NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on the notice of availability for Amendment 10 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hard Bottom Habitats of the South Atlantic Region (Coral Amendment 10). If implemented, Coral Amendment 10 would establish an approximately 22 mi2 shrimp fishery access area (SFAA) along the eastern boundary of the northern extension of the Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern (OHAPC) where fishing for and possessing rock shrimp is currently prohibited. Within the proposed SFAA, a shrimp vessel with a valid limited access commercial vessel permit for rock shrimp would be allowed to bottom trawl for rock shrimp. Comments are due by June 28, 2022.
How to Comment on the Notice of Availability:
The comment period for the notice of availability is open now through June 28, 2022. You may submit comments by electronic submission (described below) or by postal mail. Comments received after the end of the comment period may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.
FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 87 FR 25438, published April 29, 2022
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 Frank Helies, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
Where can I find more information on Coral Amendment 10?
- Coral Amendment 10 may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/amendment-10-establish-shrimp-fishery-access-area/.
- By Mail: Frank Helies
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505
By FAX: (727) 824-5308
By Phone: (727) 824-5305
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is NOAA Fisheries announcing today?
- NOAA Fisheries is accepting public comment on Coral Amendment 10 to the Fishery Management Plan for Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live / Hard Bottom Habitat of the South Atlantic Region (Coral Amendment 10).
- The public comment period runs from April 29, 2022 to June 28, 2022.
What does the amendment propose to do?
- Coral Amendment 10 would establish an approximately 22 mi2 shrimp fishery access area (SFAA) along the eastern boundary of the northern extension of the Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern (OHAPC) where fishing for and possessing rock shrimp is currently prohibited.
Who would be eligible to fish in the newly proposed area?
- Within the proposed area, shrimp vessel with a valid limited access commercial vessel permit for rock shrimp would be allowed to bottom trawl for rock shrimp.
- All other existing restrictions, including anchoring and use of bottom longline, dredge, pot, or trap, would remain in place.
Why did the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council request this action of NOAA Fisheries?
- The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is requesting this action in response to the Presidential Executive Order (EO) 13921 on Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth.
- Coral Amendment 10 would address the recommendation to reduce burdens on domestic fishing and to increase production within sustainable fisheries contained in E.O. 13921. This would be accomplished by re-opening a closed area to commercial fishermen who have lost access to areas that have been traditionally fished.
How would the commercial rock shrimp fishery benefit from this proposed action?
- The SFAA is an area where rock shrimp were previously harvested as late as 2014.
- While landings and revenue from rock shrimp are highly variable, even peak landings from recent years have fallen far short of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and optimum yield (OY) levels.
- Thus, the rock shrimp portion of the shrimp fishery has been consistently operating well below OY/MSY during this time.
- Coral Amendment 10 would help achieve OY in the South Atlantic rock shrimp portion of the shrimp fishery and increase economic and social benefits to rock shrimp fishermen by increasing access to historic rock shrimp fishing grounds.
What are some potential impacts to the environment from this action?
- The purpose of the OHAPC is to protect deep-water coral habitat, primarily Oculina spp., from adverse impacts from bottom tending gear.
- While no high relief coral mounds are present, low-relief hard bottoms and coral rubble could be providing substrate available for coral recruitment and recovery from previous trawling events.
- Indirect effects to coral could result through influx of suspended benthic sediments created while trawling the bottom.
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Media: Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750