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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; Commercial Trip Limit Reduction for Spanish Mackerel

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; trip limit reduction.

SUMMARY:

NMFS reduces the commercial trip limit of Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel in or from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Atlantic migratory group southern zone to 1,500 lb (680 kg), round weight, per day. This trip limit reduction is necessary to maximize the socioeconomic benefits of the quota.

DATES:

Effective 6:00 a.m., local time, February 6, 2017, until 12:01 a.m., local time, March 1, 2017.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mary Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, or email: mary.vara@noaa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The fishery for coastal migratory pelagic fish Start Printed Page 9190(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 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.

Framework Amendment 1 to the FMP (79 FR 69058, November 20, 2014) implemented a commercial annual catch limit (equal to the commercial quota) of 3.33 million lb (1.51 million kg) for the Atlantic migratory group of Spanish mackerel. Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel are divided into a northern and southern zone for management purposes. The southern zone consists of Federal waters off South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The boundaries for the southern zone for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel extend between North Carolina/South Carolina, a line extending in a direction of 135°34′55″ from true north beginning at 33°51′07.9″ N. lat. and 78°32′32.6″ W. long. to the intersection point with the outward boundary of the EEZ, at 25°20′24″ N. lat., which is a line directly east from the boundary between Miami-Dade/Monroe Counties, Florida.

The southern zone quota for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel is 2,667,330 lb (1,209,881 kg). Seasonally variable trip limits are based on an adjusted commercial quota of 2,417,330 lb (1,096,482 kg). The adjusted commercial quota is calculated to allow continued harvest in the southern zone at a set rate for the remainder of the current fishing year, through February 28, 2017, in accordance with 50 CFR 622.385(b)(2). As specified at 50 CFR 622.385(b)(1)(ii)(B), after 75 percent of the adjusted commercial quota of Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel is reached or projected to be reached, Spanish mackerel in or from the EEZ in the southern zone may not be possessed onboard or landed from a permitted vessel in amounts exceeding 1,500 lb (680 kg) per day.

NMFS has determined that 75 percent of the adjusted commercial quota for Atlantic group Spanish mackerel has been reached. Accordingly, the commercial trip limit of 1,500 lb (680 kg) per day applies to Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel in or from the EEZ in the southern zone effective 6 a.m., local time February 6, 2017, until 12:01 a.m., local time, March 1, 2017, unless changed by subsequent notification in the Federal Register.

Classification

The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws.

This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.385(b)(1)(ii)(B) 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 opportunity for comment.

This action responds to the best scientific information available. The Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (AA) finds that the need to immediately reduce the trip limit for the commercial sector for Spanish mackerel constitutes good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and the opportunity for public comment pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such procedures would be unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary because the rules implementing the quotas and trip limits have already been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the trip limit reduction.

Prior notice and opportunity for public comment is contrary to the public interest, because any delay in the trip limit reduction of the commercial harvest could result in the commercial quota being exceeded. There is a need to immediately implement this action to protect the Spanish mackerel resource, because the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require additional time and could 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 effectiveness of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).

Start Authority

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

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Dated: January 31, 2017.

Jennifer M. Wallace,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2017-02345 Filed 1-31-17; 4:15 pm]

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