Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP)
NMFS announces the receipt of an exempted fishing permit (EFP) application from the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Oregon Trawl Commission, and Pacific Seafoods for an EFP Program to monitor and minimize salmon bycatch when vessels target rockfish in the shorebased individual fishing quota (IFQ) fishery. The NMFS West Coast Region's Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries has made a preliminary determination that the subject EFP application contains all the required information and the EFP Program warrants further consideration. Therefore, NMFS announces that the Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries proposes to recommend that EFPs be issued under an EFP Program that would allow as many as 50 commercial fishing vessels to conduct fishing operations that are otherwise restricted by the regulations governing the fisheries of the west coast of the United States. If awarded, the EFP Program would exempt participating limited entry bottom trawl vessels from the requirement to use selective flatfish trawl gear shoreward of the Trawl Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) north of 40[deg]10' N. latitude in waters off the west coast. In addition, if awarded, the EFP Program would also allow participating bottom trawl vessels that fish any place along the west coast an exemption to the minimum mesh size requirement of 4.5 inches. The EFP Program is intended to provide additional flexibility in the configuration and use of bottom trawl gear for the vessels, as well as provide additional information on potential impacts to protected resources, particularly Chinook salmon bycatch, resulting from this added flexibility. The additional information would be used to enhance the management of the groundfish fishery and promote the objectives of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This EFP would be effective for 2017 and would expire no later than December 31, 2017, but could be terminated earlier under the terms and conditions of the EFP and other applicable laws. Additionally, NMFS, with input from the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), may extend the EFP beyond 2017, if appropriate. 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.
Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Russian River Estuary Management Activities
NMFS has received a request from the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to Russian River estuary management activities in Sonoma County, California, over the course of five years (2017-2022). As required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is proposing regulations to govern that take and requests comments on the proposed regulations.
Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery Off the Atlantic States; Regulatory Amendment 1
NMFS issues regulations to implement Regulatory Amendment 1 for the Fishery Management Plan for the Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery off the Atlantic States (FMP), as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule establishes a commercial trip limit for Atlantic dolphin for vessels with a Federal commercial permit for Atlantic dolphin and wahoo. The purpose of this final rule is to reduce the chance of an in-season closure of the dolphin commercial sector as a result of the annual catch limit (ACL) being reached during the fishing year, and to reduce the severity of economic or social impacts caused by these closures.