Request for Comments: Proposed Rule to Modify the Number of Unrigged Hooks Carried On Board Bottom Longline Vessels

October 30, 2017

FB17-063 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For More Information, Contact: Kelli O’Donnell, 727-824-5305, Kelli.ODonnell@noaa.gov

Key Message:

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. 

  1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov 
  2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
  3. 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?

  • 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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Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on March 14, 2019