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Notice of Receipt of Purse Seine Exempt Fishing Permit Application

Posted June 27, 2014

NMFS received an application for an Exempted Fishing Permit from the owner/operator of an Atlantic tunas Purse Seine category-permitted vessel.  The application asks for an exemption from the annual incidental purse seine retention limit on the harvest of large medium Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) (i.e., measuring 73 to less than 81 inches curved fork length).  NMFS has determined that the application warrants additional consideration and an opportunity for public comment.  

NMFS considered modification of the annual incidental purse seine retention limit but did not analyze it further in the development of Draft Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic HMS Fishery Management Plan, because there were few data available to determine whether a change might be warranted or the impacts of such a change given recent low catch/landings from the Purse Seine category.  Additional analysis about the potential benefits of altering the annual incidental purse seine retention limit, both by reducing dead discards and improving the Purse Seine category’s opportunity to harvest its subquota, may be warranted and beneficial to the stock and the fishery.  An EFP would allow NMFS to collect and review such additional data by allowing the applicant to fish for commercial sized BFT in 2014, without the limit on large medium BFT, to determine the capability of reducing regulatory discards related to this restriction and harvesting the vessel’s individual quota.  If a permit were to be issued, all BFT would be available for measurement and biological sampling or other specified research activity, as appropriate.

NMFS requests public comment on the information provided in the Federal Register notice and the application submitted.  Specifically, NMFS invites comment on whether such a permit should be issued and, if so, the appropriate level of observer coverage for permitted trips; the number of trips or tonnage that should be authorized; the timing of trips; the possible effects of such an EFP on the stock, the environment, and the BFT fisheries overall; and any other relevant information and comments.  Comments must be received by July 21, 2014, and NMFS will consider these comments before issuing any such EFP.

Comments may be submitted via email at NMFS.PSEFP.2014@noaa.gov or by mail to:Margo Schulze-Haugen, Highly Migratory Species Management Division (F/SF1), NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.  Please mark the outside of the envelope “Comments on 2014 purse seine EFP application.”

For further information please see the Federal Register notice, which will publish on June 30, 2014, and the application which can be found the following website http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/compliance/efp/index.html; or by contacting Craig Cockrell, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, NMFS, (301) 427-8503.

 

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