Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
The reef fish fishery of the Gulf is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the 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). The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the legal authority for the promulgation of interim regulations under section 305(c) (16 U.S.C. 1855(c)).
Section 305(c)(2) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the Council the authority to request interim measures, if necessary, to reduce overfishing. On April 19, 2012, the Council requested that NMFS implement a temporary rule to reduce overfishing of gray triggerfish in the Gulf while the Council and NMFS develop Amendment 37 to the FMP. Amendment 37 will contain permanent measures to end overfishing of the gray triggerfish stock. On May 14, 2012, NMFS published the final temporary rule (77 FR 28308) to implement measures to reduce overfishing of gray triggerfish in the Gulf and requested public comment. The interim measures implemented revised commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs and revised the AMs for the recreational sector. Through the final temporary rule, the commercial sector ACL was reduced to 64,100 lb (29,075 kg), round weight, and the commercial ACT (commercial quota) was reduced to 60,900 lb (27,624 kg), round weight. The recreational sector ACL was reduced to 241,200 lb (109,406 kg), round weight, and the recreational ACT was reduced to 217,100 (98,475 kg), round weight. Additionally, the temporary rule established an in-season AM for the gray triggerfish recreational sector that prohibits the recreational harvest of gray triggerfish (a recreational sector closure) after the recreational ACT is reached or projected to be reached.
The Council requested an extension of the interim rule on August 23, 2012, to ensure that management measures remain in effect for gray triggerfish to reduce overfishing while more permanent measures are developed through Amendment 37. Section 305(c)(3)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act allows for interim measures to be extended for one additional period of 186 days provided that the public has had an opportunity to comment on the interim measures and the Council is actively preparing a plan amendment to address the overfishing on a permanent basis.
Amendment 37 is scheduled to be implemented early in the 2013 fishing year.
Section 305(c)(3)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that the public has an opportunity to comment on interim measures after the regulation is published and the Council is actively preparing a plan amendment to address overfishing on a permanent basis. Therefore, NMFS solicited comments in the May 14, 2012, final temporary rule. NMFS received comments from a total of 11 entities on the final temporary rule. The following is a summary of the substantive comments NMFS received and NMFS' respective responses. Similar comments have been grouped together.
Additionally, the current allocation between the commercial and recreational sector is 29 percent and 71 percent, respectively. Given the needed reduction in gray triggerfish harvest from 2011 levels to 2012 levels is approximately 50 percent, closing the commercial sector would not achieve the needed reduction in harvest that would allow the stock to recover by 2017, the end year of the 10-year gray triggerfish rebuilding plan. Therefore, even with an established commercial closure, recreational measures would still need to be implemented for the stock to recover within the allotted time of the rebuilding plan.
The Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, (RA) has determined that the interim measures this temporary rule extends are necessary for the conservation and management of the Gulf gray triggerfish stock, until more permanent measures are implemented, and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws. The Council and NMFS are developing Amendment 37 to the FMP to establish long-term measures to end the overfishing of Gulf gray triggerfish and rebuild the stock. Amendment 37 and its associated regulations are still being implemented and are not expected to become effective until the 2013 fishing year.
This temporary rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of E.O. 12866.
This temporary rule is exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and comment.
An EA was prepared for the interim measures contained in the May 14, 2012, final temporary rule (77 FR 28308). The EA analyzed the impacts of reduced harvest through the 2012 fishing year, which includes the impacts related to extending the interim rule. Therefore, the impacts of continuing the interim measures through this extension have already been considered. Copies of the EA are available from NMFS (see
The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA) finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this temporary rule extension. Providing prior notice and opportunity for public comment would be contrary to the public interest. This rule would continue interim measures implemented by the May 14, 2012, final temporary rule, for not more than an additional 186 days beyond the current expiration date of November 10, 2012. The conditions prompting the initial temporary rule still remain, and more permanent measures to be completed through Amendment 37 have not yet been finalized. Failure to extend these interim measures, while NMFS finalizes the more permanent measures in Amendment 37, would result in additional overfishing of the Gulf gray triggerfish stock, which is contrary to the public interest and in violation of National Standard 1 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness of this rule.
16 U.S.C. 1801