[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 12 (Friday, January 17, 1997)]
[Page 2656]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-1154]


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
[ID 100996A]
RIN 0648-AI63

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Amendments 
44/44; Definition of Overfishing

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

ACTION: Approval of fishery management plan amendments.


SUMMARY: NMFS announces the approval of Amendments 44/44 to the Fishery 
Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska and the Fishery 
Management Plan for the Groundfish Fishery of the Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands Area (FMPs). These amendments revise definitions of 
acceptable biological catch (ABC) and overfishing levels (OFLs) for 
groundfish species or species groups. This action is necessary to 
ensure that conservation and management measures continue to be based 
upon the best scientific information available and is intended to 
advance the North Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Council's) 
ability to achieve, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from 
fisheries under its authority.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 9, 1997.

ADDRESSES: Copies of Amendments 44/44 and the environmental assessment 
and related economic analaysis prepared for the proposed action are 
available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 605 West 
4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501-2252; telephone 907-271-


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In response to the national standards 
established in the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act and 
advisory guidelines codified at 50 CFR part 600, subpart D, the Council 
developed an objective and measurable definition of overfishing and, in 
1991, implemented that definition under Amendments 16 and 21 to the 
FMPs (56 FR 2700, January 24, 1991). In the years since implementation 
of that definition, fishery scientists have had the opportunity to 
evaluate the efficacy of current definitions of ABC and overfishing. In 
light of that experience and with increased understanding of the 
reference fishing mortality rates used to define ABCs and overfishing, 
fishery scientists have raised several concerns about the present 
definitions and the extent to which they reflect and account for levels 
of uncertainty about fish populations. Consequently, NMFS' Overfishing 
Definitions Review Panel and the Council's Scientific and Statistical 
Committee recommended redefining ABC and overfishing to facilitate more 
conservative, risk-averse management measures when stock size and 
mortality rates are not fully known.
    Amendments 44/44 revise the definitions of OFL and ABC consistent 
with these recommendations.
    A Notice of Availability of Amendments 44/44, which describes the 
proposed amendments and solicited comments from the public until 
December 10, 1996, was published in the Federal Register (October 17, 
1996; 61 FR 54145). One comment was received in support of the 
amendments. After review under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), NMFS determined 
that Amendments 44/44 are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws and approved Amendments 44/44 on January 9, 1997. 
Additional information on this action is contained in the October 17, 
1996, Notice of Availability (61 FR 54145).
    No regulatory changes are necessary to implement these FMP 

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

    Dated: January 10, 1997.
Bruce Morehead,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 97-1154 Filed 1-16-97; 8:45 am]