Federal Register: September 29, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 188)
DOCID: FR Doc E4-2403
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
DOCUMENT ID: [I.D. 092304B]
DOCUMENT ACTION: Notification of a proposal for exempted fishing permits to conduct experimental fishing; request for comments.
Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits
DATES: Comments on this document must be received on or before October 14, 2004.
The Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Northeast Region, NMFS (Assistant Regional Administrator) has made a preliminary determination that the subject Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application contains all the required information and warrants further consideration. The Assistant Regional Administrator has also made a preliminary determination that the activities authorized under the EFP would be consistent with the goals and objectives of the Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). However, further review and consultation may be necessary before a final determination is made to issue the EFP. Therefore, NMFS announces that the Assistant Regional Administrator proposes to recommend that an EFP be issued that would allow one vessel to conduct fishing operations that are otherwise restricted by the regulations governing the fisheries of the Northeastern United States. The EFP may allow for exemptions from the NE multispecies daysatsea (DAS) effort control program for up to 11 DAS for testing a bycatch reducing gear modification. Regulations under the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed EFPs.
Dr. Pingguo He of the University of New
Hampshire Cooperative Extension (UNH) submitted an application for an
EFP on May 27, 2004. This is a continuation of a project that started
in 2002. Due to gear modifications, tank flume tests, and poor weather
conditions the sea trails were not completed in the 20032004 fishing [[Page 58153]]
year. This EFP would authorize one commercial vessel to conduct sea trials using a soft grid finfish excluder device. The objective of the research is to test gear to separate flatfish from roundfish in trawl nets and to reduce the bycatch of roundfish, particularly cod, when fishing for flatfish. The separation device is designed to exploit behavioral differences that exist between the species.
The design consists of a trawl net with a soft panel, or ramp, that would be positioned in front of a double codend. It would take advantage of the tendency for flatfish to swim toward the ocean bottom after encountering the separation panel and thereby into the lower codend portion of the net. Roundfish, which are not expected to swim toward the sea floor after encountering the panel, would swim into the upper codend portion of the net, which would be left open under normal fishing practices where the vessel was targeting flatfish. However, for the purposes of this experiment both codends will remain closed in order to quantify separation success. The net would also utilize visual stimuli fixed forward of the codend to test changes in swimming behavior in roundfish and flatfish in response to the stimuli. Underwater videography would be employed to observe fish behavior and functioning of the experimental selectivity device.
The sea trials would be conducted in shallow water (30 to 50
fathoms (55 to 91 m)) off the coasts of New Hampshire, southern Maine,
and a small portion of northern Massachusetts. UNH researchers would be
aboard the vessel at all times during the experimental work. The atsea
portion of the experiment would last no longer than 11 fishing days in
the 2004 fishing year. Based upon the catch rates from eight days of
fishing in the 2003 fishing year, the following catch is estimated for
the 2004 fishing year: Cod 2,846 lb (1,291 kg); American plaice 274 lb
(124 kg); witch flounder 1,547 lb (702 kg); haddock 34 lb (15 kg);
pollock 11 lb (5 kg); yellowtail flounder 87 lb (40 kg); winter
flounder 50 lb (23 kg), and white hake 140 lb (64 kg). All undersized
fish would be returned to the sea as quickly as possible. Legalsized
fish that would otherwise have to be discarded would be allowed to be
retained and sold within the applicable Gulf of Maine (GOM) possession
limits. The participating vessel would be required to report all landings in its Vessel Trip Report.
Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
Dated: September 23, 2004.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E42403 Filed 92804; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 351022S
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Brian Hooker, Fishery Policy Analyst, phone 9782819220.