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Rule

Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic; 2017 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic Yellowtail Snapper

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS implements an accountability measure (AM) for the commercial sector for yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic exclusive economic zone (EEZ). NMFS projects that commercial landings of yellowtail snapper will reach the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) for the August 2016 through July 2017 fishing year by June 3, 2017. Therefore, NMFS closes the commercial sector for yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic EEZ on June 3, 2017, and it will remain closed until August 1, 2017, the start of the August 2017 through July 2018 fishing year. This closure is necessary to protect the South Atlantic yellowtail snapper resource.

DATES:

This rule is effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, June 3, 2017, until 12:01 a.m., local time, August 1, 2017.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic includes yellowtail snapper 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 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 yellowtail snapper commercial ACL is 1,596,510 lb (724,165 kg), round Start Printed Page 25206weight, as specified in 50 CFR 622.193(n)(1)(i). Under 50 CFR 622.193(n)(1)(i), NMFS is required to close the yellowtail snapper commercial sector when the commercial ACL has been reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has projected that the yellowtail snapper commercial sector will reach its ACL on June 3, 2017. Therefore, this temporary rule implements an AM to close the yellowtail snapper commercial sector in the South Atlantic EEZ, effective from 12:01 a.m., local time, June 3, 2017, until August 1, 2017, the start of the 2017-2018 fishing year.

In 2016, Regulatory Amendment 25 to the FMP revised the fishing year for the yellowtail snapper commercial and recreational sectors from January 1 through December 31 to August 1 through July 31 (81 FR 45245, July 13, 2016). Therefore, the 2017-2018 fishing year for yellowtail snapper will begin on August 1, 2017.

The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper having yellowtail snapper on board must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such species prior to June 3, 2017. During the commercial closure, all sale or purchase of yellowtail snapper from the South Atlantic EEZ is prohibited. The harvest or possession of yellowtail snapper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag limit specified in 50 CFR 622.187(b)(4) and the possession limits specified in 50 CFR 622.187(c). These bag and possession limits apply on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, regardless of whether such species were harvested in state or Federal waters.

Classification

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

This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.193(n)(1)(i) 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 NOAA Fisheries (AA) finds that the need to immediately implement this action to close the yellowtail snapper 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 are unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary because the rule implementing the AM has been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the closure. Such procedures are contrary to the public interest because there is a need to immediately implement this action to protect the yellowtail snapper resource, as the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the commercial ACL. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and could result in a harvest well in excess of the established commercial ACL.

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: May 26, 2017.

Margo B. Schulze-Haugen,

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

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[FR Doc. 2017-11310 Filed 5-26-17; 4:15 pm]

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