[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 235 (Thursday, December 6, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 72762]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-29518]



[[Page 72762]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 648

[Docket No. 101013504-0610-02]
RIN 0648-XC353


Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fisheries; 2013 Fishing Quotas 
for Atlantic Surfclams and Ocean Quahogs; and Suspension of Minimum 
Atlantic Surfclam Size Limit

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

ACTION: Temporary rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS suspends the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams 
for the 2013 fishing year. NMFS also announces that the quotas for the 
Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries for 2013 will remain 
status quo. Regulations governing these fisheries require NMFS to 
notify the public in the Federal Register of the allowable harvest 
levels for Atlantic surfclams and ocean quahogs from the Exclusive 
Economic Zone if the previous year's quota specifications remain 
unchanged.

DATES: Effective January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Berthiaume, Fishery Management 
Specialist, (978) 281-9177; fax (978) 281-9135.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 648.72(c) of the regulations 
implementing the fishery management plan (FMP) for the Atlantic 
surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries authorizes the Administrator, 
Northeast Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), to suspend annually, 
by publication of a notification in the Federal Register, the minimum 
size limit for Atlantic surfclams. This action may be taken unless 
discard, catch, and biological sampling data indicate that 30 percent 
or more of the Atlantic surfclam resource is smaller than 4.75 in (120 
mm) and the overall reduced size is not attributable to harvest from 
beds where growth of the individual clams has been reduced because of 
density-dependent factors.
    At its June 2012 meeting, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management 
Council (Council) voted to recommend that the Regional Administrator 
suspend the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams for the 2013 
fishing year. Commercial surfclam data for 2012 were analyzed to 
determine the percentage of surfclams that were smaller than the 
minimum size requirement. The analysis indicated that 5.6 percent of 
the overall commercial landings were composed of surfclams that were 
less than 4.75 in (120 mm). Based on these data, the Regional 
Administrator concurs with the Council's recommendation and suspends 
the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams from January 1 through 
December 31, 2013.
    The FMP for the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries 
requires that NMFS issue notification in the Federal Register of the 
upcoming year's quota, even in cases where the quota remains unchanged 
from the previous year. At its June 2012 meeting, the Council also 
voted that no action be taken to change the quota specifications for 
Atlantic surfclams and ocean quahogs for the 2013 fishing year (January 
1 through December 31, 2013), and recommended maintaining the 2012 
quota levels of 3.4 million bu (181 million L) for Atlantic surfclams, 
5.333 million bu (284 million L) for ocean quahogs, and 100,000 Maine 
bu (3.524 million L) for Maine ocean quahogs, as announced in the 
Federal Register on December 27, 2010 (75 FR 81142).

Classification

    This action is authorized by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from 
review under Executive Order 12866.

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

    Dated: December 3, 2012.
Lindsay Fullenkamp,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-29518 Filed 12-5-12; 8:45 am]
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