National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Announcement of a reopening of a fishery.
NMFS announces that the closed commercial fishery for red snapper in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico will reopen. Reopening of the fishery is necessary because the 2002 spring quota for red snapper has not been reached.
The commercial fishery for red snapper will reopen at noon, local time, August 1, 2002, and will close at noon, local time, August 7, 2002. The fishery will remain closed until noon, local time, October 1, 2002.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Phil Steele, telephone 727-570-5305, fax 727-570-5583, e-mail Phil.Steele@noaa.gov.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
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 by regulations at 50 CFR part 622. Those regulations set the commercial quota for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico at 4.65 million lb (2.11 million kg) for the current fishing year, January 1 through December 31, 2002. The red snapper commercial fishing season is split into two time periods, the first commencing at noon on February 1 with two-thirds of the annual quota (3.10 million lb (1.41 million kg)) available, and the second commencing at noon on October 1 with the remainder of the annual quota available. During the commercial season, the red snapper commercial fishery opens at noon on the first of each month and closes at noon on the 10th of each month, until the applicable commercial quotas are reached. The spring season was originally scheduled Start Printed Page 50368to be closed at noon, local time, July 7, 2002, when NMFS projected the spring quota would be reached. However, inclement weather during the July 1-7, 2002, opening (abbreviated opening) and the 4th of July holiday limited fishing activities for red snapper in some areas of the Gulf and, therefore, the spring quota was not reached.
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 spring quota of 3.10 million lb (1.41 million kg) for red snapper will be reached when the fishery closes at noon, local time, August 7, 2002. Accordingly, the commercial fishery in the EEZ in the Gulf of Mexico for red snapper will remain closed until noon, local time, October 1, 2002. The operator of a vessel with a valid reef fish permit having red snapper aboard must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such red snapper prior to noon, local time, August 7, 2002.
During the closure, the bag and possession limits specified in 50 CFR 622.39(b) apply to all harvest or possession of red snapper in or from the EEZ in the Gulf of Mexico, and the sale or purchase of red snapper taken from the EEZ is prohibited. In addition, the bag and possession limits for red snapper apply on board a vessel for which a commercial permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued, without regard to where such red snapper were harvested. However, the bag and possession limits for red snapper apply only when the recreational quota for red snapper has not been reached and the bag and possession limit has not been reduced to zero. The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to sale or purchase of red snapper that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to noon, local time, August 7, 2002, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.
This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.43(a) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: July 30, 2002.
John H. Dunnigan,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 02-19542 Filed 7-30-02; 3:20 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S