National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Inseason action; trip limit reduction.
NMFS reduces the trip limit in the commercial hook-and-line fishery for king mackerel in the southern Florida west coast subzone to 500 lb (227 kg) of king mackerel per day in or from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This trip limit reduction is necessary to protect the Gulf king mackerel resource.
This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, March 20, 2004, through June 30, 2004, unless changed by further notification in the Federal Register.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mark Godcharles, telephone: (727) 570-5727, 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 Start Printed Page 13482ratios 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 hook-and-line gear and run-around gillnets (50 CFR 622.42(c)(1)(i)(A)(2)(i)).
In accordance with 50 CFR 622.44(a)(2)(ii)(B)(2), from the date that 75 percent of the southern Florida west coast subzone's quota has been harvested until a closure of the subzone's fishery has been effected or the fishing year ends, king mackerel in or from the EEZ may be possessed on board or landed from a permitted vessel in amounts not exceeding 500 lb (227 kg) per day.
NMFS has determined that 75 percent of the quota for Gulf group king mackerel for vessels using hook-and-line gear in the southern Florida west coast subzone will be reached on March 19, 2004. Accordingly, a 500-lb (227-kg) trip limit applies to vessels in the commercial hook-and-line fishery for king mackerel in or from the EEZ in the southern Florida west coast subzone effective 12:01 a.m., local time, March 20, 2004. The 500-lb (227-kg) trip limit will remain in effect until the fishery closes or until the end of the current fishing year (June 30, 2004), whichever occurs first.
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 which 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 which 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, (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), as such prior notice and opportunity for public comment is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures would be unnecessary because the rule itself already has been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the trip limit reduction. Allowing prior notice and opportunity for public comment is contrary to the public interest because of the need to immediately implement this action in order to protect the fishery since the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment will require time and would potentially result in a harvest well in excess of the established quota.
For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30 day delay in the effectiveness of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).
This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.43(a) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: March 18, 2004.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 04-6474 Filed 3-18-04; 3:08 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S