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Highly Migratory Species – Exempted Fishing Permits

Deep-Set Buoy Gear and Longline

An exempted fishing permit (EFP) is a permit issued under authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to allow fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited under a fishery management plan (EFP regulations are at 50 CFR 600.745). These permits are issued for limited testing, public display, data collection, exploratory fishing, compensation fishing, conservation engineering, health and safety surveys, environmental cleanup, and/or hazard removal purposes, to authorize the target or incidental harvest of species managed under an FMP or fishery regulations that would otherwise be prohibited.

Several EFPs have been issued in recent years by NOAA Fisheries to evaluate alternative gears and methods to target swordfish and other highly migratory species (HMS) species in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). Together with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), we have been considering EFPs for alternative gears that will have minimal bycatch and demonstrate potential for economically viable West Coast HMS fisheries. Prior to NOAA Fisheries’ issuing the EFPs, the PFMC reviewed the EFP applications and provided their recommendations.

The PFMC procedures for HMS EFP consideration are found at:

Below is a summary of current and valid HMS EFPs.

Deep-Set Buoy Gear (DSBG)

Buoys floating on the ocean

Surface Buoy Array of Standard Deep-set Buoy Gear; PIER

DSBG employs a hook-and-buoy array gear configuration to target swordfish during the daytime in deep water, with hooks commonly set at depths below 250 meters. DSBG configurations include “standard” buoy gear (SBG) and “linked buoy gear” (LBG). SBG configurations consist of strike indicator buoys deployed at the surface, a vertical mainline, baited circle hooks at depth, and a weighted sinker to ensure that hooks reach depth rapidly. LBG additionally employs surface branch lines connecting the various strike indicator buoys, and more hooks at depth.

Standard Buoy Gear (SBG) EFPs currently valid through December 31, 2021.

Generic permit for Standard Buoy Gear (PDF, 8 pages)

 

Standard DSBG EFPs

 

Vessel Name

Doc #

Names of Individuals listed as Authorized Captains on EFPs

Addiction

CF0551SV

Zachary Roach

Audax

CF8370FH

Dan Fuller, Bill Fuller

Aurelia

597524

William Sutton

Calypso

CF6266TF

Jack Bateman, Max Rippo, Tobin Rippo

Circle Hook

1286891

Scott Breneman

DEA

CF0012HY

Jack Stephens, Ben Stephens, David Stephen

Defiance

605844

Ron Ellis

Diva

549263

Steve Weiser

Emma Ray

CF1878ZM

Stephen Greyshock, Forest Howlett

Entrapment

928057

Andrew Volaski

Epic

601591

Nathan Lins

Espada

624462

Tim Perguson

First Light

1164782

Nicholas Tharp

Fishtail

1030136

Mike Graves

Isla

26348

Miles Wallace

JB

550580

John Ford

Jonesita

CF0552TF

John Kirkpatrick

Lil Jack

595177

Matt White

Olinka

558005

Doug Dirkse

Orca

1298400

Andrii Sidielnikov

Pacific Sword

CF4430GJ

Bob Ball

Patricia J

585405

Kent Jacobs, Toni Gomez

Philip Nick

906370

Nick Guglielmo, Nick M Guglielmo

Pilikia

1134177

Sean Burke

Rainman

1272816

Raymond Kennedy

Sandy Bea

1078115

Nick M Guglielmo, Nick Guglielmo

Saronga

571063

Michael Flynn, Mike Ahearn

Seeview

CF3571SU

Kevin Dell

Sharon G

623518

Marc Hermann, Blake Hermann

Spaniard

559445

Fred Hepp, Sean Roberts

Spirit

611940

Anthony Makul

Sundowner

628101

Andrew Rassmussen

Terlingin

1223771

David Hutto, Jordan Souza

Tres Mujeres

1066033

Jack Stephens, Ben Stephens, David Stephens

Linked Buoy Gear (LBG) EFPs currently valid through December 31, 2021.

Generic permit for Linked Buoy Gear (PDF, 8 pages)

Linked DSBG EFPs

 

Vessel Name

Doc #

Names of Individuals listed as Authorized Captains on EFPs

Bear Flag 2

558683

Nathan Perez, Thomas Carson, Noah Herrera

Chula

1217070

John Foster, Jim Heflin

DJ

550062

Steve Mintz

Elizabeth H

644228

David Haworth, Nick Haworth, Kris Honings

Gold Coast

622026

Donald Krebs, Alan Felix

Leah Gail

944172

Lance Reinhart

Outer Banks

969797

Tim Athens

Pacific Horizon

627203

David Haworth, Nick Haworth, John Vogel, Kris Honings

Piky

570036

JJ Gerritsen, Gregory Minobe

Sea Haven

635102

Arthur Lorton, J. Anthon Lorton

St Aniello

559214

Romolo Ghio

Three Boys

CF2036TJ

Kelly Fukushima, Sai Fukushima

Trailblazer

610884

Mark Lebeck

* LBG EFPs may fish a combination of LBG and SBG

 

 

Line illustration on buoy gear types

Linked and Standard Deep-set Buoy Gear schematic; PIER.

Reports from the Active 2020 EFP fishermen (pdf)

A summary of the 2020 DSBG EFP data can be found on pages 3 - 4 of the NMFS report to the Council.

Recent EFP recommendations were made by the Pacific Council at their June 2021 meeting.

Longline

Longline fishing gear consists of a horizontally-strung main line up to 100 kilometers (km) in length, supported at regular intervals by vertical float-lines connected to surface floats. Descending from the main line are branch-lines, each ending in a single, baited hook. A longline exempted fishing permit (EFP) was issued in 2019 that allowed two vessels to fish longline gear (both shallow-set and deep-set) for a 24- month period in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off California and Oregon. Terms and conditions of the permit specified that fishing must take place outside of the Southern California Bight and seaward of the leatherback critical habitat area, or 50 nautical miles from shore, whichever distance is greater. Additional terms and conditions included observer coverage on all trips, night setting of shallow-set longlines, protected species interactions limits, total hook and set limits, specific no-fishing areas, gear, bait and operational techniques. Issuance of the EFP was followed by litigation, in which the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and vacated the EFP in December 2019.

NOAA Fisheries intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to assess a broader range of alternatives for the proposed action to fish with longline gear in the U.S. West Coast EEZ under an EFP. The purpose of this EFP is to allow a limited amount of exploratory longline fishing to (1) determine whether this type of fishing for swordfish and other highly migratory species (HMS) species is economically viable, and (2) assess the type and extent of interactions with protected species and non-target finfish. The Pacific Fishery Management Council recently recommended NOAA Fisheries authorize deep-set buoy gear for targeting swordfish. However, it is unclear that deep-set buoy gear will be an economically feasible substitute for drift gillnet gear, which is currently used to harvest higher-volume catch of swordfish and many other marketable HMS. Therefore, it is important to continue to test other gear types, like longline, which U.S. fishermen successfully use to target swordfish and other highly migratory species in federal waters off the Pacific Islands, and in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which regulations describe the process for obtaining an EFP?

Regulations that describe the application and review process for EFPs are at 50 CFR 600.745. Regulations specific to HMS fishing are at 50 CFR 660.718.

Who can apply for a West Coast HMS EFP?

Anyone who is planning HMS fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited by the regulations may apply to NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region for an EFP. The permit is issued to the applicant but a copy must be on the assigned vessel at all times during EFP fishing activity.

How do I apply for a West Coast HMS EFP?

Follow the procedures detailed in 50 CFR 600.745. Send your completed application to Chris Fanning at chris.fanning@noaa.gov in NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, and contact him with any questions via email or (562) 980-4198. Applications received will be considered by the West Coast Regional Administrator.

How long does the application review process take?

It depends on the complexity of the project and PFMC’s meeting schedule. NOAA Fisheries recommends allowing the PFMC to review the application and considers the PFMC’s comments on each application.

NOAA Fisheries may need to conduct an environmental analysis of the impacts of issuing the EFP. This document would support the decision-making and inform the public of the EFP action. The Regional Administrator will consult with the PFMC before issuing an EFP. This usually involves a Federal Register notice of the receipt of your application, and discussion of the proposed activity at a PFMC meeting. Applicants should plan on at least 9 to 12 months from the date of application submittal before the EFP is issued.

Last updated by West Coast Regional Office on August 20, 2021

Exempted Fishing Permit