NOAA Fisheries requests comments on a For-Hire Reporting Amendment and proposed rule, which if implemented, would establish electronic reporting requirements for charter vessels with federal permits and would modify the reporting deadline for headboats. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved the For-Hire Reporting Amendment in an effort to improve data collection and fisheries management.
Comments are due by May 13, 2018
Summary of the Proposed Changes:
- Charter vessels with a federal charter vessel/headboat permit for Atlantic Coastal Migratory Pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or South Atlantic snapper-grouper species would be required to report weekly using electronic reporting.
- Reports would be due by Tuesday following the end of each reporting week, which runs from Monday through Sunday, and would include information such as fishing dates, fishing location, depth fished, species kept and discarded, and charter fee.
- Reporting would be through NOAA Fisheries-approved hardware and software, which would be specified at a later date.
- Headboat vessels with a federal charter vessel/headboat permit for Atlantic Coastal Migratory Pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or South Atlantic snapper-grouper species would continue to submit reports to the Southeast Headboat Survey but would be required to submit electronic fishing reports by Tuesday following a reporting week, rather than by Sunday.
How to Comment on the Amendment and Proposed Rule:
The comment period is open through May 13, 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.
Formal Federal Register Name/Number:
Notice of Availability: 83 FR 11164, published March 14, 2018.
Proposed Rule: 83 FR 14400, published April 4, 2018.
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
- Go to https://www.regulations.gov.
- Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
- Enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Karla Gore, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What would the For-Hire Reporting Amendment and proposed rule do?
- The For-Hire Reporting Amendment and proposed rule would require charter vessels with a federal charter vessel/headboat permit for Atlantic Coastal Migratory Pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or South Atlantic snapper-grouper species to submit electronic reports by Tuesday following the end of each reporting week, which runs from Monday through Sunday, using NOAA Fisheries approved hardware and software applications.
- The For-Hire Reporting Amendment would also change the day that headboats are required to submit an electronic fishing record from Sunday to Tuesday following the end of a reporting week, reducing the time when reports are due from seven to two days.
- The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (South Atlantic Council) is working to enhance data collection for better fisheries management. Accurate and reliable fisheries information about catch, effort, and discards is critical to population assessments and management evaluations. The South Atlantic Council believes that weekly electronic reporting for federally permitted charter vessels could provide more timely information than the current Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) survey, and more accurate and reliable information for many species with low catches, low annual catch limits, or for species that are only rarely encountered by fishery participants. This proposed action is intended to improve information collected from federally permitted for-hire vessels in the Atlantic. The proposed change to the reporting day for headboat vessels would make the reporting day for the headboat sector consistent with the proposed reporting day for charter vessels.
How would the electronic reporting for charter vessels work? Do I need to have a computer?
- NOAA Fisheries is currently evaluating potential software applications for the electronic reporting program, and is considering the use of software applications that are already being used by partners in the region, including “e-trips online” and “e-trips mobile,” which are products of the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program.
- These programs would require the use of a computer or tablet with access to the internet. We are looking into the possibility of using smartphones for reporting in the future. If the rule is implemented, outreach sessions will be held to explain the reporting program software and requirements.
What type of information would be collected?
- Charter vessels would be required to submit information such as: start and end dates, start and end time, start and end fishing location, vessel and captain identification, number of crew, method of fishing, hours fished, depth fished, species kept, species discarded, charter fee, fuel used, and fuel price per gallon. These core data elements may be modified through coordination with the South Atlantic Council. This information would be required to be reported regardless of where fishing occurs or what species are harvested. If no fishing occurs in a particular week, an electronic no-fishing report would be required.
Does this electronic reporting program replace MRIP?
- Even if the new electronic reporting program is implemented, charter vessels with a federal permit would still need to report to MRIP. Currently, landings and discards from federally permitted charter vessels in Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin wahoo, and South Atlantic snapper-grouper fisheries are monitored through a MRIP survey of charter vessels. Fishing effort is calculated based on a monthly sample of federally permitted charter vessels through a phone survey, which is transitioning to a new mail survey. Catch rate observations and catch sampling are provided through dockside monitoring. If NOAA Fisheries implements the electronic reporting requirements described in the For-hire Reporting Amendment, the MRIP survey of charter vessels would continue until the proposed electronic reporting program described in the For-hire Reporting Amendment is certified by NOAA Fisheries, and then the electronic reporting program would replace the MRIP survey of charter vessels.
What if I also have federal for-hire permits for fisheries in other regions such as the Gulf of Mexico or Mid-Atlantic? Do I have to submit multiple reports?
- To reduce duplicative reporting by charter vessels, fishermen with federal charter vessel/headboat permits subject to electronic reporting requirements in other regions would not be required to report to multiple times. Instead, federal permit holders would be required to comply with the electronic reporting program that is more restrictive, regardless of where fishermen are fishing.
- For example, the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO) has implemented an electronic reporting requirement for owners and operators of a charter vessel or party boat (headboat) issued a federal for-hire permit for species managed by Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to submit an electronic vessel trip report using NOAA Fisheries-approved software within 48 hours of completing a for-hire fishing trip (82 FR 42610, September 11, 2017). Because NOAA Fisheries GARFO requires more restrictive reporting than what is proposed in the For-hire Reporting Amendment, owners and operators of a vessel issued a federal for-hire permit for species in both the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic would be required to report under the electronic reporting program managed by GARFO, regardless of where fishing occurs or what species are caught.
- The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) has recommended for-hire electronic reporting for charter vessels that is more stringent than those reporting requirements contained in the South Atlantic For-hire Reporting Amendment. The proposed Gulf of Mexico for-hire electronic reporting program would require trip-level reporting, a pre-trip notification to NOAA Fisheries, and location information monitored by a vessel monitoring system, among other requirements. Therefore, an owner or operator of a charter vessel that has been issued federal charter vessel/headboat permits for applicable fisheries in both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico would be required to comply with the Gulf Council’s more stringent for-hire electronic reporting program requirements, if the Gulf Council’s amendments to address for-hire electronic reporting are approved and implemented.
Does the For-Hire Reporting Amendment and proposed rule make any changes to the headboat sector?
- Currently, headboats submit an electronic fishing report to NOAA Fisheries via the internet by the Sunday following the end of each reporting week, which runs from Monday through Sunday. The For-Hire Amendment and proposed rule would shorten the time to report and proposes that headboats submit electronic reports to NOAA Fisheries by the Tuesday following the end of a reporting week. This is a change in the grace period to prepare and submit reports from seven days to two days.
Does the For-Hire Reporting Amendment and proposed rule implement a video monitoring requirement for charter vessels?
- No. In 2008, through Amendment 15B to the Fishery Management Plan for Snapper-Grouper of the South Atlantic Region, a provision was implemented that requires those with a charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper to use video monitoring technology if landing snapper-grouper species and selected by the Science Research Director. Since then, no vessels have been selected to use video monitoring and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center is not actively pursuing a video monitoring program. The For-Hire Reporting Amendment does not change the requirement specified through Amendment 15B.
Where can I find more information on the environmental assessment and proposed rule?
- Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Karla Gore
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505
By Phone: (727) 824-5305
By FAX: (727) 824-5308The For-Hire Reporting Amendment and proposed rule may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Website.
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