On August 11, 2017, NOAA Fisheries issued an exempted fishing permit to Dr. David Kerstetter, as affiliated with NOVA Southeastern University, to evaluate pelagic longline catch and bycatch rates from within two areas in the northern portion of the East Florida Coast pelagic longline closed area (north and south of 29°50’ N lat.) and to compare those to rates from outside the East Florida Coast pelagic longline closed area. Since its issuance six months ago, no research activity has occurred under this exempted fishing permit.
NOAA Fisheries received a revised exempted fishing permit application on December 14, 2017, changing the affiliation of Dr. Kerstetter, the principal investigator for the project, from NOVA Southeastern University to Florida Fisheries Solutions, LLC. No other aspect of the research project was altered in the revised application.
With receipt of the new application and the change in affiliation of the principal investigator, NOAA Fisheries considers the original exempted fishing permit, issued August 11, 2017, to be invalid. Because of this change and the controversial nature of the exempted fishing permit request, consideration of the new permit application will require further evaluation including consultation with the Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel and informing the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
Accurate and sound scientific information is critical in making the most informed science-based decisions to sustainably manage U.S. fisheries. NOAA Fisheries remains committed to ensuring that any future decisions regarding HMS conservation and management measures and closed areas are based upon current data. Obtaining current fishery data from the closed areas can be controversial, difficult, and expensive. NOAA Fisheries intends to work collaboratively with the Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel, the International Commission for the Conservation Atlantic Tunas Advisory Committee, commercial and recreational fishing interests, academia, environmental non-governmental organizations, and others on appropriate next steps to improve long-term management of highly migratory species fisheries.
For more information contact either Craig Cockrell at (301) 427-8503 or Rick Pearson at (727) 824-5399.
For more information on the initial exempt fishing permit including the final Environmental Assessment and revised application please click here.