Meetings: Exempted fishing, 25814 [E5-2394]

Agencies

[Federal Register: May 16, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 93)]
[Notices]               
[Page 25814]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr16my05-35]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[I.D. 051005A]

 
Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic 
Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable 
Fisheries, Northeast Region, NMFS (Assistant Regional Administrator) 
has made a preliminary determination that the subject Exempted Fishing 
Permit (EFP) application contains all the required information and 
warrants further consideration. The Assistant Regional Administrator 
has also made a preliminary determination that the activities 
authorized under the EFP would be consistent with the goals and 
objectives of the Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery Management Plan 
(FMP). However, further review and consultation may be necessary before 
a final determination is made to issue the EFP. Therefore, the 
Assistant Regional Administrator proposes to recommend that an EFP be 
issued that would allow three commercial fishing vessels to conduct 
fishing operations that are otherwise restricted by the regulations 
governing the fisheries of the Northeastern United States. The EFP 
would allow for exemptions from the FMP as follows: The Gulf of Maine 
(GOM) Rolling Closure Areas II and III.
    Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act require publication of this notification to provide 
interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for 
proposed EFPs.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before May 31, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be sent to Patricia A. Kurkul, 
Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 1 Blackburn 
Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope 
``Comments on the Manomet Rigid Mesh EFP Proposal.'' Comments may also 
be sent via fax to (978) 281-9135 or via e-mail to da5-85@noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen Tasker, Fishery Management 
Specialist, phone (978) 281-9273.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences 
submitted an application for an EFP on March 16, 2005. The primary goal 
of the research is to test the effectiveness of inserting a rigid mesh 
panel between the extension and the codend of a trawl net to reduce 
bycatch while targeting yellowtail flounder, winter flounder, summer 
flounder, American plaice, and cod in inshore GOM waters.
    The proposed rigid mesh panel would be 6.56 ft (2 m) in length and 
would be constructed of elongate meshes 2.36 inches (60 mm) wide and 
7.87 inches (200 mm) long. This panel would be inserted between the 
extension and the codend of the net and would be the same diameter as 
the net. This project is proposed to occur in the Western GOM, 
excluding the Western GOM Closure Area but including GOM Rolling 
Closure Areas II and III. The project would take place over 22 days 
from May 2005, to July 15, 2005, in two areas in the GOM waters, 
excluding the Western GOM Closure Area, as follows: (1) The area from 
43[deg]10' N lat. to the Maine shoreline, and from 69[deg]30' W long. 
to the Maine shoreline; and (2) the area from 42[deg]00' N lat. to 
42[deg]30' N lat., and from 70[deg]00' W long. to the Massachusetts 
shoreline (approximately 70[deg]40' W long.). Researchers request an 
exemption from the regulations establishing these closures because of 
the high likelihood that the targeted species would be present in 
significant numbers during these times, which would enhance the 
effectiveness of the experiment. Researchers would film the interior 
and exterior of the net to verify proper construction and to document 
species' reactions to the net. Once the proper construction of the net 
has been verified, researchers would use the remainder of the trials to 
test the potential for bycatch reduction of the experimental panel by 
conducting alternating tows using the net with the experimental panel 
and a conventional codend, following an A-B-B-A pattern, comparing the 
catches between the two codends. No more than 110 tows total for the 
three vessels combined would be performed during at-sea trials. Under 
the previously issued EFP, researchers were authorized to conduct 
similar research over 30 days of sea trials; however, they were able to 
conduct only 8 days of sea trials.
    The researchers anticipate that a total of 4,917 lb (2,230.3 kg) of 
fish, including 1,320 lb (598.7 kg) of cod, 550 lb (249.5 kg) of 
yellowtail flounder, 550 lb (249.5 kg) of winter flounder, and 550 lb 
(249.5 kg) of American plaice would be harvested throughout the course 
of the study. Other species that are anticipated to be caught are 
species of skates, smooth and spiny dogfish, sculpins, sea ravens, and 
sea robins. All legal-sized fish, within the possession limits, would 
be sold, with the proceeds going toward defraying the cost of vessel 
chartering fees. There would be no retention of undersized fish aboard 
the vessels and there is no anticipated impact on marine mammals or 
endangered species.
    The applicant may request minor modifications and extensions to the 
EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and extensions may be 
granted without further notice if they are deemed essential to 
facilitate completion of the proposed research, and minimal enough so 
as not to change the scope or impact the initially approved EFP 
request.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: May 10, 2005.
Alan D. Risenhoover
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E5-2394Filed 5-16-05; 8:45 am]

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