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Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries; Closure of the Directed Butterfish Fishery

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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


Temporary rule; closure.


NMFS announces that the directed fishery for butterfish in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) will be closed effective 0001 hours, July 6, 2011. Vessels issued a Federal permit to harvest butterfish may not retain or land more than 250 lb (0.11 mt) of butterfish per trip for the remainder of the year (through December 31, 2011). This action is necessary to prevent the fishery from exceeding its domestic annual harvest (DAH) of 495 mt, and to allow for effective management of this stock.


Effective 0001 hours, July 6, 2011, through 2400 hours, December 31, 2011.

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Lindsey Feldman, Fishery Management Specialist, 978-675-2179, Fax 978-281-9135.

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Regulations governing the butterfish fishery are found at 50 CFR part 648. The regulations require specifications for maximum sustainable yield, initial optimum yield, allowable biological catch, domestic annual harvest (DAH), domestic annual processing, joint venture processing, and total allowable levels of foreign fishing for the species managed under the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The procedures for setting the annual initial specifications are described in § 648.21. The 2011 specification of DAH for butterfish is 495 mt (76 FR 8306, February 14, 2011).

Section 648.22 requires NMFS to close the directed butterfish fishery in the EEZ when 80 percent of the total annual DAH has been harvested. If 80 percent of the butterfish DAH is projected to be landed prior to October 1, a 250-lb (0.11-mt) incidental butterfish possession limit is put in effect for the remainder of the year, and if 80 percent of the butterfish DAH is projected to be landed on or after October 1, a 600-lb (0.27-mt) incidental butterfish possession limit is put in effect for the remainder of the year. NMFS is further required to notify, in advance of the closure, the Executive Directors of the Mid-Atlantic, New England, and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils; mail notification of the closure to all holders of butterfish permits at least 72 hr before the effective date of the closure; provide adequate notice of the closure to recreational participants in the fishery; and publish notification of the closure in the Federal Register.

The Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS, based on dealer reports and other available information, has determined that 80 percent of the DAH for butterfish in 2011 fishing year will be harvested. Therefore, effective 0001 hours, July 6, 2011, the directed fishery for the butterfish fishery is closed and vessels issued Federal permits for butterfish may not retain or land more than 250 lb (0.11 mt) of butterfish per trip or calendar day. The directed fishery will reopen effective 0001 hours, January 1, 2012, when the 2012 DAH becomes available.


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

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 Start Printed Page 39314public comment because it would be contrary to the public interest. This action closes the butterfish fishery until January 1, 2012, under current regulations. The regulations at § 648.21 require such action to ensure that butterfish vessels do not exceed the 2011 DAH. Data indicating the butterfish fleet will have landed at least 80 percent of the 2011 DAH have only recently become available. If implementation of this closure is delayed to solicit prior public comment, the quota for this year will be exceeded, thereby undermining the conservation objectives of the FMP. The AA further finds, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), good cause to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness period for the reasons stated above.

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

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Dated: June 29, 2011.

Margo Schulze-Haugen,

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

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[FR Doc. 2011-16885 Filed 6-30-11; 4:15 pm]