NOAA Fisheries is accepting comments on an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The applicant proposes to test various modifications to wire spiny lobster traps to harvest lionfish from South Atlantic federal waters. This study intends to examine the effectiveness and performance of modified trap designs for capturing lionfish, with the goal of identifying the best modification to maximize lionfish catch and reduce bycatch of other species. The activities would also derive biological life history information to improve lionfish control.
- Sampling would occur in depths from 100-300 feet between Alligator Reef to Looe Key Reef in the Florida Keys, approximately twice per month over the course of a year, for the duration of the EFP.
- Traps would test various funnel and escape gap sizes and locations, in addition to bait types.
- Vessels would deploy no more than 100 traps in the water at any given time and soak times would vary, but not exceed 21 days per deployment.
- Bait could include live lionfish, plastic decoy lionfish, artificial lures, fish oil, and fish heads.
- Data to be collected per trip would include: gear configuration and fishing effort data (e.g., date and time of deployment and retrieval, latitude, longitude, and water depth of each deployed trawl, bait type used); soak time for each trawl; trap loss and movement from original set position; protected species interactions; bycatch species, amount, length, and disposition; and lionfish catch data for each trap type.
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 Councils’ 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.
HOW TO COMMENT ON THE APPLICATION:
The comment period is open now through August 1, 2018. 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 e-Rulemaking portal.
2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
3. Enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Frank Helies, NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
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