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Rule

Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; 2018-2019 Commercial Run-Around Gillnet Closure for King Mackerel

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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 implements an accountability measure (AM) through this temporary rule for commercial harvest of king mackerel in the southern zone of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) using run-around gillnet gear. NMFS has determined that the commercial annual catch limit (equivalent to the commercial quota) for king mackerel using run-around gillnet gear in the southern zone of the Gulf EEZ has been reached. Therefore, NMFS closes the southern zone to commercial king mackerel fishing using run-around gillnet gear in the Gulf EEZ on February 8, 2019. This closure is necessary to protect the Gulf king mackerel resource.

DATES:

The closure is effective from 12 p.m., eastern time, on February 8, 2019, until 6 a.m., eastern time, on January 21, 2020.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kelli O'Donnell, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: kelli.odonnell@noaa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The fishery for coastal migratory pelagic fish includes king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia, and is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils 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. All weights for Gulf migratory group king mackerel (Gulf king mackerel) below apply as either round or gutted weight.

King mackerel in the Gulf is divided into western, northern, and southern zones, which have separate commercial quotas. The southern zone for Gulf king mackerel encompasses an area of the EEZ south of a line extending due west from the boundary of Lee and Collier Counties on the Florida west coast, and south of a line extending due east from the boundary of Monroe and Miami-Dade Counties on the Florida east coast, which includes the EEZ off Collier and Monroe Counties in south Florida (50 CFR 622.369(a)(1)(iii)).

The commercial quota for Gulf king mackerel in the southern zone is 585,900 lb (265,760 kg) for vessels using run-around gillnet gear (50 CFR 622.384(b)(1)(iii)(B)), for the current fishing year, July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.

Regulations at 50 CFR 622.8(b) and 622.388(a)(1) require NMFS to close any component of the king mackerel commercial sector when its quota has been reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined that the Gulf king mackerel commercial quota for vessels using run-around gillnet gear in the southern zone has been reached. Accordingly, commercial fishing using such gear in the southern zone is closed at 12 p.m., eastern time, on February 8, 2019, until 6 a.m., eastern time, on January 21, 2020, the beginning of the next fishing season, i.e., the day after the 2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal holiday. Vessel operators that have been issued Start Printed Page 3724a Federal commercial permit to harvest Gulf king mackerel using run-around gillnet gear in the southern zone must have landed ashore and bartered, traded, or sold such king mackerel prior to 12 p.m., eastern time, on February 8, 2019.

Persons aboard a vessel for which a Federal commercial permit for Gulf king mackerel has been issued, except persons who also possess a king mackerel gillnet permit, may fish for or retain Gulf king mackerel harvested using hook-and-line gear in the southern zone unless the commercial quota for hook-and-line gear has been met and the hook-and-line component of the commercial sector has been closed. In addition, as long as the recreational sector for Gulf king mackerel is open (50 CFR 622.384(e)(1)), a person aboard a vessel that has a valid Federal commercial gillnet permit for king mackerel may continue to retain king mackerel under the bag and possession limits set forth in 50 CFR 622.382(a)(1)(ii) and (a)(2).

During the closure, Gulf king mackerel harvested using run-around gillnet gear in the southern zone may not be purchased or sold. This prohibition does not apply to Gulf king mackerel harvested using run-around gillnet gear in the southern zone that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to the closure and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor (50 CFR 622.384(e)(2)).

Classification

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

This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.8(b) and 622.388(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 prior notice and opportunity for public comment.

This action responds to the best scientific information available. The NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (AA) finds that the need to immediately implement this action to close the commercial fishery component that uses run-around gillnet gear 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 and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary because the rule implementing the commercial quota and the associated AM has already been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the closure. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment is contrary to the public interest, because any delay in the closure of the commercial harvest could result in the commercial quota being exceeded. There is a need to immediately implement this action to protect the king mackerel resource, because the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this action would require time and would 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 under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).

Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: February 8, 2019.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2019-02193 Filed 2-8-19; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P