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Rule

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic; Closure

Document Details

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:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS closes the northern Florida west coast subzone to the commercial harvest of king mackerel in or from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This closure is necessary to protect the Gulf king mackerel resource.

DATES:

This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, April 04, 2011, until 12:01 a.m., local time, July 1, 2011, unless changed by further notice in the Federal Register.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Susan Gerhart, telephone: 727-824-5305, or e-mail: susan.gerhart@noaa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The fishery for coastal migratory pelagic fish (king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, cero, cobia, little tunny, and, in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) only, dolphin and bluefish) is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils (Councils) 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.

On April 27, 2000, NMFS implemented the final rule (65 FR 16336, March 28, 2000) that divided the Florida west coast subzone of the Gulf Start Printed Page 18416of Mexico eastern zone into northern and southern subzones, and established their separate commercial quotas. The northern Florida west coast subzone is located in Federal waters of the Gulf north of 26°19.8′ N lat. (a line directly west from the Lee/Collier County, FL boundary) and east of 87°31.1′ W long. (a line directly south from the Alabama/Florida boundary). The quota for the northern subzone is 168,750 lb (76,544 kg) (50 CFR 622.42(c)(1)(ii)).

In accordance with 50 CFR 622.43(a), NMFS is required to close any zone to the commercial harvest of king mackerel when the zone's quota has been reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined the commercial quota for Gulf group king mackerel in the northern Florida west coast subzone will be reached by April 04, 2011. Accordingly, commercial fishing for Gulf group king mackerel in the northern Florida west coast subzone is closed effective 12:01 a.m., local time, April 04, 2011, until 12:01 a.m., local time, July 1, 2011, the end of the current fishing year.

During the closure period, no person aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit for king mackerel has been issued may fish for or retain Gulf group king mackerel in Federal waters of the closed subzone. There is one exception, however, for a person aboard a charter vessel or headboat. A person aboard a vessel that has a valid charter/headboat permit and also has a commercial king mackerel permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish may continue to retain king mackerel in or from the closed subzone under the 2-fish daily bag limit, provided the vessel is operating as a charter vessel or headboat. Charter vessels or headboats that hold a commercial king mackerel permit are considered to be operating as a charter vessel or headboat when they carry a passenger who pays a fee or when more than three persons are aboard, including operator and crew.

Classification

This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, (AA), finds the need to immediately implement this commercial closure 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 and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures would be unnecessary because the rule itself already 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 fishery resource because the capacity of the commercial fleet allows for rapid harvest of the quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and 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 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: March 30, 2011.

Margo Schulze-Haugen,

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

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[FR Doc. 2011-7930 Filed 3-30-11; 4:15 pm]

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