[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 244 (Thursday, December 19, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 76758-76759]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-30194]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 130212129-3474-02]
RIN 0648-XC967


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Closure of the 2014 Gulf of 
Mexico Recreational Season for Red Snapper

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; closure.

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SUMMARY: NMFS announces the closure date of the recreational season for 
red snapper in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico 
(Gulf) for the 2014 fishing season through this temporary rule. Federal 
waters of the Gulf will close to red snapper recreational harvest at 
12:01 a.m., July 11, 2014. This closure is necessary to prevent the 
recreational sector from exceeding its quota for the fishing year and 
prevent overfishing of the Gulf red snapper resource.

DATES: The closure is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, July 11, 2014, 
until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2015. The recreational sector 
will reopen on June 1, 2015, the beginning of the 2015 recreational 
fishing season, unless superseding notification is published in the 
Federal Register.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Gerhart, telephone 727-824-5305, 
email Susan.Gerhart@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes 
red snapper, is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef 
Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the 
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) 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.
    The season length analysis for 2014 used a tiered projection 
approach for forecasting recreational red snapper average weight and 
in-season catch rates in the Gulf. The results of retrospective 
analyses indicate improvements in projection methodologies have 
occurred over time. Average weight estimates were historically 
underestimated, but in 2013 projected and observed average weights were 
within 3 percent of one another, and well within the range of average 
weights considered for projections. Similarly, estimates of season 
length improved from 2009 through 2012 with season estimates at or near 
the lower end of the range of season lengths projected. Past overages 
have occurred for a variety of reasons, including challenges with 
predicting angler behavior and landing rates, inconsistent state 
regulations, and rapidly increasing fish sizes. As a result, projection 
assumptions in more recent years, including the analysis used for 2014, 
have been refined to better account for increases in landings per day 
and changes in average weights.
    To encompass the uncertainty inherent in projection modeling, ten 
models were selected to estimate the 2014 Federal season length. These 
models incorporated: (1) Upper/lower confidence limits of landings per 
day; (2) upper/lower confidence limits of average weights; (3) recent 
average weights (2011-13 or 2013 only); and (4) 2013 Louisiana Creel 
survey landings per day and average weights. The average season length 
predicted by all model runs was 39 days ( 2 days) and the 
median season length for all projections was 40 days. For additional 
details about the calculation of the projection please see http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/red_snapper/documents/pdfs/2014/2014_rs_rec_season.pdf.
    Based on the analysis summarized above, NMFS projects the 
recreational red snapper quota of 5.390 million lb (2.445 million kg), 
round weight (50 CFR 622.39(a)(2)(i)), to be harvested in 40 days in 
2014. This projection assumes Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida will 
implement consistent regulations in their state waters, and that 
Louisiana and Texas will continue the same regulations in their state 
waters as were implemented for the 2013 season. Therefore, Federal 
waters of the Gulf will open to red snapper recreational harvest at 
12:01 a.m., June 1, 2014, and close at 12:01 a.m., July 11, 2014. The 
recreational sector will reopen on June 1, 2015, the beginning of the 
2015 recreational fishing season, unless superseding notification is 
published in the Federal Register.
    During the closure, the bag and possession limit for red snapper in 
or from the Gulf EEZ is zero. In addition, a person aboard a vessel for 
which a Federal charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish has 
been issued must also abide by these closure provisions in state 
waters. NMFS has determined this action is necessary to prevent the

[[Page 76759]]

recreational sector for red snapper from exceeding its quota for the 
fishing year.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, (RA) has 
determined this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and 
management of Gulf red snapper and is consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act and other applicable laws.
    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.39(a)(2)(i) 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.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), there is good cause to waive the 
requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment 
on this temporary rule. Such procedures are unnecessary because the 
rule implementing the recreational red snapper quota and the rule 
implementing the requirement to close the recreational sector when the 
quota is reached or projected to be reached have already been subject 
to notice and comment, and NMFS must now notify the public of the 
closure.

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

    Dated: December 16, 2013.
Sean F. Corson,
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National 
Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-30194 Filed 12-16-13; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P