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Rule

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic; Closure

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ACTION:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS closes the commercial sector for golden tilefish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic. This closure is necessary to protect the golden tilefish resource.

DATES:

This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, February 17, 2012, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Catherine Bruger, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: Catherine.Bruger@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

The commercial quota for golden tilefish in the South Atlantic is 282,819 lb (128,284 kg) for the current fishing year, January 1 through December 31, 2012, as specified in 50 CFR 622.42(e)(2).

Under 50 CFR 622.43(a), NMFS is required to close the commercial sector for golden tilefish when its quota has been reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined that the commercial quota for South Atlantic golden tilefish will have been reached by February 17, 2012. Accordingly, the commercial sector for South Atlantic golden tilefish is closed effective 12:01 a.m., local time, February 17, 2012, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2013.

The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper having golden tilefish onboard must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such golden tilefish prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, February 17, 2012. During the closure, the bag limit and possession limits specified in 50 CFR 622.39(d)(1)(ii) and (d)(2), respectively, apply to all harvest or possession of golden tilefish in or from the South Atlantic EEZ, and the sale or purchase of golden tilefish taken from the EEZ is prohibited. The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to the sale or purchase of golden tilefish that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, February 17, 2012, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor. For a person on board a vessel for which a Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery has been issued, the sale and purchase provisions of the commercial closure for golden tilefish would apply regardless of whether the fish are harvested in state or Federal waters, as specified in 50 CFR 622.43(a)(5)(ii).

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 commercial sector for golden tilefish 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 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 golden tilefish since the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and would 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 the 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: February 10, 2012.

Carrie Selberg,

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

[FR Doc. 2012-3543 Filed 2-10-12; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P