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Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Inseason Action To Close the Commercial Gulf of Mexico Non-Sandbar Large Coastal Shark Fishery

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Fishery closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS is closing the commercial fishery for non-sandbar large coastal sharks (LCS) in the Gulf of Mexico region. This action is necessary because that quota for the 2009 fishing season is projected to have reached at least 80 percent of the available quota.

DATES:

The commercial non-sandbar LCS fishery is closed effective 11:30 p.m. local time June 6, 2009 until the publication of the 2010 shark season specifications in the Federal Register.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Karyl Brewster-Geisz, 301-713-2347; fax 301-713-1917.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Atlantic shark fisheries are managed under the Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP), its amendments, and its implementing regulations found at 50 CFR part 635 issued under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.).

Under § 635.5(b)(1), shark dealers are required to report every two weeks. Dealer reports for fish received between the 1st and 15th of any month must be received by NMFS by the 25th of that month. Dealer reports for fish received between the 16th and the end of any month must be received by NMFS by the 10th of the following month. Under § 635.28(b)(2), when NMFS projects that fishing season landings for a specific shark quota have reached or are about to reach 80 percent of the available quota, NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a notice of closure for that shark species group that will be effective no fewer than 5 days from the date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via a notice in the Federal Register, that additional quota is available and the season is reopened, the fishery for that specific quota is closed, even across fishing years.

On December 24, 2008 (73 FR 79005), NMFS announced that the non-sandbar LCS quota for the Gulf of Mexico region for the 2009 fishing year would be 390.5 metric tons (mt) dressed weight (dw) (860,896 lb dw). Dealer reports through the April 30, 2009, reporting period indicate that 293.8 mt dw or 75 percent of the available quota for non-sandbar LCS has been taken in the Gulf of Mexico. Dealer reports indicate that 56 percent of the quota was taken from the opening of the fishery on January 23, 2009, through February 28, 2009; 9 percent of the quota was taken in March; and 10 percent was taken in April. Based on dealer reports in March and April, NMFS expects that approximately 10 percent of the quota will also be taken in May. Based on this projection, the fishery could reach 85 percent of the quota, which exceeds the 80 percent limit specified in the regulations. Accordingly, NMFS is closing the commercial non-sandbar LCS fishery in the Gulf of Mexico region as of 11:30 p.m. local time June 6, 2009. All other shark fisheries remain open.

At § 635.27(b)(1)(ii), the boundary between the Gulf of Mexico region and the Atlantic region is defined as a line beginning on the east coast of Florida at the mainland at 25°20.4′ N. lat, proceeding due east. Any water and land to the south and west of that boundary is considered, for the purposes of quota monitoring and setting of quotas, to be within the Gulf of Mexico region.

During the closure, retention of non-sandbar LCS sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region is prohibited for persons fishing aboard vessels issued a commercial shark limited access permit under 50 CFR 635.4, unless the vessel is permitted to operate as a charter vessel or headboat for HMS and is engaged in a for-hire trip, in which case the recreational retention limits for sharks and no sale provisions apply (50 CFR 635.22(a) and (c)), or if the vessel Start Printed Page 26804possesses a valid shark research permit under § 635.32 and an NMFS-approved observer is onboard. A shark dealer, issued a permit pursuant to § 635.4, may not purchase or receive non-sandbar LCS in the Gulf of Mexico region from a vessel issued an Atlantic Shark LAP, except that a permitted shark dealer or processor may possess non-sandbar LCS that were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered, prior to the effective date of the closure and were held in storage. However, a permitted shark dealer or processor may possess non-sandbar LCS that were harvested by a vessel issued a valid shark research fishery permit (per § 635.32) with a NMFS-approved observer onboard during the trip the sharks were taken as long as the non-sandbar shark research fishery remains open. Under this closure, a shark dealer, issued a permit pursuant to § 635.4 may, in accordance with state regulations, purchase or receive a non-sandbar LCS in the Gulf of Mexico region if the sharks were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered from a vessel that fishes only in state waters and that has not been issued a Shark LAP, HMS Angling permit, or HMS Charter/Headboat permit pursuant to § 635.4.

Classification

Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that providing for prior notice and public comment for this action is impracticable and contrary to the public interest because the fishery is currently underway, and any delay in this action would cause overharvest of the quota and be inconsistent with management requirements and objectives. Similarly, affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this action is contrary to the public interest because if the quota is exceeded, the affected public is likely to experience reductions in the available quota and a lack of fishing opportunities in future seasons. Thus, for these reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effective date pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553 (d)(3). This action is required under § 635.28(b)(2) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

Start Authority

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

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Dated: May 29, 2009.

Kristen C. Koch,

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

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[FR Doc. E9-13072 Filed 6-1-09; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-S