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Federal Register / Vol. 67, No.

216 / Thursday, November 7, 2002 / Rules and Regulations 67795

these states have stated that they will direction to facilitate the exclusion of impracticable. The AA finds that
enforce the restricted tow times. debris. The use of the leatherback unusually high amounts of debris are
Ensuring compliance with tow time modification or the double cover flap creating special environmental
restrictions is critical to effective sea TED will also aid in debris exclusion. conditions that make trawling with
turtle protection, and the commitment All of these recommendations TED-equipped nets impracticable. The
from these agencies to enforce tow time represent legal configurations of TEDs AA has determined that the use of
restrictions is an important factor for shrimpers fishing in the affected limited tow times for the described area
enabling NMFS to issue this areas. This action does not authorize and time would not result in a
authorization. NMFS and the respective any other departure from the TED significant impact to sea turtles. Notice
state marine enforcement agencies will requirements, nor does it authorize use and opportunity to comment are
monitor the situation to ensure there is of any TED modified in such a manner impracticable in this instance because
adequate protection for sea turtles in that it no longer meets the requirements providing notice and comment would
these areas and to determine whether for any of the TEDs approved pursuant prevent the agency from providing relief
debris in these areas continues to make to 50 CFR 223.207. In particular, if TEDs soon enough to provide the intended
TED use impracticable. are installed in trawl nets, they may not benefit. The public was provided with
be sewn shut. notice and an opportunity to comment
Continued Use of TEDs
Alternative to Required Use of TEDs; on 50 CFR 223.206(d)(3)(ii) which
NMFS encourages shrimp trawlers in authorizes the use of this emergency
the affected areas to continue to use Termination
exemption.
TEDs if possible, even though they are The AA, at any time, may modify the Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), for the
authorized under this action to use alternative conservation measures same reasons the AA determined that
restricted tow times. NMFS studies have through publication in the Federal there was good cause to waive prior
shown that the problem of clogging by Register, if necessary to ensure adequate notice and opportunity to comment, the
seagrass, algae or by other debris is not protection of endangered and threatened AA finds good cause to waive the 30–
unique to TED-equipped nets. When sea turtles. Under this procedure, the day delay in effective date. NMFS is
fishermen trawl in problem areas, they AA may modify the affected area or making the rule effective November 1,
may experience clogging with or impose any necessary additional or 2002 through December 2, 2002.
without TEDs. A particular concern of more stringent measures, including Since prior notice and an opportunity
fishermen, however, is that clogging in more restrictive tow times or for public comment are not required to
a TED-equipped net may hold open the synchronized tow times, if the AA be provided for this action by 5 U.S.C.
turtle escape opening and increase the determines that the alternative 553, or by any other law, the analytical
risk of shrimp loss. On the other hand, authorized by this temporary rule is not requirements of 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. are
TEDs also help exclude certain types of sufficiently protecting turtles, as inapplicable.
debris and allow shrimpers to conduct evidenced by observed lethal takes of The AA prepared an Environmental
longer tows. turtles aboard shrimp trawlers, elevated
NMFS’ gear experts have provided Assessment (EA) for this rule. Copies of
sea turtle strandings, or insufficient the EA are available (see ADDRESSES).
several general operational compliance with the authorized
recommendations to fishermen to alternative. The AA may also terminate Dated: November 1, 2002.
maximize the debris exclusion ability of this authorization for these same Rebecca Lent,
TEDs that may allow some fishermen to reasons, or if compliance cannot be Deputy Assistant Administrator for
continue using TEDs without resorting monitored effectively, or if conditions Regulatory Programs, National Marine
to restricted tow times. To exclude do not make trawling with TEDs Fisheries Service.
debris, NMFS recommends the use of impracticable. A document will be [FR Doc. 02–28281 Filed 11–01–02; 4:23 pm]
hard TEDs made of either solid rod or published in the Federal Register BILLING CODE 3510–22–S
of hollow pipe that incorporate a bent announcing any additional sea turtle
angle at the escape opening, in a conservation measures or the
bottom-opening configuration. In termination of the tow time option in DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
addition, the installation angle of a hard the affected areas. This authorization
TED in the trawl extension is an National Oceanic and Atmospheric
will expire automatically on December
important performance element in Administration
2, 2002, unless it is explicitly extended
excluding debris from the trawl. High through another notification published
installation angles can result in debris 50 CFR Parts 222 and 223
in the Federal Register.
clogging the bars of the TED; NMFS [Docket No. 021030260–2260–01; I.D.
recommends an installation angle of Classification 102502A]
45°51′, relative to the normal horizontal This action has been determined to be
flow of water through the trawl, to RIN 0648–AQ52
not significant for purposes of Executive
optimize the TED’s ability to exclude Order 12866. Sea Turtle Conservation; Shrimp
turtles and debris. Furthermore, the use The AA has determined that this Trawling Requirements
of accelerator funnels, which are action is necessary to respond to an
allowable modifications to hard TEDs, is emergency situation to allow more AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries
not recommended in areas with heavy efficient fishing for shrimp, while Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and
amounts of debris or vegetation. Lastly, providing adequate protection for Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
the webbing flap that is usually endangered and threatened sea turtles Commerce.
installed to cover the turtle escape pursuant to the ESA and applicable ACTION: Temporary rule; request for
opening may be modified to help regulations. comments.
exclude debris quickly: the webbing flap Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the AA
can either be cut horizontally to shorten finds that there is good cause to waive SUMMARY: NMFS issues this temporary
it so that it does not overlap the frame prior notice and opportunity to action to allow the use of limited tow
of the TED or be slit in a fore-and-aft comment on this rule, because it is times by shrimp trawlers as an

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67796 Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 216 / Thursday, November 7, 2002 / Rules and Regulations

alternative to the use of Turtle Excluder defined in 50 CFR 222.102) to have a TEDs in Mississippi state waters
Devices (TEDs) in the waters off NMFS-approved TED installed in each because of excessive storm related
Mississippi in an area from the coastline net that is rigged for fishing to provide debris on the fishing grounds. After an
of Mississippi at its intersection with for the escape of sea turtles. TEDs investigation, the Mississippi
the line of longitude 89° 30’ W., thence currently approved by NMFS include Department of Marine Resources (DMR)
southward to its intersection with the single-grid hard TEDs and hooped hard has determined that this debris is
line of latitude 30° 10′ N., thence TEDs conforming to a generic affecting the fishermen’s ability to use
eastward to the line of longitude 89° description, two types of special hard TEDs effectively. As part of the request,
05.5′ W. (approximately even with the TEDs (the flounder TED and the Jones the DMR sent photo documentation of
southern tip of Cat Island), thence TED), and one type of soft TED (the the debris. Mississippi’s Marine Patrol
northward to the line of latitude 30° Parker soft TED). director has also sent NMFS a letter
13.8′ N. (approximately even with the The TEDs incorporate an escape dated October 21, 2002, stating that the
western tip of Cat Island), thence opening, usually covered by a webbing Mississippi Marine Patrol will enforce
westward to the line of longitude 89° 10’ flap, that allows sea turtles to escape the tow time restrictions.
W., thence northward to its intersection from trawl nets. To be approved by
with the coastline of Mississippi, thence NMFS, a TED design must be shown to NMFS gear technicians surveyed the
continuing along the coastline to the be at least 97 percent effective in western and central portion of
original point. This action would excluding sea turtles during Mississippi Sound on October 8 and 9,
remain in effect for a period of 20 days experimental TED testing (50 CFR 2002. They focused their survey on
and is necessary to relieve the economic 223.207(e)). The TED must meet generic areas where vessels were actively
hardship on shrimpers while ensuring criteria based upon certain parameters fishing in concentrated groups. Some
adequate protection of threatened and of TED design, configuration, and areas that fishermen indicated were
endangered sea turtles. installation, including height and width untrawlable were not able to be
DATES: This action is effective from dimensions of the TED opening through surveyed because no trawlers were
November 1, 2002 through November which the turtles escape. In the Atlantic working those areas. The survey found
21, 2002. Comments on this action are Area, these requirements are currently that there were larger than normal
requested, and must be received by ≥35 inches (≥89 cm) in width and ≥12 amounts of grass on the tickler chains of
November 21, 2002. inches (≥30 cm) in height. In the Gulf the trawls but no large debris was
ADDRESSES: Comments on this action
Area, the requirements are ≥32 inches observed in any of the nets in any of the
should be addressed to the Chief, (≥81 cm) in width and ≥10 inches (≥25 surveyed areas and most of the boats
cm) in height. seemed to be satisfied with the shrimp
Endangered Species Division, Office of
The regulations provide for the use of catch, despite excessive grass. During a
Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-
limited tow times as an alternative to phone conversation between NMFS
West Highway, Silver Spring, MD
the use of TEDs for vessels with certain Southeast Regional Office Protected
20910.
specified characteristics or under Resources staff and DMR staff, DMR
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob certain special circumstances. For staff indicated that their investigation
Hoffman, 727–570–5312, or Barbara A. example, debris can clog a TED which showed that the majority of the
Schroeder, 301–713–1401. renders the TED ineffective at catching problems and the complaints from
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: shrimp as well as excluding turtles. The fishermen were concentrated west of the
provisions of 50 CFR 223.206 (d)(3)(ii) Cat Island Channel which was not in the
Background
specify that the Assistant Administrator area surveyed by NMFS gear
All sea turtles that occur in U.S. for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), may technicians. The boundaries for the use
waters are listed as either endangered or authorize compliance with tow time of tow times encompass the areas
threatened under the Endangered restrictions as an alternative to the TED indicated by the DMR as having
Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The Kemp’s requirement, if the AA determines that problems with excessive debris, and
ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), the presence of algae, seaweed, debris, include the western extreme of
leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and or other special environmental Mississippi Sound and Cat Island
hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) conditions in a particular area makes Channel.
turtles are listed as endangered. The trawling with TED-equipped nets
loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green The duration for this authorization
impracticable. The provisions of 50 CFR
(Chelonia mydas) turtles are listed as will be set initially for 20 days.
223.206(d)(3)(i) specify the maximum
threatened, except for breeding Although regulations at 50 CFR 223.206
tow times that may be used when tow-
populations of green turtles in Florida (d)(3)(v) allow such authorizations to be
time limits are authorized as an
and on the Pacific coast of Mexico, valid for up to 30 days, the levels of
alternative to the use of TEDs. The tow
which are listed as endangered. debris documented by DMR and NMFS
times may be no more than 55 minutes
The incidental take and mortality of are not extreme and several weeks have
from April 1 through October 31 and no
sea turtles as a result of trawling already passed since the storms.
more than 75 minutes from November 1
activities have been documented in the Therefore, NMFS believes that a shorter
through March 31. These tow time
Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic authorization will be sufficient.
limits are designed to minimize the
Ocean seaboard. Under the ESA and its level of mortality of sea turtles that are NMFS and the DMR Marine Patrol
implementing regulations, taking sea captured by trawl nets not equipped will monitor the situation to ensure
turtles is prohibited, with exceptions with TEDs. there is adequate protection for sea
identified in 50 CFR 223.206 and 50 turtles in this area and to determine
CFR 224.104. The regulations require Recent Events whether debris in these areas continues
most shrimp trawlers and summer On October 16, 2002, the NMFS to make TED use impracticable. The
flounder trawlers operating in the Southeast Regional Administrator intent of this action is to relieve the
southeastern United States (Atlantic received a request from the Mississippi economic hardship on shrimpers while
Area, Gulf Area, and Summer flounder Director of Marine Resources to allow ensuring adequate protection of
fishery-sea turtle protection area, all as the use of tow times as an alternative to threatened and endangered sea turtles.

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Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 216 / Thursday, November 7, 2002 / Rules and Regulations 67797

Special Environmental Conditions And by other debris is not unique to TED- protection of endangered and threatened
Alternative to Required Use of TEDs equipped nets. When fishermen trawl in sea turtles. Under this procedure, the
The AA finds that debris washed into problem areas, they may experience AA may modify the affected area or
portions of Mississippi sound from clogging with or without TEDs. A impose any necessary additional or
Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane particular concern of fishermen, more stringent measures, including
Lili have created special environmental however, is that clogging in a TED- more restrictive tow times or
conditions that make trawling with equipped net may hold open the turtle synchronized tow times, if the AA
TED-equipped nets impracticable. escape opening and increase the risk of determines that the alternative
Therefore, the AA issues this shrimp loss. On the other hand, TEDs authorized by this temporary rule is not
also help exclude certain types of debris sufficiently protecting turtles, as
notification to authorize the use of
and allow shrimpers to conduct longer evidenced by observed lethal takes of
restricted tow times as an alternative to
tows. turtles aboard shrimp trawlers, elevated
the use of TEDs in the waters off NMFS’ gear experts have provided sea turtle strandings, or insufficient
Mississippi in an area from the coastline several general operational compliance with the authorized
of Mississippi at its intersection with recommendations to fishermen to alternative. The AA may also terminate
the line of longitude 89° 30’ W., thence maximize the debris exclusion ability of this authorization for these same
southward to its intersection with the TEDs that may allow some fishermen to reasons, or if compliance cannot be
line of latitude 30 10’ N., thence continue using TEDs without resorting monitored effectively, or if conditions
eastward to the line of longitude 89° to restricted tow times. To exclude do not make trawling with TEDs
05.5’ W. (approximately even with the debris, NMFS recommends the use of impracticable. A document will be
southern tip of Cat Island), thence hard TEDs made of either solid rod or published in the Federal Register
northward to the line of latitude 30° of hollow pipe that incorporate a bent announcing any additional sea turtle
13.8’ N. (approximately even with the angle at the escape opening, in a conservation measures or the
western tip of Cat Island), thence bottom-opening configuration. In termination of the tow time option in
westward to the line of longitude 89° 10’ addition, the installation angle of a hard Mississippi Sound. This authorization
W., thence northward to its intersection TED in the trawl extension is an will expire automatically on November
with the coastline of Mississippi, thence important performance element in 21, 2002, unless it is explicitly extended
continuing along the coastline to the excluding debris from the trawl. High through another notification published
original point. This authorization will installation angles can result in debris in the Federal Register.
remain in effect for a period of 20 days. clogging the bars of the TED; NMFS
Instead of the required use of TEDs, recommends an installation angle of Classification
shrimp trawlers may opt to comply with 45°, relative to the normal horizontal This action has been determined to be
the sea turtle conservation regulations flow of water through the trawl, to not significant for purposes of Executive
found at 50 CFR 223.206(d)(3)(i) by optimize the TED’s ability to exclude Order 12866.
using restricted tow times. Through turtles and debris. Furthermore, the use The AA has determined that this
October 31, 2002, a shrimp trawler of accelerator funnels, which are action is necessary to respond to an
utilizing this authorization must limit allowable modifications to hard TEDs, is emergency situation to allow more
tow times to no more than 55 minutes, not recommended in areas with heavy efficient fishing for shrimp, while
measured from the time trawl doors amounts of debris or vegetation. Lastly, providing adequate protection for
enter the water until they are retrieved the webbing flap that is usually endangered and threatened sea turtles
from the water. Starting November 1, installed to cover the turtle escape pursuant to the ESA and other
2002, tow times must be limited to no opening may be modified to help applicable law.
more than 75 minutes measured from exclude debris quickly: the webbing flap Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the AA
the time trawl doors enter the water can either be cut horizontally to shorten finds that there is good cause to waive
until they are retrieved from the water. it so that it does not overlap the frame prior notice and opportunity to
DMR Marine Patrol is continuing to of the TED or be slit in a fore-and-aft comment on this rule, because it is
monitor the situation and will cooperate direction to facilitate the exclusion of impracticable. The AA finds that
with NMFS in determining the ongoing debris. The use of the leatherback unusually high amounts of debris are
extent of the debris problem in this modification or the double cover flap creating special environmental
portion of Mississippi Sound. Moreover, TED will also aid in debris exclusion. conditions that may make trawling with
the DMR Director of the Marine Patrol All of these recommendations TED-equipped nets impracticable. The
has stated that the DMR Marine Patrol represent legal configurations of TEDs AA has determined that the use of
will enforce the restricted tow times. for shrimpers fishing in the affected limited tow times for the described area
Ensuring compliance with tow time areas of Mississippi Sound. This action and time would not result in a
restrictions is critical to effective sea does not authorize any other departure significant impact to sea turtles. Notice
turtle protection, and the commitment from the TED requirements, nor does it and comment are impracticable in this
from the DMR Director of the Marine authorize the use of any TED modified instance because providing notice and
Patrol to enforce tow time restrictions is in such a manner that it no longer meets comment would prevent the agency
an important factor enabling NMFS to the requirements for any of the TEDs from providing relief soon enough to
issue this authorization. approved pursuant to 50 CFR 223.207. provide the intended benefit. The public
In particular, if TEDs are installed in was provided with notice and an
Continued Use of TEDs opportunity to comment on 50 CFR
trawl nets, they may not be sewn shut.
NMFS encourages shrimp trawlers in 223.206(d)(3)(ii).
the affected areas to continue to use Alternative to Required Use of TEDs; Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), for the
TEDs if they can be used effectively, Termination same reasons the AA determined that
even though they are authorized under The AA, at any time, may modify the there was good cause to waive prior
this action to use restricted tow times. alternative conservation measures notice and opportunity to comment, the
NMFS studies have shown that the through publication in the Federal AA finds good cause to waive the 30–
problem of clogging by seagrass, algae or Register, if necessary to ensure adequate day delay in effective date. NMFS is

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67798 Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 216 / Thursday, November 7, 2002 / Rules and Regulations

making the rule effective November 1, SUMMARY: NMFS is opening directed Classification
2002 through November 21, 2002. fishing by vessels using trawl gear in the
Since prior notice and an opportunity Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is This action responds to the best
for public comment are not required to necessary to fully use the 2002 halibut available information recently obtained
be provided for this action by 5 U.S.C. bycatch allowance for trawl gear in the from the fishery. The Assistant
553, or by any other law, the analytical GOA. Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA,
requirements of 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. are (AA) finds good cause to waive the
DATES: Effective 1200 hrs, Alaska local
inapplicable. requirement to provide prior notice and
time (A.l.t.), November 6, 2002, until
The AA prepared an Environmental opportunity for public comment
1200 hrs, A.l.t., November 10, 2002.
Assessment (EA) for this action. Copies pursuant to the authority set forth at 5
of the EA are available (see ADDRESSES). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is
Mary Furuness, 907–586–7228. contrary to the public interest. This
Dated: November 1, 2002.
Rebecca Lent, SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS requirement is contrary to the public
Deputy Assistant Administrator for manages the groundfish fishery in the interest as it would delay the opening of
Regulatory Programs, National Marine GOA exclusive economic zone the fishery, prevent the full use of the
Fisheries Service. according to the Fishery Management 2002 halibut bycatch allowance
[FR Doc. 02–28280 Filed 11–01–02; 4:23 pm] Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of specified for trawl gear in the GOA, and
BILLING CODE 3510–22–S
Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North therefore reduce the public’s ability to
Pacific Fishery Management Council use and enjoy the fishery resource.
under authority of the Magnuson- The AA also finds good cause to
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Stevens Fishery Conservation and waive the 30–day delay in the effective
Management Act. Regulations governing date of this action under 5 U.S.C.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance 553(d)(3). This finding is based upon
Administration with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 the reasons provided above for waiver of
CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. prior notice and opportunity for public
50 CFR Part 679 NMFS closed the directed fishery by comment.
[Docket No. 011218304–1304–01; I.D. vessels using trawl gear in the GOA
pursuant to § 679.21(d)(7)(i) on October This action is required by § 679.21
103102A]
13, 2002 (67 FR 64066, October 17, and is exempt from review under
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic 2002). As of October 24, 2002, 67 metric Executive Order 12866.
Zone Off Alaska; Trawl Gear in the Gulf tons of halibut remain in the trawl Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
of Alaska halibut bycatch allowance in the GOA.
Dated: November 1, 2002.
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Therefore, NMFS is terminating the
previous closure and is opening Bruce C. Morehead,
Service (NMFS), NationalOceanic and Acting Director, Office of Sustainable
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), directed fishing by vessels using trawl
gear in the GOA from 1200 hrs, A.l.t., Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
Commerce. [FR Doc. 02–28336 Filed 11–4–02; 1:11 pm]
November 6, 2002, until 1200 hrs, A.l.t.,
ACTION: Modification of a closure.
November 10, 2002. BILLING CODE 3510–22–S

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