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Atlantic Pelagic Charter Fishery Closing Ranks?

Charter Fishery Closing RanksThe South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) is considering whether to shut the door on any further license permits for recreational charterboat fishing. The council is one of eight federal fishery councils under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with jurisdiction beginning three nautical miles offshore of coastal states from North Carolina to Florida.

Since for-hire charter fishing occurs in federal waters, any such measure would reduce future catches of dolphin, wahoo, and the snapper-grouper fishery in the South Atlantic.

According to Jack McGovern, Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries at NOAA's southeastern regional office in St. Petersburg, the charter permits have historically been open access with no limits.

"The council is now considering a set limit on those permits," said McGovern. "One possibility is to grandfather the existing permit holders, but not grant further permits. However, nothing is as yet decided."

Permits in the South Atlantic for charter vessels and headboats total 4,858 and size up as follows: dolphin- wahoo, 1,700; coastal migratory pelagics, 1591; snapper-grouper, 1567. Some skippers possess multiple permits.

Here's the bulletin including the public comment link:

On September 27, 2016, NOAA Fisheries published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to set a control date of June 15, 2016, for the federal charter vessel/headboat (for-hire) component of the recreational sectors of the coastal migratory pelagics fishery in the Atlantic, dolphin and wahoo fishery in the Atlantic, and snapper-grouper fishery in the South Atlantic. This notice informs current and potential future fishermen that the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) is considering restrictions limiting participation in these fisheries. Fishermen who enter the federal for-hire recreational sector for these fisheries after June 15, 2016, will not be assured of future access should a management regime that limits participation in the sector be prepared and implemented.

The establishment of a control date does not commit the Council or NOAA Fisheries to any particular management regime. The Council may or may not make use of this control date as part of the requirements for participation in these fisheries. Fishermen are not guaranteed future participation in the sector, regardless of their entry date. The Council may take action that would affect participants who were in these fisheries prior to the control date, or the Council may choose to take no further action to control entry or access.

Request for Comments:

Comments on this control date must be received no later than October 27, 2016, to be considered by NOAA Fisheries. You may submit comments by the following methods:

Electronic Submission:

Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0121

Mail:

Mary Vara

NOAA Fisheries

Southeast Regional Office

Sustainable Fisheries Division

263 13th Avenue South

St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

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