[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 210 (Wednesday, October 30, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 64888-64889]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-25695]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 001005281-0369-02]
RIN 0648-XC928


Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and 
South Atlantic; Reopening of the Commercial Harvest of Gulf King 
Mackerel in Western Zone

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; reopening.

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SUMMARY: NMFS reopens the 2013-2014 commercial sector for king mackerel 
in the western zone of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic 
zone (EEZ). NMFS previously projected that the commercial annual catch 
limit (ACL) (equal to the commercial quota) for king mackerel in the 
western zone of the Gulf EEZ would be reached by September 20, 2013, 
and closed the western zone of the Gulf to commercial king mackerel 
fishing in the EEZ at noon, local time, September 20, 2013, until 12:01 
a.m., local time, on July 1, 2014. However, updated landings estimates 
indicate the commercial ACL (commercial quota) for king mackerel in the 
western zone of the Gulf EEZ has not been reached at this time. 
Therefore, NMFS is reopening the western zone of the Gulf to commercial 
king mackerel fishing in the EEZ at 12:01 a.m., local time, on November 
1, 2013, until 12:01 a.m., local time, on November 3, 2013. The 
intended effect of this temporary rule is to maximize harvest benefits 
for the commercial sector for Gulf king mackerel in the western zone.

DATES: The reopening is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, November 1, 
2013, until 12:01 a.m., local time, on November 3, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Branstetter, 727-824-5305, 
email: Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The fishery for coastal migratory pelagic 
fish (king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia) is managed under the 
Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of 
the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (FMP). The FMP was prepared by 
the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils 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.
    NMFS projected that the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) (equal 
to the commercial quota) for king mackerel in the western zone of the 
Gulf EEZ would be reached on September 20, 2013, and published a 
temporary rule to close the western zone of the Gulf to commercial king 
mackerel fishing in the EEZ (78 FR 58248). However, since that closure, 
the Science and Research Director has received additional landings data 
and has determined that the commercial ACL (commercial quota) was not 
harvested prior to September 20, 2013. Therefore, in accordance with 50 
CFR 622.8(c), NMFS is reopening the western zone of the Gulf to 
commercial king mackerel fishing in the EEZ at 12:01 a.m., local time, 
on November 1, 2013, until 12:01 a.m., local time, on November 3, 2013.
    The Gulf group king mackerel western zone begins at the United 
States/Mexico border (near Brownsville, Texas) and continues to the 
boundary between the eastern and western zones at 87[deg]31.1' W. 
long., which is a line directly south from the Alabama/Florida 
boundary.
    After the commercial sector closes, no person aboard a vessel for 
which a commercial permit for king mackerel has been issued, except for 
a person aboard a charter vessel or headboat, may fish for or retain 
Gulf group king mackerel in the EEZ in the closed zone (50 CFR 
622.384(e)(1)). During the closure, a person aboard a vessel that has a 
valid charter vessel/headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish 
may continue to retain king mackerel in or from the closed zones or 
subzones under the bag and possession limits set forth in 50 CFR 
622.382(a)(1)(ii) and (a)(2), provided the vessel is operating as a 
charter vessel or headboat (50 CER 622.384(e)(2)). A charter vessel or 
headboat that also has a commercial king mackerel permit is considered 
to be operating as a charter vessel or headboat when it carries a 
passenger who pays a fee or when there are more than three persons 
aboard, including operator and crew.
    During the closure, king mackerel from the closed zone, including 
those harvested under the bag and possession limits, may not be 
purchased or sold. This prohibition does not apply to trade in king 
mackerel from the closed zone that were harvested, landed ashore, and 
sold prior to the closure and were held in cold storage by a dealer or 
processor (50 CFR 622.384(e)(3)).

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined 
this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of 
Gulf king mackerel and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws.
    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.8(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 scientific information available. 
The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause 
to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for 
public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(B) as such prior notice and opportunity for public comment is 
unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are 
unnecessary because NMFS previously determined the commercial ACL 
(commercial quota) for king mackerel in the western zone of the Gulf 
EEZ would be reached by September 20, 2013, and therefore, closed the 
commercial sector for king mackerel in the western zone of the Gulf EEZ 
at noon, local time, on September 20, 2013. However, updated landings 
estimates indicate the commercial ACL (commercial quota) for king 
mackerel in the western zone of the Gulf EEZ has not been reached at 
this time, and therefore additional harvest is available in order to 
achieve optimum yield. All that remains is to notify the public that 
additional harvest is available under the established commercial ACL 
(commercial quota) and, therefore, the commercial sector for king 
mackerel in the western zone of the Gulf EEZ will reopen.
    Prior notice and an opportunity to comment is contrary to the 
public interest because king mackerel is a migratory species, making 
the harvest of the commercial ACL (commercial quota) for the western 
zone of the Gulf EEZ time-sensitive. Reopening quickly will likely make 
additional king mackerel available to consumers and result in revenue 
increases to commercial vessels.
    For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause to 
waive the

[[Page 64889]]

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: October 24, 2013.
Kelly Denit,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-25695 Filed 10-25-13; 11:15 am]
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