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NOAA Fisheries Announces the Closure of the Commercial Fisheries for Blacknose Sharks and Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks in the Atlantic Region South of 34° N. Latitude

May 25, 2016

Commercial shark dealer reports received as of May 23, 2016, indicate that landings for commercial Atlantic blacknose sharks are projected to exceed 80 percent of the available quota by May 27, 2016. Specifically, dealer reports indicate that 9.3 mt dw or 59 percent of the available Atlantic blacknose shark quota had been landed and 31.5 mt dw or 12 percent of the available Atlantic non-blacknose small coastal shark (SCS) quota had been landed. Because the quota for blacknose sharks is linked to the quota for non-blacknose SCS south of 34°00′ N. lat., as required by the regulations at 50 CFR 635.28(b)(3), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is closing the commercial fisheries for both blacknose sharks and non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region south of 34°00′ N. lat. as of 11:30 p.m. local time May 29, 2016. 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. All other shark species or management groups that are currently open in the Atlantic region will remain open, including the commercial Atlantic non-blacknose SCS management group north of 34°00′ N. lat.

During the closure, retention of blacknose sharks and non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region south of 34°00′ N. lat. is prohibited for persons fishing aboard vessels issued a commercial shark limited access permit (LAP) 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 highly migratory species (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 § 635.4 may not purchase or receive blacknose sharks or non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region from a vessel issued a shark LAP, except that a permitted shark dealer or processor may possess blacknose sharks and/or non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region south of 34°00′ N. lat. 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)(6) and non-blacknose SCS that were harvested in the Atlantic region north of 34°00′ N. lat. Similarly, a shark dealer issued a permit pursuant to 50 CFR 635.4 may, in accordance with relevant state regulations, may 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 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 landings updates or this closure, contact Guỳ DuBeck or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 301-427-8503. 

 

 

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