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Rule

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Closure of the 2007 Gulf of Mexico Commercial Fishery for Tilefishes

Action

Temporary Rule; Closure.

Summary

NMFS closes the commercial fishery for tilefishes in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico. NMFS has determined that the quota for tilefishes for the commercial fishery will have been reached by April 18, 2007. This closure is necessary to protect tilefishes.

 

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DATES: Back to Top

The closure is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, April 18, 2007, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2008.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Back to Top

Jason Rueter, telephone 727-824-5350, fax 727-824-5308, e-mail Jason.Rueter@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Back to Top

The reef fish fishery of the Gulf of Mexico is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and is implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622. Pursuant to 50 CFR 622.42(a)(1)(iv), the commercial quota for tilefishes in the Gulf of Mexico is 440,000 lb (199,581 kg) for the current fishing year, January 1 through December 31, 2007.

Under 50 CFR 622.43(a), NMFS is required to close the commercial fishery for a species or species group when the quota for that species or species group is reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect in the Federal Register. Based on current statistics, NMFS has determined that the available commercial quota of 440,000 lb (199,581 kg) for tilefishes will be reached on or before April 18, 2007. Accordingly, NMFS is closing the commercial fishery for tilefishes in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ from 12:01 a.m., local time, on April 18, 2007, until 12:01 a.m., local time, on January 1, 2008. The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish having tilefishes aboard must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such tilefishes prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, April 18, 2007.

During the closure, the bag and possession limits specified in 50 CFR 622.39(b) apply to all harvest or possession of tilefishes in or from the Gulf of Mexico EEZ, and the sale or purchase of tilefishes taken from the EEZ is prohibited. The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to sale or purchase of tilefishes that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, April 18, 2007, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.

Classification Back to Top

This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds that the need to immediately implement this action to close the fishery constitutes good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth in 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B), as such procedures would be unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures would be unnecessary because the rule implementing the quota already has been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the closure. Similarly, there is a need to implement these measures in a timely fashion to prevent an overrun of the commercial quota of Gulf of Mexico tilefishes, given the capacity of the fishing fleet to harvest the quota quickly. Any delay in implementing this action would be impractical and contrary to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the FMP, and the public interest. For these same reasons, NMFS finds good cause that the implementation of this action cannot be delayed for 30 days. Accordingly, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d), a delay in the effective date is waived.

This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.43(a) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Authority: Back to Top

16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

Dated: April 9, 2007.

James P. Burgess

Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

[FR Doc. E7-6965 Filed 4-12-07; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-S

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