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

KEY MESSAGE:

  • 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. 

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.


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. 

SIGN UP FOR TEXT MESSAGE ALERTS - FIND OUT ABOUT IMMEDIATE OPENINGS AND CLOSURES

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 January 24, 2020

Reef Fish Charter/headboat