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Rule

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 2014 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic Golden Tilefish Longline Component

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS implements accountability measures for the commercial longline component for golden tilefish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic. Commercial longline landings for golden tilefish, as estimated by the Science and Research Director (SRD), are projected to reach the longline component's commercial annual catch limit (ACL) on March 5, 2014. Therefore, NMFS closes the commercial longline component for golden tilefish in the South Atlantic EEZ on March 5, 2014, and it will remain closed until the start of the next fishing season, January 1, 2015. This closure is necessary to protect the golden tilefish resource.

DATES:

This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, March 5, 2014, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2015.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic includes golden tilefish and 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.

On April 23, 2013, NMFS published a final rule for Amendment 18B to the FMP (78 FR 23858). Amendment 18B to the FMP established a longline endorsement program for the commercial golden tilefish component of the snapper-grouper fishery and allocated the commercial golden tilefish ACL among two gear groups, the longline and hook-and-line components.

The commercial ACL (commercial quota) for the longline component for golden tilefish in the South Atlantic is 405,971 lb (184,145 kg), gutted weight, for the current fishing year, January 1 through December 31, 2014, as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(a)(2)(iii).

Under 50 CFR 622.193(a)(1)(ii), NMFS is required to close the commercial longline component for golden tilefish when the longline component's commercial ACL (commercial quota) has been reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. After the commercial ACL for the longline component is reached or projected to be reached, golden tilefish may not be fished for or possessed by a vessel with a golden tilefish longline endorsement. NMFS has determined that the commercial ACL (commercial quota) for the longline component for golden tilefish in the South Atlantic will have been reached by March 5, 2014. Accordingly, the commercial longline component for South Atlantic golden tilefish is closed effective 12:01 a.m., local time, March 5, 2014, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2015.

During the commercial longline closure, golden tilefish may still be harvested commercially using hook-and-line gear. However, vessels with golden tilefish longline endorsements are not eligible to fish for golden tilefish using hook-and-line gear under the hook-and-line trip limit, as specified in 50 CFR 622.191(a)(2)(ii). The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper and a valid commercial longline endorsement for golden tilefish having golden tilefish onboard must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such golden tilefish prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, March 5, 2014.

Classification

The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of South Atlantic golden tilefish and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the FMP, and other applicable laws.

This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.193(a)(1) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

These measures are exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the temporary rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and comment.

This action responds to the best available scientific 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 longline component 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 commercial ACL (commercial quota) for the longline component. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and would potentially result in a harvest well in excess of the established commercial ACL (commercial quota) for the longline component.Start Printed Page 12412

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).

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

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Dated: February 28, 2014.

James P. Burgess,

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

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[FR Doc. 2014-04858 Filed 2-28-14; 4:15 pm]

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