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Rule

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Closure of the 2009 Commercial Fishery for Tilefishes

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS closes the commercial fishery for tilefishes in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico. NMFS has determined that the quota for the commercial fishery for tilefishes will have been reached by May 15, 2009. This closure is necessary to protect the tilefish resource.

DATES:

Closure is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, May 15, 2009, through December 31, 2009.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Catherine Bruger, telephone 727-824-5305, fax 727-824-5308, e-mail Catherine.Bruger@noaa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY 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 Start Printed Page 22477and 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 tilefishes in the Gulf of Mexico at 440,000 lb (200,000 kg) for the current fishing year, January 1 through December 31, 2009.

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 commercial quota of 440,000 lb (200,000 kg) for tilefishes will be reached on or before May 15, 2009. Accordingly, NMFS is closing the commercial fishery for tilefishes in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ from 12:01 a.m., local time, on May 15, 2009, through December 31, 2009. The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish having tilefishes aboard must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such tilefishes prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, May 15, 2009.

During the closure, the bag and possession limits specified in 50 CFR 622.39(b) apply to all harvest or possession of tilefishes in or from the Gulf of Mexico EEZ, and the sale or purchase of tilefishes taken from the EEZ is prohibited. The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to sale or purchase of tilefishes that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, May 15, 2009, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor. Vessels with commercial quantities of other Gulf reef fish on board are prohibited from retaining a recreational bag limit of tilefishes.

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 has already been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the closure. 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 622.43(a) 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: May 7, 2009

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

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[FR Doc. E9-11153 Filed 5-8-09; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-S