[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 194 (Friday, October 5, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 60946-60947]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-24653]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 001005281-0369-02]
RIN 0648-XC273


Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and 
South Atlantic; 2012-2013 Accountability Measure and Closure for Gulf 
King Mackerel in Northern Florida West Coast Subzone

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS implements an accountability measure (AM) for commercial 
king mackerel in the northern Florida west coast subzone of the eastern 
zone of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) through 
this temporary final rule. NMFS has determined that the commercial 
annual catch limit (ACL) (equal to the commercial quota) for king 
mackerel in the northern Florida west coast subzone of the Gulf EEZ 
will have been reached by October 5, 2012. Therefore, NMFS closes the 
northern Florida west coast subzone to commercial king mackerel fishing 
in the EEZ. This closure is necessary to protect the Gulf king mackerel 
resource.

DATES: The closure is effective noon, local time, October 5, 2012, 
until 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 1, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Branstetter, 727-824-5305, 
email: Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The fishery for coastal migratory pelagic 
fish (king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia) is managed under the 
Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of 
the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (FMP). The FMP was prepared by 
the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils 
(Councils) and is implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) 
by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.
    On April 27, 2000, NMFS implemented the final rule (65 FR 16336, 
March 28, 2000) that divided the Gulf migratory group king mackerel's 
Florida west coast subzone of the Gulf eastern zone into northern and 
southern subzones, and established their separate quotas. The Florida 
west coast subzone is that part of the eastern zone located south and 
west of 25[deg]20.4' N. lat. (a line directly east from the Miami-Dade/
Monroe County, FL boundary) along the west coast of Florida to 
87[deg]31.1' W. long. (a line directly south from the Alabama/Florida 
boundary). The Florida west coast subzone is further divided into 
northern and southern subzones. The northern subzone is that part of 
the Florida west coast subzone that is between 26[deg]19.8' N. lat. (a 
line directly west from the Lee/Collier County, FL boundary) and 
87[deg]31.1' W. long. (a line directly south from the Alabama/Florida 
boundary).
    The commercial ACL (commercial quota) for the Gulf migratory group 
king mackerel in the northern Florida west coast subzone is 197,064 lb 
(89,397 kg) (50 CFR 622.42(c)(1)(i)(A)(2)(ii)), for the current fishing 
year, July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013.
    Because 75 percent of the northern Florida west coast subzone's 
quota had been harvested, NMFS published a temporary rule on August 30, 
2012, to reduce the trip limit for the commercial sector of king 
mackerel in the northern Florida west coast subzone to 500 lb (227 kg) 
of king mackerel per day in or from the EEZ (77 FR 52623).
    Regulations at 50 CFR 622.49(h)(1)(i) and 50 CFR 622.43(a)(3) 
require NMFS to close the commercial sector for Gulf migratory group 
king mackerel in the northern Florida west coast subzone when the ACL 
(quota) is reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a 
notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. 
Based on the best scientific information available, NMFS has determined 
the commercial ACL (commercial quota) of 197,064 lb (89,397 kg) for 
Gulf migratory group king mackerel in the northern Florida west coast 
subzone will be reached by October 5, 2012. Accordingly, the northern 
Florida west coast subzone is closed effective noon, local time, 
October 5, 2012, through June 30, 2013, the end of the fishing year, to 
commercial fishing for Gulf migratory group king mackerel.
    Except for a person aboard a charter vessel or headboat, during the 
closure, no person aboard a vessel for which a commercial permit for 
king mackerel has been issued may fish for or retain Gulf group king 
mackerel in the EEZ in the closed zones or subzones. A person aboard a 
vessel that has a valid charter vessel/headboat permit for coastal 
migratory pelagic fish may continue to retain king mackerel in or from 
the closed zones or subzones under the bag and possession limits set 
forth in 50 CFR 622.39(c)(1)(ii) and (c)(2), provided

[[Page 60947]]

the vessel is operating as a charter vessel or headboat. A charter 
vessel or headboat that also has a commercial king mackerel permit is 
considered to be operating as a charter vessel or headboat when it 
carries a passenger who pays a fee or when there are more than three 
persons aboard, including operator and crew.
    During the closure, king mackerel from the closed zone, including 
those harvested under the bag and possession limits, may not be 
purchased or sold. This prohibition does not apply to trade in king 
mackerel from the closed zones or subzones that were harvested, landed 
ashore, and sold prior to the closure and were held in cold storage by 
a dealer or processor.

Classification

    This action responds to the best scientific information available. 
The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds that the 
need to immediately implement this action to close the Florida west 
coast subzone to commercial king mackerel fishing constitutes 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) because prior notice and opportunity for public comment is 
unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Prior notice and 
public comment is unnecessary because the rule implementing the 
commercial ACL (commercial quota) and the associated requirement for 
closure of the commercial harvest when the ACL (quota) is reached or 
projected to be reached has already been subject to notice and 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 resource 
because the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of 
the quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment 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 the effectiveness of this action under 5 
U.S.C. 553(d)(3).
    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.43(a) and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: October 2, 2012.
Lindsay Fullenkamp,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-24653 Filed 10-2-12; 4:15 pm]
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