Modification of the Coastal Migratory Pelagic and Reef Fish Charter Vessel/Headboat Permit Renewal and Transfer Requirements
Regulations implemented through the Coastal Migratory Pelagic and Reef Fish Fishery Management Plans limit Gulf for-hire permit transfers and renewals to vessels that have the same passenger capacity or a lower passenger capacity. This measure was put in place to limit overall coastal migratory pelagic and reef fish fishing effort by the for-hire sector. A permit’s passenger capacity currently is based on the Certificate of Inspection when the moratorium permit was first issued. However, because NOAA Fisheries can only renew or transfer a permit if the vessel’s current Certificate of Inspection is equal to or less than the passenger capacity on the Gulf for-hire permit, this limits the ability of the owner of a permitted vessel to transfer the permit to a vessel that has a higher Certificate of Inspection or uses the vessel for non-fishing activities (e.g., ecotours or sunset tours) where the Coast Guard might allow a higher passenger capacity. Under these circumstances, the vessel owner must request the Coast Guard to set the Certificate of Inspection equal to or less than the permit’s passenger capacity to renew or transfer a permit.
The effect of the final rule will be to:
- Eliminate the restriction requiring the Certificate of Inspection when transferring for-hire permits.
- Simplify the requirements to renew or transfer a Gulf for-hire permit.
- Maintain the cap on fishing effort from the for-hire sector.
- Allow for-hire vessels to carry more passengers for non-fishing activities if their Certificate of Inspection is greater than the passenger capacity on their Gulf for-hire permit.