The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has re-opened the comment period on a request for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) in the East Florida Coast and Charleston Bump closed zones. The extended comment period closed on April 25, 2007, but has been re-opened until 5 p.m. on June 20, 2007.
If approved, this exemption would allow 13 longline vessels to fish an area now closed to longlining in federal waters 40 miles north of Fort Pierce (~ 280 N. Latitude) and east of the axis of the Gulf Stream, continuing northward and east to the 100 fathom contour and the northern boundary of the Charleston Bump closed area.
TBF opposes the issuance of such an EFP as the intent of the permit is not scientific or experimental but is solely to allow longlines to fish in the closed area. The area closures to this gear were implemented to reduce the bycatch and mortality of juvenile swordfish, white and blue marlin and sailfish and they have succeeded at that goal. The NMFS recently allowed multi-hook buoy gear into these areas and there has yet to be an evaluation of the impacts and extent of commercial catch this gear will afford the industry. The closures have achieved the bycatch reduction goals and have created a dynamic and economically strong recreational swordfish fishery in an area previously devastated by commercial overfishing.
You may submit comments to:
Email: SF1.030107C@NOAA.gov. Include the following in the subject line: “I.D. 030107C”
Mail: Please mark the outside of the envelope: “Comments on an EFP Application”
Highly Migratory Species Division [F/SF1]
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910