FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kate Naughten
Rule to Help Reduce Catch of Undersized Swordfish and Other Species
Today, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service issued regulations that prohibit fishing with pelagic longline gear in certain areas and times from the East Coast of Florida to North Carolina and in the DeSoto Canyon in the Gulf of Mexico, and from using live bait in the Gulf of Mexico. The regulations, which affect the commercial pelagic longline fisheries for swordfish, tunas and sharks, are designed to reduce the number of undersized swordfish, billfish and other species incidentally caught with pelagic longline gear.
Affected areas are the Charleston Bump, the DeSoto Canyon and the East Florida Coast. The effective dates for the time-area closures are as follows:
As of Nov. 1, 2000, DeSoto Canyon will
be closed year-round.
Also, as of Sept. 1, 2000, pelagic longline fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico are not allowed to use live bait. This regulation will reduce the number of billfish caught and then discarded by the pelagic longline fishery. Under current regulations, commercial retention of billfish is prohibited.
The closed areas and gear restrictions apply only to commercial fishermen who hold a federal limited access permits for Highly Migratory Species. NOAA Fisheries is working with the regional fishery councils to ensure consistency among regulations for all fisheries using pelagic longline gear.
NOAA Fisheries also reminds fishermen that as of Sept. 1, 2000, a Vessel Monitoring System is required for commercial fishermen using pelagic longline gear and holding a federal limited access permit.
For more information or to receive a copy of the Compliance Guide for this new rule, call Karyl Brewster-Geis or Chris Rogers, (301) 713-2347, or Buck Sutter, (727) 570-5447. The guide also is available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hmspg.html