The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is preparing an emergency rule extension to continue to implement Steller sea lion protection measures for the pollock fisheries off Alaska, according to Steven Pennoyer, Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS. This emergency rule extension was recommended by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council). NMFS intends the emergency rule extension to be effective until December 31, 1999. The purpose of this bulletin is to provide advance notice of technical revisions to the original emergency rule so that the affected public has opportunity to prepare for these regulatory changes. This bulletin is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on it to guide you in compliance with the upcoming regulatory changes.
Original Emergency Rule. NMFS published an emergency interim rule implementing reasonable and prudent alternatives in the Federal Register on January 22, 1999 (64 FR 3437), amended on February 17, 1999 (64 FR 7814) and February 25, 1999 (64 FR 9375), and effective through July 19, 1999. The preamble to the original emergency interim rule provides a detailed description of the purpose and need for the action. This emergency rule extension will revise the original emergency rule and also will amend the 1999 Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) final harvest specifications (64 FR 12103) published on March 11, 1999. This extension would not revise conservation measures implemented for the pollock fishery in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska (W/C GOA).
Revisions to the Emergency Rule. This action would make the following two changes to the original emergency rule: (1) a correction to the mothership B/C season dates, and (2) the addition of spatial dispersion measures to limit critical habitat/catcher vessel operation area (CH/CVOA) catch. The original emergency rule contained incorrect B and C season harvest dates for the mothership sector. The emergency rule will be corrected to comport with the Council's December 1998 recommendation for a combined B/C season from September 1 through November 1. This emergency rule extension would revise the original rule to include overall CH/CVOA catch limits of 25% in the B season and 35% in the C season. These catch percentages are achieved using an allocation formula recommended by the Council that would exclude the catcher/processor (C/P) and mothership sectors from the CH/CVOA during the B and C seasons, and would proportionally reduce the CH/CVOA catch percentages for the inshore and CDQ sectors to achieve the overall B and C season catch objectives. The inshore sector would have a CH/CVOA limit of 45 percent during the B season and 63 percent during the C season. The CDQ sector would have a CH/CVOA limit of 56 percent for its combined B/C season.
Pollock season dates and CH/CVOA sector allocations for the second half of 1999. The emergency rule as extended would provide the following season dates and CH/CVOA limits for the second half of 1999.
B season: August 1 - September 15 (45% inside CH/CVOA)
C season: September 15 - November 1 (63% inside CH/CVOA)
No stand down between B and C seasons for inshore sector
C/P sector (BSAI):
B season: August 1 - September 15 (no fishing in CH/CVOA)
C season: September 15 - November 1 (no fishing in CH/CVOA)
No stand down between B and C seasons
B season: September 1 - November 1 (no fishing in CH/CVOA
mothership sector has a single B season with no C season
CDQ sector (BSAI):
B season: April 15 - December 31 (56% inside CH/CVOA)
C season: September 1 - closure due to TAC attainment
(610 - 630) D season: 5 days after C season closure - November 1
Note that the D season for 610, 620, and 630 will likely start on different dates because the start date of the D season in each area is a slidi