[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 82 (Monday, April 29, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 25047-25052]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-10000]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 121004515-3385-01]
RIN 0648-BC63


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Snapper-Grouper Fishery Off the Southern Atlantic States; Amendment 28

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 28 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South 
Atlantic Region (FMP), as prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery 
Management Council (Council). If implemented, this rule would establish 
a process for determining whether the limited harvest and possession of 
red snapper in or from the South Atlantic exclusive economic zone (EEZ) 
could occur during a given fishing year and establish a process for 
setting commercial and recreational fishing seasons for red snapper 
beginning in 2013. Amendment 28 also specifies the process and formulas 
for setting commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACLs) for 
red snapper if limited fishing seasons may occur. This rule would 
implement those ACLs and specify accountability measures (AMs) when the 
limited harvest and possession of red snapper is allowed. During 
limited fishing seasons, the rule would also eliminate the current red 
snapper minimum size limit, establish a recreational bag limit and 
establish a commercial trip limit for red snapper. In this rule, NMFS 
intends to continue the rebuilding of the red snapper stock and to 
provide socio-economic benefits to snapper-grouper fishermen and 
communities that utilize the red snapper resource.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before May 29, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the amendment identified by 
``NOAA-NMFS-2013-0040'' by any of the following methods:
     Electronic submissions: Submit electronic comments via the 
Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0040, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Rick DeVictor, 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 Amendment 28, which includes an environmental 
assessment, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA), and a 
regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional 
Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/pdfs/SGAmend28.pdf.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick DeVictor, Southeast Regional 
Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, or email: rick.devictor@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South 
Atlantic, which includes red snapper, 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

    Red snapper are overfished and undergoing overfishing. The harvest 
and possession of red snapper have been prohibited since January 4, 
2010, initially through temporary rules (74 FR 63673, December 4, 2009 
and 75 FR 27658, May 18, 2010), and then through the final rule to 
implement Amendment 17A to the FMP (75 FR 76874, December 9, 2010). 
Amendment 17A continued the prohibitions on a permanent basis by 
implementing an ACL for red snapper of zero (landings only). Amendment 
17A also implemented a rebuilding plan for red snapper, which

[[Page 25048]]

specifies that red snapper biomass must increase to the target rebuilt 
level in 35 years, starting from 2010. The final rule implementing 
Amendment 17A also included a large area closure for most snapper-
grouper species, however, this area closure did not become effective 
because it was determined not to be necessary to end the overfishing of 
red snapper (76 FR 23728, April 28, 2011). At its June 2012 meeting, 
the Council received new information from NMFS regarding discard 
estimates for red snapper. Using these data, the Council and NMFS 
determined that a limited season for red snapper was possible in 2012. 
At the Council's request, 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).

Status of the Stock

    The most recent Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) 
benchmark stock assessment for red snapper, SEDAR 24, was completed in 
October 2010. Much like the stock assessment completed in 2008, this 
assessment showed red snapper to be overfished and undergoing 
overfishing, but also showed that red snapper were undergoing 
overfishing at a lower rate than found in the 2008 stock assessment. 
The next benchmark stock assessment for red snapper is scheduled for 
2014.

Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    This rule would implement several management measures to allow for 
the limited harvest and possession of red snapper in or from the South 
Atlantic EEZ. When the Council approved, and NMFS implemented, the 
temporary rule through emergency action in 2012, they determined that 
retention of a limited number of red snapper (13,097 fish) would not 
jeopardize the rebuilding of the red snapper stock because the 
estimated discard mortality level for 2012 was below the acceptable 
biological catch (ABC). In Amendment 28, the Council has developed a 
process to evaluate whether a similar limited harvest season could 
occur each year, beginning in 2013.

Process for Determining the Limited Annual Red Snapper Harvest

    Amendment 28 describes the annual process developed by the Council 
for determining whether a limited fishing season for red snapper will 
occur and how much red snapper may be harvested. The ABC is determined 
through the Council's ABC control rule and the rebuilding projections 
from the most recent stock assessment. Estimated landings and dead 
discards of red snapper from the previous year should be available 
around March of each year, and NMFS would use that information in 
formulas approved by the Council in Amendment 28. If NMFS determines, 
using the formulas, that the estimated landings and dead discards that 
occurred in the previous year are equal to or greater than the ABC for 
the current year, no harvest would be allowed and the ACL would remain 
equal to zero. However, if NMFS determines, using the formulas, that 
the previous year's estimated landings and dead discards are less than 
the ABC, then the ACL would be set to the amount of harvest that may be 
allowed for the current year.

Setting the Commercial and Recreational Red Snapper Fishing Seasons

    If NMFS determines limited commercial and recreational fishing 
seasons are allowed for that fishing year, NMFS would announce the 
commercial and recreational fishing season start dates in the Federal 
Register and by other methods, as deemed appropriate. The commercial 
fishing season would begin on or close to the second Monday in July, 
and the recreational fishing season, which would consist of weekends 
only (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays), would begin on or close to the 
second Friday of July. If the fishing seasons do not open exactly on 
these dates, they would open as close to these dates as possible. NMFS 
would not announce the season end date for the commercial sector before 
the season starts, but would monitor harvest and close the commercial 
sector when the commercial ACL has been reached or projected to be 
reached by filing an in-season closure notification with the Office of 
the Federal Register. After the commercial sector closes, sale and 
purchase of red snapper are prohibited and harvest and possession of 
red snapper are limited to the bag and possession limits. NMFS would 
project when the recreational ACL would be reached and announce the 
fishing season end date in the Federal Register. The recreational 
season length would be based on an evaluation of historical harvest 
levels and fishing effort.
    If the NMFS Regional Administrator (RA) determines tropical storm 
or hurricane conditions exist, or are projected to exist, in the South 
Atlantic during the commercial or recreational fishing seasons, this 
rule would allow the RA to modify the opening and closing dates by 
filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal 
Register, and announcing via NOAA Weather Radio and Fishery Bulletin 
any change in the red snapper commercial or recreational fishing 
seasons. Additionally, the Council decided that if the projected 
commercial or recreational fishing season is determined by NMFS to be 3 
days or less, then the commercial or recreational fishing season would 
not open for that fishing year because that short time period would not 
provide sufficient fishing opportunity for the public.

ACLs

    Amendment 28 includes formulas for determining the commercial and 
recreational ACLs on an annual basis. The formulas are based on total 
removals (landings plus discards) from prior fishing years. The 
formulas would provide the total ACL for limited fishing seasons. Using 
the current allocation ratio for red snapper (28.07 percent commercial 
and 71.93 percent recreational), NMFS would then determine the 
commercial and recreational ACLs. When finalized data from the prior 
fishing years are available and NMFS determines that limited fishing 
seasons are allowable, NMFS would publish a notification with the 
Office of the Federal Register to announce the commercial and 
recreational ACLs for limited fishing seasons for that fishing year.

AMs

    During limited fishing seasons, the Council and NMFS would 
establish in-season AMs to prevent these ACLs from being exceeded. If 
red snapper harvest is allowed in a given fishing year, the commercial 
in-season AM requires that if commercial landings reach or are 
projected to reach the commercial ACL, then NMFS would close the 
commercial sector for red snapper for the remainder of the fishing 
year. After the commercial sector closes, sale and purchase of red 
snapper would be prohibited and harvest and possession of red snapper 
would be limited to the bag and possession limits until the 
recreational fishing season closes. The recreational in-season AM is 
the length of the recreational fishing season as determined by NMFS and 
announced in the Federal Register. After the recreational fishing 
season closes, the bag and possesion limits for red snapper would be 
zero. If both the commercial and recreational sectors are closed, it 
would be unlawful to harvest or possess red snapper.

[[Page 25049]]

Other Management Measures

    In order to reduce the probability of an overage of the commercial 
and recreational ACLs during the limited open seasons, this rule would 
implement a 75-lb (34-kg) commercial trip limit and a 1-fish per person 
recreational bag limit. The rule would also remove the 20-inch (51-cm), 
total length (TL), minimum size limit for both the commercial and 
recreational sectors to decrease regulatory discards of red snapper 
(fish returned to the water because they are below the minimum size 
limit).

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator (AA) has determined that this rule is 
consistent with Amendment 28, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after 
public comment.
    This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of 
Executive Order 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this rule, if adopted, would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual 
basis for this determination is as follows.
    The purpose of the rule is to continue the rebuilding of the red 
snapper stock and to increase the social and economic benefits to 
fishermen and fishing communities that utilize the red snapper 
component of the snapper-grouper fishery while also minimizing safety 
at sea concerns, the probability of ACL overages, and discard mortality 
of red snapper. The Magnuson-Stevens Act serves as the legal basis for 
the rule.
    This rule is expected to directly affect commercial fishing vessels 
that possess commercial snapper-grouper permits and for-hire vessels 
that possess for-hire snapper-grouper permits for the South Atlantic. 
The Small Business Administration has established size criteria for all 
major industry sectors in the U.S. including fish harvesters. A 
business involved in fish harvesting is classified as a small business 
if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field 
of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual 
receipts not in excess of $4.0 million (NAICS code 114111, finfish 
fishing) for all its affiliated operations worldwide. For for-hire 
vessels, the other qualifiers apply and the receipts threshold is $7.0 
million (NAICS code 713990, recreational industries).
    From 2003 through 2007, the average number of vessels with 
commercial South Atlantic snapper-grouper permits was 944, of which 749 
were transferable and 195 were non-transferable. Transferable permits 
have no limit on landings per trip, except for species subject to trip 
limits, while non-transferable permits are restricted to 225 lb (102 
kg) of landings per trip, unless the regulations specify a lower 
amount. For 2008 through 2010, the average number of vessels with 
commercial snapper-grouper permits decreased to 788, of which 643 were 
transferable permits and 145 non-transferable permits. As of July 9, 
2012, the number of vessels with commercial snapper-grouper permits had 
decreased further to 694, of which 568 were transferable and 126 were 
non-transferable.
    Prior to the closure, any commercial vessel with a commercial 
snapper-grouper permit could commercially harvest red snapper in the 
South Atlantic. Commercially harvested red snapper are landed mostly in 
Georgia and northeast Florida (landings from Georgia and Florida are 
combined for confidentiality considerations), followed by North 
Carolina and South Carolina, and are mainly caught with vertical lines. 
On average, 220 commercial vessels landed at least 1 lb (0.45 kg) of 
red snapper per year between 2003 and 2007. Of these 220 commercial 
vessels, 102 landed less than 100 lb (45 kg) of red snapper per year, 
84 landed between 101 lb (46 kg) and 1,000 lb (455 kg), and only 34 
landed more than 1,000 lb (455 kg). In addition, red snapper was not 
the primary revenue species on most commercial trips that harvested red 
snapper during those years. On average, red snapper was the primary 
source of trip revenue on only 163 commercial trips per year, or only 
12 percent of the commercial trips on which it was landed. These trips 
accounted for approximately 31 percent of the total commercial red 
snapper landings.
    From 2005 through 2009, the average number of vessels commercially 
harvesting at least 1 lb (0.45 kg) of red snapper per year increased to 
230, and peaked at 270 vessels in 2009. The impending prohibition on 
the commercial harvest of red snapper in 2010, as well as the closure 
of vermilion snapper to commercial harvest in September 2009, most 
likely caused this increase in participation. Vermilion snapper is the 
primary target species on trips catching red snapper and a primary 
substitute species for red snapper in seafood markets.
    From 2003 through 2007, commercial landings of red snapper averaged 
approximately 121,000 lb (55,000 kg) annually, which generated average 
annual gross revenue of $488,030 (2011 dollars). From 2005 through 
2009, commercial landings of red snapper averaged approximately 171,000 
lb (77,727 kg) while gross revenue averaged approximately $709,441 per 
year. Thus, during this time, the average price of commercially 
harvested red snapper was approximately $4.15 per pound. Further, 
average annual red snapper commercial landings and gross revenue were 
approximately 743 lb (337 kg) and $3,085 per vessel, respectively. 
Because the commercial harvest and sale of red snapper were prohibited 
in 2010 and 2011, landings and gross revenue data from these years are 
the most currently available for red snapper.
    From 2003 through 2007, an average of 890 commercial vessels per 
year harvested snapper-grouper species. For 2008 through 2011, an 
average of 865 commercial vessels harvested snapper-grouper species per 
year. Average annual commercial landings of all snapper-grouper species 
in the South Atlantic from 2003 through 2007 were approximately 6.43 
million lb (2.92 million kg) which generated approximately $14.98 
million in gross revenue. For 2008 through 2011, these figures 
decreased to 5.03 million lb (2.29 million kg) and $13.66 million, 
respectively. From 2003 through 2007, total landings of all species by 
vessels harvesting snapper-grouper averaged approximately 11.24 million 
lb (5.11 million kg) which generated $24.74 million in gross revenue 
per year. For 2008 through 2011, average total landings of all species 
by vessels harvesting snapper-grouper increased slightly to 12.21 
million lb (5.55 million kg) per year, while average annual gross 
revenue decreased slightly to $23.86 million. Thus, for 2008 through 
2011, average annual gross revenue per vessel in the snapper-grouper 
fishery was approximately $27,584. Red snapper accounted for none of 
these vessels' gross revenue in 2010 and 2011 due to the prohibitions 
on commercial harvest and sale. In 2011, the maximum annual gross 
revenue for a commercial snapper-grouper vessel was $618,272.
    From 2003 through 2008, the average number of snapper-grouper for-
hire permits in the South Atlantic was 1,811. In 2009 and 2010, the 
average number of South Atlantic snapper-grouper for-hire permits per 
year increased to 1,953. However, as of July 9, 2012, the number of 
for-hire vessels with South Atlantic for-hire snapper-grouper permits 
was only 1,524. Florida is the homeport state

[[Page 25050]]

for most of these vessels. For-hire permits do not distinguish charter 
vessels from headboats and thus the specific number of charter vessels 
and headboats with for-hire snapper-grouper permits cannot be 
estimated. The number of for-hire vessels that landed snapper-grouper 
also cannot be estimated based on currently available data.
    Prior to the closure, any for-hire vessel with a for-hire snapper-
grouper permit could harvest red snapper recreationally in the South 
Atlantic. From 2003 through 2008, recreational red snapper harvest in 
the South Atlantic averaged approximately 403,000 lb (183,182 kg) 
annually. Charter vessels and headboats accounted for approximately 
110,000 lb (50,000 kg) and 62,000 lb (28,182 kg) of this harvest, 
respectively. Although the harvest or possession of red snapper in the 
South Atlantic was prohibited in 2010 and 2011, some red snapper 
continued to be harvested by the recreational sector. From 2009 through 
2011, recreational red snapper harvest averaged about 346,000 lb 
(157,273 kg), although most of this harvest was in 2009. Charter 
vessels and headboats accounted for approximately 75,000 lb (34,091 kg) 
and 51,000 lb (23,182 kg) of this harvest, respectively.
    Recreational snapper-grouper harvest in the South Atlantic averaged 
approximately 10.8 million lb (4.91 million kg) per year from 2005 
through 2009. Charter vessels and headboats accounted for approximately 
1.6 million lb (727,273 kg) and 1.4 million lb (636,364 kg) of this 
harvest, respectively. In 2010 and 2011, recreational snapper-grouper 
harvest averaged approximately 11.8 million lb (5.36 million kg) 
annually, with charter vessels and headboats each accounting for 1.2 
million lb (545,455 kg) of this harvest, respectively.
    Red snapper target effort in the recreational sector averaged 
approximately 57,300 trips per year in the South Atlantic during 2005-
2009. While a prohibition on the possession of recreationally harvested 
red snapper need not result in the cancellation of a target trip, the 
popularity of red snapper as a food fish that recreational anglers 
would prefer to retain rather than release suggests that target effort 
would be expected to decline in response to a prohibition. As expected, 
red snapper target effort significantly dropped to about 4,000 trips in 
2010 and became practically non-existent in 2011.
    For-hire vessels receive value from the services they provide. 
Producer surplus is the measure of the economic value these operations 
receive. Producer surplus is the difference between the gross revenue a 
business receives for a good or service, such as a charter vessel or 
headboat trip, and the cost the business incurs to provide that good or 
service. Estimates of the producer surplus associated with snapper-
grouper or red snapper for-hire trips are not available. However, proxy 
values in the form of net operating revenue (NOR) are available. NOR 
for charter vessels is estimated to be $132 (2011 dollars) per charter 
trip. Since targeting of red snapper in the recreational sector was 
practically non-existent in 2011, NOR from trips targeting red snapper 
was likely zero in 2011 for charter vessels. In 2009, charter vessels 
in the South Atlantic had average gross revenues of approximately 
$109,700 (2011 dollars). No charter vessels earned more than $500,000 
in gross revenues in 2009.
    NOR per angler trip is lower for headboats than for charter 
vessels. NOR estimates for a representative headboat trip are $48 in 
the Gulf of Mexico, including all of Florida, and $63-$68 in North 
Carolina. For full-day and overnight headboat trips, NOR is estimated 
to be $74-$77 in North Carolina. These estimates are in 2009 dollars 
and comparable estimates are not available for Georgia and South 
Carolina. Based on this information, NOR per headboat angler trip is 
estimated to be approximately $70 in 2011 dollars. Since targeting of 
red snapper in the recreational sector was practically non-existent in 
2011, NOR from trips targeting red snapper was likely zero in 2011 for 
headboats. Headboats in the South Atlantic had average gross revenues 
of approximately $194,570 (2011 dollars).
    Based on the information above, all commercial fishing vessels and 
for-hire fishing vessels expected to be directly affected by this rule 
are determined for the purpose of this analysis to be small business 
entities.
    For the action to establish a process to determine future ACLs and 
season lengths, establish a commercial fishing season start date of the 
second Monday in July, establish a recreational fishing season start 
date of the second Friday in July, establish a 75-lb (34-kg) commercial 
trip limit, establish a recreational bag limit of 1 fish per person per 
day, and eliminate the minimum size limit for red snapper, the 
expected, direct economic effects cannot be estimated quantitatively. 
Because this action only establishes a process and formulas for 
estimating potential ACLs and the resulting season lengths in 2013 and 
future years, and the data to be used in those formulas are not yet 
available, quantitative estimates of ACLs and season lengths for the 
commercial and recreational sectors are not currently available for 
2013 and future years. Because the ACLs and season lengths for the 
commercial and recreational sectors are currently unknown, quantitative 
estimates of potential changes in landings and gross revenue for the 
commercial sector as well target trips and NOR for the for-hire sector 
in 2013 and future years cannot be provided at this time.
    However, this action generates a positive probability the ACL will 
be sufficiently large to allow for a commercial and recreational 
season. In turn, there is a positive probability that gross revenue 
from landings of red snapper in the commercial sector and, to a lesser 
extent, NOR in the for-hire sector from red snapper target trips would 
be greater than zero. Thus, the direct economic effects of this action 
are generally expected to be positive in the short-term. Long-term 
direct economic effects are also expected to be positive, as the 
probability of a fishing season would still be positive, but are 
dependent on information arising from future stock assessments and the 
effect of such information on estimates of ABC in future years.
    If there is a commercial fishing season, gross revenue from the 
commercial harvest of red snapper would be positive and thus so too 
would be the direct economic effects. These direct economic effects are 
expected to be slightly enhanced by the commercial season start date of 
the second Monday in July as red snapper are typically caught on trips 
targeting vermilion snapper and gag, which are likely to be open to 
commercial harvest at that time. Closure of vermilion snapper to 
commercial harvest may largely preclude commercial harvest of red 
snapper and thus the positive economic effects from a commercial 
fishing season. Elimination of the red snapper minimum size limit would 
also be expected to slightly enhance these positive economic effects as 
it would allow commercial vessels to harvest the ACL more quickly, 
thereby reducing costs and increasing profits. Conversely, the 75-lb 
(34-kg) commercial trip limit is expected to slightly reduce these 
positive economic effects by spreading harvest over more trips, thereby 
increasing costs and decreasing profits.
    Similarly, if there is a recreational fishing season, NOR from 
trips targeting red snapper by for-hire vessels may be positive. 
However, relative to the commercial vessels, this outcome is less 
likely for for-hire vessels as the recreational ACL and the for-hire 
sector's share of the harvest would have

[[Page 25051]]

to be sufficiently great to induce targeting of red snapper and thereby 
increase target effort. Since the recreational ACL is expected to be 
relatively small in the short-term and the for-hire sector historically 
only accounted for 10 percent of red snapper target effort in the 
recreational sector, the increase in for-hire vessels' target effort is 
likely to be minimal in the short-term. NOR will only increase if 
target effort for red snapper increases.
    Because target effort for red snapper has been historically high in 
July, a recreational fishing season start date of the second Friday in 
July may slightly increase NOR as red snapper are presumably more 
highly valued and thus trips are more likely to target red snapper at 
this time of year. Similarly, a one-fish bag limit may also slightly 
increase NOR by spreading harvest over a larger number of trips, which 
would increase NOR if the number of target trips increases. Elimination 
of the minimum size limit may also slightly increase NOR by allowing 
anglers to keep whatever size fish they catch, which would increase the 
value of a trip to anglers and thereby increase the probability of a 
trip being taken, or increasing trip length, which generates higher 
gross revenue per trip.
    The analysis above indicates that the proposed changes would not be 
expected to cause a significant reduction in profits for a substantial 
number of small entities. Because this rule, if implemented, is not 
expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number 
of small entities, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required and none has been prepared.
    No duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting Federal rules have been 
identified. This rule would not establish any new reporting or record-
keeping requirements.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Accountability measure, Annual Catch Limit, Fisheries, Fishing, Red 
Snapper, South Atlantic.

    Dated: April 23, 2013.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is 
proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 622--FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH 
ATLANTIC

0
1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows:

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

0
2. In Sec.  622.181, paragraph (b)(2) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.181  Prohibited and limited-harvest species.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) Red snapper. Red snapper may not be harvested or possessed in 
or from the South Atlantic EEZ, except if NMFS determines a limited 
amount of red snapper may be harvested or possessed in or from the 
South Atlantic EEZ, as specified in Sec.  622.193(y). Red snapper 
caught in the South Atlantic EEZ must be released immediately with a 
minimum of harm. In addition, for a person on board a vessel for which 
a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South 
Atlantic snapper-grouper has been issued, the prohibition on the 
harvest or possession of red snapper applies in the South Atlantic, 
regardless of where such fish are harvested or possessed, i.e., in 
state or Federal waters.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  622.183, paragraph (b)(5) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  622.183  Area and seasonal closures.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (5) Closures of the commercial and recreational sectors for red 
snapper.--(i) The commercial and recreational sectors for red snapper 
are closed (i.e., red snapper may not be harvested or possessed, or 
sold or purchased) in or from the South Atlantic EEZ, except if NMFS 
determines a limited amount of red snapper may be harvested or 
possessed in or from the South Atlantic EEZ, as specified in Sec.  
622.193(y). If NMFS determines that commercial and recreational fishing 
seasons for red snapper may be established in a given fishing year, 
NMFS will announce the season opening dates in the Federal Register. 
The recreational fishing season would consist of consecutive Fridays, 
Saturdays, and Sundays, unless otherwise specified. NMFS will project 
the length of the recreational fishing season and announce the 
recreational fishing season end date in the Federal Register. See 
622.193(y), for establishing the end date of the commercial fishing 
season.
    (ii) If the RA determines tropical storm or hurricane conditions 
exist, or are projected to exist, in the South Atlantic, during a 
commercial or recreational fishing season, the RA may modify the 
opening and closing dates of the fishing season by filing a 
notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register, 
and announcing via NOAA Weather Radio and a Fishery Bulletin any change 
in the dates of the red snapper commercial or recreational fishing 
season.
    (iii) If the projected commercial or recreational fishing season is 
determined by NMFS to be 3 days or less, then the commercial or 
recreational fishing season will not open for that fishing year.


Sec.  622.185  [Amended]

0
4. In Sec.  622.185, paragraph (a)(1) is removed and reserved.
0
5. In Sec.  622.187, paragraphs (b)(4) and (9) are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec.  622.187  Bag and possession limits.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) Snappers, combined--10. However, excluded from this 10-fish bag 
limit are cubera snapper, measuring 30 inches (76.2 cm), TL, or larger, 
in the South Atlantic off Florida, and red snapper and vermilion 
snapper. (See Sec.  622.181(b)(2) for the prohibitions on harvest or 
possession of red snapper, except during a limited recreational fishing 
season, and Sec.  622.181(c)(1) for limitations on cubera snapper 
measuring 30 inches (76.2 cm), TL, or larger, in or from the South 
Atlantic EEZ off Florida.)
* * * * *
    (9) Red snapper--0, except during a limited recreational fishing 
season, as specified in Sec.  622.183(b)(5), during which time the bag 
limit is 1 fish.
* * * * *
0
6. In Sec.  622.191, paragraph (a)(9) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  622.191  Commercial trip limits.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (9) Red snapper. During a limited commercial fishing season, as 
specified in Sec.  622.183(b)(5), and until the commercial ACL 
specified in Sec.  622.49(b)(25)(i) is reached, 75 lb (34 kg), gutted 
weight. See Sec.  622.49(b)(25)(i) for the limitations regarding red 
snapper after the commercial ACL is reached.
* * * * *
0
7. In Sec.  622.192, paragraph (j) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  622.192  Restrictions on sale/purchase.

* * * * *
    (j) No person may sell or purchase a red snapper harvested from or 
possessed

[[Page 25052]]

in the South Atlantic, i.e., state or Federal waters, by a vessel for 
which a Federal commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-
grouper has been issued, except if NMFS determines a limited commercial 
fishing season for red snapper is allowable, as specified in Sec.  
622.183(b)(5).
0
8. In Sec.  622.193, paragraph (y) is added to read as follows:


Sec.  622.193  Annual catch limits (ACLs), annual catch targets (ACTs), 
and accountability measures (AMs).

* * * * *
    (y) Red snapper--(1) Commercial sector. The commercial ACL for red 
snapper is zero. However, if NMFS determines that the previous year's 
estimated red snapper landings and dead discards are less than the ABC, 
limited red snapper harvest and possession may be allowed for the 
current fishing year and the commercial ACL value would be determined 
using the formula described in the FMP. The AA will file a notification 
with the Office of the Federal Register to announce the limited 
commercial ACL for the current fishing year. NMFS will monitor 
commercial landings during the limited season, and if commercial 
landings, as estimated by the SRD, reach or are projected to reach the 
commercial ACL, based on the formula described in the FMP, the AA will 
file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close 
the commercial sector for red snapper for the remainder of the year. On 
and after the effective date of the closure notification, all sale or 
purchase of red snapper is prohibited and harvest or possession of red 
snapper is limited to the bag and possession limits. 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 or 
possessed, i.e., in state or Federal waters.
    (2) Recreational sector. The recreational ACL for red snapper is 
zero. However, if NMFS determines that the previous year's estimated 
red snapper landings and dead discards are less than the ABC, limited 
red snapper harvest and possession may be allowed for the current 
fishing year and the recreational ACL value would be determined using 
the formula described in the FMP. The AA will file a notification with 
the Office of the Federal Register to announce the limited recreational 
ACL and the length of the recreational fishing season for the current 
fishing year. The length of the recreational fishing season for red 
snapper serves as the in-season accountability measure. See Sec.  
622.183(b)(5) for details on the recreational fishing season. On and 
after the effective date of the recreational closure notification, the 
bag and possession limits for red snapper are zero.

[FR Doc. 2013-10000 Filed 4-26-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P