- 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.
SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES:
- 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.
HOW TO COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED RULE:
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.
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.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
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.
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