Categorical Exclusion for an Exempted Fishing Permit to Test Modified Halibut Handling on Deck of Amendment 80 Vessels
NOAA Fisheries has received an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from the Best Use Cooperative (BUC). The EFP would allow three vessels in the BUC to sort halibut removed from a codend on the deck of the vessel, and release those fish back to the water after accounting for the halibut condition using standard International Pacific Halibut Commission viability methods for predicting mortality of individual fish. The EFP will allow these vessels to alter the amount of time that halibut are in a codend, on deck and the amount of handling they receive prior to release.
This proposed action would exempt factory trawler vessels Ocean Peace, Constellation, and Cape Horn, from:
- the prohibition to conduct any fishing when the fishery is closed due to reaching the limit for Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) under§ 679.7(a)(2);
- the prohibition to bias the sampling procedure employed by an observer through sorting of catch before sampling, at § 679.7(g)(2);
- the prohibition to exceed an amount of halibut cooperative quota (CQ) assigned to an Amendment 80 cooperative at§ 679.7(o)(4)(v);
- a requirement to weigh all catch by an Amendment 80 vessel on a NOAA Fisheries approved scale at § 679.27G)(5)(ii);
- the requirement for all catch to be made available for sampling at§ 679.93(c)(l); and
- the requirement for halibut to not be allowed on deck without an observer present at§ 679.93(c)(5).
The EFP would apply for the period of time required to complete the project in 2009 in the BSAI Amendment 80 fishery, approximately six months.