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Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; 2019-2020 Commercial Closure for King Mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico Western Zone

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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) for commercial king mackerel in the western zone of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) through this temporary rule. NMFS has determined that the commercial quota for king mackerel in the western zone of the Gulf EEZ will be reached by November 21, 2019. Therefore, NMFS closes the western zone of the Gulf EEZ to commercial king mackerel fishing on November 21, 2019. This closure is necessary to protect the Gulf king mackerel resource.

DATES:

The closure is effective at noon, central time, on November 21, 2019, until 12:01 a.m., central time, on July 1, 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 in the Gulf 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 of king mackerel (Gulf king mackerel) below apply as either round or gutted weight.

The commercial quota for the Gulf king mackerel in the western zone is 1,096,000 lb (497,137 kg) for the current fishing year, July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020 (50 CFR 622.384(b)(1)(i)).

The western zone of Gulf king mackerel is located in the EEZ between a line extending east from the border of the United States and Mexico, and 87°31.1′ W. long., which is a line extending south from the state boundary of Alabama and Florida. The western zone includes the EEZ off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Regulations at 50 CFR 622.388(a)(1)(i) require NMFS to close the commercial sector for Gulf king mackerel in the western zone when the zone's commercial quota is reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined the commercial quota for Gulf king mackerel in the western zone will be reached by November 21, 2019. Start Printed Page 64228Accordingly, the western zone is closed to commercial fishing for Gulf king mackerel effective at noon, central time, on November 21, 2019, through the end of the current fishing year on June 30, 2020.

During the commercial closure, a person on board a vessel that has been issued a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish may continue to retain king mackerel in the western zone under the recreational bag and possession limits specified in 50 CFR 622.382(a)(1)(ii) and (a)(2), as long as the recreational sector for Gulf king mackerel is open (50 CFR 622.384(e)(1)).

Also during the commercial closure, king mackerel from the closed zone, including those harvested under the recreational bag and possession limits, may not be purchased or sold. This prohibition does not apply to king mackerel from the closed 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 622.384(e) and 622.388(a)(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 good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 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 commercial quota and the associated AM has already been subject to notice and public comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the closure. Additionally, allowing prior notice and opportunity for public comment is contrary to the public interest because of the need to immediately implement this action to protect the king mackerel stock. The capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the commercial quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and could potentially result in a harvest well in excess of the established commercial quota.

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).

Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: November 15, 2019.

Jennifer M. Wallace,

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

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2019-25222 Filed 11-18-19; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P