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Closure of the Commercial Fisheries for Blacknose Sharks and Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico Region

Posted June 29, 2015

Commercial shark dealer reports received by June 26, 2015, indicate that landings for commercial Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS have exceeded 80 percent the available quota. Specifically, dealer reports indicate that 36.9 mt dw or 81 percent of the available Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS quota has been landed and 1.0 mt dw or 52 percent of the available Gulf of Mexico blacknose shark quota has been landed. Because the quota for non-blacknose SCS is linked to the quota for blacknose shark, as required by the regulations at 50 CFR 635.28(b)(2), NOAA Fisheries is closing the commercial fisheries for both blacknose sharks and non-blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico region as of 11:30 p.m. local time July 4, 2015. From the effective date and time of the closure until and if NOAA Fisheries 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. The only shark species or management groups that remain open in the Gulf of Mexico region are the research large coastal sharks, sandbar sharks within the shark research fishery, the blue shark, and pelagic sharks other than porbeagle or blue shark management groups.

During the closure, retention of blacknose sharks and non-blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico 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 Gulf of Mexico region from a vessel issued a shark limited access permit (LAP), except that a permitted shark dealer or processor may possess blacknose sharks and/or non-blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico 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 Gulf of Mexico 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 a 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 Guy DuBeck or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 301-427-8503.
 

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