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Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Snapper-Grouper Resources of the South Atlantic; 2015-2016 Recreational Fishing Season for Black Sea Bass

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


Temporary rule; recreational season length.


NMFS announces that the length of the recreational season for black sea bass in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic will extend throughout the fishing year. Announcing the length of recreational season for black sea bass is one of the accountability measures (AMs) for the recreational sector. This announcement allows recreational fishermen to maximize their opportunity to harvest the recreational annual catch limit (ACL) for black sea bass during the fishing season while managing harvest to protect the black sea bass resource.


This rule is effective from 12:01 a.m., local time, April 1, 2015, until 12:01 a.m., local time, April 1, 2016, unless changed by subsequent notification in the Federal Register.

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Nikhil Mehta, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, email:

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The snapper-grouper fishery includes black sea bass in the South Atlantic and is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Start Printed Page 16307Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP). The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council prepared the FMP and the FMP is implemented by NMFS under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.

The final rule implementing Regulatory Amendment 14 to the FMP changed the recreational fishing season for black sea bass from June 1-May 31 to April 1-March 31 (79 FR 66316, November 7, 2014). The final rule also revised the recreational AMs for black sea bass. Prior to the start of each recreational fishing year on April 1, NMFS will project the length of the recreational fishing season based on when NMFS projects the recreational ACL to be met and will announce the recreational season end date in the Federal Register (50 CFR 622.193(e)(2)). The purpose of this revised AM is to implement a more predictable recreational season length while still constraining harvest at or below the recreational ACL to protect the stock from experiencing adverse biological consequences.

An increased recreational ACL of 1,033,980 lb (469,005 kg), round weight, was established through the final rule for Regulatory Amendment 19 to the FMP on September 23, 2013 (78 FR 58249). Harvest levels of black sea bass were not close to reaching the recreational ACL of 1,033,980 lb (469,005 kg) round weight during the 2012/2013 through 2014/2015 fishing years, and therefore, NMFS estimates that the recreational ACL will not be met in the 2015-2016 fishing season. Accordingly, the season end date for recreational fishing for black sea bass in the South Atlantic EEZ is March 31, 2016.


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

This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.193(e)(2) 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 scientific information available. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that the need to immediately implement the recreational season length 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), because prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this temporary rule is unnecessary. Such procedures are unnecessary, because the rule establishing the AM has already been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the recreational season length.

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: March 24, 2015.

Emily H. Menashes,

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

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[FR Doc. 2015-07093 Filed 3-24-15; 4:15 pm]