The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is lowering the 2007 total allowable catch amounts (TAC) for Atka mackerel in the Central and Western Aleutian Districts of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI), effective 12 noon, Alaska local time, January 12, 2007, according to Robert D. Mecum, Acting Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS.
NMFS is lowering the Atka mackerel TAC in the Central Aleutian District of the BSAI from 38,000 metric tons (mt) to 29,600 mt. The A and B season apportionments including the CDQ reserve is each lowered from 17,575 mt to 14,800 mt, and the Harvest Limit Area (HLA) limits also including the CDQ reserve is each lowered from 10,545 mt to 8,880 mt.
NMFS also is lowering the Atka mackerel TAC in the Western Aleutian District of the BSAI from 17,500 mt to 9,600 mt. The A and B season apportionments including the CDQ reserve is each lowered from 8,750 mt to 4,800 mt, and the HLA limits also including the CDQ reserve is each lowered from 5,250 mt to 2,880 mt.
This action is necessary because NMFS has determined that the current 2007 Atka mackerel TACs for the Central and Western Aleutian Districts are incorrectly specified. These TACs are higher than the appropriate TACs derived from the latest stock assessment information. The 2007 TACs are scheduled to be updated in late February 2007, based on the latest stock assessments. However, the Atka mackerel fishery is likely to harvest the entire A season apportionment before the updated harvest specifications are effective. NMFS must therefore lower the allowances prior to the effective date of the updated harvest specifications. The Steller sea lion protection measures at 50 CFR 679.20 require the seasonal apportionment of the annual TAC to reduce the potential for competition for prey species between Steller sea lions and the Atka mackerel fishery. The seasonal apportionment is necessary to prevent the likelihood of the groundfish fisheries causing jeopardy of extinction or adverse modification of critical habitat for Steller sea lions.
This information bulletin only provides notice of a regulatory change. For the purposes of complying with the regulatory change, you are advised to see the actual text in the Code of Federal Regulations.