Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

NOAA Fisheries Update: Court of Appeals Decision on the Gulf of Mexico Southeast For-Hire Integrated Electronic Reporting Program Lawsuit

March 03, 2023

FB23-013: Southeast Fishery Bulletin. For more information, contact: Southeast For-Hire Integrated Electronic Reporting Program, 1-833-707-1632, ser.electronicreporting@noaa.gov

On February 23, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit set aside the final rule implementing the Southeast For-Hire Integrated Electronic Reporting Program (SEFHIER) in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf).  This means the Gulf program is currently not in effect. The ruling does not affect the South Atlantic SEFHIER program. 

For further information, please see the frequently asked questions below. 


Questions and Answers:

1. What does this mean for current participants of the Gulf SEFHIER Program?

For Gulf SEFHIER participants:

  • You may leave on trips without submitting a Gulf SEFHIER hail-out. 
  • You may land at any location and are no longer restricted to SEFHIER pre-approved landing locations.
  • After returning from a fishing trip, you do not have to submit a logbook through an app or the VMS unit, unless you are part of the Southeast Region Headboat Survey program.
  • You may turn off or remove your VMS unit without submitting a Power Down Exemption, unless you have a Commercial Reef Fish permit.  
  • You will no longer be approached by SEFHIER Validation Survey samplers.
  • The Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) dockside sampling program is not affected by this ruling.  NOAA Fisheries continues to encourage participation in the MRIP program as these data inform the assessment and management of Gulf stocks.

If you are a Gulf Southeast Region Headboat Survey participant, please see Question 2 for more information.

If you are a Gulf commercial reef fish participant, please see Question 5 for more information.


2. What are the current reporting requirements if I have a Gulf for-hire permit and I participate in the Southeast Region Headboat Survey (SRHS)?

If your vessel has been selected to report to the SRHS, the reporting requirements have reverted back to the requirements prior to the SEFHIER program.  This means that unless otherwise notified by NOAA Fisheries, trip level reports must be submitted weekly (reporting week is Monday-Sunday), by the following Sunday after the reporting week.  SRHS vessels are no longer required to have a VMS, hail-out, or land at a pre-approved landing location.  


3. What are the current reporting requirements if I have an Atlantic/South Atlantic federal for-hire permit? 

Electronic reporting requirements for vessels with Atlantic/South Atlantic federal for-hire permit(s) (Atlantic coastal migratory pelagic species, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or South Atlantic snapper-grouper) remain unchanged.  The software applications used to report logbooks were used by both the Gulf and Atlantic/South Atlantic, therefore those applications will continue to be used in the Atlantic/South Atlantic. 


4. What are the reporting requirements if I have both a Gulf and Atlantic/South Atlantic federal for-hire permit? 

Federally permitted vessels with both Gulf and Atlantic/South Atlantic for-hire permits that have been reporting under the Gulf requirements must now report under the Atlantic/South Atlantic reporting requirements.  Atlantic/South Atlantic reporting requirements include, weekly trip level reporting through an approved vendor (reporting week is Monday-Sunday), trip-level logbooks for any for-hire fishing trip due by the Tuesday following the reporting week, and a Did Not Fish report in place of the logbook if no fishing occurred within the fishing week.  For more information on Atlantic/South Atlantic reporting requirements, see the link below to the South Atlantic Compliance Guide.


5. If I have a Gulf for-hire and a Gulf commercial reef fish permit, what do I report? 

Federal Gulf for-hire permitted vessels that also hold a Gulf commercial reef fish permit must continue to abide by commercial reef fish reporting requirements, but are not required to comply with the Gulf for-hire VMS or electronic logbook reporting requirements. 


6. Will there be any further action or guidance from NOAA Fisheries in response to the 5th Circuit Court Decision in the Gulf for-hire reporting litigation? 

NOAA Fisheries is reviewing the Court ruling and will provide further guidance if appropriate.  NOAA Fisheries intends to discuss the Court ruling with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council during their upcoming meeting April 3-6, 2023. 


Helpful Program Information and Useful Links:

Sign Up For Text Message Alerts - Find Out About Immediate Openings and Closures

NOAA's Text Message Alert Program allows you to receive important fishery related alerts via text message (SMS).  Standard message & data rates may apply.  You may opt-out at any time.

Text alerts you may receive include:

  • Immediate fishery openings and closures
  • Any significant changes to fishing regulations that happen quickly


Sign up for one or more of the following groups:

  • Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFRECFISH to 888777
  • Gulf of Mexico Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFCOMMFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLRECFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLCOMMFISH to 888777
  • Caribbean Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text CARIBFISH to 888777


Other contacts: Media: Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750


Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on March 17, 2023