NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed rule for commercial bottom longline regulations in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). Comments are due by November 14, 2017.
Summary of Proposed Changes:
- The proposed rule would remove the 1,000 hooks per vessel limit onboard a commercial reef fish vessels with a bottom longline endorsement in the Gulf when fishing for reef fish east of 85°30' west longitude (Cape San Blas, Florida).
- The limit of 750 hooks that could be fished or rigged for fishing on commercial reef fish vessels with a bottom longline endorsement in the Gulf would remain unchanged.
How to Comment on the Proposed Rule:
The comment period is open now through November 14, 2017. 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: FR# 23460, published October 30, 2017
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 Kelli O’Donnell, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why are these changes needed?
- Amendment 31, implemented in 2010, placed a restriction on the number of hooks bottom longline fishermen could carry on board their vessel to help protect sea turtles.
- Currently, reef fish bottom longline fishermen can only carry 250 extra unrigged hooks onboard their vessels.
- Industry representatives have indicated this is not enough for longer trips due to hook loss and NOAA Fisheries observer data supports this.
- After the 250 extra hooks are used, the vessel must return to port, reduce the number of hooks fished, or be resupplied by another vessel.
- Allowing additional unrigged hooks on board should make multi-day trips more economical while still maintaining the observed reduction in sea turtle interactions since the implementation of Amendment 31.
Where can I find more information on this rule?
- Number of Unrigged Hooks Carried On Board Bottom Longline Vessels Abbreviated Framework may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Website.
- Additional information on bottom longline rulemakings in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Kelli O’Donnell
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
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