[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 205 (Monday, October 25, 1999)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 57403-57404]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-27584]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. 990625173-9274-02; I.D. 033199C]
RIN 0648-AL57


Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 
Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 16B

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 16B to the 
Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of 
Mexico (FMP). This final rule establishes size limits for banded 
rudderfish, lesser amberjack, cubera snapper, dog snapper, mahogany 
snapper, mutton snapper, schoolmaster, scamp, gray triggerfish, and 
hogfish; excludes banded rudderfish, lesser amberjack, and hogfish from 
the 20-fish aggregate (combined) reef fish bag limit; establishes new 
bag limits for hogfish, speckled hind, warsaw grouper, and for banded 
rudderfish and lesser amberjack combined; and removes queen triggerfish 
from the listing of Gulf reef fish and from the applicable regulations. 
The intended effect of this rule is to conserve and manage the reef 
fish resources of the Gulf of Mexico.

DATES: This final rule is effective November 24, 1999.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Roy E. Crabtree at 727-570-5305; 
Fax: 727-570-5583.

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 under the 
authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management 
Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.
    On April 14, 1999, NMFS announced the availability of Amendment 16B 
and requested comments on the amendment (64 FR 18395). On July 2, 1999, 
NMFS published a proposed rule to implement the measures in Amendment 
16B and requested comments on the rule (64 FR 35981). The background 
and rationale for the measures in the amendment and proposed rule are 
contained in the preamble to the proposed rule and are not repeated 
here. No comments were received on Amendment 16B or on the proposed 
rule. On July 14, 1999, NMFS approved Amendment 16B. The proposed rule 
has been adopted as final without change.

Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, with the 
concurrence of the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, 
determined that Amendment 16B is necessary for the conservation and 
management of the reef fish fishery of the Gulf of Mexico and that 
Amendment 16B is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other 
applicable law.
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of E.O. 12866.
    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce has 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this rule would not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. No comments were 
received regarding

[[Page 57404]]

this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was 
not prepared.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Fisheries, Fishing, Puerto Rico, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Virgin Islands.

    Dated: October 15, 1999.
Andrew A. Rosenberg,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 622 is amended 
as follows:

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

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

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

    2. In Sec. 622.34, the last sentence in paragraph (g)(1) is revised 
to read as follows:


Sec. 622.34  Gulf EEZ seasonal and/or area closures.

* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (1) * * * The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to the 
following species: dwarf sand perch, hogfish, and sand perch.
* * * * *
    3. In Sec. 622.37, the section heading, introductory text, and 
paragraph (d) are revised to read as follows:


Sec. 622.37  Size limits.

    All size limits in this section are minimum size limits unless 
specified otherwise. Except for undersized king and Spanish mackerel 
allowed in paragraphs (c)(2) and (c)(3) of this section, a fish not in 
compliance with its size limit, as specified in this section, in or 
from the Caribbean, Gulf, South Atlantic, and/or Mid-Atlantic EEZ, as 
appropriate, may not be possessed, sold, or purchased. A fish not in 
compliance with its size limit must be released immediately with a 
minimum of harm. The operator of a vessel that fishes in the EEZ is 
responsible for ensuring that fish on board are in compliance with the 
size limits specified in this section.
* * * * *
    (d) Gulf reef fish--(1) Snapper. (i) Lane snapper--8 inches (20.3 
cm), TL.
    (ii) Vermilion snapper--10 inches (25.4 cm), TL.
    (iii) Cubera, dog, gray, mahogany, and yellowtail snappers and 
schoolmaster--12 inches (30.5 cm), TL.
    (iv) Red snapper--15 inches (38.1 cm), TL.
    (v) Mutton snapper--16 inches (40.6 cm), TL.
    (2) Grouper. (i) Scamp--16 inches (40.6 cm), TL.
    (ii) Black, red, and yellowfin groupers and gag--20 inches, (50.8 
cm), TL.
    (3) Other Gulf reef fish species. (i) Gray triggerfish--12 inches 
(30.5 cm), TL.
    (ii) Hogfish--12 inches (30.5 cm), fork length.
    (iii) Banded rudderfish and lesser amberjack--14 inches (35.6 cm), 
fork length (minimum size); 22 inches (55.9 cm), fork length (maximum 
size).
    (iv) Greater amberjack--28 inches (71.1 cm), fork length, for a 
fish taken by a person subject to the bag limit specified in 
Sec. 622.39(b)(1)(i); and 36 inches (91.4 cm), fork length, for a fish 
taken by a person not subject to the bag limit.
* * * * *
    4. In Sec. 622.39, the second and third sentences of paragraph 
(a)(1), and paragraphs (b)(1)(ii), (b)(1)(v), and (b)(2) are revised; 
and paragraphs (b)(1)(vi) and (b)(1)(vii) are added to read as follows:


Sec. 622.39  Bag and possession limits.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * * Unless specified otherwise, bag limits apply to a person 
on a daily basis, regardless of the number of trips in a day. Unless 
specified otherwise, possession limits apply to a person on a trip 
after the first 24 hours of that trip. * * *
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) Groupers, combined, excluding jewfish and Nassau grouper--5 
per person per day, but not to exceed 1 speckled hind and 1 Warsaw 
grouper per vessel per day.
* * * * *
    (v) Gulf reef fish, combined, excluding those specified in 
paragraphs (b)(1)(i) through (b)(1)(iv) and paragraphs (b)(1)(vi) 
through (b)(1)(vii) of this section and excluding dwarf sand perch and 
sand perch--20.
    (vi) Banded rudderfish and lesser amberjack, combined--5.
    (vii) Hogfish--5.
    (2) Possession limits. A person, or a vessel in the case of 
speckled hind or Warsaw grouper, on a trip that spans more than 24 
hours may possess no more than two daily bag limits, provided such trip 
is on a vessel that is operating as a charter vessel or headboat, the 
vessel has two licensed operators aboard, and each passenger is issued 
and has in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel that 
verifies the length of the trip.
* * * * *

Table 3 of Appendix A to Part 622--Gulf Reef Fish [Amended]

    5. In Table 3 of Appendix A to Part 622, the entry, ``Queen 
triggerfish, Balistes vetula'', is removed.
[FR Doc. 99-27584 Filed 10-22-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-F