Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Bluefin Tuna Bycatch Reduction in the Gulf of Mexico Pelagic Longline Fishery
NMFS proposes to require the use of ``weak hooks'' in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) pelagic longline (PLL) fishery. A weak hook is a circle hook that meets NMFS' current size and offset restrictions for the GOM PLL fishery, but is constructed of round stock wire that is thinner- gauge than the circle hooks currently used, i.e., no larger than 3.65 mm in diameter. Weak hooks can allow incidentally hooked bluefin tuna (BFT) to escape capture because the hooks are more likely to straighten when a large fish is hooked. Requiring weak hooks in the GOM will reduce bycatch of BFT, allow the long-term beneficial socio-economic benefits of normal operation of directed fisheries in the GOM with minimal short-term negative socio-economic impacts, and have both short- and long-term beneficial impacts on the stock status of Atlantic BFT, an overfished species. Since 2007, NMFS has conducted research on weak hooks used on PLL vessels operating in the GOM to reduce the incidental catch of large BFT during directed PLL fishing for other species. Preliminary results show that the use of a weak hook can significantly reduce the amount of BFT caught incidentally by PLL vessels in the GOM. The purpose of the proposed action is to reduce PLL catch of Atlantic BFT in the GOM, which is the only known BFT spawning area for the western Atlantic stock of BFT. This action would be consistent with the advice of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) Standing Committee for Research and Statistics (SCRS) that ICCAT may wish to protect the strong 2003 year class until it reaches maturity and can contribute to spawning. The purpose is also to allow directed fishing for other species to continue within allocated BFT sub-quota limits. This measure would be consistent with the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP), including the BFT rebuilding program.
Notice is hereby given that North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Kure Beach, NC, 28449 [Hap Fatzinger, Responsible Party] has been issued a permit to take shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) for purposes of enhancement.
Availability of Seats for the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council
The ONMS is seeking applicants for the following seats on the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: (1) At- Large Alternate seat and (1) Maritime Heritage Member and (1) Maritime Heritage Alternate seat. Applicants are chosen based upon their particular expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying; community and professional affiliations; philosophy regarding the protection and management of marine resources; and possibly the length of residence in the area affected by the sanctuary. Applicants who are chosen as members should expect to serve two and three year terms, pursuant to the Council's Charter. The Council consists also of three state and three federal non-voting ex-officio seats.