[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 84 (Tuesday, May 1, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 25630-25631]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-10458]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 120316196-2195-01]
RIN 0648-BB89


Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast 
Multispecies Fishery; Interim Action; Withdrawn

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

ACTION: Interim rule; withdrawal.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS issued interim measures for the 2012 Gulf of Maine (GOM) 
Atlantic cod fishery on April 3, 2012. These measures were intended to 
become effective May 1, 2012; however, the authority NMFS uses to issue 
interim measures requires that interim measures become effective on 
publication in the Federal Register. The interim rule published on 
April 3, 2012, is being withdrawn so NMFS may re-issue the same 
measures on May 1,

[[Page 25631]]

2012, to ensure that the effective date is consistent with both NMFS' 
authority and the start of the 2012 GOM cod fishing year.

DATES: The interim rule published on April 3, 2012, at 77 FR 19944 is 
withdrawn as of May 1, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Ruccio, Fishery Policy 
Analyst, (978) 281-9104.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS published a temporary rule containing 
interim measures to implement GOM cod catch limits and recreational 
fishing rules for the 2012 fishing year on April 3, 2012 (77 FR 19944). 
The interim measures were issued under authority of section 305(c) of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and 
were designed to become effective on May 1, 2012, the first day of the 
2012 GOM cod fishing year. However, the effective date specified in the 
published interim rule is inconsistent with NMFS' authority provided by 
the MSA. The MSA language that authorizes NMFS to issue interim 
measures under specific conditions is described in detail in the April 
3, 2012, rule and not repeated here.
    The MSA authority for interim rules explicitly specifies that 
measures are effective upon publication in the Federal Register and may 
remain in place for no more than 180 days. NMFS has authority to extend 
interim measures for an additional 186 days under the MSA-granted 
authority. This provides for up to a full year (365 days) of interim 
measures. NMFS indicated that the interim measures issued in the April 
3 rule would be extended by a subsequent rule so that measures remain 
effective for the duration of the 2012 fishing year which runs from May 
1, 2012 to April 30, 2013. The initial 180 day effective period in the 
April 3 rule was calculated moving forward from the day the rule 
published, even though the rule states it is effective on May 1. Thus, 
the initial 180 day period specified in the April 3 interim rule ends 
on September 30, 2012. An extension of the interim measures for an 
additional 186 days from September 30, 2012 would be April 3, 2013. 
This would mean that 27 days of the 2012 fishing year would not have 
catch and management measures in place for GOM cod.
    NMFS had published the measures in advance of the fishing season to 
provide advance notice to fishery participants and the interested 
public. Because the rule has published and the effective date outlined 
in the DATES section is inconsistent with NMFS' authority and creates a 
situation that would result in an unregulated portion of the 2012 
fishing year, the measures and modifications to the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) implemented by the rule are being withdrawn. NMFS 
will re-issue the exact measures and regulations previously published 
on April 3, 2012, for publication in the Federal Register on May 1, 
2012. This ensures the effective date begins on the start of the 
fishing year and is consistent with the MSA section 305(c) authority 
that specifies interim rules are effective upon publication. This will 
result in the interim measures expiring on October 27, 2012. NMFS may 
then be able to extend the interim measures for an additional 186 days 
to ensure the measures are effective for the entire May 1, 2012-April 
30, 2013 fishing year.
    NMFS recognizes the withdrawal and re-publication of measures may 
cause some confusion for fishermen and those interested in the 2012 GOM 
cod fishery. Because the effective date in the April 3 rule is 
inconsistent with NMFS authority, it is not possible to simply correct 
the language. By withdrawing and re-issuing the interim measures for 
publication in the Federal Register on May 1, 2012, NMFS will ensure 
that the measures are effective at the start of the fishing year, 
consistent with both the intent of the previously published interim 
rule and the MSA authority for issuing interim rules. Furthermore, this 
withdrawal and re-issuance of the GOM cod 2012 fishing year interim 
measures will ensure that NMFS may use the MSA authority for a full 
fishing year, as intended and requested by the New England Fishery 
Management Council (Council). NMFS intends to explain the need for the 
withdrawal and re-issuance to the Council, fishery participants, and 
the interested public.
    For the reasons outlined here, the publication on April 3, 2012 (77 
FR 19944), implementing temporary rules to 50 CFR part 648 with an 
effective date of May 1-September 30, 2012, is withdrawn.
    As previously stated, NMFS intends to re-issue the measures 
contained in the April 3, 2012 (77 FR 19944), on May 1, 2012.

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

    Dated: April 25, 2012.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-10458 Filed 4-30-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P