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Rule

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Trip Limit Reduction for Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; inseason action.

SUMMARY:

NMFS reduces the trip limit for the commercial shallow-water grouper fishery in the exclusive economic zone of the Gulf of Mexico to 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) per trip. The intended effect of trip limit reduction is to moderate the rate of harvest of the available quotas and, thereby, reduce the adverse social and economic effects of derby fishing, enable more effective quota monitoring, and reduce the probability of overfishing.

DATES:

Effective 12:01 a.m., local time, August 4, 2005, through December 31, 2005, unless changed by further notification in the Federal Register.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Phil Steele, telephone: 727-824-5305, fax: 727-824-5308, e-mail: Phil.Steele@noaa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The fishery for reef fish is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. This FMP was approved by NMFS and implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.

Regulations at 50 CFR 622.44(g)(1)(ii) require NMFS to reduce the commercial trip limit for Gulf deep-water and shallow-water grouper, combined, to 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) if on or before October 1 more than 75 percent of either the shallow-water grouper quota or red grouper quota is reached or is projected to be reached. The commercial deep-water grouper fishery was closed on June 23, 2005. Therefore, this action only pertains to the commercial shallow-water grouper fishery. Based on current statistics, NMFS has determined more than 75 percent of the 5.31 million-lb (2.41 million-kg) commercial quota for red grouper will be reached on August 3, 2005. Accordingly, NMFS is reducing the trip limit for shallow-water grouper (black grouper, gag, red grouper, yellowfin grouper, scamp, yellowmouth grouper, rock hind, and red hind) to 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) per trip in the Gulf of Mexico exclusive economic zone effective 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 4, 2005, through December 31, 2005, unless changed by further notification in the Federal Register.

Classification

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 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 would 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 622.44(g)(1)(ii) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

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

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Dated: July 19, 2005.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

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[FR Doc. 05-14522 Filed 7-19-05; 2:24 pm]

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