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NOAA Fisheries Will Issue Exempted Fishing Permits or Letters of Acknowledgment for White Shark Research in the Atlantic

Posted June 5, 2017

NOAA Fisheries published a Notice in the Federal Register (March 1, 2017, 82 FR 12340) requesting public comment on applications for exempted fishing permits or letters of acknowledgement for white shark research, particularly on two applications involving white shark research that had been received at that time.  This request was in response  to  comments received related to white shark research when we published the annual notice of intent to issue EFPs, Scientific Research Permits (SRPs), and LOAs (November 16, 2016, 81 FR 80646).  The comment period ended on April 3, 2017. 

During the comment period, we received 722 comments related to white shark research and the applications presented in the notice.  The majority of the comments (715) were copies of a form letter supporting the research and issuance of an appropriate permit in 2017 for the OCEARCH organization.  Many of the commenters who submitted the form letter added individual comments regarding the need to continue white shark research and the positive impact OCEARCH’s webpage has had in providing the opportunity for the public to participate in and learn about marine science.  The other seven comments that were received commented on  a range of issues related to white shark research.  Comments included concern over whether OCEARCH should be considered a “business” or a researcher; concern regarding the proper handling of white sharks and the type of gear being used for research; and concern regarding tagging operations on charter and private vessels due to long fight times on light tackle rods and reels.  Some of the comments also stated that NOAA Fisheries should approve exempted fishing permit (EFP) applications for white shark research on a case-by-case basis or that NOAA Fisheries should stop issuing EFPs or related permits for research on sharks.  The comments that were submitted during the comment period did not cite any specific research interactions between the two applications that were described in the notice. 

After reviewing these comments, NOAA Fisheries has decided to issue EFPs and related permits for white shark research as appropriate in 2017.  To view the comments received during the comment period please go to: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/compliance/efp/index.html.  For further information on the Atlantic HMS Management Division’s EFP program please contact Craig Cockrell at (301) 427-8539.

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