Action Being Taken and Important Dates
NOAA Fisheries is considering creating a separate provision for the commercial sale of Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) by HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders. Currently, HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders are able to sell Atlantic tunas and swordfish as a condition of the HMS Charter/Headboat permit. Additionally, HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders can also sell Atlantic sharks if they hold a federal commercial shark permit. Consequently, individuals that hold an HMS Charter/Headboat permit could have their vessels categorized as commercial fishing vessels which are subject to United States Coast Guard (USCG) commercial fishing vessel safety requirements, regardless of whether the permit holder engages or intends to engage in commercial fishing.
Under the proposed rule, NOAA Fisheries would create a “commercial sale” endorsement for the HMS Charter/Headboat permit. Under the proposed rule, HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels would be prohibited from selling any catch of HMS unless they obtain a “commercial sale” endorsement as part of the permit. Only HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders with the endorsement would be permitted to sell Atlantic tunas and swordfish. Individuals with a federal commercial shark permit and Charter/Headboat permit would also need the endorsement. Those individuals that hold an HMS Charter/Headboat permit with a “commercial sale” endorsement would be categorized as commercial vessels for the purposes of USCG commercial fishing vessel safety requirements. Those vessels holding an HMS Charter/Headboat permit without a “commercial sale” endorsement would not be categorized as commercial fishing vessels and would not be subject to the USCG commercial fishing vessel safety requirements.
This action would be administrative in nature and would not affect fishing practices. Regardless of whether or not a permit holder intends to engage in commercial fishing in addition to carrying paying passengers, no change in fishing activity would be expected.
Public Comment Requested
You may submit comments (identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2017-0124”) through November 13, 2017, by using any one of the following methods:
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Dianne Stephan, Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries (F/SF1), NOAA Fisheries, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930
Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries. All comments received are a part of the public record and generally will be posted for public viewing on Regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NOAA Fisheries will accept anonymous comments (enter "N/A" in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
NOAA Fisheries held a public hearing conference call and webinar on November 1, 2017, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
This notice is a courtesy to permit holders to help keep you informed about the Atlantic tuna and swordfish fisheries. For further information, contact the HMS Management Division at (301) 427-8503, or visit our website. Official notice of federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.