NMFS News Release





Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930




Georges Bank Sea Scallop Exemption Program

Date: June 4, 1999

Dear Permit Holder:

This letter is to inform you that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) anticipates that the management measures in Framework Adjustment 11 of the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and Framework Adjustment 29 of the Northeast Multispecies FMP outlined below will be approved soon. Thus, unless informed differently, these measures will go into effect on the dates specified in this letter.

This rule creates a 1999 seasonal Georges Bank Sea Scallop Exemption Program (Exemption Program) that allows limited access scallop vessels access to a portion of Closed Area II, when fishing under certain conditions. In addition, this rule implements an 8-inch minimum mesh twine top for scallop dredge vessels when fishing outside the Exemption Program. The primary management measures contained in the regulations and their respective effective dates are listed below.

8-INCH DREDGE TWINE TOP REQUIREMENT

Beginning December 16, 1999, the minimum mesh size on the top of a scallop dredge (twine top) used by vessels fishing under a scallop day-at-sea (DAS) and not declared into the Georges Bank Sea Scallop Exemption Program must be no smaller than 8 inch square or diamond mesh.

GEORGES BANK SEA SCALLOP EXEMPTION PROGRAM

During the period June 15, 1999, through December 31, 1999, unless otherwise notified, all scallop vessels issued a Federal limited access scallop permit may fish in an area known as the Georges Bank Sea Scallop Exemption Area (Exemption Area) when fishing under a scallop DAS provided the vessel complies with the requirements specified below. The Georges Bank Sea Scallop Exemption Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

GEORGES BANK SEA SCALLOP EXEMPTION AREA

POINT N. LATITUDE W. LONGITUDE
DA1 40°24.000' 67°40.000'
DA2 40°24.000' 65°43.121' (US/Can Boundary)
G6 41°30.000' 66°34.728' (US/Can Boundary)
G7 41°30.000' 67°20.000'
DA4 42°12.000' 67°20.000'
DA5 42°12.000' 67°40.000'
DA1 40°24.000' 67°40.000'

To fish in the Georges Bank Sea Scallop Exemption Area under the Georges Bank Sea Scallop Exemption Program, the vessel must possess a current valid Federal limited access scallop permit and comply with the following requirements:

REQUIREMENTS:

Season -

The vessel may only fish in the Exemption Program from June 15 through December 31, 1999, unless otherwise specified by notification in the Federal Register.

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) -

The vessel must have installed on board an operational VMS unit.

Declaration -

Area Fished -

A vessel that has declared a trip into the Exemption Program is prohibited from fishing for, catching or harvesting scallops outside of the Exemption Area and may enter and exit the Exemption Area only once per trip.

Reporting -

The vessel must submit reports through the VMS, for each day fished when declared in the Exemption Program. These reports must be submitted in 24-hour intervals, beginning at 0000 hours and ending at 2400 hours each day, and include the following information:

Instructions on how to fill out these reports will be provided by the VMS vendor.

Number of Trips -

Unless otherwise specified by notification in the Federal Register, full and part-time scallop vessels may fish up to three trips each in the Exemption Program during the exemption season. Occasional scallop vessels may fish only one trip during the opening of the area.

Possession Limits -

Sea Scallops: Unless otherwise authorized by the Regional Administrator, a vessel declared into the Exemption Program may possess and land up to 10,000 lb of scallop meats per trip, no more of which may consist of 50 bu of in-shell scallops.

The Regional Administrator may increase the sea scallop possession limit for a vessel that has declared a fishing trip into the Georges Bank Sea Scallop Exemption Program and on which a NMFS approved sea sampler or observer is on board the vessel, or on which a NMFS approved research project is being conducted. The amount of the possession limit increase will be determined by the Regional Administrator and the vessel owner will be responsible for paying the cost of the observer and/or defraying the cost of the research project, whichever is applicable, regardless of whether the vessel lands or sells sea scallops on that trip.

Regulated multispecies: A vessel may possess and land up to 500 lb of regulated multispecies, unless otherwise restricted under the multispecies FMP or the vessel is carrying a NMFS approved sea sampler or observer on board the vessel.

Any vessel carrying an approved sea sampler or observer may possess all regulated multispecies caught provided the regulated multispecies in excess of 500 lb are donated to charity. All vessels subject to the 500 lb possession limit must separate all regulated multispecies onboard from other species of fish so as to be readily available for inspection.

Gear Restrictions -

All vessels declared into the Exemption Program must fish with or possess scallop dredge gear in accordance with current scallop dredge vessel restrictions, except that the mesh size of net material on the top of a scallop dredge in use by or in possession of the vessel may not be smaller than 10.0 inches square or diamond mesh.

Transiting -

When transiting to and from the Exemption Area, all gear on board must be properly stowed and not available for immediate use in accordance with the provisions of the multispecies FMP.

Limited access sea scallop vessels intending to fish for scallops under a scallop DAS that have not declared a trip into the Exemption Program may not enter, fish, or be in the area known as the Georges Bank Sea Scallop Exemption Area unless:

Offloading -

Vessels may not off-load their sea scallop catch at more than one location per trip.

DAS Accrual -

Scallop vessels that have declared a fishing trip into the Exemption Program will have a minimum of 10 DAS deducted from its DAS allocation, regardless of whether the actual number of DAS used during the trip are less than 10. Trips that exceed 10 DAS will be counted as actual time.

In-Season Adjustments -

On or after October 1, 1999, the Regional Administrator may adjust the sea scallop possession limit, and/or allocate one additional trip for full and part-time limited access sea scallop vessels that declared into and began a trip under the Exemption Program prior to September 1, 1999. Occasional permitted vessels would not be allocated an additional trip regardless of whether or not they declared or began an exempted trip before September 1, 1999.

The Regional Administrator may also terminate the Georges Bank Sea Scallop Exemption Program due to high yellowtail flounder bycatch. When the Regional Administrator projects that 387 metric tons of yellowtail flounder has been caught by vessels fishing in the Exemption Program, this program will be terminated.

This letter is only a summary of the regulations that have not been implemented as of the mailing of this letter. To determine if and when the regulations are actually implemented please call (978) 281-9278. Also, to read these regulations in their entirety, if implemented, you are encouraged to obtain a complete copy of the regulations by calling (978) 281-9278, or by accessing the Northeast Regional Office's website at: http://www.wh.whoi.edu/ro/doc/nero.html

This notice is authorized by the Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Region.


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