[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 240 (Thursday, December 13, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 74119-74120]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-30101]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 0907271173-0629-03]
RIN 0648-XC380


Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic; 2012 Commercial 
Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic Snowy 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 snowy grouper in the South Atlantic exclusive 
economic zone (EEZ). Commercial landings for snowy grouper, as 
estimated by the Science Research Director, are projected to reach the 
commercial annual catch limit (ACL) on December 19, 2012. Therefore, 
NMFS closes the commercial sector for snowy grouper on December 19, 
2012, for the remainder of the 2012 fishing year. This action is 
necessary to prevent overfishing of the South Atlantic snowy grouper 
resource.

DATES: This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, December 19, 
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, which includes snowy grouper, is managed under the Fishery 
Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic 
Region (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 (Magnuson-
Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.

Background

    The 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act implemented 
new requirements that ACLs and AMs be established to end overfishing 
and prevent overfishing from occurring. ACLs are levels of annual catch 
of a stock or stock complex that are set to prevent overfishing from 
occurring. AMs are management controls to prevent ACLs from being 
exceeded, and to correct or mitigate overages of the ACL if they occur.
    The final rule for Amendment 17B to the FMP established ACLs for 
eight snapper-grouper species undergoing overfishing, including snowy 
grouper, and AMs to be implemented if these ACLs are projected to be 
reached, reached, or exceeded (75 FR 82280, December 30, 2010).
    The commercial ACL (commercial quota) for snowy grouper is 82,900 
lb (37,603 kg), gutted weight, for the current fishing year, as 
specified in 50 CFR 622.42(e)(1).
    The AMs for snowy grouper, specified at 50 CFR 622.49(b)(2)(i), 
require NMFS to close the commercial sector for snowy grouper when the 
commercial ACL (commercial quota) 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 projected that the commercial ACL 
(commercial quota) for South Atlantic snowy grouper will be reached by 
December 19, 2012. Accordingly, the commercial sector for South 
Atlantic snowy grouper is closed effective 12:01 a.m., local time, 
December 19, 2012, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2013.
    The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for 
South Atlantic snapper-grouper having snowy grouper onboard must have 
landed and bartered, traded, or sold such snowy grouper prior to 12:01 
a.m., local time, December 19, 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 snowy 
grouper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ, and the sale or purchase of 
snowy grouper taken from the EEZ is prohibited. The prohibition on sale 
or purchase does not apply to the sale or purchase of snowy grouper 
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. 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, as specified in 50 CFR 622.43(a)(5)(ii).

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined 
this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of 
South Atlantic snowy

[[Page 74120]]

grouper and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other 
applicable laws.
    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.49(b)(2)(i) 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 without 
opportunity for prior notice and comment.
    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 snowy grouper 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 are unnecessary because the AMs 
established by Amendment 17B and located at 50 CFR 622.49(b)(2)(i) have 
already 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 the South Atlantic 
snowy grouper resource. 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).

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

    Dated: December 10, 2012.
Lindsay Fullenkamp,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-30101 Filed 12-10-12; 4:15 pm]
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