NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule modifying commercial bottom longline regulations in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf).
When This Rule Will Take Effect:
- Regulations will be effective February 6, 2018.
What This Means:
- The 1,000 hooks per vessel limit onboard commercial reef fish vessels with a bottom longline endorsement in the Gulf when fishing for reef fish east of 85°30' west longitude (Cape San Blas, Florida) has been removed.
- The limit of 750 hooks that could be rigged for fishing on commercial reef fish vessels with a bottom longline endorsement in the Gulf remains unchanged.
- Bottom longline endorsement holders in the Gulf can now carry an unlimited amount of additional hooks onboard their vessel.
FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 83 FR 5210 published February 6, 2018
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why are these changes needed?
- Implemented in 2010, Amendment 31 placed a restriction on the number of hooks bottom longline fishermen with an endorsement could carry on board their vessel to help protect sea turtles; 1,000 total hooks of which no more than 750 could be rigged for fishing.
- Currently, reef fish bottom longline fishermen can only carry 250 extra unrigged hooks onboard their vessels.
- Industry representatives indicated this was not enough hooks for longer trips due to hook loss, and NOAA Fisheries observer data supported this.
- After the 250 extra hooks are used, the vessel must return to port, reduce the number of hooks fished, or be resupplied by another vessel.
- Allowing additional unrigged hooks on board should make multi-day trips more economical while still maintaining the observed reduction in sea turtle interactions since the implementation of Amendment 31.
Area rule affects (see map below).
Where can I find more information on this rule?
- Number of Unrigged Hooks Carried On Board Bottom Longline Vessels Abbreviated Framework may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Website.
- Additional information on bottom longline rulemakings in the Gulf of Mexico may be found at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.
- Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Kelli O’Donnell
Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505
By FAX: (727) 824-5308
By Phone: (727) 824-5305
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