9 Jun 2007

NMFS Final Rule on Swordfish Management

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released its Final Rule today, June 7, 2007, for the U.S. swordfish fishery in an effort to provide additional opportunities for U.S. vessels to more fully harvest the domestic swordfish quota.

The rule includes:

Effective July 9, 2007

(1) An increase in retention limits for incidental swordfish permit holders to 30 fish, except for vessels participating in the squid trawl fishery, which would be limited to 15 swordfish.

(2) An increase in the bag limit per vessel to 4 in the HMS Angling category, but retains the 1 swordfish per person bag limit.

(3) An increase in retention for the HMS charter/headboat category from one swordfish per paying passenger up to a maximum of six per charter vessel and 15 per headboat.

Effective August 6, 2007

(4) Modifying vessel upgrading restrictions only for vessels that currently possess, or are eligible to renew, on August 6, 2007, Incidental or Directed Swordfish and Shark permits, as well as Atlantic Tunas Longline category permits. These vessels can be upgraded, or permits transferred, so long as the upgrade or permit transfer does not result in an increase in vessel size (LOA, GRT, and NT) of more than 35 percent, relative to the vessel first issued an HMS Limited Access Permit (baseline vessel). All horsepower upgrading restrictions for these vessels are removed.

Effective July 9, 2007

In addition, restrictions specifying that a vessel may be upgraded only once will be removed for all HMS Limited Access Permits. The agency will provide additional information to Limited Access Permit holders regarding eligibility for the modified vessel upgrading restriction in the future.

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