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Swordfish General Commercial Permit Retention Limit Adjustment for January 1 – June 30, 2017

Posted December 19, 2016

Actions being taken and important information/dates

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is adjusting the Swordfish (SWO) General Commercial permit vessel retention limits in the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions, as shown in the table below.  NMFS is maintaining the default SWO General Commercial permit vessel retention limit in the Florida Swordfish Management Area.  This action is effective starting on January 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017, unless changed via subsequent action.  Please see Figure 1 for a map of the regions.

Region Default Retention Limit
per Vessel per Trip
Adjusted Retention Limit per Vessel per Trip Effective Period (2017)
Northwest Atlantic 3 SWO/Vessel/Trip 6 SWO/Vessel/Trip January 1 – June 30
Gulf of Mexico 3 SWO/Vessel/Trip 6 SWO/Vessel/Trip January 1 – June 30
U.S. Caribbean 2 SWO/Vessel/Trip 6 SWO/Vessel/Trip January 1 – June 30
Florida Swordfish Management Area 0 SWO/Vessel/Trip 0 SWO/Vessel/Trip January 1 – June 30

In deciding these retention limits, NMFS considered the inseason regional retention limit adjustment criteria, which include:  the usefulness of information obtained from biological sampling and monitoring of the North Atlantic swordfish stock; the estimated ability of vessels participating in the fishery to land the amount of swordfish quota available before the end of the fishing year; the estimated amounts by which quotas for other categories of the fishery might be exceeded; effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the fishery management plan and its amendments; variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of swordfish; effects of catch rates in one region precluding vessels in another region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the overall swordfish quota; and, review of dealer reports, landing trends, and the availability of swordfish on the fishing grounds.  These limits should provide additional opportunities to harvest the available U.S. North Atlantic SWO quota without exceeding it, and to collect data for stock monitoring purposes.

Who is affected?

These retention limits apply to vessels issued a SWO General Commercial permit or an HMS Charter/Headboat permit (only when on a non for-hire trip). All swordfish sold under these permits and retention limits must be to a federally-permitted swordfish dealer.

Figure 1: Final management regions for Amendment 8 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan. 

NMFS will continue to monitor the North Atlantic swordfish fishery during 2017.  Dealers are required to submit weekly landing reports.  Depending on fishing effort and catch rates, additional retention limit adjustments or fishery closures may be necessary to ensure that available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas.

This notice is a courtesy to HMS fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery.  For additional information, call (727) 824-5399.  Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.


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