Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Request for Comments: Proposed Rule to Replace Historical Captain Permits with Standard Federal Charter/Headboat Permits in the Gulf of Mexico

January 24, 2020

FB20-001 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For more information, contact: Rich Malinowski, (727) 824-5305, rich.malinowski@noaa.gov


  • NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed rule that provides eligible historical captains the opportunity to replace their historical captain permits with standard federal charter/headboat for-hire permits for reef fish and coastal migratory pelagic fisheries.
  • Only historical captain permits that were valid (non-expired) or renewable on October 25, 2018, are eligible for replacement with standard for-hire permits.  Replacement is optional.
  • Individuals who redeem a letter of eligibility for a historical captain permit before the implementation date of this framework action would receive a historical captain permit, but would not be eligible to convert that permit into a standard for-hire permit.
  • On the implementation date of this framework action, all outstanding eligibility letters would be invalid. 
  • Comments are due by February 22, 2020.



  • The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) voted to allow eligible permit holders to convert existing historical captain permits to standard for-hire permits to provide eligible historical captains with an opportunity to have the same rights and responsibilities as existing reef fish and coastal migratory pelagics standard for-hire permit holders.
  • Only 32 historical captains with coastal migratory pelagics permits and 31 historical captains reef fish permits in the Gulf of Mexico that were valid (non-expired) or renewable when the Council considered this action in October 2018 would be eligible for replacement with corresponding standard for-hire permits.  This action is intended to apply to fishermen who have relied on the historical captain’s permit for their livelihood. 
  • Each newly issued standard for-hire permit would have the same permit capacity as the historical captain permit it would replace. 
  • Individuals would have two years from the implementation date of this action to replace eligible historical captain permits with standard for-hire permits and associate the newly issued standard for-hire permits with a vessel. 
  • Those individuals who do not take the opportunity to replace their historical captain permits with standard for-hire permits within this two-year period would maintain their historical captain permits.



The comment period is open now through February 22, 2020.  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: 85 FR 3885, published January 23, 2020


Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 

1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0081

2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.

3. Enter or attach your comments.


Mail: Submit written comments to Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.


What is a Historical Captain Endorsement/Permit?

  • A permit for historical captains was established in July 2002. 
  • Persons who met the eligibility requirements to qualify as a historical captain (listed below), and submitted evidence of eligibility within 90 days of the implementation of the final rule, were issued a letter of eligibility, which could be used to obtain a historical captain permit, valid only on the vessel that was operated by the historical captain. 
  • The eligibility criteria for the historical captain endorsement included any U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) licensed captain, who:
  • Demonstrated to NMFS they were licensed by the USCG and operated (as a captain) a for-hire permitted vessel prior to March 29, 2001, but did not have a for-hire permit issued in their name,
  • Qualified for the permit within 90 days of implementation of the final rule, and
  • Demonstrated at least 25% of their earned income came from recreational for-hire fishing in one of the years 1997, 1998, 1999, or 2000.
  • Captains who were issued a historical captain endorsement were able to continue participating in for-hire fishing.  However, unlike the standard for-hire permit, the historical captain endorsement cannot be transferred to another entity and requires the endorsement holder to be present on the vessel while it is operating as a for-hire vessel


How do I convert my eligible Historical Captain Permit?

  • If this rule is approved, an eligible historical captain who wishes to convert their historical captain permit to a standard permit would submit an application along with their current historical captain permit (original document, not a copy) and supporting documents and fees.  NOAA Permit Office staff would verify that the vessel the new for-hire permit would be issued to is either: 
  • owned by the historical captain applicant and does not have an existing coastal migratory Pelagics and/or Reef Fish Charter/Headboat Permit associated with it, or
  • would be leased to the historical captain applicant to attach their permit(s) to and does not have any other federal permit(s) associated with it in another permit holder's name. 
  • If the vessel is to be leased, a fully executed lease agreement, of at least seven months, between the vessel owner and permit holder would need to be included with the application. 
  • Once the application has been approved, the historical captain permit would receive a Coastal Migratory Pelagics or Reef Fish Charter/Headboat Permit. 
  • Due to the uniqueness of the historical captain permit number, the new for-hire permit would keep the existing permit number, e.g., HRCG-9999 would convert to RCG-9999.  All permit history associated with a historical captain permit would stay with the new standard permit. 


Where can I find more information on Replacement of Historical Captain Permits with Standard Charter/Headboat Permits Framework Amendment?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

            By Mail: Rich Malinowski

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

  • Framework Amendment may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site. 


NOAA's Text Message Alert Program allows you to receive important fishery related alerts via text message (SMS).  Standard message & data rates may apply. You may opt-out at any time.


Text alerts you may receive include:

  • Immediate fishery openings and closures
  • Any significant changes to fishing regulations that happen quickly


Sign up for one or more of the following groups:

  • Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFRECFISH to 888777
  • Gulf of Mexico Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFCOMMFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLRECFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLCOMMFISH to 888777
  • Caribbean Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text CARIBFISH to 888777


 https://mlsvc01-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/42752393201/0f0254a9-e282-4863-a3c8-fe28d5fccbe5.jpg  Join us every other Friday on NOAA Fish Instagram for Rec Fish Friday!


Other contacts:

Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707

            Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750 

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on August 16, 2022

Reef Fish Charter/headboat