NMFS News Release

Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930

SFA Amendments

Date: October 26, 1999

Dear Permit Holder

This letter announces that on October 26, 1999, NMFS published regulations to implement Amendment 12 to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP), Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squids and Butterfish FMP, and Amendment 12 to the Atlantic Surf Clam and Ocean Quahog FMP (collectively referred to as the SFA Amendments). The SFA Amendments were partially approved on April 28, 1999. A summary of the approved measures follows. All provisions are effective .

Vessel Size Restriction

This rule restricts the size of domestic vessels that may be permitted to harvest Atlantic mackerel (without restricting the size of processing vessels). The restriction applies to vessels that exceed the following:

(1) 165 ft in length overall (LOA) and 750 GRT, or

(2) shaft horsepower (shp) of 3,000 shp.

Vessels of the United States that exceed these dimensions may be issued and carry on board a valid at-sea processor permit to receive over the side, possess and process Atlantic mackerel harvested in or from the EEZ by a lawfully permitted vessel of the United States. Recipients of this permit may not harvest Atlantic mackerel, and will be required to report consistent with the reporting requirement of Federally permitted dealers.

You may apply for, and receive, this permit by contacting the Northeast Regional Permit Office at 978-281-9370. This permit is NOT included on your 1999 annual permit renewal application.

Operator Permit

This rule implements an operator permit requirement for the surf clam and ocean quahog fisheries. Vessel operators must obtain a permit, but if you or your vessel's operator already have one from another federally permitted fishery, you do not need to get another one. You may apply for this permit by contacting the Northeast Regional Permit Office at 978-281-9370.

Technical Changes

This rule also implements several technical changes to the regulations that may affect your fishing activities:

Summer Flounder Transfer at Sea

This rule clarifies that the transfer of summer flounder at sea is strictly prohibited.

Surf clam and Ocean Quahog Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning

Effective February 1, 1991, NMFS closed the fishing grounds located east of 69 00' W. longitude, and south of 4220' N. latitude to surf clam and ocean quahog harvesting. That area was closed to fishing for surf clams and ocean quahogs due to high concentrations of the organism that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) currently found in these species at that location. The original notification specified that the area would remain closed until the Secretary of Commerce determines that the adverse environmental conditions caused by the PSP toxin are no longer present. Since that closure is still in effect, NMFS has codified the closure so that new entrants into the fishery, and those who may not have been actively participating in the fishery since 1991, can be notified more easily of the closure and subsequent re-opening, should it occur.

Sea Turtle Conservation Measures

Regulations formerly found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) under part 648, are now found under CFR parts 217 and 227, with no change to the regulatory requirements for sea turtle conservation measures.

This letter is only a summary of the approved regulations. To read these regulations in their entirety, you are encouraged to obtain a complete copy by calling 978-281-9278, or via our website, at: http://www.nero.nmfs.gov/ro/doc/nero.html

This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator of the

National Marine Fisheries Service

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