The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering an application for an exempted fishing permit under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act which would allow fishers off of the eastern coast of Florida to collect a limited number of snapper-grouper, coastal migratory pelagic, dolphin, and wahoo species with evidence of shark depredation for transfer to researchers at Florida Atlantic University. Researchers seek the permit to quantify the impacts of shark depredation on the specified species in relation to recreational fisheries. The public comment period is open through November 8, 2021.
NMFS Seeks Comments on Exempted Fishing Permit
NMFS Seeks Comments on New Rule to Protect Sharks and Rays
The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced its intention to promulgate rules related to the use of purse seine nets to ensure the sustainability of Bigeye, Yellowfin, and Skipjack Tunafish stocks, and to reduce bycatch of sharks, rays, and sea turtles. The agency has determined these rules are necessary to fulfill its obligations under the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. In pertinent part, the new rules would mandate the release of any oceanic whitetip sharks, silky sharks, and mobulid rays (which include manta rays and devil rays) from bycatch by U.S. fishers in the areas covered by the Convention. The agency is accepting comments through November 8, 2021.
NMFS Will Allow Oil Company to Harass 18 Cetacean Species
The National Marine Fisheries Service has issued three Letters of Authorization (LOA) under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to BP Exploration & Production that allow the oil company to harass killer whales, spinner dolphins, and sixteen other cetacean species during geophysical survey activity in the Gulf of Mexico. The LOAs are effective between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022.
NMFS Approves Interstate Bluefish Quota Transfers
The National Marine Fisheries Service has approved the transfer of 20,000 pounds of bluefish from Virginia’s 2021 state quota to Rhode Island and has approved the transfer of 50,000 pounds of bluefish from New Jersey’s annual quota to Massachusetts to prevent recipient states from exceeding their respective 2021 quotas. NMFS has determined that these transfers are necessary to maintain compliance with the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery Management Plan and will be effective between September 30, 2021, and December 31, 2021.
NMFS Announces Recovery-Planning Workshops for Rice’s Whale
The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced the dates of five virtual workshops between October 18, 2021, and November 18, 2021, for experts to weigh in on recovery planning for Rice’s whale, a protected species of baleen whale in the Gulf of Mexico that NFMS recognized as its own species on August 23, 2021. The Endangered Species Act directs NMFS to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation and survival of federally listed species, recovery being defined as effective conservation that brings a species back to the point that it no longer needs or qualifies for ESA listing status. Each of the five workshops will focus on a different aspect of the recovery plan and all are open to the public.
NMFS Considers Permit Application for Import and Export of Seal Parts
The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering an application under the Marine Mammal Protection Act for the import of grey seal specimens from Canada for research at Texas Tech University. The applicant in the university’s biology department seeks to import and possibly re-export blood, milk, whiskers, nails, fur, blubber, muscle, scat, spew, saliva, and urine opportunistically salvaged from at least 120 dead seals for purposes of scientific research over the next five years studying the role of maternal iron transfer in the development of heme stores and aerobic diving capacity in gray seal pups. The public comment period is open through November 4, 2021.
NMFS Reduces Annual Catch Limit for King Mackerel
The National Marine Fisheries service has announced a temporary rule reducing the annual catch limit for king mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico for the 2021-2022 season because the 2020-2021 annual catch limit was exceeded by 11,920 pounds. The 2020-2021 season was closed on January 28, 2021, when the catch limit was reached. Accordingly, NMFS has determined that reducing the annual catch limit for the 2021-2022 season from 575,400 pounds to 563,480 pounds is necessary to protect the supply of Gulf king mackerel.
NMFS Announces Issuance of Permit for Abalone Research
The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced approval of a scientific research permit for the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, to take anadromous fish under the Endangered Species Act during the course of research on the management, conservation, and recovery of black abalone. Anadromous fish are defined as fish born in freshwater who spend most of their lives in saltwater and return to freshwater to spawn, such as salmon and some species of sturgeon.
NMFS Announces Temporary Increase in Tuna Fishing Quota
The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced it is exercising its authority to transfer 140 metric tons of Atlantic bluefin tuna from the “Reserve” category to the “General” category in order to allow uninterrupted fishing between October 4, 2021, and November 30, 2021 (or whenever the adjusted quota is met). Because unused seasonal fishing quotas may be “rolled over” into the next season, NMFS is tapping into the Reserve category in order to avoid closing the fishing season. The agency is waiving public comment and the usual 30-day waiting period for new regulations to become effective based on its determination that the move will not affect the overall US Atlantic bluefin tuna quota.