[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 199 (Monday, October 15, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 62463-62464]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-25262]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 0907271173-0629-03]
RIN 0648-XC135


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
2012 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic 
Gag and South Atlantic Shallow-Water Grouper

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS implements accountability measures (AMs) for the 
commercial sector for gag in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the 
South Atlantic. Commercial landings for gag, as estimated by the 
Science Research Director, are projected to reach the commercial annual 
catch limit (ACL) on October 20, 2012. Therefore, NMFS closes the 
commercial sector for gag and all other South Atlantic Shallow-Water 
Grouper (SASWG) on October 20, 2012 for the remainder of the 2012 
fishing year, through December 31, 2012. Because there is a January 
through April seasonal closure for SASWG, SASWG will not reopen until 
May 1, 2013. In the South Atlantic, SASWG means gag, black grouper, red 
grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, yellowmouth grouper, yellowfin 
grouper, graysby, and coney. This action is necessary to reduce 
overfishing of the South Atlantic gag and other SASWG resources.

DATES: This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, October 20, 2012, 
until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Catherine Hayslip, telephone: 727-824-
5305, email: Catherine.Hayslip@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South 
Atlantic is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-
Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP). Gag in the South 
Atlantic are managed under this FMP. The FMP was prepared by the South 
Atlantic Fishery Management Council and is implemented under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.
    The commercial ACL (commercial quota) for gag in the South Atlantic 
is 352,940 lb (160,091 kg), gutted weight, for the current fishing 
year, as specified in 50 CFR 622.42(e)(7).
    In accordance with regulations at 50 CFR 622.49(b)(3)(i), NMFS is 
required to close the commercial sector for gag and all other SASWG 
when the commercial ACL (commercial quota) for gag has been reached, or 
is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect 
with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined that the 
commercial ACL (commercial quota) for South Atlantic gag will be 
reached by October 20. Accordingly, the commercial sector for South 
Atlantic gag and all other SASWG is closed effective 12:01 a.m., local 
time, October 20, 2012, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2013. 
The recreational sector will continue to remain open until December 31, 
2012.

[[Page 62464]]

    Additionally, a seasonal closure is in place for the recreational 
and commercial sectors for gag and all other SASWG from January through 
April each fishing year as specified in 50 CFR 622.35(j). Therefore, 
the commercial harvest of gag and all other SASWG will not commence 
until May 1, 2013.
    The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for 
South Atlantic snapper-grouper having gag or other SASWG onboard must 
have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such gag or other SASWG prior 
to 12:01 a.m., local time, October 20, 2012. During this commercial 
closure, the bag limit and possession limits specified in 50 CFR 
622.39(d)(1) and (d)(2), respectively, apply to all harvest or 
possession of gag or other SASWG in or from the South Atlantic EEZ, and 
the sale or purchase of gag or other SASWG taken from the EEZ is 
prohibited. The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to the 
sale or purchase of gag or other SASWG that were harvested, landed 
ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, October 20, 2012, and 
were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor. For a person on 
board a vessel for which a Federal commercial permit for the South 
Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery has been issued, the sale and purchase 
provisions of the commercial closure for gag or other SASWG would apply 
regardless of whether the fish are harvested in state or Federal 
waters, as specified in 50 CFR 622.43(a)(5)(iii).
    During the seasonal closure for the recreational and commercial 
sectors for gag and all other SASWG from January through April each 
fishing year, no person may fish for, harvest, or possess in or from 
the South Atlantic EEZ any SASWG. In addition, for a person on board a 
vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat 
permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, the 
provisions of this closure apply in the South Atlantic, regardless of 
where such fish are harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters as 
specified in 50 CFR 622.35(j).

Classification

    This action responds to the best available information recently 
obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, 
NOAA, (AA), finds that the need to immediately implement this action to 
close the commercial sector for gag and other SASWG 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), as such procedures would be unnecessary and contrary to the 
public interest. Such procedures would be unnecessary because the rule 
itself has been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is 
to notify the public of the closure. 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 gag 
since 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 commercial ACL (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).
    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 10, 2012.
Emily H. Menashes,
Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-25262 Filed 10-10-12; 4:15 pm]
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