[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 58 (Tuesday, March 26, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 18247-18249]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-06862]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket Nos. 100120037-1626-02 and 101217620-1788-03]
RIN 0648-XC574


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
2013 Accountability Measures for Species in the U. S. Caribbean

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

[[Page 18248]]


ACTION: Temporary rule; accountability measures.

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SUMMARY: NMFS implements accountability measures (AMs) for species and 
species groups in the exclusive economic zone of the U.S. Caribbean 
(EEZ) for the 2013 fishing year through this temporary rule. NMFS has 
determined that several annual catch limits (ACLs), as estimated by the 
Science and Research Director (SRD), were exceeded during the 2010 or 
2011 fishing years. This temporary rule reduces the length of the 2013 
fishing season for these species and species groups by the amount 
necessary to ensure that landings do not exceed the applicable ACL in 
2013. NMFS implements AMs for the following species and species groups 
as of the date specified until the end of the fishing year: Snapper 
Unit 2 (commercial) in the EEZ off Puerto Rico, September 21, 2013; 
wrasses (recreational) in the EEZ off Puerto Rico, October 21, 2013; 
triggerfish and filefish in the EEZ off St. Croix, November 21, 2013; 
spiny lobster in the EEZ off St. Croix, December 19, 2013; groupers in 
the EEZ off St. Thomas/St. John, December 20, 2013. These AMs are 
necessary to protect the Caribbean reef fish and spiny lobster 
resources.

DATES: This rule is effective April 25, 2013 through December 31, 2013. 
Snapper Unit 2 (commercial) AMs in the EEZ off Puerto Rico are 
effective 12:01 a.m., local time, September 21, 2013, until 12:01 a.m., 
local time, January 1, 2014. Wrasses (recreational) AMs in the EEZ off 
Puerto Rico are effective 12:01 a.m., local time, October 21, 2013, 
until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2014. Triggerfish and filefish 
AMs in the EEZ off St. Croix are effective 12:01 a.m., local time, 
November 21, 2013, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2014. Spiny 
lobster AMs in the EEZ off St. Croix are effective 12:01 a.m., local 
time, December 19, 2013, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2014. 
Groupers AMs in the EEZ off St. Thomas/St. John are effective 12:01 
a.m., local time, December 20, 2013, until 12:01 a.m., local time, 
January 1, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William S. Arnold, telephone: 727-824-
5305, email: Bill.Arnold@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The reef fish fishery of the Caribbean, 
which includes snappers in Snapper Unit 2, triggerfish and filefish, 
wrasses, and groupers, is managed under the Fishery Management Plan 
(FMP) for the Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin 
Islands (Reef Fish FMP). Spiny lobster of the Caribbean is managed 
under the FMP for the Spiny Lobster Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. 
Virgin Islands (Spiny Lobster FMP). The Spiny Lobster FMP and the Reef 
Fish FMP were prepared by the Caribbean Fishery Management Council and 
are implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations 
at 50 CFR part 622. The ACLs specified in this temporary rule are given 
in round weight.

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires 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 the 2010 Caribbean ACL Amendment published on 
December 30, 2011 (76 FR 82404), established, in part, ACLs and AMs for 
reef fish units or sub-units that are classified as undergoing 
overfishing, including the species with ACL overages identified in this 
temporary rule: snappers in Snapper Unit 2 (cardinal and queen 
snapper), and groupers in Grouper Unit 3 (coney, graysby, red hind, and 
rock hind), Grouper Unit 4 (black grouper, red grouper, tiger grouper, 
and yellowfin grouper), and Grouper Unit 5 (misty grouper and 
yellowedge grouper). That final rule allocated these ACLs among three 
Caribbean island management areas, i.e., the Puerto Rico, St. Croix, 
and St. Thomas/St. John management areas of the EEZ, as specified in 
Appendix E to part 622.
    The final rule for the 2011 Caribbean ACL Amendment published on 
December 30, 2011 (76 FR 82414), established, in part, ACLs and AMs for 
species and species groups that were not determined to be undergoing 
overfishing, including the species with ACL overages identified in this 
temporary rule: spiny lobster and specific reef fish including wrasses 
(hogfish, puddingwife, and Spanish hogfish), triggerfish (ocean 
triggerfish, queen triggerfish, and sargassum triggerfish), and 
filefish (scrawled filefish, whitespotted filefish, and black durgon). 
That final rule allocated these ACLs among the three Caribbean island 
management areas.
    Each ACL allocated to Puerto Rico is also allocated between the 
commercial and recreational sectors because both commercial and 
recreational sector landings are available. For the St. Croix and St. 
Thomas/St. John island management areas, only commercial data are 
available. Therefore, each ACL for the St. Croix and St. Thomas/St. 
John island management areas applies to both the commercial and 
recreational sectors.

Accountability Measures

    Pursuant to the AMs established in the Reef Fish FMP and the Spiny 
Lobster FMP, the AMs that apply to each of the species or species 
groups addressed in this temporary rule are as follows: if landings 
from a Caribbean island management area, as specified in Appendix E to 
part 622, are estimated by the SRD to have exceeded the applicable ACL, 
the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, (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 length of the 
fishing season for the applicable species or species groups that year 
by the amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the applicable 
ACL, as specified at 50 CFR 622.49(c). Landings will be evaluated 
relative to the applicable ACL based on a moving multi-year average of 
landings, as described in the FMP. However, if NMFS determines the ACL 
for a particular species or species group was exceeded because of 
enhanced data collection and monitoring efforts instead of an increase 
in total catch of the species or species group, NMFS will not reduce 
the length of the fishing season for the applicable species or species 
group the following fishing year. NMFS has determined that the ACLs for 
the species and species groups in this temporary rule were exceeded 
because of an increase in total catch and not because of enhanced data 
collection and monitoring methods. Therefore, NMFS reduces the length 
of the 2013 fishing season for these species and species groups by the 
amount necessary to ensure that landings do not exceed the applicable 
ACL in 2013.
    Some of the species contained in this temporary rule have specific 
prohibited and limited-harvest species limitations. These limitations 
apply without regard to whether the species is harvested by a vessel 
operating under a valid commercial fishing license issued by Puerto 
Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands or by a person subject to the bag 
limits, as specified at 50 CFR 622.32(b)(1).

Puerto Rico Commercial Snapper Unit 2

    The commercial ACL for Snapper Unit 2 in the Puerto Rico management

[[Page 18249]]

area is 145,916 lb (66,186 kg), as specified at 50 CFR 
622.49(c)(1)(i)(D).
    NMFS has determined the commercial ACL for Snapper Unit 2 based on 
2010-2011 data has been exceeded. Therefore, this temporary rule 
implements AMs for the commercial sector for Snapper Unit 2 to reduce 
the 2013 fishing season to ensure landings do not exceed the commercial 
ACL for Snapper Unit 2 in the 2013 fishing year. The 2013 fishing 
season for the commercial sector for Snapper Unit 2 in or from the 
Puerto Rico management area of the EEZ ends effective September 21, 
2013. The 2014 fishing season begins 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 
2014.

Puerto Rico Recreational Wrasses

    The recreational ACL for wrasses in the Puerto Rico management area 
is 5,050 lb (2,291 kg), as specified at 50 CFR 622.49(c)(1)(ii)(L).
    NMFS has determined the recreational ACL for wrasses based on 2011 
data has been exceeded. Therefore, this temporary rule implements AMs 
for the recreational sector for wrasses to reduce the 2013 fishing 
season to ensure landings do not exceed the recreational ACL for 
wrasses in the 2013 fishing year. The 2013 fishing season for the 
recreational sector for wrasses in or from the Puerto Rico management 
area of the EEZ ends effective October 21, 2013. The 2014 fishing 
season begins 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2014.

St. Croix Triggerfish and Filefish

    The ACL for triggerfish and filefish in the St. Croix management 
area is 24,980 lb (11,331 kg), as specified at 50 CFR 
622.49(c)(2)(i)(N).
    NMFS has determined the ACL for triggerfish and filefish based on 
2011 data has been exceeded. Therefore, this temporary rule implements 
AMs for triggerfish and filefish to reduce the 2013 fishing season to 
ensure landings do not exceed the stock ACL for triggerfish and 
filefish in the 2013 fishing year. The 2013 fishing season for 
triggerfish and filefish in or from the St. Croix management area of 
the EEZ ends effective November 21, 2013. The 2014 fishing season 
begins 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2014.

St. Croix Spiny Lobster

    The ACL for spiny lobster, in the St. Croix management area is 
107,307 lb (48,674 kg), as specified at 50 CFR 622.49(c)(2)(i)(O).
    NMFS has determined the ACL for spiny lobster based on 2011 data 
has been exceeded. Therefore, this temporary rule implements AMs for 
spiny lobster to reduce the 2013 fishing season to ensure landings do 
not exceed the ACL for spiny lobster in the 2013 fishing year. The 2013 
fishing season for spiny lobster in or from the St. Croix management 
area of the EEZ ends effective December 19, 2013. The 2014 fishing 
season begins 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2014.

St. Thomas/St. John Groupers

    The ACL for groupers, in the St. Thomas/St. John management area is 
51,849 lb (23,518 kg), as specified at 50 CFR 622.49(c)(3)(i)(D).
    NMFS has determined the ACL for groupers based on 2010-2011 data 
has been exceeded. Therefore, this temporary rule implements AMs for 
groupers to reduce the 2013 fishing season to ensure landings do not 
exceed the ACL for groupers in the 2013 fishing year. The 2013 fishing 
season for groupers in or from the St. Thomas/St. John management area 
of the EEZ ends effective December 20, 2013. The 2014 fishing season 
begins 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2014.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined 
this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of 
the Caribbean reef fish and spiny lobster fisheries and is consistent 
with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the FMPs, and other applicable laws.
    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.49(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 without 
opportunity for prior notice and comment.
    This action responds to the best available information recently 
obtained from the fisheries. The AA finds there is 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). Such 
procedures would be unnecessary because the rules implementing the ACLs 
and AMs for these species and species groups have been subject to 
notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public that 
the ACLs were exceeded and that the AMs for these species and species 
groups are being implemented for the 2013 fishing year.

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

    Dated: March 21, 2013.
Kara Meckley,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-06862 Filed 3-25-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P