NOAA Fisheries Service is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would increase the commercial and recreational quotas of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. A recent red snapper assessment update projected overfishing ended in 2009, and therefore, the total allowable catch (TAC) can be increased. As evaluated in a regulatory amendment to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico, this increase would be from the existing 5.0 million pounds (MP) to 6.945 MP. The proposed rule would adjust the commercial and recreational quotas to 3.542 and 3.403 MP, respectively, consistent with the 51:49 ratio for the commercial and recreational allocation of red snapper. The proposed rule publishes in the Federal Register on March 30, 2010, with the comment period ending April 14, 2010. The proposed rule also includes a projection for the length of recreational season, which opens June 1, 2010.
In determining the season length supported by the proposed 2010 quota, the increases in the average red snapper size and abundance that led to the overage of the recreational harvest in 2009 (preliminary estimate of more than 1.7 MP during the 2009 75-day season) must be taken into account. Absent action to increase the current 5.0 MP TAC, analyses indicate the fishery would remain open just 34-40 days in 2010 to avoid another overage. However, the proposed 3.403 MP recreational quota is estimated to support a 51-60 day fishing season in 2010. The closure date is tentatively defined as July 24 based on the preliminary data and may be adjusted in the final rule.
Request for Comments
Written comments on this proposed rule to increase the red snapper commercial and recreational quotas must be received no later than April 14, 2010, to be considered by NOAA Fisheries Service. See the Addresses section for information on where and how to submit comments. All comments received by NOAA Fisheries Service will be addressed in the final rule.
Electronic copies of the proposed rule or the regulatory amendment may be obtained from the e-Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's Web site at http://www.gulfcouncil.org, or from NOAA Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505.
You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
Electronic Submissions: Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Enter the following docket number into the "Search" box: NOAA-NMFS- 2010-0049. All comments received are part of the public record and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change.
Comments will be posted for public viewing after the comment period has closed. All personal identifying information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter, may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NOAA Fisheries Service will accept anonymous comments. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
Mail: Peter Hood, NOAA Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505.
Comments received through means not specified in this bulletin may not be considered.