ii), the AA relies on information developed by NOAA offices, such as the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the West Coast Office of the Coast Watch program to make the determination that an El ˜ Nino event is forecasted or occurring off southern California. The AA uses monthly sea surface temperature (SST) charts to determine whether there are warmer-than-normal SSTs off southern California ‘‘during the months prior to the closure months for years in which ˜ an El Nino event has been declared’’ by the CPC. Specifically, the AA uses SST data from the third and second months prior to the month of closure. NMFS published these regulations to protect ESA-listed loggerhead sea turtles in accordance with a reasonable and prudent alternative (RPA) in NMFS’s 2000 biological opinion on issuance of an incidental take permit for the DGN fishery under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The biological opinion concluded that loggerhead bycatch in the DGN fishery was likely to jeopardize the continued existence of loggerhead sea turtles, and recommended adoption of a RPA under which the fishery would be closed in this area during the ˜ summer months when El Nino conditions are present to avoid the likelihood of jeopardy. The CPC forecasts and declares when ˜ El Nino conditions exist based on conditions in equatorial waters, but does not forecast or declare when El ˜ Nino conditions exist off southern California. The Coast Watch program publishes maps of SST off the California coast through the Environmental Research Division’s Data Access Program. On March 5, 2015, the CPC issued an ˜ ˜ El Nino advisory, declaring that El Nino conditions were present in equatorial waters. Subsequent CPC updates on April 9, 2015, and May 14, 2015, stated ˜ that El Nino conditions remain in these waters. The May 14, 2015, update predicts that there is an approximately ˜ 90 percent chance that El Nino will continue through the northern hemisphere summer of 2015, and a PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 greater than 80 percent chance it will last through the end of 2015. In May 2015, NMFS WCR staff reviewed the SST anomalies in the SCB during March and April of 2015, relying on SST maps available through NOAA’s Coast Watch Program (for details see http://coastwatch.pfeg.noaa.gov/ erddap/index.html). These maps indicated that SSTs were above normal in the SCB. WCR staff concluded that a ˜ determination of El Nino conditions off southern California is warranted based on SSTs that are warmer than normal during the third and second months prior to the month of the closure, consistent with regulations at 50 CFR 660.713(c)(2)(ii). Classification This action is required by regulations at 50 CFR 660.713 and is exempt from Office of Management and Budget review under Executive Order 12866. NMFS 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) for the time-area closure of the DGN fishery. For the reasons set forth below, notice and comment procedures are impracticable and contrary to the public interest. For the same reasons, NMFS also finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the general requirement for a 30-day delay in effectiveness for this action. This measure is based upon the best available information and is necessary for the conservation of loggerhead sea turtles. The closure period anticipated by the regulation ends, at the latest, on August 31, 2015. A delay in effectiveness may allow the fishery to interact with and injure or kill loggerhead sea turtles that may occur within the SCB during the time period in which the regulation was intended to protect loggerheads. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: May 29, 2015. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–13601 Filed 5–29–15; 4:25 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\03JNR1.SGM 03JNR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 106 (Wednesday, June 3, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 31486]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-13601]



[[Page 31486]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 031125294-4091-02]
RIN 0648-XD945


Fisheries Off West Coast States; the Highly Migratory Species 
Fishery; Closure

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 fishing with large-mesh drift gillnet 
(DGN) gear (=14 inches mesh) off the coast of southern 
California east of 120[deg] W. meridian from the effective date of this 
rule through August 31, 2015. This prohibition is based on the 
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries' (AA) determination that El 
Ni[ntilde]o conditions are occurring off the coast of southern 
California. This action protects Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed 
loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), specifically the endangered 
North Pacific Ocean Distinct Population Segment.

DATES: Effective 12:01 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), May 29, 2015, 
through 11:59 p.m. PDT, August 31, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lyle Enriquez, West Coast Region 
(WCR), NMFS, (562) 980-4025, lyle.enriquez@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The DGN fishery is managed under the Fishery 
Management Plan (FMP) for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly 
Migratory Species (HMS) (50 CFR part 660, subpart K). The fishery 
occurs off the coast of California. The regulations provide that ``No 
person may fish with, set, or haul back drift gillnet gear in U.S. 
waters of the Pacific Ocean east of the 120[deg] W. meridian from June 
1 through August 31 during a forecasted, or occurring, El Ni[ntilde]o 
event off the coast of southern California'' (50 CFR 660.713(c)(2)). 
This area, which falls within the Southern California Bight (SCB), is 
referred to in the regulations as the ``Pacific loggerhead conservation 
area.''
    Under 50 CFR 660.713(c)(2)(ii), the AA relies on information 
developed by NOAA offices, such as the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) 
and the West Coast Office of the Coast Watch program to make the 
determination that an El Ni[ntilde]o event is forecasted or occurring 
off southern California. The AA uses monthly sea surface temperature 
(SST) charts to determine whether there are warmer-than-normal SSTs off 
southern California ``during the months prior to the closure months for 
years in which an El Ni[ntilde]o event has been declared'' by the CPC. 
Specifically, the AA uses SST data from the third and second months 
prior to the month of closure.
    NMFS published these regulations to protect ESA-listed loggerhead 
sea turtles in accordance with a reasonable and prudent alternative 
(RPA) in NMFS's 2000 biological opinion on issuance of an incidental 
take permit for the DGN fishery under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. 
The biological opinion concluded that loggerhead bycatch in the DGN 
fishery was likely to jeopardize the continued existence of loggerhead 
sea turtles, and recommended adoption of a RPA under which the fishery 
would be closed in this area during the summer months when El 
Ni[ntilde]o conditions are present to avoid the likelihood of jeopardy.
    The CPC forecasts and declares when El Ni[ntilde]o conditions exist 
based on conditions in equatorial waters, but does not forecast or 
declare when El Ni[ntilde]o conditions exist off southern California. 
The Coast Watch program publishes maps of SST off the California coast 
through the Environmental Research Division's Data Access Program.
    On March 5, 2015, the CPC issued an El Ni[ntilde]o advisory, 
declaring that El Ni[ntilde]o conditions were present in equatorial 
waters. Subsequent CPC updates on April 9, 2015, and May 14, 2015, 
stated that El Ni[ntilde]o conditions remain in these waters. The May 
14, 2015, update predicts that there is an approximately 90 percent 
chance that El Ni[ntilde]o will continue through the northern 
hemisphere summer of 2015, and a greater than 80 percent chance it will 
last through the end of 2015.
    In May 2015, NMFS WCR staff reviewed the SST anomalies in the SCB 
during March and April of 2015, relying on SST maps available through 
NOAA's Coast Watch Program (for details see http://coastwatch.pfeg.noaa.gov/erddap/index.html). These maps indicated that 
SSTs were above normal in the SCB. WCR staff concluded that a 
determination of El Ni[ntilde]o conditions off southern California is 
warranted based on SSTs that are warmer than normal during the third 
and second months prior to the month of the closure, consistent with 
regulations at 50 CFR 660.713(c)(2)(ii).

Classification

    This action is required by regulations at 50 CFR 660.713 and is 
exempt from Office of Management and Budget review under Executive 
Order 12866.
    NMFS 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) for the time-area closure of the DGN 
fishery. For the reasons set forth below, notice and comment procedures 
are impracticable and contrary to the public interest. For the same 
reasons, NMFS also finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive 
the general requirement for a 30-day delay in effectiveness for this 
action. This measure is based upon the best available information and 
is necessary for the conservation of loggerhead sea turtles. The 
closure period anticipated by the regulation ends, at the latest, on 
August 31, 2015. A delay in effectiveness may allow the fishery to 
interact with and injure or kill loggerhead sea turtles that may occur 
within the SCB during the time period in which the regulation was 
intended to protect loggerheads.

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

    Dated: May 29, 2015.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-13601 Filed 5-29-15; 4:25 pm]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P