- NOAA Fisheries is accepting comments on an application for an exempted fishing permit by South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, South Carolina. The applicant would collect various species of snapper-grouper, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, golden crab, dolphin, wahoo, Atlantic cobia, spiny lobster, and shrimp in the Federal waters off South Carolina and North Carolina.
- A maximum of 1,436 fish and 455 invertebrates per year, with a total of 7,180 fish and 2,275 invertebrates over the 5-year period of the EFP are expected to be collected.
- The specimens would be used in educational exhibits displaying native marine species at the aquarium, and teach the public about stewardship and habitat preservation.
How To Comment On The Application:
The comment period is open now through April 1, 2022. You may submit comments by electronic submission (see below) 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.
Application information: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/south-carolina-aquarium-exempted-fishing-permit-application
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket/NOAA-NMFS-2021-0131.
2. Click the "Comment" icon, complete the required fields.
3. Enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Nikhil Mehta, NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
- The South Carolina Aquarium is a not-for-profit public institution dedicated to the understanding and conservation of South Carolina’s natural habitats and resources.
- If granted, the EFP would exempt South Carolina Aquarium from federal regulations at 50 CFR part 622 Subparts I, J, L, M, Q, and R, as they pertain to species managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council under the Fishery Management Plans for Snapper-Grouper, Coastal Migratory Pelagics, Dolphin and Wahoo, Golden Crab, Spiny Lobster, and Shrimp. The EFP would also exempt the described activities from certain Atlantic cobia regulations under the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act at 50 C.F.R. Part 697.
- The project would use vertical hook-and-line gear with artificial and natural baits, black sea bass pots, spiny lobster traps, golden crab traps, octopus pots, hand nets, dip nets, minnow traps and bait traps, and minnow traps.
- No black sea bass pots, spiny lobster traps, and golden crab traps would be deployed between November 1 and April 30 of each year to avoid interactions with North Atlantic right whales during their calving season.
- Nassau grouper would not be allowed to be collected under this EFP.
NOAA Fisheries finds this application warrants further consideration, and is seeking public comment on the application. A final decision on issuance of the exempted fishing permit will depend on NOAA Fisheries' review of public comments received, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s 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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