[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 83 (Wednesday, April 30, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 24353-24354]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-09865]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 120717247-3029-02]
RIN 0648-XD231


Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; 2014 Recreational 
Accountability Measures for Red Grouper in the Gulf of Mexico

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

ACTION: Temporary rule; accountability measures.

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SUMMARY: NMFS implements accountability measures (AMs) for the 
recreational sector for red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) reef 
fish fishery for the 2014 fishing year through this temporary rule. 
Based on the 2013 recreational annual catch limit (ACL) overage, this 
rule reduces the red grouper bag limit in the Gulf exclusive economic 
zone (EEZ) from four to three fish (within the current four-fish 
grouper aggregate bag limit) and reduces the length of the red grouper 
recreational fishing season in the Gulf EEZ by the amount necessary to 
ensure landings do not exceed the recreational annual catch target 
(ACT) for the 2014 fishing year. Therefore, NMFS implements 
recreational post-season AMs by reducing the bag limit for red grouper 
in the Gulf EEZ from four to three fish effective at 12:01 a.m., local 
time, on May 5, 2014, until the recreational sector is projected to 
meet the recreational ACT. NMFS projects the recreational sector will 
reach the recreational ACT under the three fish bag limit by September 
16, 2014. Therefore, the recreational sector for red grouper in the 
Gulf EEZ will close at 12:01 a.m., local time, September 16, 2014, 
through the end of the fishing year, December 31, 2014, unless further 
notification is published in the Federal Register. These actions are 
necessary to protect the Gulf red grouper resource.

DATES: The bag limit reduction for red grouper in the Gulf EEZ is 
effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, May 5, 2014, through December 31, 
2014. The recreational sector closure for red grouper in the Gulf EEZ 
is effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, September 16, 2014, until 
January 1, 2015, unless further notification is published in the 
Federal Register.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional 
Office, telephone 727-824-5305, email rich.malinowski@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The reef fish fishery of the Gulf, which 
includes red grouper, 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 through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). All weights specified in this rule are 
gutted weight.
    The Gulf red grouper recreational ACL is 1,900,000 lb (861,826 kg), 
and the recreational ACT is 1,730,000 lb (784,715 kg), as specified in 
50 CFR 622.41(e)(2)(iv). Red grouper are not overfished, based on the 
most recent Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress.
    In accordance with regulations at 50 CFR 622.41(e)(2)(ii), without 
regard to

[[Page 24354]]

overfished status, if red grouper recreational landings exceed the 
recreational ACL, then during the following fishing year NMFS will 
reduce the red grouper bag limit in the Gulf EEZ by one fish and reduce 
the length of the recreational red grouper fishing season in the Gulf 
EEZ by the amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the 
recreational ACT in the following fishing year.
    NMFS determined that the 2013 recreational landings were 2,392,113 
lb (1,085,044 kg), which exceeded the 2013 recreational ACL of 
1,900,000 lb (861,826 kg) by 492,113 lb (223,219 kg). Therefore, NMFS 
implements post-season AMs for the recreational sector for red grouper 
in the Gulf EEZ for the 2014 fishing year through this temporary rule.
    Red grouper are part of the four-fish grouper aggregate bag limit, 
as specified in 50 CFR 622.38(b)(2). Through this temporary rule, NMFS 
implements the post-season AM to reduce the 2014 red grouper bag limit 
in the Gulf EEZ from four to three fish (within the current four-fish 
grouper aggregate bag limit). This bag limit reduction for red grouper 
in the Gulf EEZ is effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, on May 5, 2014.
    Based on the 2013 recreational ACL overage, this rule also 
implements the post-season AM to reduce the length of the 2014 
recreational red grouper fishing season in the Gulf EEZ by the amount 
necessary to ensure red grouper recreational landings do not exceed the 
recreational ACT in 2014. Therefore, NMFS will close the recreational 
sector for red grouper in the Gulf EEZ at 12:01 a.m., local time, 
September 16, 2014, until January 1, 2015, unless further notification 
is published in the Federal Register. If NMFS determines the red 
grouper recreational ACL is reached or projected to be reached before 
September 16, 2014, then NMFS will file a notification with the Office 
of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector as specified 
in 50 CFR 622.41(e)(2)(i).
    During the recreational sector closure, the bag and possession 
limit for red grouper in or from the Gulf EEZ is zero. This bag and 
possession limit applies in the Gulf on board a vessel for which a 
valid Federal charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish has 
been issued, without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e. 
in state or Federal waters.
    The recreational sector for red grouper will reopen on January 1, 
2015, the beginning of the 2015 recreational fishing season. The 2015 
bag limit for red grouper will return to four fish, as specified at 50 
CFR 622.38(b)(2), unless AMs are implemented due to a recreational ACL 
overage in 2014, or the Council takes subsequent regulatory action to 
adjust the bag limit.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined 
this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of 
Gulf red grouper and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
other applicable laws.
    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.41(e)(2)(ii) 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 AMs 
established by Amendment 32 to the FMP (77 FR 6988, February 10, 2012), 
modified by Amendment 38 to the FMP (78 FR 6218, January 30, 2013), and 
located at 50 CFR 622.41(e)(2)(ii) authorize the Assistant 
Administrator, NMFS, to file a notification with the Office of the 
Federal Register to implement post-season AMs to reduce the bag limit 
and recreational fishing season for red grouper the year following a 
fishing year when the recreational ACL is exceeded. The rules 
establishing the AMs have already been subject to notice and comment 
and all that remains is to notify the public of the reduced bag limit 
for red grouper and the reduced recreational fishing season for Gulf 
red grouper in the 2014 fishing year.
    Allowing prior notice and opportunity for public comment is 
contrary to the public interest because of the need to immediately 
implement this action to protect the red grouper resource. Any delay in 
notification to the public of the 2014 reduced bag limit and 
recreational fishing season could result in the recreational ACT or ACL 
for red grouper being exceeded, which could trigger an in-season AM in 
2014 or post-season AMs in 2015.
    For the aforementioned reasons, the Assistant Administrator, MFS, 
also finds good cause to waive the 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: April 25, 2014.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-09865 Filed 4-25-14; 4:15 pm]
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