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Sea Turtle Observer Requirement Annual Determination

 Proposed Determination

We propose 14 fisheries (79 FR 63066, October 22, 2014) that would be required to take observers upon our request for a period of 5 years, from Jan 2015- Dec 2019.

Comment on the proposed determination through 11/21/2014.

Current Determination

The following fisheries, listed in the table below, are required to take observers upon our request. We have identified no additional fisheries since 2010.

Fishery Years Eligible to Carry Observers
Trawl Fisheries
Atlantic shellfish bottom trawl
2010-2014
Mid-Atlantic bottom trawl
2010-2014
Mid-Atlantic mid-water trawl (including pair trawl)
2010-2014
Southeastern U.S. Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawl
2010-2014
Gillnet Fisheries
CA halibut, white seabass and other species set gillnet (>3.5 in mesh)
2010-2014
CA yellowtail, barracuda, and white seabass drift gillnet (mesh size >3.5 in. and <14 in.)
2010-2014
Chesapeake Bay inshore gillnet
2010-2014
Long Island inshore gillnet
2010-2014
Mid-Atlantic gillnet
2010-2014
North Carolina inshore gillnet
2010-2014
Northeast sink gillnet
2010-2014
Southeast Atlantic gillnet
2010-2014
Trap/Pot Fisheries
Atlantic blue crab trap/pot
2010-2014
Atlantic mixed species trap/pot
2010-2014
Northeast/mid-Atlantic American lobster trap/pot
2010-2014
Pound Net/Weir/Seine Fisheries
Mid-Atlantic haul/beach seine
2010-2014
Mid-Atlantic menhaden purse seine
2010-2014
U.S. mid-Atlantic mixed species stop seine/weir/pound net (except the NC roe mullet stop net)
2010-2014
Virginia pound net
2010-2014

Purpose

We annually identify, per the Endangered Species Act (ESA), commercial or recreational fisheries operating in state and/or Federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Ocean that would be required to take sea turtle observers upon our request in order to:

The fisheries identified through the Annual Determination process will be required to carry sea turtle observers upon our request for a 5-year period. At the end of a 5-year period they may be relisted.

Process for Developing an Annual Determination

We consult with state partners to identify which commercial and recreational fisheries should be considered for inclusion on the Annual Determination.  We then develop a proposed determination, which is published in the Federal Register and is available for public comment for 30 days.  After considering all public comments, we publish a final Annual Determination.

We identify fisheries in the determination using the best available scientific, commercial, or other information regarding:

Specifically, this determination is based on the extent to which:

We use the most recent version of the MMPA List of Fisheries (LOF) as the comprehensive list of commercial fisheries for consideration. The LOF includes all known state and Federal commercial fisheries that occur in U.S. waters. However, the classification scheme used (categories based on marine mammal interaction) in the LOF is not applicable to this determination process.

Implementing Observer Coverage in the Listed Fisheries

The design of any observer program, including how observers are allocated to individual vessels, varies among:

The individual NOAA Fisheries Regional Office, Science Center, or observer program ultimately determines the program design. During the program design, we are guided by the following standards when determining observer distribution among identified fisheries and the placement of observers on vessels in those fisheries:

Fisheries not included on the determination may still be observed under a different authority than the ESA (for example, Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) or Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA)).

Additional information on observer programs in commercial fisheries can be found on NOAA Fisheries' National Observer Program (NOP) website, including links to individual regional observer programs.

Updated: October 22, 2014