NMFS News Release

Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930

Experimental Whiting Separator Trawl Fishery in the Small Mesh Northern Shrimp Exemption Area Re-Authorized for the 1999 Fishing Season

Date: July 13, 1999

Dear Multispecies Permit Holder:

This is to announce that the Experimental Whiting Separator Trawl Fishery in the Small Mesh Northern Shrimp Exemption Area has been re-authorized for the 1999 fishing season. This fishery was not authorized as a permanent exempted fishery, in part due to discrepancies in logbook reporting (Vessel Trip Reports) by the experimental fishery participants. The purpose of this experiment is to gather catch data from the participating vessels to help identify trends in the fishery and the ability of this fishery to meet the bycatch standard established for approval of an exempted fishery. Because the logbook reporting has been inconsistent, untimely, and in some cases lacking altogether, it is difficult to accurately evaluate the fishery or the merits of allowing it to continue in future years. A participant's compliance with the logbook reporting requirements and other stated permit conditions is imperative for maintaining a "real time" pulse on the activity in this fishery. The onus is on each and every participant to provide accurate and timely reporting of the fishery. If one vessel fails to meet this responsibility, the whole fishery suffers. Furthermore, reliance on the accuracy of this data is critical, as funding sources for sea sampling coverage become increasingly more difficult to secure. As a participant in this year's fishery and as a condition of holding the permit, you are still required to take a sea sampler on board your vessel when requested to do so.

Participants judged to have been out of logbook reporting compliance for the 1998 experimental fishery will not be allowed to participate in the 1999 experiment. In addition, vessels who participate in this year's experimental fishery, but do not comply with all reporting requirements (submit logbooks within 15 days after the end of the month), will be removed from participation for the rest of this year.

To ensure that the data collected from the fishery will adequately characterize the fishing behavior of each sector participating (food and bait; tuna and lobster included), there is an important program change this year with respect to permit category designation. This year, the "Landed-Use-Only" authorization has been divided into two permit categories: "For-Food" and "For-Bait". If you elect either a "For-Food" or "For-Bait" Landed-Use-Only permit category, you may not transfer or sell catch at-sea or use the catch as bait on the same trip during which it was caught. The "For Bait" category designation has been added this year, primarily to allow bait to be sold at the dock and to have some record of this activity for later analysis.

The option for tuna or lobster fishers who wish to use their catch as bait at-sea on the same trip during which it was caught is to elect an "At-sea and Transfer Utilization" authorization. As the name denotes, this permit also enables you to transfer your catch at sea with no additional authorization letter aboard your vessel. However, as was the case last year, vessels that are transferring multispecies at-sea for utilization at-sea, as well as vessels receiving multispecies from authorized vessels are required to hold a valid Federal multispecies permit on board their vessel.

Only one authorization letter may be issued at a time, but you do not have to remain in one sector of the fishery for the entire season. Participants must enroll for a minimum of 7 days and maximum of 30 days. Separating the fishery in this way allows for an equal distribution of observer coverage among the different fishery sectors and has potential benefits when looking at the year-end catch data and determining distribution of effort.

As with the previous three years' experiments, the 1999 experimental fishery requires the use of a separator trawl that conforms to the following configuration and specifications:

Vessels owners who previously participated may enroll by calling (978) 281-9370. Vessel owners who have not participated in this fishery in the past must contact the State of Maine at (207) 633-9528 for further information. Vessel owners must indicate the vessel name, Federal permit number, State registration or Official Coast Guard Documentation number, desired participation period (minimum 7 days, maximum 30 days) and the Permit and category designation-- Landed-Use Only: "For-Food" or "For-Bait" category designations; or At-Sea and Transfer Utilization. Provided no outstanding fines or violations and/or pending investigations or reporting compliance issues are associated with the vessel, the vessel may begin to fish when the vessel owner has received the exempted fishing permit and has it aboard the vessel.

For further information, interested parties may call the Northeast Regional Office information line at (978)281-9278.

This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator

of the

National Marine Fisheries Service

NERO Home Page