[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 189 (Friday, September 27, 1996)]
[Pages 50806-50807]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-24746]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
[Docket No. 950710176-6258-02; I.D. 080796B]
RIN 0648-AE50

Magnuson Act Provisions; Removal of Spawning Closure Provisions 
from the Preliminary Fishery Management Plan (PMP) for Atlantic Herring

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

ACTION: Removal of spawning closure provisions.


SUMMARY: NMFS announces a revision to the Atlantic herring PMP that 
removes the spawning closure provisions. The revision is necessary to 
allow a joint venture for Atlantic herring to be conducted in 
previously closed areas and is intended to provide additional 
opportunities to domestic fishers.

EFFECTIVE DATE: September 26, 1996.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the revised PMP for Atlantic herring may be 
obtained from E. Martin Jaffe, Northeast Region, NMFS, One Blackburn 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.

Analyst, 508-281-9272.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The PMP, which set the initial 
specifications for Atlantic herring, provides joint venture 
opportunities in the exclusive economic zone by allocating a portion of 
the allowable biological catch for joint venture processing (JVP). The 
PMP also established permit conditions and restrictions for foreign 
vessels that participate in joint venture fisheries.
    The preparation of the PMP last year followed the provisions of the 
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) plan and was 
accomplished rapidly to accommodate requests from the industry. The 
need to have access to the resource during the spawning season was not 
fully considered. Both ASMFC and the New England Fishery Management 
Council (Council) have now reconsidered the spawning closure 
provisions, which may hinder industry development, and have concluded 
that the restriction is unnecessary and should be removed. At its April 
5, 1996, meeting, the ASMFC's Atlantic Herring Section voted to request 
that NMFS remove the spawning area closure provisions from Sea Herring 
Management Areas 2 and 3. ASMFC's request is consistent with the 
Council's motion supporting such an action.
    The recent Atlantic herring stock assessment showed an increase in 
spawning stock biomass of 1 million metric tons (mt) compared to the 
previous (Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 1993) assessment; the 
spawning stock biomass almost doubled between the 1992 and 1993 
assessments. Given the high stock level, removal of the spawning 
closures during the months of October and November on Georges Bank and 
in the southern New England/Mid-Atlantic Region would provide access to 
foreign processing vessels and, with current levels of herring 
abundance, the removal of even 40,000 mt (the total amount currently 
available for JVP harvest), would have only a minimal impact on the 
stock. Furthermore, collection of biological data during the spawning 
season will provide valuable information for making future decisions 
regarding spawning closures.
    This notification informs the public that the PMP has been revised 
to remove the spawning closure provisions.
    This action has been determined to be not significant for purposes 
of E.O. 12866.
    This action is categorically excluded from the requirement to 
prepare an environmental assessment in accordance with NOAA 
Administrative Order 216-6 because it does not result in a significant 
change in the original environmental action prepared for the PMP. The 
removal of the spawning closures from the PMP provides access to 
foreign processing vessels engaged in a joint venture with U.S. vessels 
so that the former could receive fish from the latter. The foreign 
vessels would not be permitted to place nets in the water. Without the 
PMP change, U.S. fishing vessels will not be able to deliver their 
catch from the areas in question to their joint venture partners.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds that there 
is good cause to waive providing prior notice and opportunity for 
comment under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). Providing prior notice and 
opportunity for comment is impractical and contrary to the public 
interest due to the need to provide timely opportunity for joint 
ventures to occur this Fall in an underutilized fishery. Because this 
action relieves a restriction under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1), there is no 
need to delay its effectiveness for 30 days.
    Because prior notice and opportunity for comment is not required 
for this action, no initial or final regulatory flexibility analysis is 
required to be prepared by the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and none was 

[[Page 50807]]

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

    Dated: September 20, 1996.
Nancy Foster,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
[FR Doc. 96-24746 Filed 9-26-96; 8:45 am]