Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Exempted Fishing Permits
An overview of HMS exempted fishing permits.
Exempted Fishing Permits, Display Permits, Letters of Acknowledgement Chartering Permits, and Scientific Research Permits
NOAA Fisheries issues Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) exempted fishing permits (EFPs), display permits, letters of acknowledgement (LOAs), and scientific research permits (SRPs) under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and/or Atlantic Tunas convention Act (ATCA). EFPs, display permits, and SRPs may be required in situations where necessary research activities would normally be prohibited by regulations. This could include:
Possession of certain prohibited shark and billfish species.
Possession of billfishes onboard commercial fishing vessels
Fishing during closures in the bluefin tuna, swordfish. and large coastal sharks commercial fisheries.
EFPs, SRPs, and display permits can authorize collection of tunas, swordfish, billfishes, and sharks from federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico for the purposes of scientific data collection and public display. Issuance of HMS EFPs, SRPs LOAs, and display permits are defined below.
EFP: Issued to individuals for the purpose of conducting research or other fishing activities using private (non-research) vessels.
SRP: Issued to agency scientists who are using NOAA vessels as their research platform. Also issued to non-agency scientists using research vessels and conducting research on species regulated by ATCA.
LOA: Issued to individuals conducting research from “bona fide” research vessels on species that are only regulated by MSA and not ATCA. NOAA Fisheries requests research plans for these activities and indicates concurrence by issuing an LOA.
Display: Issued to individuals who are fishing for, catching, and then transporting HMS to aquariums for public display.
In order to apply for an EFP, SRP, LOA, or display permit, please download the application.
Application and Reporting Forms
Exempted Fishing Permit Application Form (PDF, 10 pages)
HMS Exempted Fishing Permit, Scientific Research Permit, and Display Permit Interim Report (Microsoft Excel version)
HMS Exempted Fishing Permit, Scientific Research Permit, and Display Permit Annual Report (PDF, 2 pages)
For more information, please contact the Atlantic HMS management Division at (301) 427-8503.
Shark Research Fishery
Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS fishery management plan implemented a shark research fishery. This research fishery is conducted under the auspices of the exempted fishing permit program.
Shark research fishery permit holders assist NOAA Fisheries in collecting valuable shark life history and other scientific data required in shark stock assessments. Since the shark research fishery was established in 2008, the research fishery has allowed for the:
Collection of fishery dependent data for current and future stock assessments.
Operation of cooperative research to meet NOAA Fisheries' ongoing research objectives.
Collection of updated life-history information used in the sandbar shark (and other species) stock assessment.
Collection of data on habitat preferences that might help reduce fishery interactions through bycatch mitigation.
Evaluation of the utility of the Mid-Atlantic closed area on the recovery of dusky sharks.
Collection of hook-timer and pop-up satellite archival tag information to determine at-vessel and post-release mortality of dusky sharks.
Fishermen who wish to participate must fill out an application for a shark research permit under the exempted fishing program. Shark research fishery participants are subject to 100 percent observer coverage in addition to other terms and conditions. In the past, these conditions have included hook and soak time limitations and a requirement to land all dead sharks, unless the shark is a prohibited species.
2023 Shark Research Fishery Application Form (PDF, 5 pages)
For more information, please contact the HMS management Division at (301) 427-8503.