NMFS News Release





Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930




Date: March 29, 1999

Dear Permit Holder:

On March 3, 1999, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approved a Monkfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), including a limited access vessel permit requirement for the monkfish fishery. Although the final regulations are not yet in effect, the Northeast Regional Office of NMFS has begun the process of qualifying fishing vessels into the monkfish fishery.

Enclosed is a permit application for this purpose. If your vessel pre-qualifies for a limited access monkfish permit based on landing information in NMFS' database, an additional letter is enclosed in this package informing you of your vessel's qualification and the permit category that it qualified for. If you pre-qualify and would like to select a different category than the one that has been pre-selected for your vessel, or if a pre-qualifier letter is not enclosed and you wish to apply for a limited access permit, you must submit proof that your vessel meets the qualification criteria described in this permit holder letter for the limited access vessel permit that you select.

Fishing vessel owners whose vessels do not qualify for a limited access permit under the following criteria may elect a monkfish Incidental Catch permit to fish for and land monkfish, subject to any restrictions in the final rule pertaining to such permits.

The new regulations will be extensive and will be explained in a subsequent permit holder letter once the final rule is published (an expected publication date is within the next two months). However, we urge you to act now and apply early so that you have the appropriate permit in hand upon the effective date of the monkfish fishery. Applications for an initial monkfish limited access permit must be received within 12 months of the effective date of the regulations. Vessels that do not obtain an initial monkfish limited access permit will not be issued a limited access permit in subsequent years.

MONKFISH VESSEL PERMITS

Beginning with the effective date of the monkfish regulations, any vessel that fishes for, possesses, or lands monkfish harvested from Federal waters, except recreational fishing vessels (i.e., vessels that land fish not intended for or resulting in their sale, barter, or trade), must have a Federal monkfish permit. To ensure that you will receive your Federal monkfish permit by the effective date of the monkfish FMP, we encourage you to apply within 30 days of receiving this letter. Starting with the effective date of these regulations, there are two types of Federal monkfish permits; limited access (four permit categories) and open access (one permit category).

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Limited Access Permit -

To possess or land amounts of monkfish greater than what is allowed by the monkfish incidental catch permit your vessel must have a limited access monkfish permit on board the vessel (except recreational vessels). There are four (4) Federal limited access monkfish permits (Categories A, B, C and D). To qualify for a limited access monkfish permit, vessel landings must have occurred between February 28, 1991, and February 27, 1995, unless otherwise noted below. If your vessel landed a minimum of 50,000 lb tail-weight or 166,000 lb whole weight of monkfish you are encouraged to apply for a Category A or C permit in order to be eligible for higher trip limits starting with the second fishing year of the FMP. There are important distinctions between each category, including monkfish landing limit restrictions and required periods of time out of the monkfish fishery. These fishing restrictions will be discussed further in a detailed permit holder letter after the final regulations for the monkfish fishery have been published. To receive a limited access permit your vessel must meet the qualification criteria described below:

1. Category A Permit - This category is available for vessels without a multispecies or scallop limited access permit that landed at least 50,000 lb tail-weight or 166,000 lb whole weight of monkfish. Vessels fishing under this permit category will initially be allocated up to 40 days-at-sea (DAS).*

2. Category B Permit - This category is available for vessels without a multispecies or scallop limited access permit that are less than 51 GRT and do not qualify for a category A permit. Vessels under this category must have landed at least 7,500 lb tail-weight or 24,900 lb whole weight of monkfish. Vessels fishing under this permit category will initially be allocated up to 40 DAS.*

3. Category C Permit - This category is available for vessels with a multispecies or scallop limited access permit that landed at least 50,000 lb tail-weight or 166,000 lb whole weight of monkfish. Vessels fishing under this permit category will initially be allocated up to 40 DAS.*

4. Category D Permit - This category is available for vessels with multispecies limited access permits and vessels less than 51 GRT with scallop limited access permits that do not qualify for a Category C permit. Vessels under this category must have landed at least 7,500 lb tail-weight or 24,900 lb whole weight of monkfish. Vessels fishing under this permit category will initially be allocated up to 40 DAS.*

Alternate ways to qualify for a limited access monkfish permit, provided one of the above criteria is met:



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Please note: A vessel currently greater than or equal to 51 gross registered tons (GRT) and that replaced or was upgraded from a vessel less than 51 GRT between February 27, 1995, and the date of publication of final rule, and which does not otherwise qualify for a Category A or C permit, may qualify for a Category B or D permit if the vessel landed at least 7,500 lb tail-weight or 24,900 lb whole weight of monkfish between February 28, 1991, and February 27, 1995.

Open Access Permit - Category E (Incidental Catch)

A vessel that has not been issued a limited access monkfish permit is eligible for and may be issued a monkfish Incidental Catch permit to fish for, possess, or land monkfish. This permit will allow your vessel to retain a limited amount of monkfish depending on the fishing year, area and gear fished. The details of the landings restrictions will follow in an additional permit holder letter when the final rule is published.

*DAYS AT SEA PROGRAM

If your vessel qualifies for a limited access monkfish permit, the vessel must participate in the monkfish fishing effort-control program if the vessel operator intends on landing greater than the allowed incidental bycatch of monkfish. This program is one of the measures designed to reduce fishing mortality on monkfish through reductions in fishing effort by limiting DAS.

For fishing years 1999, 2000 and 2001, vessels with a limited access monkfish permit (Category A, B, C and D) will be allocated up to 40 monkfish DAS. Please note: When a vessel that holds both a limited access monkfish permit and a limited access multispecies or scallop permit, fishes under the monkfish DAS program, that trip will also count against a multispecies or scallop DAS, whichever is applicable. A combination vessel, which holds both a limited access multispecies and scallop permit, could fish under a monkfish DAS during either a multispecies or scallop DAS, provided that unused multispecies or scallop DAS are available. Scallop vessels are prohibited from using or possessing scallop dredge gear when fishing under a monkfish DAS.

For fishing years 2002 and after, monkfish DAS will be set to zero unless the management program is revised before fishing year 2002.

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VESSEL LIMITED ACCESS PERMIT APPLICATION PROCESS

If you received a prequalification letter in this package and agree with the limited access permit category selected for your vessel, complete the enclosed permit application and return it to NMFS.

If you did not receive a prequalification letter in this package and believe your vessel qualifies for a limited access monkish permit, or if your vessel pre-qualified and you would like to select a different limited access permit category (see "Limited Access Permit" on page 2), please apply for the appropriate permit on the enclosed permit application and submit evidence supporting your vessel's qualification. Acceptable proof of landings includes weighout slips (dealer slips), Federal and state records. If your vessel is qualifying as a new vessel, a vessel under reconstruction, or a replacement vessel, you must also provide the following information:

Newly constructed or reconstructed vessels -

If your vessel is qualifying for a limited access permit as a newly constructed or reconstructed vessel between February 29, 1994, and February 27, 1995, you must submit a copy of the written agreement for construction or reconstruction with your permit application. You must also provide evidence that the vessel landed monkfish between February 28, 1991, and February 27, 1996 (see "Alternate ways to qualify for a limited access monkfish permit" beginning on page 2).

Replacement vessels -

If your vessel is replacing a vessel that qualified for a limited access permit, in addition to filling out the vessel application for your current vessel, you should provide the name, Coast Guard documentation number, and permit number of the vessel it is replacing. If you sold the vessel that is being replaced, you should provide a copy of any written agreement between yourself and the new owner with respect to ownership of the permit history or fishing rights (see "Alternate ways to qualify for a limited access monkfish permit" beginning on page 2).

VESSEL LIMITED ACCESS APPEALS

If you are notified that a limited access permit you are applying for is denied, you may appeal the denial. Appeals must be requested in writing within 30 days of the notice of denial. The only ground for appeal is that the Regional Administrator erred in concluding that the vessel did not meet the qualification criteria (see "Limited Access Permit" page 2).

STATUS OF VESSELS PENDING AN APPEAL

If you appeal the denial of a limited access permit, your vessel may fish under the monkfish DAS program after the effective date of the regulations while the appeal is pending. You will receive a Letter of Authorization from the Regional Administrator which must be carried on board the vessel. If the appeal is denied, you will receive a notice of denial; the Letter of Authorization becomes invalid 5 days after receipt of the notice of denial.

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CONFIRMATION OF PERMIT HISTORY (CPH)

A person who does not currently own a fishing vessel, but who has owned a vessel qualifying for a limited access monkfish permit that has sunk, been destroyed, or transferred to another person, may apply for and receive a CPH if the fishing and permit history of that vessel has been retained by the applicant. To be eligible to obtain a CPH, the applicant must show that the qualifying vessel meets the qualification requirements for a monkfish limited access permit (see "Limited Access Permit" page 2). Issuance of a valid and current CPH preserves the eligibility of the applicant to apply for or renew a limited access monkfish permit for a replacement vessel based on the qualifying vessel's fishing and permit history at a subsequent time, subject to the replacement provisions mentioned above.

This letter is only a summary of the monkfish permit information and qualification criteria for the monkfish limited access program. Detailed information on monkfish management measures will be forthcoming in a separate permit holder letter. For further information please call 978-281-9278.

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