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Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder Fishery; Quota Transfer

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ACTION:

Temporary rule; quota transfer.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces that the State of North Carolina is transferring a portion of its 2012 commercial summer flounder quota to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The State of North Carolina is also retroactively transferring a portion of its 2011 commercial summer flounder quota to the Commonwealth of Virginia. NMFS is adjusting the quotas and announcing the revised commercial quota for each state involved.

DATES:

Effective April 2, 2012, through December 31, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Carly Bari, Fishery Management Specialist, 978-281-9224.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulations governing the summer flounder fishery are in 50 CFR part 648, and require annual specification of a commercial quota that is apportioned among the coastal states from North Carolina through Maine. The process to set the annual commercial quota and the percent allocated to each state are described in § 648.100.

The final rule implementing Amendment 5 to the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan, which was published on December 17, 1993 (58 FR 65936), provided a mechanism for summer flounder quota to be transferred from one state to another. Two or more states, under mutual agreement and with the concurrence of the Administrator, Northeast Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), can transfer or combine summer flounder commercial quota under § 648.102(c)(2). The Regional Administrator is required to consider the criteria in § 648.102(c)(2)(i) to evaluate requests for quota transfers or combinations.

North Carolina has agreed to transfer 831,241 lb (377,044 kg) of its 2012 commercial quota to Virginia. This transfer was prompted by summer flounder landings of a number of North Carolina vessels that were granted safe harbor in Virginia due to hazardous shoaling in Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, between February 1, 2012, and March 1, 2012, thereby requiring a quota transfer to account for an increase in Virginia's landings that would have otherwise accrued against the North Carolina quota. Additionally, 8,601 lb (3,901 kg) of summer flounder commercial quota will be retroactively transferred from North Carolina to Virginia for a landing that occurred on December 19, 2011. The Regional Administrator has determined that the criteria set forth in § 648.102(c)(2)(i) have been met. The revised summer flounder quotas for calendar year 2011 are: North Carolina, 3,151,783 lb (1,429,625 kg); and Virginia, 5,305,295 lb (2,406,441 kg). The revised summer flounder quotas for calendar year 2012 are: North Carolina, 1,783,420 lb (808,945 kg); and Virginia, 4,423,924 lb (2,006,658 kg).

Classification

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

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

Dated: March 29, 2012.

Carrie Selberg,

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

[FR Doc. 2012-7985 Filed 4-2-12; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P