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Rule

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Shrimp Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Closure of the Penaeid Shrimp Fishery Off South Carolina

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

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

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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 penaeid shrimp commercial sector to trawling, i.e., brown, pink, and white shrimp, in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off South Carolina in the South Atlantic. This closure is necessary to protect the spawning stock of white shrimp that has been severely depleted by unusually cold weather conditions.

DATES:

The closure is effective March 22, 2011 until the effective date of a notification of opening which will be published in the Federal Register.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Steve Branstetter, 727-570-5305; fax: 727-570-5583; e-mail: Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The penaeid shrimp fishery of the South Atlantic is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and is implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.

Under 50 CFR 622.35(d)(1), NMFS may close the EEZ adjacent to South Atlantic states that have closed their waters to harvest of brown, pink, and white shrimp to protect the white shrimp spawning stock that has been severely depleted by cold weather. Consistent with those procedures and criteria, the state of South Carolina has determined, based on the information from standardized assessments, that unusually cold temperatures have resulted in at least an 80-percent reduction of the white shrimp populations in its state waters. South Carolina closed its waters on January 10, 2011, to the harvest of brown, pink, and white shrimp, and has requested that the Council and NMFS implement a concurrent closure of the EEZ off South Carolina. The Council convened a review panel on March 2, 2011, to evaluate the data supporting the states' request. Based on the review panel's recommendation, the Council approved South Carolina's request and subsequently requested that NMFS concurrently close the EEZ off South Carolina to the harvest of brown, pink, and white shrimp. NMFS has determined that the recommended closure conforms with the procedures and criteria specified in the FMP and the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and, therefore, implements the closure effective March 22, 2011. The closure will be effective until the ending date of the closure in South Carolina, but may be ended earlier based on a request from the state. In no case will the closure remain effective after June 6, 2011. NMFS will terminate the closure of the EEZ by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register.

During the closure, as specified in 50 CFR 622.35(d)(2), no person may: (1) Trawl for brown, pink, or white shrimp in the EEZ off South Carolina; (2) possess on board a fishing vessel brown, pink, or white shrimp in or from the EEZ off South Carolina unless the vessel is in transit through the area and all nets with a mesh size of less than 4 inches (10.2 cm) are stowed below deck; or (3) for a vessel trawling within 25 nautical miles of the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured, use or have on board a trawl net with a mesh size less than 4 inches (10.2 cm), as measured between the centers of opposite knots when pulled taut.Start Printed Page 16699

Classification

This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, (AA), finds that the need to immediately implement this action to close the penaeid shrimp commercial sector off South Carolina constitutes good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth in 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), as such procedures would be unnecessary because the rule itself has 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 severely depleted spawning stock of white shrimp off South Carolina. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and would potentially further harm the spawning stock that has been impacted due to cold weather.

For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).

This action is authorized by 50 CFR 622.35(d) 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: March 22, 2011.

Margo Schulze-Haugen,

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

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[FR Doc. 2011-7118 Filed 3-22-11; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P