NOAA Fisheries announces a change in the trip limits for sablefish north of 36° N. latitude and for lingcod north of 42° N. latitude. This adjustment was recommended to NOAA Fisheries by the Pacific Fishery Management Council at its September 2021 meeting. This adjustment is effective on October 29, 2021, through the end of 2021, unless subsequently modified via the Federal Register.
The inseason adjustments in this rule are only applicable for those vessels using non-pot/trap, fixed gears (e.g. longline and other hook-and-line gears). West Coast sablefish pot gear fisheries are considered Category II fisheries under the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s (MMPA) List of Fisheries, indicating occasional interactions with marine mammals, due to occasional incidental mortality and serious injury to Endangered Species Act-listed humpback whales (the CA/OR/WA stock of humpback whales). Because pot gear fisheries are Category II fisheries, NOAA Fisheries is required to issue a MMPA 101(a)(5)(E) permit for the taking of marine mammals after making a negligible impact determination (NID). NOAA Fisheries issued a permit for the sablefish pot gear fisheries on September 4, 2013 (amended April 23, 2015 (80 FR 22709)) which expired on September 4, 2016 (78 FR 54553). A new proposed MMPA 101(a)(5)(E) permit for sablefish pot gear was published on October 22nd, 2021 (86 FR 58641) and the final permit is in progress. NOAA Fisheries may implement the inseason adjustments through a separate rule for vessels using pot/trap gear once the final permit is published.
Please refer to the Federal Register notice for the specific regulatory changes.