FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gordon Helm
Agency allows additional time for fishers to provide input
NOAA Fisheries announced a four-month delay to its implementation of fisheries and fishing gear regulations required under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today. A number of fishing industry members and others are concerned that some gear types or fisheries may have been omitted from a list of allowable gear and fisheries in federal waters, prompting the four-month delay to allow further input and prevent vessels or gear from being unnecessarily banned from use.
In late January, NOAA Fishery managers published a list of allowable fisheries and fishing gear that can be used in those fisheries. The regulations, which affect all federally managed marine waters, were to have become effective July 26, 1999. After that date, no person or vessel could have employed fishing gear or participated in a fishery that is not included in the published list, unless they notified fishery managers 90 days in advance of fishing or use of the gear.
A 180 day delay in implementing the rule, from January until July, was to allow fishers ample opportunity to identify any final changes needed in the list. However, in the past few weeks, managers began receiving comments asserting that the list does not include all gear currently used in some fisheries, nor does it include all of the fisheries in federal waters.
Therefore, NOAA Fisheries managers will delay the effective date of the list of allowable gear and fisheries until December 1, 1999. A federal register rule announcing the delay also contains a comment period that ends on September 13, 1999.
The list of fisheries and fishing gear was developed from information provided by the eight regional fishery management councils that manage fisheries under their geographical jurisdiction. In addition, the list contains fisheries and gear types that are not now managed under a specific fishery management plan. The list was supplemented by information contained in an annual list of fisheries that interact with marine animals, also prepared by NOAA Fisheries, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The public is welcome to send their written comments to Dr. Gary C. Matlock, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, Room 13,362, SSMC III, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. A copy of the delayed implementing rule, including the list of fisheries and gear, can be obtained on the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.gov/sfa/prorules.html