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Southeastern U.S. Atlantic Shark Gillnet

Current Classification on the 2017 LOF

Category II
Estimated Number of Participants 30
Target Species Large and small coastal sharks (blacktip, blacknose, finetooth, bonnethead, and sharpnose).
Applicable Take Reduction Plans Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP), 50 CFR 229.32; Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Plan (BDTRP), 50 CFR 229.35
Observer Coverage A dedicated observer program for the Shark Drift Gillnet Fishery has been in place since 1998. Since 2000, due to the provisions of the ALWTRP, observer coverage has been high during the winter months. However, due to limited funding, observer coverage outside of this period was generally low (less than 5%) prior to 2000, and has been increasing since. From 2001 to 2006, the annual observer coverage of the drift gillnet fishery was 68%, 85%, 50%, 66%, 58%, and 48%, respectively. The annual coverage of the strike component from 2001 to 2006 was 63%, 86%, 72%, 81%, and 84%, respectively. The sink component of the fishery was observed in 2005 and 2006 with coverage levels of 10% and 22%, respectively. However, given the uncertainties in the level of reported effort, these estimates of observer coverage are highly uncertain. Due to these uncertainties, effort levels for the fishery and estimated observer coverage for 2007 and 2008 are not available.
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured Bottlenose dolphin, unknown (Central FL, Northern FL, SC/GA coastal, or Southern migratory coastal)
North Atlantic right whale, WNA

^ Number of participants estimates are based on state and federal fisheries permit data.  The estimated number of participants is expressed in terms of the number of active participants in the fishery, when possible.  If this information is not available, the estimated number of vessels or persons licensed for a particular fishery is provided.  If no recent information is available on the number of participants, then the number from the most recent LOF is used.  NMFS acknowledges that, in some cases, these estimations may be inflating actual effort.  

*Observer coverage levels include the latest information reported in the most current final Stock Assessment Report (SAR)

(1) Indicates the stock or species is driving the classification of the fishery 

Note: Current classification based on final LOF, no proposed changes are reflected in this table.

Basis for Current Classification

This fishery was categorized as a Category II based on limited observer data. Data averaged from 1992-1993 indicated that the incidental serious injury and mortality of bottlenose dolphin (WNA coastal) was 4% of PBR. In addition, in 1994 a right whale calf was spotted with wounds indicative of an interaction with this gillnet fishery (it was sighted only once and presumed dead), but could not be confirmed. There was another suspected interaction with a right whale cow, which was not considered fatal.

Distribution

This fishery has traditionally operated in coastal waters off Florida and Georgia.

Gear Description

This fishery uses gillnets set in a sink, stab, set, strike, or drift fashion. Mesh size is typically greater than 5 in (13 cm), but may be as small as 2.87 in (7.3 cm) when targeting small coastal sharks. Drift gillnets most commonly use a mesh size of 5 in (13 cm), and average 10.2 hours from setting the gear through completion of haulback; sink gillnets most frequently use a mesh size of 7 in (18 cm), soaking for approximately 2.7 hours; and strike gillnets use the largest mesh size of 9 in (23 cm), soaking for approximately 0.8 hours.

Management

This fishery is managed under the Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (FMP), ALWTRP, and BDTRP. Regulations implemented under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act address managed target species, as well as bycatch species, including some protected under the ESA and Marine Mammal Protection Act (e.g., sea turtles, smalltooth sawfish, and right whales).

Total Effort

Gillnets targeting sharks in the southeastern U.S. Atlantic are fished in a variety of configurations including long soak drift sets, short soak encircling strike sets, and short duration sink sets. In addition, sink gillnets are used to target other finfish species. The same fishing vessels will fish the different types of sets. In the reported logbook data, it is difficult to identify these different gear types and distinguish sets targeting sharks from those targeting finfish. The total amount of effort was therefore estimated based upon observer data and reported fishing gear and catch characteristics (Garrison 2007). Between 2001 and 2005, an annual average of 74 drift sets, 40 strike sets, and 241 sink sets targeting sharks were reported and/or observed. The number of drift sets has been declining steadily while the number of strike sets has been increasing. During 2006, there were 8 drift sets, 40 strike sets, and 301 sink sets targeting sharks reported or observed (Garrison 2007). However, there is direct evidence of underreporting as some observed sets were not reported to the FLS system, and the total effort remains highly uncertain. In 2007, a total of 85 drift net sets were observed with 4 of those targeting sharks and the remainder Spanish mackerel. A total of 112 sink net sets were observed, with 60 of those targeting sharks and the remainder targeting various fish species (Baremore et al. 2007). During 2008, there was very limited targeted fishing for sharks off the coast of Florida due to the closure of the large coastal shark fishery during the first half of the year, and there were no strike sets observed targeting sharks and only a few sink sets (Passerotti and Carlson 2009).

 

Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) II (1996)
Original Number of Participants 10
Basis for Original Classification This fishery was categorized as a Category II based on limited observer data. Data averaged from 1992-1993 indicated that the incidental serious injury and mortality of bottlenose dolphin (WNA coastal) was 4% of PBR. In addition, in 1994 a right whale calf was spotted with wounds indicative of an interaction with this gillnet fishery (it was sighted only once and presumed dead), but could not be confirmed. There was another suspected interaction with a right whale cow, which was not considered fatal.
Past Names N/A
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A

 

Timeline of Changes

2012
  • Added bottlenose dolphin (Northern FL coastal stock) to the list of species/stocks killed/injured in this fishery. There were 2 takes (level of injury undetermined) of bottlenose dolphins that occurred in drift gillnet gear in 2002 and 2003 just south of the range of the Northern FL coastal stock, and the dolphins were possibly from this stock (2010 SAR).
2011
  • Updated the stock name for bottlenose dolphins killed/injured in this fishery, based on the revised stock structure presented in the final 2008 and 2009 SARs. Replaced bottlenose dolphin (WNA coastal) with the following stock: bottlenose dolphin (Central FL coastal). Retained a superscript “1” after this stock because the 2010 LOF includes a superscript “1” following bottlenose dolphin (WNA coastal).
2007
  • Clarified that gillnets set in a sink, stab, set, strike, or drift fashion are used in this fishery. Traditionally, this fishery used gillnets in either a drift or strikenet configuration. However, observers placed on various gillnet vessels in the Southeast documented the use of these types of gillnets to target sharks. 
  • Estimated number of participants updated from 6 to 30.
2006
  • Added a superscript “1” in Table 2 after bottlenose dolphin (WNA coastal), indicating that it is driving the categorization of the fishery
2003
  • Estimated number of participants updated from 12 to 6.
2001
  • Atlantic spotted dolphin (WNA) added to list of species/stocks killed/injured in this fishery based on an animal observed incidentally caught and released alive in 2000. 
  • All Southeastern Atlantic gillnet fisheries, except for this fishery, were merged to create the Category II "Southeast Atlantic gillnet fishery.”
1999
  • Estimated number of participants updated from 10 to 12.


 

Updated December 14, 2016