[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 5 (Friday, January 7, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-118]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: January 7, 1994]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 641

[Docket No. 930946-3338; ID 090993A]
RIN 0648-AE58

 

Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico

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

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 5 to the 
Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of 
Mexico (FMP) and to make other changes to the regulations This rule 
imposes a moratorium on additional participants in the Gulf of Mexico 
reef fish fishery who may use fish traps; imposes additional 
restrictions on the use of fish traps; increases the minimum allowable 
size of red snapper; requires that most finfish be maintained with head 
and fins intact through landing; closes an area southwest of Dry 
Tortugas, Florida, to all fishing during May and June each year; 
creates a special management zone (SMZ) in the EEZ off Alabama in which 
there are gear restrictions; and adds to the management measures that 
may be adjusted via a framework procedure the establishment or 
modification of SMZs and associated gear restrictions. In addition, 
NMFS simplifies and clarifies the regulations to conform them to 
current usage. The intended effects of this rule are to reduce fishing 
mortality of the reef fish resources so that they may be protected and 
rebuilt, to enhance enforceability of the regulations, and to otherwise 
clarify the regulations.

EFFECTIVE DATES: February 7, 1994, except that Sec. 641.4(o) is 
effective February 7, 1994, through February 7, 1997.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Robert Sadler, 813-893-3161.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The reef fish fishery of the Gulf of Mexico 
is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the Gulf of Mexico 
Fishery Management Council (Council) and is implemented through 
regulations at 50 CFR part 641 under the authority of the Magnuson 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson Act).
    Detailed descriptions, backgrounds, and rationales for the 
management measures in Amendment 5 and the additional measures proposed 
by NMFS were included in the proposed rule (58 FR 52063, October 6, 
1993) and are not repeated here.

Comments and Responses

    Comments were received from 141 entities (including seven that 
opposed all measures proposed under Amendment 5, but did not offer 
specific rationale). Several comments referred to a specific management 
measure but suggested disapproval of all of Amendment 5. A minority 
report signed by four Council members objected to all provisions of 
Amendment 5 except for the requirement that all fish be landed with 
head and fins intact. Comments and responses are summarized, by 
subject, as follows.

Moratorium on Fish Traps

    Comment: Nineteen individuals, one fish house, and the minority 
report objected to the fish trap moratorium as unfair and unnecessary. 
Most of the commenters anticipated severe economic impacts and 
disruption of their communities if the moratorium is approved. 
Generally, the individual commenters were persons who had not landed 
reef fish from fish taps before the cutoff date (November 19, 1992) 
and, therefore, would not be eligible for fish trap endorsements on 
their reef fish permits.
    Response: The moratorium was developed in response to public 
testimony at Council meetings in 1992 that fishery and ecological 
damage, user group conflicts, and other social and economic impacts are 
expected if the trap fishery expands. Amendment 5 provides some data 
indicating that the use of fish traps in the Gulf of Mexico may be 
expanding, in terms of number of participants and geographical range. 
However, little or no data are available to assess catch composition or 
ecological effects of trap deployment. Although the number of reef fish 
vessels is capped by the permit moratorium, there is no limitation on 
the number of currently permitted vessels that may use fish traps, and 
each vessel may use up to 100 fish traps. The expressed intent of 
Amendment 5 is to freeze participation in the fish trap fishery at 
levels existing at the time of Council deliberations and public 
testimony (November 19, 1992). This includes all those who have 
historically depended on the fish trap fishery in the Gulf and who were 
participating in the fishery as of the specified cut-off date. It 
excludes only new participants entering after that date.
    Since all landings by fish traps are required to be reported, 
vessel logbook records were selected as the means to verify use of fish 
traps. There are approximately 273 reef fish vessel permits that 
currently authorize the use of fish traps. Of these, 120 reported 
landings from fish traps by November 19, 1992, and 60 reported only 
after that date. The other 93 reported no reef fish landings with traps 
from 1991 to date.
    The Council rejected more severe fish trap management proposals, 
including a total ban, and instead proposed the moratorium as an 
interim measure to control access to the trap fishery until better 
information could be obtained on ecological, biological, social, and 
economical effects. NMFS concurs with the Council proposal. Amendment 5 
recognizes the need for better information, some of which may become 
available under a current NMFS research project.
    Comment: Many of the comments also claimed that the Council acted 
without adequate public notification, most specifically to fishermen 
who made significant financial investments in the trap fishery but 
would be ineligible to continue trap fishing under the moratorium.
    Response: The Council provided notification of proposed limitations 
on the use of fish traps in the reef fish fishery as follows: (1) A 
Federal Register notice (57 FR 47235, October 15, 1992) and a news 
release sent to Council constituents, NMFS statistical agents, Sea 
Grant agents, and newspapers announced upcoming public hearings on 
proposed changes to the reef fish regulations, including additional 
regulations on the use of fish traps--possibly prohibiting their use, 
and provided an opportunity for written comments or participation at 
the hearings; (2) a Federal Register notice (57 FR 48510, October 26, 
1992) and a November 4, 1992, news release sent to Council 
constituents, NMFS statistical agents, Sea Grant agents, and newspapers 
announced the Council's scheduled meetings of November 16-19, 1992, 
specified the agenda, which included additional regulations on the use 
of fish traps, and scheduled a period at the meeting for public 
testimony on the proposed changes; (3) a Federal Register notice (57 FR 
48510, October 26, 1992) announced a public meeting of the Council's 
Reef Fish Advisory Panel and its Standing and Special Reef Fish 
Scientific and Statistical Committee scheduled for November 9-10, 1992, 
and specified the agenda, which included additional regulations on the 
use of fish traps--possibly prohibiting their use; and (4) a newsletter 
distributed to Council constituents in early December 1992 announced 
the Council's vote on November 19, 1992, for the moratorium. Eight 
public hearings at various locations between Key West, Florida, and 
Galveston, Texas, were held by the Council prior to the cutoff date, 
including a hearing attended by a relatively large number of 
participants at the Council meeting on November 18, 1992.
    Comment: One individual suggested a total ban on the use of fish 
traps in the Gulf of Mexico; another suggested establishing an SMZ to 
ban fish traps in the Florida Keys, instead of implementing the 
proposed fish trap moratorium.
    Response: A total ban on the use of fish traps was proposed in 
draft Amendment 5, but later was rejected by the Council in Amendment 5 
based on a review of available data and objections raised by the public 
and NMFS. According to the analyses and data provided in Amendment 5, a 
fish trap ban would not comply with the Magnuson Act national standards 
or other applicable law. The moratorium is intended as a temporary 
control on the range and extent of the fishery, pending collection of 
additional fishery data (as referenced above).

Require Fish Traps To Be Returned to Port on Each Trip

    Comment: Four individuals and the Council minority report opposed 
this measure as burdensome and unnecessary. Several commenters cited 
vessel safety problems and stated that their fishing efforts would be 
limited by the number of traps their vessels could carry. However, one 
individual supported the proposed requirement.
    Response: The current regulations, which do not require that fish 
traps be returned to shore after each fishing trip, cause problems with 
locating and inspecting, dock-side or in transit, fish traps for 
enforcement purposes. Amendment 5 recognizes the costs and limitations 
associated with returning all traps to port after each trip, 
particularly for smaller vessels unable to carry safely all the traps 
they now use. Nonetheless, the Council determined that this measure 
provides benefits by providing enforcement opportunities for inspection 
of fish traps for compliance with construction, quantity, and tagging 
requirements. Moreover, many fish trap fishermen currently utilize this 
practice, and therefore would not be affected by the requirement. This 
requirement does not inherently create a vessel safety problem. Vessel 
owners and operators are encouraged to carry only that number of traps 
which can be safely carried given the size and weight of the traps, the 
size and tonnage of the vessel, and applicable weather conditions. 
Lastly, for these reasons, NMFS concurs with the Council and the 
individual commenter supporting the measure.

Buoying Requirements for Fish Traps

    Comment: An environmental organization supported this measure. The 
minority report objected to the requirement for surface buoys for each 
single trap or end traps in a string of traps as increasing the chances 
of lost traps and ghost fishing in areas of strong currents and 
frequent ship traffic. The report argues that the presently allowed 
submerged buoys are sufficient.
    Response: The current regulations allow trap buoys to be submerged 
and released with pop-up devices. This creates an enforcement problem 
locating fish traps at sea and may lead to increased numbers of lost 
traps. The requirement for surface buoys for individual traps, or for 
each end trap of traps that are connected by a line, is needed to 
enhance spotting of traps from the air or at sea for enforcement 
purposes. This requirement was not objected to by public comments. No 
fishermen agreed with the objections raised in the minority report. 
Since available information indicates a need for more effective 
regulation of the fish trap fishery, NMFS concurs with the Council and 
the environmental organization and supports this management measure as 
an appropriate means of regulating fish traps.

Special Management Zones (SMZs) Off Alabama

    Amendment 5 proposes to establish three large SMZs off Alabama, 
wherein reef fish bag limits and a ``no-sale'' provision would apply to 
fishing for reef fish with buoy gear, longlines, or gear with more than 
three hooks per line. In response to concerns raised about the proposed 
SMZs, NMFS invited public comment on the proposed rule on the following 
specific concerns:
    (1) What are the effects of establishing areas totaling 
approximately 820 square miles (2,124 square km) in which fishing under 
the commercial allocations would be severely limited;
    (2) What are the effects of the 3-hook limit on the recreational 
and commercial user groups;
    (3) What are the effects on the rebuilding plan of increasing 
availability of red snapper to the recreational fishery, particularly 
those in Alabama; and
    (4) Are the Alabama SMZs consistent with the fairness and equity 
criteria proposed under the proposed framework procedure for adding 
SMZs and, if not, should they be consistent?
    Comment: The minority report objected to the establishment of the 
SMZs. In addition, a total of 105 entities commented on the proposal, 
with 74 comments in support and 31 in opposition.
    The minority report objected to the SMZs as unfair and therefore in 
violation of the Magnuson Act. The report also claimed that: (1) The 
Council acted without adequate public notification; (2) no information 
was presented on historical uses of the tracts; (3) testimony that 
commercial reef fish fishermen also had constructed reefs was ignored 
by the Council; and (4) the size of the tracts is so large that 
enforcement is impractical. In addition, 26 individuals, two commercial 
fishing organizations, and two fish houses offered various objections 
to the proposed SMZ designations and gear restrictions. Several 
disagreed with a statement in Amendment 5 that pulse and derby fishing 
on the red snapper resource was concentrated on the proposed SMZs off 
Alabama starting in April 1992. Additionally, a number of commenters 
objected to implications in Amendment 5 that the three tracts contained 
virtually no natural reefs or hard bottom area. Tracts B and C were 
frequently identified as having significant natural reef fish habitat.
    Many of the reef fish fishermen claimed that once the red snapper 
season closes, bandit gear hook-and-line fishing occurs for vermilion 
snapper in the tracts. In addition, several fish houses and fishermen 
commented that the vermilion snapper fishery in tracts B and C 
typically is separated geographically and in time from the winter 
fishery for red snapper. Several comments indicated that vermilion 
snapper are relatively low-valued fish which have to be targeted with 
large numbers of hooks per line; i.e., they cannot profitably be fished 
commercially with three hooks or less. According to one dealer, the 
vermilion snapper fishery in the tracts includes as many as 18 vessels 
out of Pensacola, Florida, and a similar number from the Destin, 
Florida, area. Other commenters indicated that up to 150 commercial 
vessels would be impacted adversely by the 3-hook rule. This 
information was not available to the Council during debate on Amendment 
5.
    Several individuals also commented that this proposal, in effect, 
unfairly allocates part of the total allowable catch to reef fish 
harvesters who meet the 3-hook limit at the expense of users of 
longlines, buoy gear, or lines with more than three hooks. In addition, 
several of the public comments claim that enforcement efforts would be 
complicated by allowing harvest of fish other than reef fish with lines 
having more than three hooks and by the unusually large size of the 
three tracts. One commenter recommended disapproving tract C; another 
recommended disapproving both tracts B and C.
    An environmental organization indicated general support for the 
SMZs as a means of offering recreational fishing opportunities, but 
expressed concern over the resulting impacts on other fisheries once 
reef fish gear is restricted. The organization also indicated a need to 
control fishing effort on natural reefs.
    Response: Concerning the minority report, NMFS has concluded that 
the Council provided adequate notification of Council meetings and 
public hearings on Amendment 5 (as outlined in our response to comments 
on the fish trap moratorium). Eight public hearings were held by the 
Council on Amendment 5, including a hearing attended by a relatively 
large number of participants in the reef fish fishery at the Council 
meeting on November 18, 1992.
    Many of the objections raised by the minority report and individual 
commenters which contest statements found in Amendment 5 are 
supportable by available NMFS information. For example, red snapper 
commercial landings for 1992 totalled only about 130,000 pounds from 
the statistical grid which includes tracts B and C (statistical grid 
10) and were less than previous years. This does not support the 
contention in Amendment 5 that pulse overfishing occurred in these two 
tracts, or that the artificial reefs produced additional red snapper 
which were then taken and landed in commercial quantities. Moreover, 
these data do not indicate that the short red snapper season caused 
more persons to take excessive advantage of the artificial reefs in 
tracts B and C.
    The contention of many commenters that the proposed SMZs, 
particularly tracts B and C, supported a valuable vermilion snapper 
fishery is also supported by available data. NMFS commercial landing 
records for 1962-1990 indicate that statistical grid 10 produced the 
largest landings of vermilion snapper of all the Gulf grids 
(approximately 12 percent of the Gulf-wide catch). The actual catch 
from tracts B and C may be higher than 12 percent since 28 percent of 
the 1962-1990 vermilion snapper landings cannot be traced to any 
statistical grid, and part of tract C extends seaward of the grid 10 
boundary.
    Due to its proximity to shore, tract A is more readily available 
for the harvest of red snapper and could contribute to rapid harvest 
upon opening of the 1993 red snapper commercial harvest period. 
Additionally, landings data and several of the public comments indicate 
that tract A does not support a large fishery for vermilion snapper and 
as an SMZ would pose less adverse impact on historical fisheries. 
Therefore, tract A appears to be in greater need of the proposed 
protection as an SMZ than the other two tracts. The 3-hook rule could 
slow the rate of red snapper harvest in that tract should those who 
previously used non-conforming gear choose not to compensate by 
increasing effort or the number of lines per boat. Tract A also would 
incur the least amount of at-sea time needed by enforcement staff to 
verify the number of hooks on each reef fish line being used in the 
tract.
    Tract B (360 square miles (932 square km)) and tract C (360 square 
miles (932 square km)) are significantly larger than tract A (100 
square miles (259 square km)) and, according to public comments, 
contain natural reefs and substantial hard bottom habitat, which is 
important for supporting the vermilion snapper fishery. Without 
additional rationale, tracts B and C do not appear to be appropriate 
candidates for the proposed SMZ designation and gear restrictions, 
mainly because of public and NMFS concerns over adverse impacts to the 
vermilion snapper fishery documented in those areas.
    For these reasons, NMFS approves only tract A for the SMZ 
designation and gear restrictions proposed by the Council. Approval of 
SMZ tracts B and C is not appropriate given the public comments and 
landings data which indicate the presence of an important fishery for 
vermilion snapper that was not addressed in Amendment 5 and that would 
be unnecessarily eliminated by the 3-hook limit and ``no-sale'' 
provision.
    Comment: Seventy-two individuals, one wildlife organization, and 
one recreational fishing organization supported the SMZs and gear 
restrictions. The individuals included recreational fishermen and a 
builder of artificial reefs, all of whom indicated as a rationale for 
their support that artificial reef fish communities (primarily red 
snapper) are in need of protection from efficient commercial reef fish 
fishing gear. Other comments covered related topics and noted that the 
gear restriction would not in itself prohibit commercial fishing but 
may extend the season. Several commenters suggested management measures 
outside the scope of the proposed rule (i.e., allow only rod-and-reel 
fishing in the SMZs). However, many of the 74 comments that supported 
the SMZs provided little or no detailed rationale regarding the areas 
of concern listed in the proposed rule.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges that SMZ designation of some nearshore 
artificial reefs may protect the reef fish resources from over 
exploitation (for the reasons stated above), and therefore has approved 
tract A.
    Landings data from the statistical grid that contains tracts B and 
C do not support the Council's contention that a significant red 
snapper fishery in those tracts displaced either persons who 
constructed the artificial reefs or who traditionally fished with fewer 
hooks per line. Furthermore, Amendment 5 does not clearly indicate or 
analyze the extent of the vermilion snapper commercial fishery whose 
participants rely on those tracts for income year round. Unlike red 
snapper, vermilion snapper has not been shown to be overfished; 
moreover, artificial reefs have not been shown to be of specific 
benefit to vermilion snapper.
    In addition to the 3-hook rule, a ban on reef fish commercial 
longlining (including use of three hooks or less per line) also was 
proposed for the area within tract C where that gear currently is 
allowed. Amendment 5 did not adequately address the impacts resulting 
from the proposed prohibition, particularly on the deepwater grouper 
longline fishery.
    As indicated by some of the comments, the 3-hook rule in itself 
does not prohibit all commercial fishing. Available information, 
however, indicates that moving the boundary of the longline and buoy 
gear restricted area outside tract C, in combination with the 3-hook 
rule in tracts B and C, would effectively have eliminated the 
historical fisheries in those tracts.

Framework Procedure for Establishing SMZs

    Comment: One environmental organization supported the regulatory 
amendment procedure as critical to protecting artificial reefs. One 
individual and the minority report objected to the procedure because 
they believe it would result in the placement of additional artificial 
reefs in tracts B and C, which they believe contain economically 
valuable natural reef or line bottom habitat.
    Response: It is conceivable that approving the framework procedure 
could encourage additional construction of artificial reefs (as 
acknowledged in Amendment 5). However, the present disapproval of 
tracts B and C should resolve this issue. Furthermore, the framework 
procedure is designed to provide for a thorough scientific evaluation 
of the benefits and costs and environmental impacts of future proposed 
SMZs. The framework procedure specifies that each SMZ would have to be 
extensively reviewed by the Council's advisors, monitoring team, and 
scientific committee prior to Council review and submittal for 
abbreviated rulemaking. Moreover, each framework request must comply 
with the six criteria listed in the procedure, including fairness, 
equity, and consideration of natural bottom habitat. This would include 
tracts B and C should the Council choose to resubmit a revised 
framework proposal addressing these areas. Accordingly, NMFS concurs 
with the proposed framework procedure for establishing SMZs.

Increases in the Minimum Size Limit for Red Snapper

    Comment: Six fishermen contended that additional release mortality 
and economic impacts of the increased size limit (including elimination 
of a market size) would outweigh any benefits. These concerns also were 
contained in the minority report, which noted the potential for imports 
replacing that size of red snapper in the U.S. market. One commenter 
also noted text from the regulation amendment prepared by the Council 
in 1990 that cites impacts of additional mortality in support of the 
status quo. Several fishermen feared decreased demand by consumers for 
the larger size fillets. Other comments indicated that red snapper are 
not in need of additional protection. An environmental organization and 
a recreational fishing organization commented in favor of the increased 
size limits.
    Response: Although there may be some initial short-term adverse 
economic impacts associated with the incremental size limit increases, 
NMFS economic analyses indicate that the longer term economic gains 
should outweigh short-term revenue losses.
    Concerning the comment on an earlier Council document that 
supported status quo, information is now available that supports the 
Council's proposal. For example, red snapper price information from the 
1993 season indicates that there was a modest price premium paid for 
the one- to two-pound size in the early part of 1993, but by the end of 
the season, prices generally were the same for all size categories.
    The major advantage of the incremental size increases is that it 
will allow for harvest of the fish when yield per recruit is maximized. 
Additionally, it aids in the rebuilding of the stock and reduces the 
urgency to implement in 1994 the program to reduce bycatch of juvenile 
red snapper in the shrimp trawl fishery. The FMP calls for a 50 percent 
bycatch reduction in the shrimp fishery by 1994. However, this goal 
could not be achieved without significant economic losses to the shrimp 
fishery. More recent stock assessment analyses assuming implementation 
of the size limit increases indicate various probabilities of stock 
recovery by the target year of 2009, based on the following dates for 
reaching the specified bycatch reduction goal of 50 percent: early 
1994-95 percent, 1995--90 percent; or 1996--70 percent. Moreover, a 
very active research program is underway that potentially will provide 
bycatch and mortality information leading to the desired bycatch 
reduction goal without adversely impacting the fisheries for either 
shrimp or red snapper. For these reasons, NMFS concurs with the 
proposed increases in the minimum size limit for red snapper.

Mutton Snapper Spawning Aggregation Closure

    Comment: The minority report questioned the need for protection of 
the aggregation, given that mutton snapper have not been shown to be 
overfished. One individual claimed that no significant bycatch of 
mutton snapper occurs while fishing for yellowtail snapper, and that 
closure of the area to all fishing is therefore unnecessary.
    Response: Mutton snapper have been shown to be particularly 
vulnerable to harvest during the spawning season. Species that 
aggregate for spawning are vulnerable to fishing effort and 
traditionally are easier to catch at that time. In addition, they may 
be caught before spawning activity occurs. While the resource may not 
be overfished Gulf-wide, local overfishing could occur in the 
aggregation. Moreover, allowing fishing for other species could 
complicate enforcement of the closure, and vessels targeting mutton 
snapper could have the opportunity to discard their catch before being 
boarded by an authorized officer. The benefits of the action could be 
reduced significantly by mutton snapper release mortality as part of 
fishing for other species. For these reasons, the proposed closure to 
all fishing is necessary to protect the spawning individuals during 
this critical period. Accordingly, NMFS concurs with the spawning 
aggregation closure.

Finfish Landed With Head and Fins Intact

    Comment: An environmental organization supported this proposal.
    Response: NMFS concurs with the Council and the commenter.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    Section 641.4(b)(2)(xiii)(C) requires an applicant for a vessel 
permit to sign a statement that he or she will allow an authorized 
officer reasonable access to his or her property to examine fish traps 
for compliance with the regulations. NMFS finds that this requirement 
is unnecessary. Accordingly, as a technical amendment, this final rule 
removes Sec. 641.4(b)(2)(xiii)(C).
    Section 641.4(o)(1) in the proposed rule specified that a fish trap 
endorsement will not be issued or renewed unless the vessel for which 
the endorsement is requested and its current owner have records of 
landings of reef fish from fish traps in the EEZ of the Gulf of Mexico 
during 1991 or 1992, as reported on fishing vessel logbooks received by 
the Science and Research Director on or before November 19, 1992. As a 
result, persons with the qualifying catch record, but who have sold or 
transferred the vessel from which reef fish were harvested with fish 
traps and reported to NMFS, would be ineligible if the current 
regulations are implemented. NMFS finds that this requirement is 
inconsistent with the Council's intent, which was to limit the use of 
fish traps to those persons who had participated in the fish trap 
fishery and whose reports had been received as of November 19, 1992. 
Accordingly, Sec. 641.4(o)(1) is re-written to specify that a fish trap 
endorsement will not be issued or renewed unless the current owner of 
the vessel for which the endorsement is requested has a record of 
landings of reef fish from fish traps in the EEZ of the Gulf of Mexico 
during 1991 or 1992, as reported on fishing vessel logbooks received by 
the Science and Research Director on or before November 19, 1992.
    Changes from the proposed rule to effect implementation of the 
moratorium have been made at Sec. 641.4 (a)(4) and (o)(2) and 
Sec. 641.7(y). For the initial implementation of the moratorium on fish 
trap endorsements, NMFS intends to reissue the permit for each vessel 
that meets the criteria for the fish trap endorsement. Such reissued 
permit will have a ``Date Issued'' of February 7, 1994, the effective 
date of this final rule, and will be endorsed for the use of fish 
traps. On and after that date, a fish trap endorsement is valid only 
when it is on such a reissued permit. A fish trap endorsement on a 
permit issued before that date will not be valid. Each owner of a 
vessel that has a permit that currently authorizes the use of fish 
traps will receive by January 24, 1994, either a reissued permit with a 
fish trap endorsement or a letter advising him or her that the current 
fish trap endorsement on the permit will not be valid as of February 7, 
1994.
    With removal from the regulations of the specific information that 
must be included in required reports by fishing vessels, the term 
``statistical area'' is no longer used. Accordingly, this final rule 
removes the definition of ``statistical area'' from Sec. 641.2 and 
removes Figure 2, which depicts the statistical grids, from Appendix A. 
Depiction of the grids is included with the reporting forms that are 
provided by the Science and Research Director.
    The proposed rule to implement Amendment 5 contained changes to 
Sec. 641.5(d), the reporting requirements for dealers and processors. 
The proposed changes were minor, primarily for standardization. More 
substantive changes to these reporting requirements are contained in 
Amendment 7 to the FMP, the proposed rule for which was published on 
October 27, 1993 (58 FR 57771). Accordingly, the proposed changes to 
Sec. 641.5(d) in the rule to implement Amendment 5 are deleted.
    In Sec. 641.22, paragraph (b)(2)(iii)(A) is revised to clarify that 
untreated jute string may not be wrapped or overlapped when used as 
degradable material. Wrapping or overlapping overly prolongs the time 
for the material to degrade.
    In Secs. 641.6(e) and 641.22(b)(7), language in the proposed rule 
regarding buoys on each end of a ``string'' of traps is revised. Trap 
fishermen refer to traps placed in a line as a ``string,'' even when 
such traps are not connected. For clarity, this final rule requires 
buoys for marking individual, separate traps or each end trap of traps 
that are connected by a line.
    In Sec. 641.23(d), for the reasons discussed above, proposed SMZs B 
and C have been deleted. Concomitantly, in Appendix A, the proposed 
change to Table 2, and that part of the proposed change to Figure 5 
that would have moved the seaward limits of the longline and buoy gear 
restricted area so that all of proposed SMZ C would be shoreward of the 
limits, are deleted.
    Figures 4 and 5 in Appendix A have been enlarged to more clearly 
depict the seaward limits of the stressed area and of the longline and 
buoy gear restricted area, respectively. Figures 3 through 6 now depict 
each of the limits separately for the eastern and western portions of 
the Gulf of Mexico.

Partial Disapproval of Amendment 5

    On December 16, 1993, the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) 
partially disapproved Amendment 5. As discussed above, the provisions 
that would have established tracts B and C as SMZs were disapproved.

Classification

    The Secretary determined that Amendment 5 is necessary for the 
conservation and management of the reef fish fishery and that it is 
consistent with the national standards, other provisions of the 
Magnuson Act, and other applicable law, with the exception of the 
provisions that would have established SMZs B and C.
    The Council prepared a regulatory impact review as part of 
Amendment 5. A summary of the regulatory impacts was contained in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here.
    The Council prepared an initial regulatory flexibility analysis 
(RFA) for this action. The initial RFA has been adopted as final 
without change. The final RFA concludes that the measures in this final 
rule, considered individually, would not have a significant economic 
impact on small entities, but, considered collectively, would have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    The Council prepared a final supplemental environmental impact 
statement (SEIS) for Amendment 5 that discusses the impacts on the 
environment of the reef fish fishery and the impacts that would result 
from implementation of the amendment. The final SEIS was filed with the 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA published on October 15, 
1993, (58 FR 53512) a notice of availability of the final SEIS for a 
30-day comment period.
    The Council determined that the proposed rule would be implemented 
in a manner that is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with 
the approved coastal zone management programs of Alabama, Florida, 
Louisiana, and Mississippi. Texas does not have an approved coastal 
zone management program. These determinations were submitted for review 
by the responsible state agencies under section 307 of the Coastal Zone 
Management Act. Louisiana and Mississippi agreed with this 
determination. Alabama and Florida did not respond within the statutory 
time period; therefore, state agency agreement with the consistency 
determination is presumed.
    This final rule involves, but does not change, collection-of-
information requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act, 
specifically, fishing vessel permits and fishing vessel reports. These 
requirements were previously approved by the Office of Management and 
Budget under OMB Control Numbers 0648-0205 and 0648-0016, respectively. 
The public reporting burdens for these collections of information, 
estimated to average 15 and 10-18 minutes per response, respectively, 
are not changed by this rule. Send comments regarding these burdens or 
any other aspect of these collections of information, including 
suggestions for reducing the burdens, to Edward E. Burgess, Southeast 
Regional Office, NMFS, 9450 Koger Boulevard, St. Petersburg, FL 33702, 
and to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of 
Management and Budget (Attention: NOAA Desk Officer), Washington, DC 
20503.
    This rule is not significant and is not subject to review under 
E.O. 12866.
    This final rule does not contain policies with federalism 
implications sufficient to warrant preparation of a federalism 
assessment under E.O. 12612.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 641

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: December 30, 1993.
Nancy Foster,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 50 CFR part 641 is 
amended as follows:

PART 641--REEF FISH FISHERY OF THE GULF OF MEXICO

    1. The authority citation for part 641 continues to read as 
follows:

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

    2. In Sec. 641.1, paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 641.1  Purpose and scope.

* * * * *
    (b) This part governs conservation and management of reef fish in 
the Gulf of Mexico EEZ, except that Secs. 641.5 and 641.25 also apply 
to fish from adjoining state waters. The boundary between the Gulf of 
Mexico EEZ and the Atlantic Ocean EEZ begins at the intersection of the 
outer boundary of the EEZ and 83 deg.00'W. longitude, proceeds north to 
24 deg.35'N. latitude (near Dry Tortugas), east to Marquesas Key, then 
through the Florida Keys to the mainland.


Sec. 641.2  [Amended]

    3. In Sec. 641.2, the definition for ``Statistical area'' is 
removed.
    4. In Sec. 641.4, paragraphs (b)(2)(xiii)(C) and (b)(2)(xiv) are 
removed; paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(4), (b)(1), (b)(2) introductory text, 
(b)(2)(xi), (b)(2)(Xiii)(B), (h), (i), and (k) are revised; and new 
paragraph (o) is added to read as follows:


Sec. 641.4  Permits and fees.

    (a) * * *
    (1) As a prerequisite to selling reef fish and to be eligible for 
exemption from bag the limits specified in Sec. 641.24(b), an owner or 
operator of a vessel that fishes in the EEZ must obtain an annual 
vessel permit.
 * * * * *
    (4) To possess or use a fish trap in the EEZ, an annual vessel 
permit for reef fish with a valid fish trap endorsement thereon must be 
issued to the vessel and must be on board the vessel. (See paragraph 
(o)(2) of this section for information on the validity of a fish trap 
endorsement.) In addition, a color code for marking the vessel and trap 
buoys must be obtained from the Regional Director.
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) An application for a vessel permit must be submitted and signed 
by the owner or operator of the vessel. The application must be 
submitted to the Regional Director at least 30 days prior to the date 
on which the applicant desires to have the permit made effective.
    (2) A permit applicant must provide the following information:
* * * * *
    (xi) A sworn statement by the applicant certifying that more than 
50 percent of his or her earned income was derived from commercial 
fishing, that is, sale of the catch, or charter or headboat operations, 
during either of the two calendar years preceding the application;
* * * * *
    (xiii) * * *
    (B) The applicant's desired color code for use in identifying his 
or her vessel and buoys (white is not an acceptable color code).
* * * * *
    (h) Display. A permit or endorsement issued under this section must 
be carried on board the fishing vessel and such vessel must be 
identified as provided for in Sec. 641.6. The operator of a fishing 
vessel must present the permit or endorsement for inspection upon 
request of an authorized officer.
    (i) Sanctions and denials. A permit or endorsement issued pursuant 
to this section may be revoked, suspended, or modified, and a permit or 
endorsement application may be denied, in accordance with the 
procedures governing enforcement-related permit sanctions and denials 
found at subpart D of 15 CFR part 904.
* * * * *
    (k) Replacement. A replacement permit or endorsement may be issued. 
An application for a replacement permit or endorsement will not be 
considered a new application. A fee, the amount of which is stated with 
the application form, must accompany each request for a replacement.
* * * * *
    (o) Moratorium on fish trap endorsements. The provisions of this 
paragraph (o) are effective through February 7, 1997.
    (1) A fish trap endorsement will not be issued or renewed unless 
the current owner of the permitted vessel for which the endorsement is 
requested has a record of landings of reef fish from fish traps in the 
EEZ of the Gulf of Mexico during 1991 or 1992, as reported on fishing 
vessel logbooks received by the Science and Research Director on or 
before November 19, 1992. An owner will not be issued fish trap 
endorsements for vessels in numbers exceeding the number of vessels for 
which the owning entity had the requisite reported landings in 1991 or 
1992.
    (2) A fish trap endorsement on a vessel permit issued under this 
section that has a ``Date Issued'' of February 7, 1994, or later, is 
valid. Endorsements on permits issued before that date are not valid.
    (3) An owner of a vessel with a fish trap endorsement may transfer 
the endorsement to another vessel owned by the same entity by returning 
the existing endorsement with an application for an endorsement for the 
replacement vessel.
    (4) A fish trap endorsement is not transferable upon purchase of a 
vessel with a fish trap endorsement, the provisions of paragraph (1)(3) 
of this section regarding purchase of a vessel with a reef fish permit 
notwithstanding.
    (5) A fish trap endorsement that is not renewed or that is revoked 
will not be reissued.
    5. In Sec. 641.5, paragraphs (b), (c), (f), (g), and (i) are 
revised to read as follows:


Sec. 641.5  Recordkeeping and reporting.

* * * * *
    (b) Vessels fishing with fish traps. The owner or operator of a 
vessel for which a fish trap endorsement has been issued under 
Sec. 641.4, or the owner or operator of a vessel that uses a fish trap 
in adjoining state waters, must maintain a fishing record on a form 
available from the Science and Research Director. These forms must be 
submitted to the Science and Research Director so as to be received not 
later than 7 days after the end of each fishing trip. If no fishing 
occurred during a month, a report so stating must be submitted on one 
of the forms to be received not later than 7 days after the end of each 
month. Information to be reported is indicated on the form and its 
accompanying instructions.
    (c) Vessels not fishing with fish traps. The owner or operator of a 
vessel for which a reef fish permit has been issued under Sec. 641.4, 
or the owner or operator of a vessel that harvests reef fish in 
adjoining state waters, and who is selected by the Science and Research 
Director, must maintain a fishing record on a form available from the 
Science and Research Director. These forms must be submitted to the 
Science and Research Director on a monthly basis (or more frequently, 
if requested by the Science and Research Director) so as to be received 
not later than 7 days after the end of the reporting period. If no 
fishing occurred during a reporting period, a report so stating must be 
submitted on one of the forms to be received not later than 7 days 
after the end of the reporting period. Information to be reported is 
indicated on the form and its accompanying instructions.
* * * * *
    (f) Charter vessels. The owner or operator of a charter vessel that 
fishes for or lands reef fish under the bag limits in the Gulf of 
Mexico EEZ or in adjoining state waters, and who is selected by the 
Science and Research Director, must maintain a daily fishing record for 
each trip on forms provided by the Science and Research Director. These 
forms must be submitted to the Science and Research Director on a 
weekly basis so as to be received not later than 7 days after the end 
of each week (Sunday). Information to be reported is indicated on the 
form and its accompanying instructions.
    (g) Headboats. The owner or operator of a headboat that fishes for 
or lands reef fish under the bag limits in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ or in 
adjoining state waters, and who is selected by the Science and Research 
Director, must maintain a daily fishing record for each trip, or a 
portion of such trips as specified by the Science and Research 
Director, on forms provided by the Science and Research Director. These 
forms must be submitted to the Science and Research Director at least 
monthly so as to be received not later than 7 days after the end of 
each month. Information to be reported is indicated on the form and its 
accompanying instructions.
* * * * *
    (i) Additional data and inspection. Additional data will be 
collected by authorized statistical reporting agents, as designees of 
the Science and Research Director, and by authorized officers. An owner 
or operator of a fishing vessel and a dealer or processor are required 
upon request to make reef fish or parts thereof available for 
inspection by the Science and Research Director or an authorized 
officer.
    6. In Sec. 641.6, the section heading and paragraphs (a) through 
(e) are revised to read as follows:


Sec. 641.6  Vessel and gear identification.

    (a) Official number. A vessel for which a permit has been issued 
under Sec. 641.4 must display its official number--
    (1) On the port and starboard sides of the deckhouse or hull and on 
an appropriate weather deck so as to be clearly visible from an 
enforcement vessel or aircraft;
    (2) In block arabic numerals in contrasting color to the 
background;
    (3) At least 18 inches (45.7 cm) in height for fishing vessels over 
65 feet (19.8 m) in length and at least 10 inches (25.4 cm) in height 
for all other vessels; and
    (4) Permanently affixed to or painted on the vessel.
    (b) Color code. In addition to its official number, a vessel for 
which a fish trap endorsement has been issued under Sec. 641.4 must 
display its color code--
    (1) On the port and starboard sides of the deckhouse or hull and on 
an appropriate weather deck so as to be clearly visible from an 
enforcement vessel or aircraft;
    (2) In the form of a circle at least 20 inches (50.8 cm) in 
diameter; and
    (3) Permanently affixed to or painted on the vessel.
    (c) Duties of operator. The operator of each fishing vessel 
specified in paragraph (a) or (b) of this section must--
    (1) Keep the official number and color code clearly legible and in 
good repair; and
    (2) Ensure that no part of the fishing vessel, its rigging, fishing 
gear, or any other material aboard obstructs the view of the official 
number and color code from an enforcement vessel or aircraft.
    (d) Fish traps. A valid identification tag, available from the 
Regional Director, must be affixed to each fish trap used or possessed 
in the EEZ and to each fish trap aboard a vessel for which a fish trap 
endorsement has been issued under Sec. 641.4. Such tag shows the 
specific tag number (normally 1 through 100, or less), the permit 
number, and the month and year through which the permit and tag are 
valid.
    (e) Buoys. Each buoy used to mark a fish trap, or each end trap of 
traps that are connected by a line, must display the designated color 
code and permit number so as to be easily distinguished, located, and 
identified.
* * * * *
    7. In Sec. 641.7, paragraphs (a), (b), (g), (i), (k), (l), and (s) 
are revised and new paragraphs (y) through (cc) are added to read as 
follows:


Sec. 641.7  Prohibitions.

    (a) Falsify information specified in Sec. 641.4(b)(2) on an 
application for a vessel permit, or information on an application for 
an endorsement on a permit.
    (b) Fail to display a permit or endorsement, as specified in 
Sec. 641.4(h).
* * * * *
    (g) Possess a finfish without its head and fins intact, as 
specified in Sec. 641.21(b).
* * * * *
    (i) Use or possess in the EEZ a fish trap that does not conform to 
the requirements for escape windows, panels and access doors with 
degradable fasteners, mesh sizes, and buoys, as specified in 
Sec. 641.22 (b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3), and (b)(7).
* * * * *
    (k) Fish or possess in the EEZ more than 100 fish traps per vessel, 
as specified in Sec. 641.22(b)(5).
    (l) Pull or tend a fish trap, except during the hours specified in 
Sec. 641.22(b)(6)(i); tend, open, pull, or otherwise molest or have in 
possession another person's fish trap, except as specified in 
Sec. 641.22(b)(6)(ii); or fail to retrieve all fish traps and return 
them to port on each trip, as specified in Sec. 641.22(b)(6)(iii).
* * * * *
    (s) Purchase, barter, trade, or sell, or attempt to purchase, 
barter, trade, or sell, a reef fish possessed under the bag limits, as 
specified in Sec. 641.24(g).
* * * * *
    (y) Use or possess in the EEZ a fish trap without a valid fish trap 
endorsement, as specified in Sec. 641.4(a)(4) and (o)(2).
    (z) During May and June, fish in Riley's Hump, as specified in 
Sec. 641.23(c).
    (aa) In a special management zone, fish for reef fish with 
prohibited or unauthorized fishing gear, or, after having fished in a 
special management zone for species other than reef fish, exceed the 
possession and landing limits for reef fish; as specified in 
Sec. 641.23(d).
    (bb) Make any false statement, oral or written, to an authorized 
officer concerning the taking, catching, harvesting, landing, purchase, 
sale, possession, or transfer of a reef fish.
    (cc) Interfere with, obstruct, delay, or prevent by any means an 
investigation, search, seizure, or disposition of seized property in 
connection with enforcement of the Magnuson Act.
    8. In Sec. 641.21, paragraphs (a)(1) and (b) are revised to read as 
follows:


Sec. 641.21  Harvest limitations.

    (a) * * *
    (1) Red snapper--
    (i) Effective through December 31, 1995--14 inches (35.6 cm) total 
length;
    (ii) Effective January 1, 1996, through December 31, 1997--15 
inches (38.1 cm) total length;
    (iii) Effective January 1, 1998--16 inches (40.6 cm) total length.
* * * * *
    (b) Head and fins intact.
    (1) Except as specified in paragraphs (b)(2), (b)(3), and (b)(4) of 
this section, a finfish possessed in the EEZ in the Gulf of Mexico must 
have its head and fins intact and such finfish taken from the EEZ must 
have its head and fins intact through landing. Such finfish may be 
eviscerated, gilled, and scaled but must otherwise be maintained in a 
whole condition.
    (2) Shark, swordfish, and tuna species are exempt from the 
requirements of paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
    (3) Bait is exempt from the requirements of paragraph (b)(1) of 
this section.
    (i) For the purpose of this paragraph (b)(3), bait means--
    (A) Packaged, headless fish fillets that have the skin attached and 
are frozen or refrigerated;
    (B) Headless fish fillets that have the skin attached and are held 
in brine; or
    (C) Small pieces no larger than 3 cubic inches (7.6 cubic cm) or 
strips no larger than 3 inches by 9 inches (7.6 cm by 22.9 cm) that 
have the skin attached and are frozen, refrigerated, or held in brine.
    (ii) Paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section notwithstanding, a finfish 
or part thereof possessed in or landed from the EEZ that is 
subsequently sold, purchased, traded, or bartered or attempted to be 
sold, purchased, traded, or bartered as a finfish species, rather than 
as bait, is not bait.
    (4) Legal-sized finfish possessed for consumption at sea aboard the 
harvesting vessel are exempt from the requirements of paragraph (b)(1) 
of this section provided--
    (i) Such finfish do not exceed any applicable bag limit;
    (ii) Such finfish do not exceed 1.5 pounds (680 gm) of finfish 
parts per person on board; and
    (iii) The vessel is equipped to cook such finfish on board.
* * * * *
    9. In Sec. 641.22, in paragraph (b)(3) introductory text, the 
reference to ``Figure 3'' is revised to read ``Figure 2''; paragraphs 
(b)(2)(i), (b)(2)(ii), (b)(2)(iii) introductory text, (b)(2)(iii)(A), 
(b)(5) and (b)(6) are revised; and new paragraph (b)(7) is added to 
read as follows:


Sec. 641.22  Gear restrictions.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) A panel or access door must be located opposite each side of 
the trap that has a funnel.
    (ii) The opening covered by each panel or access door must be 144 
square inches (929 square cm) or larger, with one dimension of the area 
equal to or larger than the largest interior axis of the trap's throat 
(funnel) with no other dimension less than 6 inches (15.2 cm).
    (iii) The hinges and fasteners of each panel or access door must be 
constructed of one of the following degradable materials:
    (A) Untreated jute string of 3/16-inch (4.76-mm) diameter or 
smaller that is not wrapped or overlapped; or
* * * * *
    (5) Effort limitation. The maximum number of traps that may be 
assigned to, possessed, or fished in the EEZ by a vessel is 100.
    (6) Tending traps.
    (i) A reef fish trap may be pulled or tended only during the period 
from official (civil) sunrise to official (civil) sunset.
    (ii) Except for inspection of a fish trap by an authorized officer, 
a reef fish trap may be tended only by a person aboard the vessel for 
which the fish trap endorsement has been issued under Sec. 641.4 to 
fish such trap, or aboard another vessel if such vessel has on board 
written consent of the owner or operator of the vessel with the fish 
trap endorsement. Such written consent is valid solely for the removal 
of fish traps from the EEZ, and harvest of fish incidental to such 
removal, when vessel or equipment breakdown prevents the vessel with 
the fish trap endorsement from retrieving its traps.
    (iii) The operator of a vessel from which a fish trap is deployed 
in the EEZ must retrieve all the vessel's fish traps and return them to 
port on each trip. A fish trap that is not returned to port on a trip, 
and its attached line and buoy, may be disposed of in any appropriate 
manner by the Secretary (including an authorized officer). If an owner 
of such trap or the operator of the responsible vessel can be 
ascertained, the owner and/or operator is subject to appropriate civil 
penalties.
    (7) Buoys. A buoy that floats on the surface must be attached to 
each fish trap, or to each end trap of traps that are connected by a 
line, used in the EEZ.
    10. In Sec. 641.23, in paragraphs (a)(3) and (b)(3), the concluding 
parenthetical phrases are revised; and new paragraphs (c) and (d) are 
added to read as follows:


Sec. 641.23  Area limitations.

    (a) * * *
    (3) * * * (See also Appendix A, Figures 3 and 4.)
    (b) * * *
    (3) * * * (See also Appendix A, Figures 5 and 6.)
    (c) Riley's Hump seasonal closure. From May 1 through June 30 each 
year, Riley's Hump, southwest of Dry Tortugas, Florida, is closed to 
all fishing. Riley's Hump is enclosed by rhumb lines joining the 
following points in the order listed: 

------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Point                   Latitude               Longitude       
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A......................  24 deg.32.2' N.........  83 deg.08.7' W.       
B......................  24 deg.32.2' N.........  83 deg.05.2' W.       
C......................  24 deg.28.7' N.........  83 deg.05.2' W.       
D......................  24 deg.28.7' N.........  83 deg.08.7' W.       
A......................  24 deg.32.2' N.........  83 deg.08.7' W.       
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (d) Special management zones (SMZs).
    (1) The following artificial reef and surrounding area is 
established as an SMZ: Alabama--A. The area is bounded by rhumb lines 
connecting the following points in the order listed:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Point                   Latitude               Longitude       
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A......................  30 deg.02.5' N.........  88 deg.07.7' W.       
B......................  30 deg.02.6' N.........  87 deg.59.3' W.       
C......................  29 deg.55.0' N.........  87 deg.55.5' W.       
D......................  29 deg.54.5' N.........  88 deg.07.5' W.       
A......................  30 deg.02.5' N.........  88 deg.07.7' W.       
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (2) In the SMZ specified in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, 
fishing for reef fish is limited to hook-and-line gear with three or 
less hooks per line and spearfishing gear. For the purpose of this 
paragraph (d)(2), fishing for reef fish means possessing reef fish 
aboard or landing reef fish from--
    (i) A vessel that is operating as a charter vessel or headboat;
    (ii) A recreational vessel, that is, a vessel that is not in a 
commercial fishery; or
    (iii) A vessel that has been issued a permit under Sec. 641.4 when 
the reef fish aboard or landed from the vessel exceed a bag limit 
specified in Sec. 641.24(b), for a species that has a bag limit, or 
exceed 5 percent by weight of all fish aboard, for other reef fish.
    (3) A person aboard a vessel that uses in an SMZ gear other than 
hook-and-line gear with three or fewer hooks per line and spearfishing 
gear to fish for species other than reef fish may not possess reef fish 
in excess of the bag limits specified in Sec. 641.24(b), for those 
species that have a bag limit, and in excess of 5 percent by weight of 
all fish aboard, for other reef fish, and may not land from a trip on 
which fishing was conducted in an SMZ, reef fish in excess of those 
limits.
    11. In Sec. 641.24, in paragraph (c)(1), the phrase ``as required 
by the U.S. Coast Guard for trips of over 12 hours'' is removed; and 
paragraphs (a) and (g) are revised to read as follows:


Sec. 641.24  Bag and possession limits.

    (a) Applicability.
    (1) Bag limits apply to a person--
    (i) Who fishes from a fixed structure in the EEZ; or
    (ii) Aboard a vessel that fishes in the EEZ, or aboard a fishing 
vessel that possesses reef fish in the EEZ,
    (A) Without a permit specified in Sec. 641.4 on board,
    (B) With trawl gear or entangling net gear on board,
    (C) With a longline or buoy gear on board when such vessel is 
fishing or has fished on its present trip in the longline and buoy gear 
restricted area specified in Sec. 641.23(b),
    (D) That is operating as a charter vessel or headboat, or
    (E) For a species for which the quota specified in Sec. 641.25 has 
been reached and closure has been effected.
    (2) For the purpose of paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(B) of this section, a 
vessel is considered to have trawl gear on board when trawl doors and a 
net are on board. Removal from the vessel of all trawl doors or all 
nets constitutes removal of trawl gear.
    (3) For the purpose of paragraph (a)(2)(ii)(C) of this section, a 
vessel is considered to have a longline on board when a power-operated 
longline hauler, a cable of diameter and length suitable for use in the 
longline fishery, and gangions are on board. Removal of any one of 
these three elements, in its entirety, constitutes removal of a 
longline.
* * * * *
    (g) Sale. A reef fish possessed under the bag limits specified in 
paragraph (b) of this section may not be purchased, bartered, traded, 
or sold, or attempted to be purchased, bartered, traded, or sold.


Sec. 641.27  [Amended]

    12. In Sec. 641.27, in paragraph (a), the reference to 
``641.24(a)(2)(ii)'' is revised to read ``641.24(a)(1)(ii)(B)''.
    13. Section 641.28 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 641.28  Adjustment of management measures.

    In accordance with the procedures and limitations of the Fishery 
Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico, the 
Regional Director may--
    (a) Establish or modify for species or species groups in the reef 
fish fishery the following: target dates for rebuilding overfished 
species, total allowable catch, bag limits, size limits, vessel trip 
limits, closed seasons or areas, gear restrictions, and quotas; and
    (b) Establish or modify special management zones and the gear 
restrictions applicable in each.

Appendix A to Part 641--[Amended]

    14. In Appendix A to part 641, Figures 2, 4, Seaward Limits of the 
Stressed Area, and 5 are removed; Figure 4, Examples of mesh sizes 
meeting the measurement criteria, is redesignated as Figure 2; and new 
Figures 3 through 6 are added to read as follows:

BILLING CODE 3510-22-M

TR07JA94.002


TR07JA94.003


TR07JA94.004


TR07JA94.005


[FR Doc. 94-118 Filed 1-6-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-C