NOAA 2002-R120
Contact: Susan Buchanan
NOAA News Releases 2002
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Comments Will Be Accepted Online

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), an agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking comment on a proposal to have recreational fishermen obtain an annual permit before fishing for highly migratory species (HMS) of tunas, billfish, swordfish and sharks. For this rule, the public will be able to submit comments online as part of the agency's new pilot project called e-Comments.

This proposed rule would require all highly migratory species anglers to obtain an HMS recreational fishing permit annually. The rule also would define HMS charter/headboat requirements, address the impacts that the new definition may have on the sale of fish and retention limits. It also contains some minor amendments to existing regulations.

"The use of an annual permit in the HMS recreational category will allow us to better define how anglers participate in the Atlantic highly migratory species fisheries and affect the economies of coastal communities," said Bill Hogarth, director of NOAA Fisheries.

During the comment period the public is encouraged to use the agency's new e-Comments Web site to compose and submit comments on the proposed rule. The new e-Comments system – accessible through the NOAA Fisheries Web site – is designed to introduce electronic rulemaking to the agency and its constituents. Although this project is currently in the pilot stage, NOAA Fisheries plans to expand e-Comments in the future to include all fishery regulations and notices published in the Federal Register.

"Our e-Comments pilot is an example of how NOAA Fisheries is using technology to give our constituents the opportunity to easily communicate with us and participate in the public process," said Hogarth. "Electronic rulemaking will enhance the agency's ability to collect, organize and analyze public comments for the record."

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries, please visit