National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Temporary rule; tilefish Part-time permit category closure.
NMFS announces that the percentage of the tilefish annual total allowable landings (TAL) available to the tilefish Part-time permit category for the 2008 fishing year has been harvested. Therefore, commercial vessels fishing under the Part-time tilefish category may not harvest tilefish from within the Golden Tilefish Management Unit for the remainder of the 2008 fishing year (through October 31, 2008) as of April 25, 2008. Regulations governing the tilefish fishery require publication of this notification to advise the public of this closure.
Effective 0001 hrs local time, April 25, 2008, through 2400 hrs local time, October 31, 2008.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Timothy A. Cardiasmenos, Fishery Policy Analyst, at (978) 281-9204.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Regulations governing the tilefish Start Printed Page 22288fishery are found at 50 CFR part 648. The regulations require annual specification of a TAL for federally permitted tilefish vessels harvesting tilefish from within the Golden Tilefish Management Unit. The Golden Tilefish Management Unit is defined as an area of the Atlantic Ocean from the latitude of the VA and NC border (36°33.36′ N. lat.), extending eastward from the shore to the outer boundary of the exclusive economic zone, and northward to the U.S.-Canada border. After 5 percent of the TAL is deducted to reflect landings by vessels issued an open-access Incidental permit category, and after up to 3 percent of the TAL is set aside for research purposes, should research TAL be set aside, the remaining TAL is distributed among three tilefish limited access permit categories: Full-time tier 1 category (66 percent), Full-time tier 2 category (15 percent), and the Part-time category (19 percent).
The TAL for tilefish for the 2008 fishing year was set at 1.995 million lb (905,172 kg) and then adjusted downward by 5 percent to 1,895,250 lb (859,671 kg) to account for incidental catch. There was no research set-aside for the 2008 fishing year. Thus, the Part-time permit category quota for the 2008 fishing year, which is equal to 19 percent of the TAL, was specified at 360,098 lb (163,338 kg). Notification of the 2008 Part-time permit category quota for the 2008 fishing year was sent in a Permit Holder Letter to all tilefish limited access permit holders on October 18, 2007.
The Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator) monitors the commercial tilefish quota for each fishing year using dealer reports, vessel catch reports, and other available information to determine when the quota for each limited access permit category is projected to have been harvested. NMFS is required to publish notification in the Federal Register notifying commercial vessels and dealer permit holders that, effective upon a specific date, the tilefish TAL for the specific limited access category has been harvested and no commercial quota is available for harvesting tilefish by that category for the remainder of the fishing year, from within the Golden Tilefish Management Unit.
The Regional Administrator has determined, based upon dealer reports and other available information, that the 2008 tilefish TAL for the Part-time category has been harvested. Therefore, effective 0001 hr local time, April 25, 2008, further landings of tilefish harvested from within the Golden Tilefish Management Unit by tilefish vessels holding Part-time category Federal fisheries permits are prohibited through October 31, 2008. The 2009 fishing year for commercial tilefish harvest will open on November 1, 2008. Federally permitted dealers are also advised that, effective April 25, 2008, they may not purchase tilefish from Part-time category federally permitted tilefish vessels who land tilefish harvested from within the Golden Tilefish Management Unit for the remainder of the 2008 fishing year (through October 31, 2008).
The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment because it would be contrary to the public interest. If implementation of this closure were delayed to solicit prior public comment, the quota for this category would be exceeded, given the rate of harvest of tilefish for vessels in this category. This would conflict with the agency's legal obligation under section 304(e) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to prevent overfishing and to rebuild this fishery as soon as possible. Overage of the Part-time category quota that occurs in a given fishing year is subtracted from the quota for this category in the following fishing year. Thus, allowing an overage would have a negative economic impact on owners of vessels permitted in the Part-time category, who did not contribute to the overage this year, and who would fish during the next fishing year. The AA further finds, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), good cause to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness period for the reasons stated above.
This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.Start Signature
Dated: April 22, 2008.
Emily H. Menashes
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 08-1184 Filed 4-22-08; 1:51 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S