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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; Trip Limit Reduction

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ACTION:

Temporary rule; trip limit reduction.

SUMMARY:

NMFS reduces the commercial trip limit of Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel in or from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the southern zone to 1,500 lb (680 kg) per day. This trip limit reduction is necessary to maximize the socioeconomic benefits of the quota.

DATES:

Effective 6 a.m., local time, January 27, 2012, until 12:01 a.m., local time, March 1, 2012, unless changed by further notification in the Federal Register.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Susan Gerhart, telephone: (727) 824-5305, or email: susan.gerhart@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The fishery for coastal migratory pelagic fish (king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, cero, cobia, little tunny, dolphin, and, in the Gulf of Mexico only, 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 by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.

Based on the Councils' recommended total allowable catch and the allocation ratios in the FMP, NMFS implemented a commercial quota of 3.87 million lb (1.76 million kg) for the Atlantic migratory group of Spanish mackerel (65 FR 41015, July 3, 2000). Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel are divided into a northern and southern zone for management purposes. The southern zone for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel extends from 30°42′45.6″ N. lat., which is a line directly east from the Georgia/Florida boundary, to 25°20.4′ N. lat., which is a line directly east from the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary.

For the southern zone, seasonally variable trip limits are based on an adjusted quota of 3.62 million lb (1.64 million kg). The adjusted quota is calculated to allow continued harvest in the southern zone at a set rate for the remainder of the fishing year, until February 29, 2012, in accordance with 50 CFR 622.44(b)(2).

Beginning December 1, the trip limit is unlimited on weekdays and limited to 1,500 lb (680 kg) of Spanish mackerel per day on weekends. After 75 percent of the adjusted quota of Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel is taken until 100 percent of the adjusted quota is taken, Spanish mackerel in or from the EEZ in the southern zone may not be possessed on board or landed from a permitted vessel in amounts exceeding 1,500 lb (680 kg) per day.

NMFS has determined that 75 percent of the adjusted quota for Atlantic group Spanish mackerel has been taken. Accordingly, the 1,500-lb (680-kg) per day commercial trip limit applies to Spanish mackerel in or from the EEZ in the southern zone effective 6 a.m., local time, January 27, 2012, until 12:01 a.m., local time, March 1, 2012, unless changed by further notification in the Federal Register.

Classification

This action responds to the best available information recently obtained regarding the status of the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, (AA), finds the need to immediately implement this commercial trip limit reduction 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 trip limit reduction.

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.

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

Dated: January 24, 2012.

James P. Burgess,

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

[FR Doc. 2012-1792 Filed 1-24-12; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P