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Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery; Closure of the Limited Access General Category Scallop Fishery to Individual Fishing Quota Scallop Vessels

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Start Preamble


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


Temporary rule; closure.


NMFS announces that the Limited Access General Category (LAGC) Scallop Fishery will close to individual fishing quota (IFQ) scallop vessels until it re-opens on December 1, 2008, under current regulations. This action is based on the determination that the third quarter scallop total allowable catch (TAC) for LAGC IFQ scallop vessels (including vessels issued an IFQ letter of authorization (LOA) to fish under appeal), is projected to be landed. This action is being taken to prevent IFQ scallop vessels from exceeding the 2008 third quarter TAC, in accordance with the regulations implementing Amendment 11 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP), enacted by Framework 19 to the FMP, and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.


The closure of the LAGC fishery to all IFQ scallop vessels is effective 0001 hr local time, October 5, 2008, through November 30, 2008.

Start Further Info


Christopher Biegel, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281-9112, fax (978) 281-9135.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information


Regulations governing fishing activity in Start Printed Page 58498the LAGC fishery are found at §§ 648.59 and 648.60. Regulations specifically governing IFQ scallop vessel operations in the LAGC fishery are specified at § 648.53(a)(8)(iii). These regulations authorize vessels issued a valid IFQ scallop permit to fish in the LAGC fishery under specific conditions, including a TAC. The TACs were established by the final rule that implemented Framework 19 to the FMP (73 FR 30790 May 29, 2008) and included a TAC of 623,747 lb (282,927 kg) that may be landed by IFQ vessels during the third quarter of the 2008 fishing year. The regulations at § 648.53(a)(8)(iii) require the LAGC fishery to be closed to IFQ vessels once the Northeast Regional Administrator has determined that the TAC is projected to be landed.

Based on dealer reporting and vessel pre-landing reports through Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS), a projection concluded that, given current activity levels by IFQ scallop vessels in the area, 623,747 lb (282,927 kg) will have been landed on October 4, 2008. Therefore, in accordance with the regulations at § 648.53(a)(8)(iii), the LAGC scallop fishery is closed to all general IFQ vessels as of 0001 hr local time, October 5, 2008. IFQ scallop vessels are not allowed to fish for, possess, or retain scallops, or declare, or initiate, a scallop trip following this closure for the remainder of the 2008 third quarter, ending on November 30, 2008. This closure is in effect for the remainder of the third quarter of the 2008 scallop fishing year under current regulations. The LAGC scallop fishery is scheduled to re-open to IFQ scallop vessels on December 1, 2008.


This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

This action closes the LAGC scallop fishery to all IFQ scallop vessels until December 1, 2008, under current regulations. The regulations at § 648.53(a)(8)(iii) require such action to ensure that IFQ scallop vessels do not exceed the 2008 third quarter TAC. The LAGC scallop fishery opened for the third quarter of the 2008 fishing year at 0001 hours on September 1, 2008. Data indicating the IFQ scallop fleet has landed all of the 2008 third quarter TAC have only recently become available. 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 is delayed to solicit prior public comment, the quota for this quarter will be exceeded, thereby undermining the conservation objectives of the FMP. Also, if the magnitude of any overage is significant, it would warrant a decrease in the fourth quarter quota. This would have a negative economic impact on vessels that fish seasonally in that period. The AA further finds, pursuant to 5 U.S.C 553(d)(3), good cause to waive the thirty (30) day delayed effectiveness period for the reasons stated above.

Start Authority

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

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Dated: October 2, 2008.

Emily H. Menashes,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E8-23708 Filed 10-2-08; 4:15 pm]