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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 trip limit for the commercial sector of king mackerel in the eastern zone of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) in the northern Florida west coast subzone to 500 lb (227 kg) of king mackerel per day in or from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This trip limit reduction is necessary to protect the Gulf king mackerel resource.

DATES:

This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, August 30, 2012, through June 30, 2013, unless changed by further notice in the Federal Register.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The fishery for coastal migratory pelagic fish (king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia) 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 king mackerel Gulf migratory group's Florida west coast subzone of the Gulf eastern zone into northern and southern subzones, and established their separate quotas. The quota for the northern Florida west coast subzone is 197,064 lb (89,397 kg) (50 CFR 622.42(c)(1)(i)(A)(2)(ii)).

The regulations at 50 CFR 622.44(a)(2)(ii)(B)(2), provide that when 75 percent of the northern Florida west coast subzone's quota has been harvested until a closure of the subzone has been effected or the fishing year ends, king mackerel in or from the EEZ may be possessed on board or landed from a permitted vessel in amounts not exceeding 500 lb (227 kg) per day.

NMFS has projected that 75 percent of the quota for Gulf group king mackerel from the northern Florida west coast subzone will be reached by August 30, 2012. Accordingly, a 500-lb (227-kg) trip limit applies to vessels in the commercial sector for king mackerel in or from the EEZ in the northern Florida west coast subzone effective 12:01 a.m., local time, August 30, 2012. The 500-lb (227-kg) trip limit will remain in effect until the fishery closes or until the end of the current fishing year (June 30, 2013), whichever occurs first.

The Florida west coast subzone is that part of the eastern zone located south and west of 25°20.4′ N. lat. (a line directly east from the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, FL boundary) along the west coast of Florida to 87°31.1′ W. long. (a line directly south from the Alabama/Florida boundary). The Florida west coast subzone is further divided into northern and southern subzones. The northern subzone is that part of the Florida west coast subzone that is between 26°19.8′ N. lat. (a line directly west from the Lee/Collier County, FL boundary) and 87°31.1′ W. long. (a line directly south from the Alabama/Florida boundary).

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 trip limit reduction for the commercial sector 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 the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment could result in a harvest well in excess of the established quota. Immediate implementation of this action is needed to protect the fishery.

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: August 27, 2012.

Lindsay Fullenkamp,

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

[FR Doc. 2012-21426 Filed 8-27-12; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P