[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 36 (Monday, February 24, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 10028-10029]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-03914]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 622 and 635

[Docket No. 100510220-4111-06]
RIN 0648-AY87 and 0648-AY90


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Highly Migratory Species; Withdrawal of Emergency Regulations Related 
to the Deepwater Horizon MC252 Oil Spill

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

ACTION: Termination of emergency regulations.

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SUMMARY: NMFS terminates the emergency regulations promulgated in 
response to the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill. The circumstances 
that created the need for emergency short-term fishing closures no 
longer exist. As of April 19, 2011, NMFS reopened all areas of the Gulf 
of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that were previously 
closed to all fishing because of the oil spill. NMFS has worked closely 
with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assess whether 
seafood from the Gulf EEZ is tainted or contaminated to levels that 
pose a risk to human health. NMFS and FDA have determined that seafood 
from all previously closed areas of the Gulf EEZ due to the oil spill 
is safe for human consumption. Therefore, NMFS withdraws the emergency 
regulations that established a protocol for closing and reopening 
portions of the Gulf, South Atlantic, and Caribbean EEZ that were or 
could potentially be affected by the oil spill. The intent of this rule 
is to withdraw the now obsolete regulations from the codified text. 
While NMFS and FDA determined that seafood from areas previously closed 
due to the oil spill is safe for human consumption, NOAA and other 
natural resource trustees continue to study the impacts of the oil 
spill through the natural resource damage assessment process to 
identify the extent of injuries to natural resources and services, as 
well as the proposed restoration alternatives to compensate for such 
injuries.

DATES: The rule is effective February 24, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Electronic copies of the documents supporting this final 
rule may be downloaded from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at 
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/deepwater_horizon_oil_spill.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anik Clemens, telephone: 727-824-5305, 
email: anik.clemens@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) provides the legal authority 
for the withdrawal of emergency regulations that respond to an oil 
spill under section 305(c).

Background

    NMFS responded to the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil 
spill by closing a portion of the Gulf EEZ to all fishing through an 
emergency rule effective May 2, 2010 (75 FR 24822, May 6, 2010). The 
intent of the emergency rule was to prohibit the harvest of adulterated 
seafood. A second emergency rule effective May 7, 2010 (75 FR 26679, 
May 12, 2010), expanded the closed area in the Gulf.
    The oil spill continually shifted locations in the Gulf and had the 
potential to reach the South Atlantic and/or Caribbean EEZ, due to wind 
speed and direction, currents, waves, and other weather patterns. As 
the

[[Page 10029]]

weather conditions controlling the movement of the oil changed, the oil 
could have moved in directions not initially predicted. A third 
emergency rule effective May 11, 2010 (75 FR 27217, May 14, 2010) 
established regulations allowing NMFS to close and reopen portions of 
the Gulf, South Atlantic, and Caribbean EEZ to all fishing, as 
necessary, as new information became available, to respond to the 
evolving nature of the oil spill. NMFS announced new closed areas via 
Southeast Fishery Bulletins and NOAA Weather Radio. The public could 
also receive updated closure information by visiting the Southeast 
Regional Office Web site, calling the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 
Hotline, signing up to receive a text message about the closure 
information, or following Twitter to get a tweet when the closed area 
changed. The largest area of the Gulf EEZ that was closed due to the 
oil spill covered 88,522 square miles (229,270 square km), representing 
37 percent of the Gulf EEZ, on June 2, 2010.

Need for Termination of Regulations

    On July 22, 2010, NMFS began reopening significant areas of the 
Gulf that had been previously closed due to the oil spill. The closed 
area was divided into eight smaller areas, where testing occurred from 
the outer closed areas in toward the core area surrounding the incident 
site. NMFS and FDA conducted both sensory and chemical tests in these 
areas to determine if seafood was safe for human consumption, and 
reopened areas based on the results of these tests. On April 19, 2011, 
NMFS reopened the last area surrounding the incident site. NMFS and FDA 
determined that sensory testing from this last area showed no 
detectable oil or dispersant odors or flavors in the samples, and the 
results of chemical analysis were well below levels of concern for oil. 
Therefore, all portions of the Gulf EEZ previously closed to all 
fishing due to the oil spill are now open and the seafood has been 
determined to be safe to eat.
    The third emergency rule stated that the emergency regulations 
codified in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations would remain in 
effect until terminated by subsequent rulemaking, which would occur 
once the existing emergency conditions from the oil spill no longer 
exist. Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the 
authority for implementing emergency regulations responding to an oil 
spill, as well as the withdrawal of such regulations. ``Any emergency 
regulation or interim measure promulgated under this subsection that 
responds to a public health emergency or an oil spill may remain in 
effect until the circumstances that created the emergency no longer 
exist, provided that the public has an opportunity to comment after the 
regulation is published . . .'' Because the public was given an 
opportunity to comment on each emergency rule related to the Deepwater 
Horizon MC252 oil spill and the circumstances that created the need for 
emergency short-term fishing closures no longer exist, NMFS withdraws 
the emergency regulations related to the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil 
spill from the codified text. While NMFS and FDA determined that 
seafood from areas previously closed due to the oil spill is safe for 
human consumption, NOAA and other natural resource trustees continue to 
study the impacts of the oil spill through the natural resource damage 
assessment process to identify the extent of injuries to natural 
resources and services, as well as the proposed restoration 
alternatives to compensate for such injuries.

Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), has 
determined that termination of the emergency regulations related to the 
Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill is consistent with the Magnuson-
Stevens Act and other applicable law.
    This action has been determined to be not significant for purposes 
of E.O. 12866.
    The AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior 
notice and the opportunity for public comment. Prior notice and the 
opportunity for public comment is unnecessary because the public was 
given an opportunity to comment on each emergency rule related to the 
Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill, and now the circumstances that 
created the need for emergency short-term fishing closures no longer 
exist. NMFS and FDA have determined that seafood from all previously 
closed areas of the Gulf EEZ due to the oil spill is safe for human 
consumption. All that remains is to withdraw the now obsolete 
regulations related to the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill from the 
codified text.
    For the reasons stated above, the AA also finds good cause to waive 
the 30-day delay in effective date of this rule under 5 U.S.C 
553(d)(3).
    Because prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not 
required for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553 or any other law, the analytical 
requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. 
are inapplicable.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Parts 622 and 635

    Fisheries, Fishing, Deepwater Horizon.

    Dated: February 18, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator For Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR parts 622 and 635 
are amended as follows:

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

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

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


Sec.  622.14  [Removed and Reserved]

0
2. Section 622.14 is removed and reserved.

PART 635--ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES

0
3. The authority citation for part 635 continues to read as follows:

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


Sec.  635.21   [Amended]

0
4. In Sec.  635.21, paragraph (a)(4)(vii) is removed.

[FR Doc. 2014-03914 Filed 2-21-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P