National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Temporary rule; closure.
NMFS closes the commercial fishery for red snapper in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico. NMFS has determined the fall portion of the annual commercial quota for red snapper will have been reached by December 26, 2006. This closure is necessary to protect the red snapper resource.
Closure is effective noon, local time, December 26, 2006, until 12:01 a.m., local time, on January 1, 2007.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Jason Rueter, telephone 727-824-5350, Start Printed Page 75895fax 727-824-5308, e-mail Jason.Rueter@noaa.gov.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
The reef fish fishery of the Gulf of Mexico is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council 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. Those regulations set the commercial quota for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico at 4.65 million lb (2.11 million kg) for the current fishing year, January 1 through December 31, 2006. The red snapper commercial fishing season was split into two time periods, the first commencing at noon on February 1 with two-thirds of the annual quota (3.10 million lb (1.41 million kg)) available, and the second commencing at noon on October 1 with the remainder of the annual quota available. During the commercial season, the red snapper commercial fishery opens at noon on the first of each month and closes at noon on the 10th of each month, until the applicable commercial quotas are reached.
Under 50 CFR 622.43(a), NMFS is required to close the commercial fishery for a species or species group when the quota for that species or species group is reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. Based on current statistics, NMFS has determined that the available fall commercial quota of 1.65 million lb (0.75 million kg) for red snapper will be reached when the fishery closes on December 26, 2006. Accordingly, NMFS is closing the commercial red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ from noon, local time, on December 26, 2006, until 12:01 a.m., local time, on January 1, 2007, when the red snapper individual fishing quota (IFQ) program becomes effective. The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish having red snapper aboard must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such red snapper prior to noon, local time, December 26, 2006.
During the closure, the sale or purchase of red snapper taken from the EEZ is prohibited. The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to sale or purchase of red snapper that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to noon, local time, December 26, 2006, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.
This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, finds the need to immediately implement this action to close the fishery constitutes good cause to waive the requirements 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 overage of the commercial quota of Gulf of Mexico red snapper, given the capacity of the fishing fleet to harvest the quota quickly. Any delay in implementing this action would be impractical and contrary to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the FMP, and the public interest. For these same reasons, NMFS finds good cause that the implementation of this action cannot be delayed for 30 days. Accordingly, under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), a delay in the effective date is waived.
This action is required under 50 CFR 622.43(a) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: December 12, 2006.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E6-21536 Filed 12-18-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S