[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 238 (Tuesday, December 11, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 73555-73556]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-29878]



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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket Nos. 120709225-2365-01 and 100812345-2142-03]
RIN 0648-XC367


Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic; Reopening of the 
Commercial Harvest of Red Snapper and Gray Triggerfish in the South 
Atlantic

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; reopening.

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SUMMARY: NMFS reopens the 2012 commercial sector for red snapper and 
gray triggerfish in the South Atlantic exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 
NMFS previously determined the commercial annual catch limits (ACLs) 
for gray triggerfish and red snapper had been reached, and closed the 
commercial sector for gray triggerfish at 12:01 a.m., local time, on 
September 11, 2012 and the commercial sector for red snapper at 12:01 
a.m., local time, on November 21, 2012. However, updated landings 
estimates indicate the commercial ACLs for red snapper and gray 
triggerfish have not been reached at this time. Therefore, NMFS is 
reopening the commercial sector for red snapper and gray triggerfish in 
the South Atlantic at 12:01 a.m., on December 12, 2012. These species 
will remain open until 12:01 a.m. on December 19, 2012. The intended 
effect of this temporary rule is to maximize harvest benefits for 
commercial red snapper and gray triggerfish fishermen. Additionally, 
this reopening for red snapper provides an opportunity to collect 
fishery-dependent data that could be useful for the 2014 red snapper 
stock assessment.

DATES: This temporary rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, 
December 12, 2012, until 12:01 a.m., local time, December 19, 2012.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the South Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council (Council) manage South Atlantic snapper-grouper 
including red snapper and gray triggerfish 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).

Background

Red Snapper

    NMFS implemented emergency rulemaking to allow for the limited 
harvest and possession of red snapper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ 
in 2012 (77 FR 51939, August 28, 2012). Through the emergency rule, 
NMFS implemented an ACL of 20,818 lb (9,443 kg), gutted weight, for the 
commercial sector. A commercial trip limit of 50 lb (22.7-kg), gutted 
weight, no size limit, and a 7-day commercial fishing season were 
implemented to constrain harvest to the ACL. The commercial fishing 
season opened at 12:01 a.m., local time, September 17, 2012, and closed 
at 12:01 a.m., local time, September 24, 2012. The Southeast Fisheries 
Science Center (SEFSC) monitored commercial landings during the 7-day 
season to determine whether the commercial ACL had been harvested. The 
AMs specified in 50 CFR 622.49(b)(25)(i) state that if the SEFSC 
determines the ACL has not been harvested during the 7-day season, the 
Regional Administrator may reopen the commercial sector for an 
additional limited time. The SEFSC determined that the ACL was not 
harvested during the first 7-day season, therefore, NMFS published a 
temporary rule on November 15, 2012 (77 FR 68071), and reopened the 
commercial sector for red snapper at 12:01 a.m., on November 13, 2012, 
and closed it at 12:01 a.m., on November 21, 2012. However, the SEFSC 
determined that the ACL was not harvested during the November 
reopening, therefore, NMFS is reopening the commercial sector for red 
snapper at 12:01 a.m., on December 12, 2012, and closing it at 12:01 
a.m., on December 19, 2012. During the reopening, harvest will again be 
limited to the 50-lb (22.7-kg), gutted weight, daily trip limit and 
there will be no size limit.
    After the commercial sector closes, an operator of a vessel with a 
valid commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper 
having red snapper onboard must have landed and bartered, traded or 
sold such red snapper prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, December 19, 
2012. During the closure, all sale or purchase of red snapper is 
prohibited and, because the recreational sector is also closed, the bag 
and possession limit of red snapper is zero. This bag and possession 
limit and the prohibition on sale/purchase apply 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. The prohibition on sale or purchase does not 
apply to the sale or purchase of red snapper that were harvested, 
landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, December 19, 
2012, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.

Gray Triggerfish

    NMFS determined that the commercial ACL of 305,262 lb (138,465 kg), 
round weight, for gray triggerfish was reached and published a 
temporary rule on September 4, 2012 (77 FR 53776), to close gray 
triggerfish on September 11, 2012. However, since that closure, the 
SEFSC has received additional landings data and has determined that the 
ACL was not harvested prior to September 11, 2012. Therefore, in 
accordance with 50 CFR 622.43(c), NMFS is reopening the commercial 
sector for gray triggerfish beginning at 12:01 a.m., on December 12, 
2012, and closing at 12:01 a.m., on December 19, 2012.
    After the commercial sector closes, all sale or purchase of gray 
triggerfish is prohibited and harvest or possession of gray triggerfish 
in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the bag and possession 
limit, as specified at 50 CFR 622.39(d)(1) and (d)(2). During the 
closure, the bag and possession limits and the prohibition on sale/
purchase apply 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 the 
fish were harvested, i.e., in state or Federal waters. The commercial 
sector for gray triggerfish will reopen on January 1, 2013, the 
beginning of the 2013 commercial fishing season.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined 
this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of 
South Atlantic red snapper and gray triggerfish and is consistent with 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws.
    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.49(b)(25)(i) and 50 CFR 
622.43(c) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.
    These measures are exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act because the temporary rule is issued

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without opportunity for prior notice and comment.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive the 
requirements to provide prior notice and the opportunity for public 
comment on this temporary rule. Such procedures are unnecessary and 
contrary to the public interest regarding red snapper because the 
commercial ACL and AMs for red snapper were established in emergency 
rulemaking to allow for the limited harvest and possession of red 
snapper in 2012 (77 FR 51939, August 28, 2012), and the AMs allow the 
Regional Administrator to reopen the commercial sector if the ACL has 
been determined to have not been reached during the first 7-day 
commercial season. NMFS previously determined the commercial ACL for 
red snapper would be reached by November 21, 2012, and closed the 
commercial sector for red snapper in the South Atlantic at 12:01 a.m., 
local time, on November 21, 2012. However, updated landings estimates 
indicate the commercial ACL for red snapper has not been reached at 
this time, and therefore additional harvest is available in order to 
achieve optimum yield. Such procedures are unnecessary and contrary to 
the public interest regarding gray triggerfish because NMFS previously 
determined the commercial ACL for gray triggerfish would be reached by 
September 11, 2012, and therefore, closed the commercial sector for 
gray triggerfish in the South Atlantic at 12:01 a.m., local time, on 
September 11, 2012. However, updated landings estimates indicate the 
commercial ACL for gray triggerfish has not been reached at this time, 
and therefore additional harvest is available in order to achieve 
optimum yield. All that remains is to notify the public that additional 
harvest is available under the established ACLs and, therefore, the 
commercial sector for red snapper and gray triggerfish will reopen.
    Additionally, reopening the commercial sector for red snapper and 
gray triggerfish will likely result in revenue increases to commercial 
vessels. Fishermen will be able to keep the red snapper and gray 
triggerfish that they are currently required to discard. Additionally, 
reopening the commercial sector for red snapper will provide an 
opportunity to collect fishery-dependent data that will likely be 
useful for the 2014 red snapper stock assessment. Delaying the 
implementation of this rulemaking to provide prior notice and the 
opportunity for public comment would reduce the likelihood of reopening 
the commercial sector for red snapper and gray triggerfish in the 2012 
fishing year.
    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).

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

    Dated: December 6, 2012.
Emily H. Menashes,
Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-29878 Filed 12-6-12; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P