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NOAA Fisheries Announces Closure of the Commercial Fisheries for Blacknose Sharks and Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks in the Atlantic Region

Posted: July 23, 2014

Commercial shark dealer reports indicate that the landings for commercial Atlantic blacknose sharks have exceeded 80 percent of the available quota as of July 22, 2014.  In the Atlantic region, the quota for blacknose sharks is linked to the quota for non-blacknose sharks.  Therefore, as required by the regulations at 50 CFR 635.28(b)(2), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is closing the commercial fisheries for both  blacknose sharks and non-blacknose small coastal sharks (SCS)  in the Atlantic region as of 11:30 p.m. local time July 28, 2014.  From the effective date and time of the closure until and if NMFS announces via a notice in the Federal Register that additional quota is available and the season is reopened, these species groups will remain closed, even across fishing years.

Dealer reports recently received through July 22, 2014, indicate that 15.2 mt dw or 87 percent of the available Atlantic blacknose shark quota has been landed and 85.2 mt dw or 32 percent of the available Atlantic non-blacknose SCS quota has been landed. 

During the closure, retention of blacknose sharks and non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region is prohibited for persons fishing aboard vessels issued a commercial shark limited access permit under 50 CFR 635.4.  However, persons aboard a commercially permitted vessel that is also properly permitted to operate as a charter vessel or headboat for HMS and is engaged in a for-hire trip could fish under the recreational retention limits for sharks and “no sale” provisions (50 CFR 635.22(a) and (c)).  During this closure, a shark dealer issued a permit pursuant to 50 CFR 635.4 may not purchase or receive blacknose sharks or non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region from a vessel issued an Atlantic Shark Limited Access Permit (LAP), except that a permitted shark dealer or processor may possess blacknose sharks and/or non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region that were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered prior to the effective date of the closure and were held in storage consistent with 50 CFR 635.28(b)(5).  Similarly, a shark dealer issued a permit pursuant to 50 CFR 635.4 may, in accordance with relevant state regulations, purchase or receive blacknose sharks and/or non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region if the sharks were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered from a vessel that fishes only in state waters and that has not been issued an Atlantic Shark LAP, HMS Angling permit, or HMS Charter/Headboat permit pursuant to 50 CFR 635.4.

This notice is a courtesy to the HMS fishery participants to help keep you informed about the fishery.  For further information on this landings update or the closure, contact Karyl Brewster-Geisz or Alexis Jackson at 301-427-8503.