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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; Trip Limit Increase

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


Trip limit increase.


NMFS increases the trip limit in the commercial hook-and-line fishery for king mackerel in the Florida east coast subzone to 75 fish per day in or from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This trip limit increase is necessary to maximize the socioeconomic benefits of the quota.


This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, February 1, 2003, through March 31, 2003, unless changed by further notification in the Federal Register.

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Mark Godcharles, telephone: 727-570-5305, fax: 727-570-5583, e-mail:

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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 April 30, 2001 (66 FR 17368, March 30, 2001) NMFS implemented a commercial quota of 2.25 million lb (1.02 million kg) for the eastern zone (Florida) of the Gulf migratory group of king mackerel. That quota is further divided into separate quotas for the Florida east coast subzone and the northern and southern Florida west coast subzones. The quota implemented for the Florida east coast subzone is 1,040,625 lb (472,020 kg) (50 CFR 622.42(c)(1)(i)(A) (1)).

In accordance with 50 CFR 622.44(a)(2)(i), beginning on February 1, if less than 75 percent of the Florida east coast subzone's quota has been harvested by that date, king mackerel in or from that subzone's EEZ may be possessed on board or landed from a permitted vessel in amounts not exceeding 75 fish per day. The 75-fish daily trip limit will continue until a closure of the subzone's fishery has been effected or the fishing year ends on March 31.

NMFS has determined that 75 percent of the quota for Gulf group king mackerel for vessels using hook-and-line gear in the Florida east coast subzone was not reached before February 1, 2003. Accordingly, a 75-fish Start Printed Page 4966trip limit applies to vessels in the commercial hook-and-line fishery for king mackerel in or from the EEZ in the Florida east coast subzone effective 12:01 a.m., local time, February 1, 2003. The 75-fish trip limit will remain in effect until the fishery closes or until the end of the current fishing season (March 31, 2003) for this subzone. From November 1 through March 31, the Florida east coast subzone of the Gulf group king mackerel is that part of the eastern zone north of 25°20.4' N. lat. (a line directly east from the Miami-Dade County, FL boundary).


This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, has determined that this action to increase the trip limit relieves a restriction and enhances the socio-economic benefits derived from this sector of the fishery and, therefore, finds good cause to waive the requirement 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 contrary to the public interest. Any delay in implementing this action would be impractical and contradictory 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 622.44(a)(2)(iii) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

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Dated: January 28,2003.

Richard W. Surdi,

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

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[FR Doc. 03-2342 Filed 1-28-03; 3:37 pm]