NMFS News Release

Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930

Closed Area I Sea Scallop Exemption Area Opens January 1, 2001

Date: December 14, 2000

Dear Full or Part-time Scallop Permit Holder:

Regulations at 50 C.F.R. ' 648.58(e)(1) give me the authority to authorize additional trips and/or possession limit increases for full and part-time limited access sea scallop vessels participating in the Sea Scallop Exemption Program (Exemption Program) for the Nantucket Lightship and/or the Closed Area I Sea Scallop Exemption Areas in January 2001, if I determine that the additional trip and/or possession limit increase will likely allow the scallop total allowable catch (TAC) to be reached without exceeding it.

Based on the most recent Exemption Program monitoring information regarding the sea scallop and yellowtail bycatch TAC levels, and after consideration of law enforcement and habitat concerns, I have determined that additional trips and an increase in the scallop possession limit for the Closed Area I Sea Scallop Exemption Area is warranted for January 2001. Therefore, your vessel has been allocated an additional three Closed Area I Exemption Program trips of up to 12,000 pounds of scallop meats per trip, provided you have enough scallop days-at-sea (DAS) remaining (10 DAS/trip) for each trip.

A vessel that has properly declared into the Exemption Program to fish in the Closed Area I Exemption Area may leave port no earlier than 0001 hours, January 1, 2001, and must end its last Closed Area I Exemption Area trip and return to port by midnight (2400 hours), January 31, 2001. Returning to port means the first point when a vessel ties up at the dock or mooring in a port at the end of a fishing trip.

A vessel planning to fish in the Exemption Program must submit a report through the VMS e-mail messaging system (NEC.Observers@noaa.gov) of its intention to fish in the Closed Area I Exemption Area, along with the following information: Vessel name and permit number, owner and operator=s name, owner and operator=s phone numbers, and the date and time of departure. The vessel owner or operator must submit this report at least 5 working days prior to the date it intends to depart on each trip into the Closed Area I Exemption Area. Within 3 days of a vessel's notification, NMFS will notify a vessel if it has been selected to carry an observer. (Unlike other Exemption Area openings, there is no additional 15-day notification requirement prior to the opening of the January 1, 2001, Closed Area I Exemption Area).

All Exemption Program rules, as specified in 50 C.F.R. ' 648.58, apply to the additional allocation of trips and increase of trip limits during the January 1, 2001, reopening of Closed Area I. As a reminder, the ability to take all three additional trips is contingent upon the yellowtail flounder bycatch and scallop catches remaining below their respective TACs allocated for Closed Area I.

This notice is authorized by the Northeast Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service

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