NOAA Fisheries announces its intent to issue exempted fishing permits, scientific research permits, display permits, letters of acknowledgement and shark research fishery permits for the research and collection of Atlantic highly migratory species in 2021. In general, exempted fishing permits and related permits authorize collection of a limited number of tunas, swordfish, billfishes, and sharks from Federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico for the purposes of scientific data collection, bycatch research, public display, and to evaluate the efficacy of environmental clean-up efforts, among other things. Letters of acknowledgment, acknowledge that scientific research activity is being conducted aboard a scientific research vessel. The shark research fishery assists NOAA Fisheries in collecting valuable shark life history and other scientific data required in shark stock assessments. Generally, NOAA Fisheries receives fewer than 50 applications annually and issues the appropriate permit, with most relating to scientific sampling and tagging of Atlantic HMS by scientists. NOAA Fisheries intends to issue these types of permits without additional opportunity for public comment beyond what is provided in the Federal Register notice, but would provide additional opportunity for public comment for applications outside of this scope. For more information, please see the Federal Register notice.
Comments can be submitted to www.regulations.gov, with the identifier “NOAA-NMFS-2020-0145.” Comments on the collection, research, and fishing activities when issuing exempted fishing permits, scientific research permits, display permits, letters of acknowledgement, and shark research fishery permits will be considered if received on or before December 28, 2020. Permit applications and copies of the regulations pertaining to exempted fishing permits, scientific research permits, display permits, and letters of acknowledgement can be found on the
NOAA Fisheries website. Shark research fishery permit applications can be received via information found in the request for applications, expected to publish shortly.