[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 17 (Friday, January 25, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 5403-5404]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-01562]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

RIN 0648-AS65


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf, and South Atlantic; Aquaculture

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

ACTION: Supplemental Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a supplement to 
the final programmatic environmental impact statement (SFPEIS); request 
for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) 
previously published a NOI for the Fishery Management Plan for 
Regulating Offshore Marine Aquaculture in the

[[Page 5404]]

Gulf of Mexico (FMP; formerly the Draft Generic Amendment to Gulf of 
Mexico Fishery Management Plans for Offshore Aquaculture) on September 
2, 2004. A notice of availability for the draft programmatic 
environmental impact statement (PEIS) was published on September 12, 
2008. On June 26, 2009, a notice of availability was published for the 
final PEIS.
    This supplemental NOI is intended to inform the public of NMFS and 
the Council's decision to consider new information from the Deepwater 
Horizon (DWH) MC252 blowout. This information is needed in order to 
consider potential changes to the environment linked to the DWH blowout 
and determine if and how such changes may affect the actions and 
alternatives analyzed in the FMP. Comments are being solicited on the 
range of issues related to the DWH blowout to be addressed in the 
SFPEIS.

DATES: Written comments on the range of issues to be addressed in the 
SFPEIS will be accepted until February 25, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the supplemental NOI identified 
by NOAA-NMFS-2008-0233 by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-
NMFS-2008-0233, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required 
fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Jess Beck, Southeast 
Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Electronic copies of the FMP, which includes a final programmatic 
environmental impact statement (FPEIS), an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis (IRFA), and a regulatory impact review (RIR) may 
be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/AquacultureHomepage.htm or may be downloaded from 
the Council's Web site at http://gulfcouncil.org/fishery_management_plans/aquaculture_management.php.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jess Beck, 727-824-5301, email: 
Jess.Beck@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Aquaculture in the Gulf is managed under the 
FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Council and is implemented through 
regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

Background

    Worldwide demand for protein is increasing and fisheries production 
will not likely be adequate to supply the world demand for fisheries 
products without supplementation through aquaculture. In the United 
States, approximately 84 percent of all seafood consumed is currently 
imported from other countries, creating an annual trade deficit of over 
9 billion dollars. It is estimated by 2025, two million more metric 
tons of seafood will be needed over and above what is consumed today. 
Commercial wild-capture fishery production has remained stable or 
declined in recent decades, due to overfishing and increasingly 
stringent management restrictions.
    Aquaculture is one method to meet current and future demands for 
seafood. Prior to the FMP, there was no process for accommodating 
commercial-scale offshore aquaculture in Federal waters of the Gulf of 
Mexico (Gulf), other than live rock aquaculture which is authorized 
under Amendments 2 and 3 to the Fishery Management Plan for Coral and 
Coral Reefs of the Gulf. NMFS may issue an exempted fishing permit 
(EFP) to conduct offshore aquaculture in Federal waters; however, an 
EFP is of limited duration and is not intended for commercial 
production of fish and shellfish. The Council developed the FMP under 
the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to authorize the development 
of commercial aquaculture operations in Federal waters of the Gulf. The 
FMP was initiated to provide a comprehensive framework for authorizing 
and regulating offshore aquaculture activities. The FMP also 
establishes a programmatic approach for evaluating the potential 
impacts of proposed aquaculture operations in the Gulf.
    A NOI for the FMP was published on September 2, 2004 (69 FR 53682). 
A notice of availability for the draft PEIS was published on September 
12, 2008 (73 FR 53001). On June 26, 2009, a notice of availability was 
published for the final PEIS (74 FR 30569). The FMP entered into effect 
by operation of law on September 3, 2009.
    On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred on the DWH MC252 oil rig, 
resulting in the release of an estimated 4.9 million bbl (779 million 
L) of oil into the Gulf. In addition, 1.84 million gal (6.96 million L) 
of Corexit 9500A dispersant were applied as part of the effort to 
constrain the spill. The well was successfully capped in a coordinated 
effort on July 15, 2010.
    This supplemental NOI is intended to inform the public of NMFS and 
the Council's decision to consider new information from the DWH MC252 
blowout. This information is needed in order to consider potential 
changes to the environment linked to the DWH blowout and determine if 
and how such changes may affect the actions and alternatives analyzed 
in the FMP. Comments are being solicited on the range of issues related 
to the DWH blowout to be addressed in the SFPEIS. Availability of the 
draft SFPEIS will be published at a later date in the Federal Register.

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

    Dated: January 18, 2013.
James P. Burgess,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-01562 Filed 1-24-13; 8:45 am]
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