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Notice

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper and Grouper Off the Southern Atlantic States

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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:

Notice of receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Inc.. If granted, the EFP would authorize the applicants, with certain conditions, to collect limited numbers of undersized and out-of-season snapper and grouper in South Atlantic Federal waters. This study is intended to characterize catch and discard mortality within the South Atlantic commercial hook and line snapper-grouper fishery.

DATES:

Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., eastern time, on June 20, 2008.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments on the application by any of the following methods:

  • E-mail: Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following document identifier: “FND_EFP”.
  • Mail: Steve Branstetter, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
  • Fax: 727-824-5308.

The application and related documents are available for review upon written request to any of the above addresses.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Steve Branstetter, 727-824-5305; fax: Start Printed Page 29484727-824-5308; e-mail: Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The EFP is requested under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), and regulations at 50 CFR 600.745(b) concerning exempted fishing.

The described research is part of a Cooperative Research Program Grant. The Cooperative Research Program is a means of involving commercial and recreational fishermen in the collection of fundamental fisheries information. Resource collection efforts support the development and evaluation of fisheries management and regulatory options.

The proposed collection for scientific research involves activities otherwise prohibited by regulations implementing the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. The applicants require authorization to possess undersized and out-of-season snapper and grouper for scientific research activities during the period July 1, 2008, through September 30, 2009. Specimens would be collected from Federal waters off the east coast of Florida and Federal waters off the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Sampling would occur during normal fishing operations of the commercial snapper-grouper vertical hook-and-line fishery. Sampling would occur year-round, collecting up to 500 fish during the course of the sampling. Data collections for this study would support improved information about the catch, bycatch, discards, and discard mortality for species in the snapper-grouper complex. These data would provide insight on a stock's resilience to fishing, and would help refine estimates of long-term biological productivity of the stocks. Currently, these data are unavailable, and it is anticipated project results would yield valuable data within this fishery.

NMFS finds this application warrants further consideration. Based on a preliminary review, NMFS intends to issue an EFP. Possible conditions the agency may impose on this permit, if it is indeed granted, include but are not limited to, a prohibition of conducting research within marine protected areas, marine sanctuaries, or special management zones, without additional authorization. Additionally, NMFS may prohibit the possession of Nassau or goliath grouper, and require any sea turtles taken incidentally during the course of fishing or scientific research activities to be be handled with due care to prevent injury to live specimens, observed for activity, and returned to the water. A final decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on a NMFS review of public comments received on the application, consultations with the affected states, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and a determination that it is consistent with all applicable laws.

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

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Dated: May 15, 2008.

Emily H. Menashes,

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

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[FR Doc. E8-11421 Filed 5-20-08; 8:45 am]

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