National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce.
Notice of suspension of surfclam minimum size limit.
NMFS suspends the minimum size limit of 4.75 inches (12.07 cm) for Atlantic surfclams for the 2004 fishing year. This action is taken under the authority of the implementing regulations for this fishery, which allow for the annual suspension of the minimum size limit based upon set criteria. The intended effect is to relieve the industry from a regulatory burden that is not necessary, as the majority of surfclams harvested are larger than the minimum size limit.
Effective January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2004.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Heather L. Sagar, Fishery Management Specialist, 978-281-9341.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Section 648.72(c) of the regulations implementing the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fisheries allows the Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator) to suspend annually, by publication of a notification in the Federal Register, the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams. This action may be taken unless discard, catch, and survey data indicate that 30 percent of the Atlantic surfclam resource is smaller than 4.75 inches (12.07 cm) and the overall reduced size is not attributable to harvest from beds where growth of the individual clams has been reduced because of density-dependent factors.
At its June 2003, meeting, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) voted to recommend that the Regional Administrator suspend the minimum size limit. Commercial surfclam shell length data for 2003 were analyzed to determine the percentage of surfclams landed that were smaller than the minimum size requirement. The analysis indicated that 1.2 percent of the samples taken overall were composed of surfclams that were less than 4.75 inches (12.07 cm). Based on these data, the Regional Administrator adopts the Council's recommendation and suspends the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2004.
This action is authorized by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: October 27, 2003.
Bruce C. Morehead,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 03-27514 Filed 10-31-03; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S