National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
NMFS closes the commercial run-around gillnet fishery for king mackerel in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the southern Florida west coast subzone. This closure is necessary to protect the Gulf king mackerel resource.
The closure is effective 6 a.m., local time, February 4, 2003, through 6 a.m., January 20, 2004.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mark Godcharles, telephone: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 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. On April 27, 2000, NMFS implemented the final rule (65 FR 16336, March 28, 2000) that divided the Florida west coast subzone of the eastern zone into northern and southern subzones, and established their separate quotas. The quota implemented for the southern Florida west coast subzone is 1,040,625 lb (472,020 kg). That quota is further divided into two equal quotas of 520,312 lb (236,010 kg) for vessels in each of two groups fishing with run-around gillnets and hook-and-line gear (50 CFR 622.42(c)(1)(i)(A)(2)(i)).
Under 50 CFR 622.43(a)(3), 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 520,312 lb (236,010 kg) for Gulf group king mackerel for vessels using run-around gillnet gear in the southern Florida west coast subzone was reached on February 3, 2003. Accordingly, the commercial fishery for king mackerel for such vessels in the southern Florida west coast subzone is closed at 6 a.m., local time, February 4, 2003, through 6 a.m., January 20, 2004, the beginning of the next fishing season, i.e., the day after the 2004 Martin Luther King Jr. Federal holiday.
The Florida west coast subzone is that part of the eastern zone south and west of 25°20.4' N. lat. (a line directly east from the Miami-Dade County, FL boundary). The Florida west coast subzone is further divided into northern and southern subzones. The southern subzone is that part of the Florida west coast subzone that, from November 1 through March 31, extends south and west from 25°20.4' N. lat. to 26°19.8' N. lat. (a line directly west from the Lee/Collier County, FL boundary), i.e., the area off Collier and Monroe Counties. From April 1 through October 31, the southern subzone is that part of the Florida west coast subzone that is between 26°19.8' N. lat. and 25°48' N. lat.(a line directly west from the Monroe/Collier County, FL boundary), i.e., the area off Collier County.
This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds that the need to immediately implement this action to close the fishery constitutes 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 unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Similarly, there is a need to implement these measures in a timely fashion to prevent an overrun of the commercial quota of Gulf group king mackerel, given the capacity of the Start Printed Page 6361fishing fleet to harvest the quota quickly. 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 622.43(a) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated:February 3, 2003.
Richard W. Surdi,
Acting Director, Office Of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 03-2990 Filed 2-3-03; 4:55 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S