Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Exempted Fishing Permit
NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from the NMFS Panama City, FL laboratory. If granted, the EFP would authorize NMFS or NMFS contracted commercial fishers aboard their commercial fishing vessels to collect certain deep-water snapper species in waters of the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Caribbean off Puerto Rico. The EFP would exempt this activity from complying with certain seasonal closures in the U.S. Caribbean EEZ. The purpose of the EFP is to gather information that could be used to define essential fish habitat (EFH) of deep-water snappers off the coast of Puerto Rico and to determine life history information for queen and blackfin snappers.
Nominations to the Marine Mammal Scientific Review Groups
As required by of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Secretary of Commerce established three independent regional scientific review groups (SRGs) to provide advice on a range of marine mammal science and management issues. NMFS conducted a membership review of the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific SRGs, and is soliciting nominations for new members to fill vacancies and gaps in expertise.
Request for Information on National Reform of Regional Observer Program Insurance Requirements
NMFS requests information from the public to support a national initiative to reform and streamline observer program insurance requirements. The goals of this reform effort are to: ease the regulatory burden and reduce costs for private companies that provide observer staffing to NMFS observer programs through more efficient, nationally applicable insurance requirements; eliminate outdated and/or inappropriate regulatory requirements; reduce observer deployment risks for vessel owners and shore side processors; and identify insurance that could improve observer safety and facilitate full compensation for observer occupational injuries. To proceed with this effort, NMFS seeks technical information on the types of insurance and minimum coverage amounts (in dollars) that would minimize observer deployment risks to the extent practicable considering costs and other factors. Additionally, NMFS seeks public comment on Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) claims and benefits processing for observer occupational injuries and whether observer companies should carry private insurance to supplement FECA benefits for observers.