National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
NMFS announces that the black sea bass commercial quota available in the Quarter 4 period to the coastal states from Maine through North Carolina has been harvested. Commercial vessels may not land black sea bass in these states north of 35°15.3' N. lat. for the remainder of the 2002 Quarter 4 quota period (through December 31, 2002). Regulations governing the black sea bass fishery require publication of this notification to advise the coastal states from Maine through North Carolina that the quota has been harvested and to advise vessel permit holders and dealer permit holders that no commercial quota is available for landing black sea bass in these states north of 35°15.3' N. lat.
Effective 0001 hrs local time, November 20, 2002, through 2400 hrs local time, December 31, 2002.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Richard A. Pearson, Fishery Policy Analyst, at (978) 281-9279.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Regulations governing the black sea bass fishery are found at 50 CFR part 648. The regulations require annual specification of a commercial quota that is allocated into four quota periods, based upon percentages of the annual quota. The Quarter 4 (October through December) commercial quota is distributed to the coastal states from Maine through North Carolina. The process to set the annual commercial quota is described in § 648.140.
The total commercial quota for black sea bass for the 2002 calendar year was initially set at 3,332,000 lb (1,511,370 kg) and then adjusted downward to 3,294,758 lb (1,494,477 kg) to account for research quota set-asides (66 FR 66351; December 26, 2001). The Quarter 4 period quota, which is equal to 12.33 percent of the annual commercial quota, is 651,374 lb (295,458 kg). The quota did not have to be adjusted to compensate for 2001 Quarter 4 landings in excess of the 2001 Quarter 4 quota. However, the 2002 Quarter 4 commercial quota was increased by 4,900 lb (2,223 kg), due to the disapproval of a research project for which quota had been set aside (67 FR 56229, September 3, 2002). The final adjusted 2002 Quarter 4 quota is 656,274 lb (297,681 kg).
The Regional Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator) monitors the commercial black sea bass quota for each quota period using dealer reports, state data, and other available information to determine when the commercial quota has been harvested. NMFS is required to publish a notification in the Federal Register advising and notifying commercial vessels and dealer permit holders that, effective upon a specific date, the black sea bass commercial quota has been harvested and no commercial quota is available for landing black sea bass for the remainder of the Quarter 4 period, north of 35°15.3' N. lat. The Regional Administrator has determined, based upon dealer reports and other available information, that the black sea bass commercial quota for the 2002 Quarter 4 period has been harvested.
The regulations at § 648.4(b) provide that Federal black sea bass moratorium permit holders agree, as a condition of the permit, not to land black sea bass in any state after NMFS has published notification in the Federal Register stating that the commercial quota for the period has been harvested and that no commercial quota for black sea bass is available. The Regional Administrator has determined that the Quarter 4 period for black sea bass no longer has commercial quota available. Therefore, effective 0001 hrs local time, November 20, 2002, further landings of black sea bass in coastal states from Maine through North Carolina, north of 35°15.3' N. lat., by vessels holding commercial Federal fisheries permits, are prohibited through December 31, 2002. The 2003 Quarter 1 period for commercial black sea bass harvest will open on January 1, 2003. Effective November 20, 2002, federally permitted dealers are also advised that they may not purchase black sea bass from federally permitted black sea bass moratorium permit holders who land in coastal states from Maine through North Carolina, north of 35°15.3' N. lat., for the remainder of the Quarter 4 period (through December 31, 2002).
The regulations at § 648.4(b) also provide that, if the commercial black sea bass quota for a period is harvested and the coast is closed to the possession of black sea bass north of 35°15.3' N. lat., any vessel owners who hold valid commercial permits for both the black sea bass and the NMFS Southeast Region snapper-grouper fisheries may surrender their black sea bass moratorium permit by certified mail addressed to the Regional Administrator (see table 1 at § 600.502) and fish pursuant to their snapper-grouper permit, as long as fishing is conducted exclusively in waters, and landings are made, south of 35°15.3' N. lat. A moratorium permit for the black sea bass fishery that is voluntarily relinquished or surrendered will be reissued upon the receipt of the vessel owner's written request after a minimum period of 6 months from the date of cancellation.
This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: November 8, 2002.
Bruce C. Morehead,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 02-29084 Filed 11-12-02; 3:33 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S