Commercial Aggregated Large Coastal Shark and Hammerhead Shark Management Group Retention Limit Adjustment
The retention limit for the commercial aggregated large coastal shark (LCS) and hammerhead shark management groups for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region has been adjusted from 25 to 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip as of 11:30 p.m. local time April 1, 2019.
- On November 27, 2018 (83 FR 60777), NOAA Fisheries announced that the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups for the Atlantic region would open on January 1 with a quota of 168.9 metric tons (mt) dressed weight (dw) (372,552 lb dw) and 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw), respectively.
- Dealer reports through March 22, 2019, indicate that 6.54 mt dw or 24 percent of the available quota for Hammerhead sharks has been harvested.
- If the average catch rate for hammerhead sharks continues, landings could reach 80 percent of the quota by the beginning of July. Once hammerhead landings reach 80 percent of the quota, NOAA Fisheries would close both the aggregated LCS and hammerhead management groups because they are linked under the regulations (§ 635.28(b)(3)). The closure would prohibit fishermen throughout the Atlantic region from fishing for sharks for the rest of the year.
This adjustment is intended to promote equitable fishing opportunities in the Atlantic region, while still allowing the majority of quota to be harvested later in the year. All other retention limits and shark management groups remain unchanged in the Atlantic region.
As has been done in the past, NOAA Fisheries will consider increasing the commercial retention limit around July 15, 2019. However, any future change in the retention limit will not be made until the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria is considered (§ 635.24(a)(8)).