[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 83 (Tuesday, April 30, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 25213-25214]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-10153]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

Docket No. 120919471-2584-01]
RIN 0648-BC59


Temporary Rule To Extend the Increase of the Commercial Annual 
Catch Limit for South Atlantic Yellowtail Snapper

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; emergency measures extended.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this temporary rule to extend the effectiveness of 
the increase of the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) for yellowtail 
snapper implemented by a temporary rule published by NMFS on November 
7, 2012. The commercial ACL for yellowtail snapper of 1,596,510 lb 
(724,165 kg), round weight, will be extended for up to an additional 
186 days, until permanent measures are implemented, as requested by the 
South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). The intent of this 
temporary rule is to ensure the commercial ACL for yellowtail snapper 
is based on the best scientific information available and to help 
achieve optimum yield (OY) for the yellowtail snapper resource.

DATES: The effective period for the temporary rule published at 77 FR 
66744, November 7, 2012, is extended from May 6, 2013, through November 
28, 2013, unless NMFS publishes a superseding document in the Federal 
Register.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of documents supporting this temporary 
rule may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at 
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/SASnapperGrouperHomepage.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Michie, Southeast Regional 
Office, NMFS, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: Kate.Michie@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the snapper-
grouper fishery, which includes yellowtail snapper, off the southern 
Atlantic states 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

[[Page 25214]]

authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1855(c)) provides the legal authority for the promulgation 
of emergency regulations.

Background

    At its September 2012 meeting, the Council requested that NMFS 
promulgate emergency regulations to increase the commercial ACL for 
yellowtail snapper based on the results of the May 2012 stock 
assessment conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation 
Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) which 
indicated yellowtail snapper are not overfished or experiencing 
overfishing. Results of the stock assessment suggested that the 
acceptable biological catch (ABC) could increase, which could allow an 
increase in the commercial ACL resulting in positive social and 
economic benefits to commercial fishermen and dealers. The assessment 
was reviewed by the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee 
(SSC) on October 10, 2012. Based on the stock assessment conducted by 
the FWRI, the Council's request and the SSC's ABC recommendation, and 
the current commercial sector's allocation, NMFS promulgated a 
temporary rule on November 7, 2012, to increase the commercial ACL for 
yellowtail snapper from 1,142,589 lb (518,270 kg) to 1,596,510 lb 
(724,165 kg), round weight (77 FR 66744). The temporary rule was 
implemented in time to avoid triggering the commercial accountability 
measure (AM) in 2012, which would have unnecessarily prohibited 
commercial harvest and possession of yellowtail snapper in the South 
Atlantic. The temporary rule was determined to be necessary to preserve 
a significant economic opportunity that otherwise might be foregone and 
to help achieve OY for the fishery.
    The temporary rule published on November 7, 2012, will expire on 
May 6, 2013. The Council has developed Regulatory Amendment 15 to the 
FMP to implement the increased commercial ACL for yellowtail snapper on 
a permanent basis. However, this regulatory amendment, if implemented, 
will not be effective before the 180-day temporary rule expires. 
Therefore, the Council requested an extension of the temporary rule at 
its March 2013 Council meeting, to continue the increase of the 
commercial ACL for yellowtail snapper while the rulemaking for 
Regulatory Amendment 15 is completed. This temporary rule extension 
will ensure that the commercial ACL for yellowtail snapper is based on 
the best scientific information available and will help to achieve OY 
for yellowtail snapper while avoiding an unnecessary closure for the 
commercial sector.

Comments and Responses

    Section 305(c)(3)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act authorizes the 
extension of an emergency regulation for up to 186 days, provided that 
the public has had an opportunity to comment on the initial emergency 
regulation and the Council is actively preparing a plan amendment or 
proposed regulations to address the emergency on a permanent basis. 
NMFS solicited public comment on the November 7, 2012, temporary rule, 
and received one comment from a fisheries association that supported 
the temporary rule, development of Regulatory Amendment 15, and the 
extension of the temporary rule. No other comments were received.

Classification

    This action is issued pursuant to section 305(c) of the Magnuson-
Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1855(c). The Regional Administrator, Southeast 
Region, NMFS, has determined that the extension of this temporary rule 
is necessary to preserve a significant economic opportunity for the 
commercial yellowtail snapper component of the South Atlantic snapper-
grouper fishery and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws. The Council developed Regulatory Amendment 15 to 
the FMP to establish the increase in the commercial ACL for yellowtail 
snapper on a permanent basis and has submitted the amendment to NMFS.
    This temporary rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    This temporary rule is exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act because the rule is issued without opportunity for 
prior notice and comment.
    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA) finds good 
cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the 
opportunity for public comment on this temporary rule extension. 
Providing prior notice and opportunity for public comment would be 
contrary to the public interest. Failure to extend the increase in the 
commercial ACL for yellowtail snapper would result in the commercial 
ACL not being based on the best scientific information available, which 
would be contrary to National Standard 2 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. 
Failure to extend the temporary rule may also result in the commercial 
sector being unnecessarily prohibited from harvesting and possessing 
yellowtail snapper in 2013 due to a closure, which would create adverse 
economic impacts for those dependent upon the commercial harvest of 
yellowtail snapper, especially in the Florida Keys. Extension of the 
temporary rule would allow for continued commercial harvest under the 
increased commercial ACL while the emergency regulations are being 
addressed on a permanent basis through Regulatory Amendment 15 to the 
FMP. This extension will give fishermen the opportunity to achieve OY 
for yellowtail snapper, in accordance with National Standard 1 of the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act.
    For the reasons listed above, the AA also finds good cause to waive 
the 30-day delay in effectiveness of the action under 5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(3).

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

    Dated: April 24, 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.
[FR Doc. 2013-10153 Filed 4-29-13; 8:45 am]
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