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Rule

Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder Fishery; 2018 Commercial Quota Harvested for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Temporary rule; closure.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces that the 2018 summer flounder commercial quota allocated to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been harvested. Vessels issued a commercial Federal fisheries permit for the summer flounder fishery may not land summer flounder in Massachusetts for the remainder of calendar year 2018, unless additional quota becomes available through a transfer from another state. Regulations governing the summer flounder fishery require publication of this notification to advise Massachusetts that the quota has been harvested, and to advise vessel and dealer permit holders that no Federal commercial quota is available to land summer flounder in Massachusetts.

DATES:

Effective 0001 hours local time, August 14, 2018, through December 31, 2018.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Cynthia Hanson, (978) 281-9180, or Cynthia.Hanson@noaa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulations governing the summer flounder fishery are found at 50 CFR part 648. The regulations require annual specification of a commercial quota that is apportioned on a percentage basis among the coastal states from Maine through North Carolina. The process to set the annual commercial quota and the percent allocated to each state is described in § 648.102.

The overall commercial quota for summer flounder in the 2018 fishing year is 6,436,120 lb (2,919,375 kg) (83 FR 4165, January 30, 2018). The percent allocated to vessels landing summer flounder in Massachusetts is 6.82046 percent, resulting in an initial state commercial quota of 438,973 lb (199,115 kg). However, Massachusetts' initial 2018 commercial quota was reduced to 404,742 lb (183,588 kg) due to a 2017 quota overage of 34,231 lb (15,527 kg). Massachusetts has received one quota transfer of 5,450 lb (2,472 kg) from North Carolina on March 9, 2018 (83 FR 11146), bringing its commercial quota to 410,192 lb (186,060 kg).

The NMFS Administrator for the Greater Atlantic Region (Regional Administrator), monitors the state commercial landings and determines when a state's commercial quota has been harvested. NMFS is required to publish notification in the Federal Register advising and notifying Federally permitted commercial vessels and dealers that, effective upon a specific date, the state's commercial quota has been harvested and no commercial quota is available for landing summer flounder in that state. The Regional Administrator has determined, based upon dealer reports and other available information, that the 2018 Massachusetts commercial summer flounder quota will be harvested by August 14, 2018.

Section 648.4(b) provides that Federal permit holders agree, as a condition of the permit, not to land summer flounder in any state that the Regional Administrator has determined no longer has commercial quota available. Therefore, effective 0001 hours local time, August 14, 2018, landings of summer flounder in Massachusetts by vessels holding summer flounder commercial Federal fisheries permits are prohibited for the remainder of the 2018 calendar year, unless additional quota becomes available through a transfer and is announced in the Federal Register. Effective 0001 hours local time, August 14, 2018, federally permitted dealers are also notified that they may not purchase summer flounder from federally permitted vessels that land in Massachusetts for the remainder of the calendar year, or until additional quota becomes available through a transfer from another state.

Classification

This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment because it would be contrary to the public interest. This action closes the commercial summer flounder fishery for Massachusetts until January 1, 2019, under current regulations. The regulations at § 648.103(b) require such action to ensure that summer flounder vessels do not exceed quotas allocated to the states. If implementation of this closure was delayed to solicit prior public comment, the quota for this fishing year will be exceeded, thereby undermining the conservation objectives of the Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan. The Assistant Administrator further finds, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), good cause to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness period for the reason stated above.

Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: August 10, 2018.

Jennifer M. Wallace,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2018-17620 Filed 8-13-18; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P