Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska

Summary

NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 1998 total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific cod allocated to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component in this area.

Full text

SUMMARY: NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by 
vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component 
in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action 
is necessary to prevent exceeding the 1998 total allowable catch (TAC) 
of Pacific cod allocated to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing 
by the offshore component in this area.

DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), October 9, 1998, 
until 2400 hrs, A.l.t., December 31, 1998.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Smoker, 907-486-6919.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive 
economic zone is managed by NMFS 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. Fishing by U.S. 
vessels is governed by regulations implementing the FMP at subpart H of 
50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679.
    The 1998 TAC of Pacific cod allocated to vessels catching Pacific 
cod for processing by the offshore component in the Central Regulatory 
Area was established as 3,337 metric tons by the Final 1998 Harvest 
Specifications of Groundfish for the GOA (63 FR 12027, March 12, 1998). 
See Sec. 679.20(c)(3)(iii).
    In accordance with Sec. 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Administrator, Alaska 
Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the 1998 TAC 
of Pacific cod allocated to vessels catching Pacific cod for processing 
by the offshore component in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA 
will be reached. Therefore, the Regional Administrator is establishing 
a directed fishing allowance of 2,000 mt, and is setting aside the 
remaining 1,337 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 will soon be 
reached. Consequently, NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific 
cod by vessels catching Pacific cod for processing by the offshore 
component in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA.
    Maximum retainable bycatch amounts may be found in the regulations 
at Sec. 679.20(e) and (f).

Classification

    This action responds to the best available information recently 
obtained from the fishery. It must be implemented immediately to 
prevent overharvesting the 1998 TAC of Pacific cod allocated to vessels 
catching Pacific cod for processing by the offshore component in the 
Central Regulatory Area of the GOA. A delay in the effective date is 
impracticable and contrary to public interest, and further delay would 
only result in overharvest. NMFS finds for good cause that the 
implementation of this action should not be delayed for 30 days. 
Accordingly, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d), a delay in the effective date is 
hereby waived.
    This action is required by Sec. 679.20 and is exempt from review 
under E.O. 12866.

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

    Dated: October 8, 1998.

Bruce C. Morehead,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 98-27669 Filed 10-9-98; 2:34 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-F  

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