Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits
The Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS (Assistant Regional Administrator), has made a preliminary determination that an exempted fishing permit application contains all of the required information and warrants further consideration. This permit would allow Coonamessett Farm Foundation to test the selectivity of alternate gillnet configurations for targeting haddock on Georges Bank while reducing catch of other groundfish species. Up to five commercial fishing vessels would target haddock using alternate gillnet gears on Georges Bank, including Closed Area I, and temporarily retain undersized catch for measurement and data collection. 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 exempted fishing permits.
Pacific Island Fisheries; Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review; Public Meeting
NMFS and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene a Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review (WPSAR) of a 2017 Benchmark Stock Assessment for the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) Deep 7 Bottomfish Complex.
Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Charter/Headboat Permit Commercial Sale Provision
This proposed rule would make HMS Charter/Headboat permits a non-commercial category and create a separate regulatory provision for the commercial sale of Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) by HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders. Currently, all vessels issued an HMS Charter/Headboat permit could be categorized as a commercial fishing vessel and subject to United States Coast Guard (USCG) commercial fishing vessel safety requirements if they also possess a state commercial sale permit, regardless of whether the permit holder engages or intends to engage in commercial fishing. Under the proposed rule, HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders would be prohibited from selling Atlantic tunas or swordfish unless they obtain a ``commercial sale'' endorsement for their permit. This proposed rule would clarify which HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels are properly categorized as commercial fishing vessels. This action would be administrative in nature and would not affect fishing practices or result in any significant environmental or economic impacts. This proposed rule has a 15-day comment period. The abbreviated comment period is necessary to implement any management changes before January 1, 2018 to ensure all HMS charter/headboat vessels are appropriately categorized as commercial or non-commercial upon initial application or renewal of 2018 HMS Charter/Headboat permits. We do not anticipate the proposal to be controversial or to generate significant public comment and believe that a 15-day comment period will be sufficient to attract any substantive public input.