NOAA Fisheries is accepting comments on an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) that would authorize the collection of fish with evidence of shark depredation on specific charter vessels in Southeast Florida. The project seeks to collect fish carcasses with evidence of shark depredation and conduct genetic analysis to determine which shark species were responsible for the damage. If the EFP is approved, fish carcasses collected may be outside of the range of minimum size limit, bag limit, or seasonal closure regulations. Information collected would be useful in understanding the impact shark depredation has on the charter fishing fleet in South Florida.
How to Comment on the Applications:
The comment period is open now through November 6, 2021. You may submit comments by electronic submission or by postal mail. Comments sent by any other method (such as e-mail), to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
3. Enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Karla Gore, NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
- The researchers would work with specific captains and vessels to collect fish carcasses with evidence of shark depredation while on charter fishing trips in Federal waters between Sebastian Inlet and Jupiter Inlet, Florida.
- While onboard, the charter fishing vessels would be continuing with routine fishing operations. If a fish is caught that exhibits signs of depredation, the fish would be retained by the researcher, isolated from other catch, and transferred to Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Harbor Branch Laboratory when returned to port.
- Signs of depredation from landed fish include: fresh teeth marks and active bleeding; partially removed trunk tissue (scales, skin, and muscle); exposed musculature and/or internal organs; and missing fin(s).
- The skin and flesh exposed by the bite wound would then be swabbed to identify depredating species from trace amounts of DNA left on prey remains.
- Researchers would retain a maximum of 240 individual fish distributed across the following species complexes during the study: Snapper-Grouper (120), Dolphin/Wahoo (60), and Coastal Migratory Pelagics (60). Some of the shark depredation samples that are collected may be under-sized, above the recreational bag limit, or caught during a closed season.
- Only the captain and crew aboard the authorized charter vessels would be permitted to retain species with evidence of shark depredation that may be recreationally harvested out of season, or out of the authorized recreational bag limits or size limits. These shark depredated fish would be provided to the scientific team at FAU at the end of the fishing trip.
- The EFP would be valid for two years.
NOAA Fisheries finds this application warrants further consideration, and is seeking public comment on the application. A final decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NOAA Fisheries' review of public comments received, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council recommendations, consultations with the affected states, and the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as a determination that it is consistent with all applicable laws.
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