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Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Closure

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS closes the commercial run-around gillnet fishery for king mackerel in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Florida west coast subzone. This closure is necessary to protect the overfished Gulf group king mackerel resource.

DATES:

Effective 12:00 noon, local time, February 15, 2000, through June 30, 2000.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mark Godcharles, telephone: 727-570-5305, fax: 727-570-5583, e-mail: Mark.Godcharles@noaa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The fishery for coastal migratory pelagic fish (king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, cero, cobia, little tunny, dolphin, and, in the Gulf of Mexico only, bluefish) is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils (Councils) 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.

Based on the Councils' recommended total allowable catch and the allocation ratios in the FMP, on February 19, 1998 (63 FR 8353), NMFS implemented a commercial quota for the Gulf of Mexico migratory group of king mackerel in the Florida west coast subzone of 1.17 million lb (0.53 million kg). That quota was further divided into two equal quotas of 585,000 lb (265,352 kg) for vessels in each of two groups by gear types—vessels fishing with run-around gillnets and those using hook-and-line gear (50 CFR 622.42(c)(1)(i)(A)(2)).

Under 50 CFR 622.43(a), NMFS is required to close any segment of the king mackerel commercial fishery when its quota has been reached or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification at the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined that the commercial quota of 585,000 lb (265,352 kg) for Gulf group king mackerel for vessels using run-around gillnets in the Florida west coast subzone was reached on February 14, 2000. Accordingly, the commercial fishery for king mackerel for such vessels in the Florida west coast subzone is closed effective 12:00 noon, local time, February 15, 2000, through June 30, 2000, the end of the fishing year.

The Florida west coast subzone extends from 87°31'06” W. long. (due south of the Alabama/Florida boundary) to: (1) 25°20.4′ N. lat. (due east of the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, FL, boundary) through March 31, 2000; and (2) 25°48′ N. lat. (due west of the Monroe/Collier County, FL, boundary) from April 1, 2000, through October 31, 2000.

Classification

This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The closure must be implemented immediately to prevent an overrun of the commercial quota (50 CFR 622.42(c)(1)) of Gulf group king mackerel, given the capacity of the fishing fleet to harvest the quota quickly. Overruns could potentially lead to further overfishing and unnecessary delays in rebuilding this overfished resource. Any delay in implementing this action would be impractical and contrary to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the FMP, and the public interest. NMFS finds for 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)(3) and is exempt from review under E.O. 12866.

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

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Dated: February 14, 2000.

Bruce C. Morehead,

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

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[FR Doc. 00-3835 Filed 2-14-00; 3:19 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-F