NMFS News Release





Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930




IMPORTANT NOTICE



ALL LIMITED ACCESS PERMIT HOLDERS WILL BE IMPACTED BY NEW PERMIT-RELATED REGULATIONS THAT WILL BECOME EFFECTIVE ON MARCH 22, 1999.

PLEASE RETAIN THIS LETTER AND ATTACHMENTS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE



Date: March 2, 1999

Dear Permit Holder:

This letter is to inform you of important changes in regulations that will affect vessels issued Federal limited access fishery permits. Federal limited access fishery permits affected by these changes include summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, Loligo squid/butterfish, Illex squid, Maine mahogany quahog, Atlantic sea scallop, Northeast multispecies, and American lobster. These changes will make it easier to buy, sell, replace and upgrade commercial fishing vessels with limited access permits issued by the Northeast Regional Office of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

The most significant changes will affect vessels with Mid-Atlantic FMP limited access permits. However, to some degree, all limited access permits are impacted. Attached are the following sections describing new regulations for: (1) annual limited access permit renewal; (2) change in ownership of a vessel; (3) permit splitting; (4) vessel replacement and upgrading; and (5) Confirmation of Permit History.

In addition, the new regulations establish vessel baseline size specifications for, scup, black sea bass, Loligo squid/butterfish, Illex squid, and Maine mahogany quahog limited access permits (and a new baseline for summer flounder). You will be responsible for ensuring that your vessel's baseline information is correct. A description of this new requirement is provided in Attachment 2.

Open access permits including all charter/party, incidental squid and butterfish, mackerel, multispecies handgear, nonregulated multispecies and general scallop permits are not affected by the new regulations.

Please read these provisions carefully. If you have any questions, please call our office at (978)281-9278. This letter and its attachments do not contain all the regulatory provisions that pertain to these species, and consequently, have no legal force or effect. A copy of the regulations can be obtained through a link to the Office of the Federal Register at the NMFS Northeast Regional Office's Web Site: http://www.nero.nmfs.gov/ro/doc/nero.html.

You may also call the above number to obtain a copy of the regulations.






Attachment 1

ANNUAL LIMITED ACCESS PERMIT RENEWAL

This means that the permit application must be received by NMFS no later than 30 days before the last day of the fishing year. Failure to renew a limited access permit, or failure to submit the renewal request by this deadline in any fishing year prevents the renewal of the permit in future years.

For example, for the fishing year beginning May 1, 1999 and ending April 30, 2000 a vessel owner must apply for the 1999/2000 limited access permit no later than April 1, 2000.

CHANGE IN OWNERSHIP OF A VESSEL

The regulations for all limited access fisheries now specify that the fishing and permit history of a vessel is presumed to remain with the vessel whenever it is bought, sold or otherwise transferred, unless there is a written agreement, signed by the buyer and seller, or other credible written evidence, verifying that the seller is retaining the vessel's fishing and permit history for purposes of replacing the vessel.

PERMIT SPLITTING

This means that if a vessel is issued more than one limited access fishery permit, all of the limited access permits must remain together when a vessel is bought, sold or otherwise transferred. You may not split up the permits among more than one vessel and have them remain valid. A vessel owner may either choose to relinquish all of the vessel's limited access permits when selling a vessel, or retain all of the limited access permits for future use on a replacement vessel.

For example, if your vessel is issued three limited access fishery permits, when you sell the vessel you cannot sell one of these permits with the vessel and keep the other two to put on your new vessel.

VESSEL UPGRADES AND REPLACEMENTS

The American lobster limited access permit has no upgrade or replacement vessel size restrictions. However, if a vessel has been issued an American lobster limited access permit and any other limited access permit for a fishery, the above upgrade and replacement vessel restrictions would apply.

The baseline specifications for summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, Loligo squid/butterfish, Illex squid, and Maine mahogany quahog permits will be established using the respective specifications of the vessel (LOA, GRT, NT and HP) as of March 22, 1999. Vessel baseline specifications for Northeast multispecies and Atlantic sea scallop limited access fishery permits were established in 1994 on the vessel that first received the Federal limited access permit. For more information on vessel baseline specifications and corrections, please see "Vessel Baseline Specifications" attachment.

CONFIRMATION OF PERMIT HISTORY

A person who does not currently own a fishing vessel, but who has retained ownership of the fishing and permit history of a vessel that qualified for a limited access permit (and that vessel has sunk, been destroyed, sold or otherwise transferred to another person), must apply for and receive a Confirmation of Permit History. Issuance of a valid Confirmation of Permit History preserves the limited access eligibility of the vessel for the owner of the history. A Confirmation of Permit History remains valid until it is used to qualify a replacement vessel for a limited access permit. The applicant, upon finding a suitable replacement vessel (described above), can then apply for the limited access permit at a subsequent time.

To be eligible for a Confirmation of Permit History, applicants must have lawfully retained the limited access fishing and permit history of the vessel. As proof of lawful retention of fishing and permit history, applicants must be able to provide verification of vessel destruction or a copy of a written agreement, signed by the buyer and the seller, that the seller retained the fishing and permit history of the vessel when it was sold or otherwise transferred.

An application for a Confirmation of Permit History must be received by the Regional Administrator no later than 30 days prior to the end of the first full fishing year in which a vessel permit cannot be issued. Failure to do so is considered abandonment of the permit.

Vessel owners who have sold a qualifying vessel and lawfully retained the fishing and permit history are encouraged to submit an application for a Confirmation of Permit History (or a vessel replacement) as soon as possible following the sale of the vessel. Complicated ownership disagreements can occur when the buyer of a vessel applies for permits before the seller obtains a Confirmation of Permit.

Vessel owners who were previously issued a Confirmation of Permit History and who have not activated the history on a replacement vessel, will automatically receive a new Confirmation of Permit History.






Attachment 2

VESSEL BASELINE SPECIFICATIONS

The following information only applies to those vessel owners with one or more of the following limited access permits:

summer flounder, or black sea bass, or scup, or Illex squid, or Loligo squid/butterfish, or Maine mahogany quahog

Baselines will be established for all vessels issued one or more of the above limited access permits.

A vessel baseline is the vessels's length overall (LOA), gross registered tonnage (GRT), net tonnage (NT) and engine horsepower (HP) as of MARCH 22, 1999. Please note, all vessel owners with one or more of the above permits may be required to submit information to establish a baseline. Read the instructions below to determine what you need to do. Refer to the appropriate instructions according to what permits your vessel has.

I All vessel owners:

Please sign and submit the attached statement which attests to the fact that the information you are submitting (or already submitted in the past if you established a multispecies or scallop baseline) reflects your vessel specifications as of March 22, 1999.

If a vessel owner applies for a vessel replacement or upgrade, NMFS uses the vessel's baseline specifications to determine whether the replacement or upgrade meets the regulations which restrict a vessel's size (see attachment 1:"Vessel Upgrades and Replacements"). For example, if your vessel's baseline length (length overall) is 100 feet, the vessel which replaces your vessel could have a length overall of up to 110 feet (10% increase from your current vessel). If you do not establish a baseline now, any future request for a vessel replacement or upgrade will be more complicated. Please submit any information to NMFS within six months. Please call (978) 281-9315 if you have any questions regarding these new regulations.

II For Vessels with a Multispecies or Scallop limited access permits which established a baseline already:

You will not need to submit information to establish a baseline unless the vessel has been upgraded or replaced since it was first issued a multispecies or scallop limited access permit.

You will need to sign the attached "statement B" which attests to the fact that your multispecies or scallop baseline accurately reflects your vessel's specifications as of MARCH 22, 1999. If your vessel was replaced or upgraded, please submit information according to the instructions below (III) which verifies your vessel specifications as of MARCH 22, 1999.

III Vessel owners who do not have a multispecies or scallop limited access permit:

A) For Coast Guard Documented Vessels:

NMFS will establish your baseline from the Coast Guard Documentation which you submit with your 1999 permit renewal application. In addition, you will need to submit one of the following in order to verify your engine's horsepower:

1)A marine survey stating the HP of your vessel, OR

2)A letter from a mechanic stating the HP for your vessel, OR

3)Manufacturer specification stating the HP for your engine and proof that engine is installed on your vessel.

If for some reason you believe that the information on your Coast Guard Documentation is incorrect, you must submit a letter saying you are correcting the information on your Coast Guard Document, and then submit one of the following, as necessary:

1)A marine survey to correct your LOA.

2)A revised Coast Guard Document showing your corrected GRT and NT.

B) For State Registered Vessels:

You must establish your baseline by the following means:

1) To verify current LOA, GRT, NT, submit a marine survey which indicates the vessel's current LOA, GRT, NT (breadth, and depth information may be submitted instead of GRT and NT).

2) To verify HP, submit either

* A marine survey, OR

* A letter from a mechanic stating the HP for your vessel. OR

* Manufacturer specification stating the HP for you engine, and proof that engine is installed on your vessel.

SEND BASELINE INFO.& "VESSEL OWNER STATEMENT OF ACCURACY" TO:

NMFS; ATTN: BASELINES

ONE BLACKBURN DR.

GLOUCESTER, MA 01930-2298


VESSEL OWNER STATEMENT OF ACCURACY:

PLEASE SIGN AND DATE EITHER STATEMENT A OR STATEMENT B:

STATEMENT A

The information I am submitting to National Marine Fisheries Service in order to establish my vessel's baseline accurately represents the vessel specifications as of MARCH 22, 1999.



_________________________ ____________

Signature of Vessel Owner Date

_________________________

Vessel name







STATEMENT B

The information I submitted in order to establish my baseline for my vessel's multispecies or scallop moratorium permit accurately represents the vessel specifications as of MARCH 22 1999.



_________________________ ____________

Signature of Vessel Owner Date

_________________________

Vessel name





SUBMISSION OF FALSE INFORMATION TO THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT IS A CRIME PUNISHABLE UNDER 18 USC 1001.





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