[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 216 (Wednesday, November 7, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 66744-66746]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-27247]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 120919471-2584-01]
RIN 0648-BC59


Temporary Rule to Increase the Commercial Annual Catch Limit for 
South Atlantic Yellowtail Snapper

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; emergency action.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this temporary rule to increase the commercial 
annual catch limit (ACL) for yellowtail snapper, as requested by the 
South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). NMFS has 
determined that the commercial ACL may be increased from 1,142,589 lb 
(518,270 kg) to 1,596,510 lb (724,165 kg). This temporary rule will be 
effective for 180 days, unless superseded by subsequent rulemaking, 
although NMFS may extend the rule's effectiveness for an additional 186 
days pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The intent of this temporary 
rule is to preserve a significant economic opportunity for the 
yellowtail snapper component of the South Atlantic snapper-grouper 
fishery that might otherwise be foregone and to help achieve optimum 
yield (OY) for the fishery.

DATES: This temporary rule is effective November 7, 2012, through May 
6, 2013. Comments may be submitted through December 7, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the temporary rule identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2012-0207'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the 
Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
``Instructions'' for submitting comments.
     Mail: Kate Michie, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 
13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept 
anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required field if you wish to 
remain anonymous).
    To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2012-0207'' in the search field 
and click on ``search.'' After you locate the temporary rule, click the 
``Submit a Comment'' link in that row. This will display the comment 
web form. You can then enter your submitter information (unless you 
prefer to remain anonymous), and type your comment on the web form. You 
can also attach additional files (up to 10MB) in Microsoft Word, Excel, 
WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Comments received through means not specified in this rule will not 
be considered.
    For further assistance with submitting a comment, see the 
``Commenting'' section at http://www.regulations.gov/#!faqs or the Help 
section at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Electronic copies of the documents in support of this temporary 
rule may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at 
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/SASnapperGrouperHomepage.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Michie, Southeast Regional 
Office, NMFS, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: Kate.Michie@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the snapper-
grouper fishery off the southern Atlantic states under the Fishery 
Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic 
Region (FMP). The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP 
through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act). Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 
1855(c)) provides the legal authority for the promulgation of emergency 
regulations.

Background

    The final rule for the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment 
(Comprehensive ACL Amendment) to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for 
the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region, and several 
other plans (77 FR 15916, March 16, 2012), effective April 16, 2012, 
implemented, in part, ACLs and accountability measures (AMs) for 
yellowtail snapper, as required by National Standard 1 of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act. The commercial ACL for yellowtail snapper implemented 
through the final rule for the Comprehensive ACL Amendment is 1,142,589 
lb (518,270 kg), round weight. The AM implemented through that rule 
states that the commercial sector will close if commercial landings 
reach or are projected to reach the commercial ACL.
    On September 4, 2012 (77 FR 53776), NMFS published a temporary rule 
to close the commercial sector for yellowtail snapper in the South 
Atlantic on September 11, 2012, because NMFS determined that the 
commercial ACL for yellowtail snapper would be reached by that date. 
However, updated information revealed that yellowtail snapper could 
remain open for additional time until the ACL was reached. NMFS 
announced through a Fishery Bulletin on September 10, 2012, the 
cancellation of the previously announced closure. NMFS published a 
temporary rule on September 13, 2012 (77 FR 56563) with similar 
information. This would have been the first time yellowtail snapper 
would have closed in season since the ACL was first implemented in 
April 2012.
    A new stock assessment for yellowtail snapper was completed by the 
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), Fish and 
Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), in May 2012,

[[Page 66745]]

and reviewed by the Center for Independent Experts. The assessment 
indicates that the stock is not overfished nor undergoing overfishing. 
Results of the stock assessment suggest that the ABC could increase, 
which could allow an increase in the commercial ACL and positive social 
and economic benefits to commercial fishermen and dealers. The 
assessment was reviewed by the SSC on October 10, 2012. The SSC 
recommended the ABC for yellowtail snapper could increase to 4,050,000 
lb (1,837,049 kg) based on the assessment. The South Atlantic 
Comprehensive ACL Amendment and the Generic ACL Amendment to the Red 
Drum, Reef Fish Resources, Shrimp, and Coral and Coral Reefs FMPs for 
the Gulf of Mexico (Generic ACL Amendment) (76 FR 82044, December 29, 
2011) allocated 25 percent of the yellowtail snapper ABC to the Gulf of 
Mexico and 75 percent of the yellowtail snapper ABC to the South 
Atlantic. The Comp ACL Amendment and Generic ACL Amendment set the ABC 
equal to the ACL. Therefore, the ABC/ACL for the Gulf of Mexico would 
be 1,012,500 lb (459,262 kg), round weight, and the ABC/ACL for the 
South Atlantic would be 3,037,500 lb (1,377,787 kg), round weight. In 
the South Atlantic, the commercial allocation is 52.56 percent and the 
recreational allocation is 47.44 percent, which results in a commercial 
ACL of 1,596,510 lb (724,165 kg), round weight, and a recreational ACL 
of 1,596,510 lb (724,165 kg), round weight. Therefore, NMFS has 
determined that the commercial ACL for yellowtail snapper may increase 
to 1,596,510 lb (724,165 kg), round weight.
    The Council and NMFS are developing Regulatory Amendment 15 to the 
FMP to implement the increased commercial ACL for yellowtail snapper on 
a permanent basis. This regulatory amendment is expected to become 
effective sometime in 2013. Pursuant to section 305(c) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, this temporary rule may be effective for not more than 180 
days after publication. However, it can be extended for an additional 
186 days provided that the public has an opportunity to comment on the 
rule. Therefore, NMFS is soliciting public comment on this temporary 
rule, and may extend these measures for up to an additional 186 days if 
Regulatory Amendment 15 is not effective before then.

Need for This Temporary Rule

    At its September 2012 meeting, the Council requested that NMFS 
promulgate emergency regulations to adjust the commercial ACL for 
yellowtail snapper based on the results of the May 2012 stock 
assessment conducted by FWRI, the SSC's anticipated October 2012 ABC 
recommendation, and the current commercial and recreational sector 
allocations. This temporary rule for emergency action is necessary to 
preserve a significant economic opportunity that otherwise might be 
foregone.
    NMFS' Policy Guidelines for the Use of Emergency Rules (62 FR 
44421, August 21, 1997) list three criteria for determining whether an 
emergency exists. This emergency rule is promulgated under those 
criteria. Specifically, in order to promulgate an emergency rule, NMFS' 
policy guidelines require that an emergency:
    (1) Result from recent, unforeseen events or recently discovered 
circumstances; and
    (2) Present serious conservation or management problems in the 
fishery; and
    (3) Can be addressed through emergency regulations for which the 
immediate benefits outweigh the value of advance notice, public 
comment, and deliberative consideration of the impacts on participants 
to the same extent as would be expected under the normal rulemaking 
process.
    The unforeseen circumstance in this case is that a new stock 
assessment has recently been completed by the FWRI providing new 
information on the status of yellowtail snapper. The assessment 
indicates that the stock is neither overfished nor undergoing 
overfishing, and that additional yellowtail snapper may be harvested 
without negatively impacting the stock.
    Harvest of yellowtail snapper is very close to reaching the current 
commercial sector ACL. Not increasing the commercial ACL for yellowtail 
snapper, based on the latest stock assessment, could result in negative 
economic impacts for those who depend on the commercial harvest of 
yellowtail snapper, especially in the Florida Keys.
    Finally, the immediate benefit of implementing this emergency 
action outweighs the value of advance notice and public comment. The 
Southeast Fisheries Science Center has projected that if this rule is 
not implemented the commercial yellowtail snapper ACL would be reached 
in October 2012. NMFS must implement this temporary rule immediately to 
allow for the continued commercial harvest of this increased portion of 
the commercial ACL to give fishermen the opportunity to achieve OY for 
the fishery.

Classification

    This action is issued pursuant to section 305(c) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1855(c). The Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries, NOAA (AA), has determined that this temporary rule is 
necessary to preserve a significant economic opportunity that otherwise 
might be foregone for the yellowtail snapper component of the South 
Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery and is consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act and other applicable laws.
    This temporary rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    The AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior 
notice and the opportunity for public comment because they would be 
contrary to the public interest. The Southeast Fisheries Science Center 
has projected that the commercial yellowtail snapper ACL would be 
reached in October 2012. Failure to increase the commercial ACL for 
yellowtail snapper would result in unnecessary adverse economic impacts 
for those dependent upon the commercial harvest of yellowtail snapper, 
especially in the Florida Keys. NMFS must implement this temporary rule 
immediately to allow for continued commercial harvest of this increased 
portion of the commercial ACL to give fishermen the opportunity to 
achieve OY for the fishery. Comments submitted on this temporary rule 
through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov and 
received by NMFS no later than December 7, 2012, will be considered 
during an extension of this temporary rule.
    For the reasons listed above, the AA also finds good cause to waive 
the 30-day delay in effectiveness of the action under 5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(3).
    Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not 
required for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553 or any other law, the analytical 
requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. 
are inapplicable. Accordingly, no Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is 
required and none has been prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Virgin Islands.


[[Page 66746]]


    Dated: November 1, 2012.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, performing the 
functions and duties of the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended 
as follows:

PART 622--FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC

0
1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. In Sec.  622.49, paragraph (b)(14)(i) is suspended and paragraph 
(b)(14)(iii) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  622.49  Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), 
and accountability measures (AMs).

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (14) * * *
    (iii) Commercial sector--(A) If commercial landings for yellowtail 
snapper, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the 
commercial ACL of 1,596,510 lb (724,165 kg), round weight, the AA will 
file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close 
the commercial sector for the remainder of the fishing year. On and 
after the effective date of such a notification, all sale or purchase 
of yellowtail snapper is prohibited and harvest or possession of this 
species in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and 
possession limit. This bag and possession limit applies in the South 
Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid Federal commercial or 
charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., 
in state or Federal waters.
    (B) If commercial landings exceed the ACL, and yellowtail snapper 
is overfished, based on the most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report 
to Congress, the AA will file a notification with the Office of the 
Federal Register, at or near the beginning of the following fishing 
year to reduce the ACL for that following year by the amount of the 
overage in the prior fishing year.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2012-27247 Filed 11-6-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P