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National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
NMFS closes the commercial fishery for king mackerel in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the western zone of the Gulf of Mexico. This closure is necessary to protect the overfished Gulf king mackerel resource.
The closure is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, August 26, 2000, through June 30, 2001.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mark Godcharles, 727-570-5305, fax 727-570-5583, e-mail Mark.Godcharles@noaa.gov.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental 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 Start Printed Page 52351Management Councils (Councils) and is implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.
Based on the Councils' recommended annual total allowable catch and the allocation ratios in the FMP, NMFS implemented an annual commercial quota for the Gulf of Mexico migratory group of king mackerel in the western zone of 1.05 million lb (0.48 million kg) (63 FR 8353, February 19, 1998).
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 Federal Register. NMFS has determined that the commercial quota of 1.05 million lb (0.48 million kg) for Gulf group king mackerel in the western zone will be reached on August 25, 2000. Accordingly, the commercial fishery for Gulf group king mackerel in the western zone is closed at 12:01 a.m., local time, August 26, 2000, through June 30, 2001, the end of the fishing year. The boundary between the eastern and western zones is 87°31'06″ W. long., which is a line directly south from the Alabama/Florida boundary.
Until July 1, 2001, no person aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit for king mackerel has been issued, other than a vessel operating as a charter vessel or headboat, may fish for or retain king mackerel in or from the western zone in the EEZ. A vessel for which a charter vessel/headboat permit and a commercial king mackerel permit have been issued is operating as a charter vessel or headboat when it carries a paying passenger or when more than three persons are aboard, including captain and crew. A person, other than captain or crew, aboard a vessel operating as a charter vessel or headboat may fish for or retain king mackerel in or from the western zone under the bag and possession limits of 50 CFR 622.39(c)(1)(ii).
During the closure, king mackerel taken from the western zone in the EEZ, including those harvested under the bag and possession limits, may not be purchased or sold. This prohibition does not apply to trade in king mackerel from the western zone that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to the closure and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.
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) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: August 24, 2000.
Bruce C. Morehead,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 00-22045 Filed 8-24-00; 4:40 pm]
Billing Code: 3510-22-S