NOAA seeks comments on proposed rule

21 Apr 2010
The goal is to improve bycatch reduction in the shrimp fishery. Credit: NOAA

The goal is to improve bycatch reduction in the shrimp fishery. Credit: NOAA

NOAA Fisheries Service is seeking public input on a proposed rule to re-establish a two-year provisional certification for two bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) for the Southeastern Shrimp Fishery.

The intended effect of this proposed rule is to provide opportunity for additional evaluation and potential improvement of the BRDs. The goal is to improve bycatch reduction in the shrimp fishery to better meet the requirements of National Standard 9 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. In addition, NOAA Fisheries Service is proposing minor modifications to relax the technical specifications to one of the BRDs. 

These changes do not affect the functionality of the BRD, but would provide increased flexibility to the industry in constructing and using this BRD. Comments on the proposed action will be accepted until 5 May 2010.

In 2008, NOAA Fisheries Service provisionally certified the Extended Funnel BRD for use in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Composite Panel BRD was provisionally certified for use in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic region for a two-year period.

The time-limited two-year provisional certification was intended to allow the fishing industry the opportunity to evaluate the gear under normal fishing operations and to improve the BRDs to the point they could be fully certified for use. Thus, the expectation was that there would not be a need for a longer time frame for a specific provisional certification. However, collection of new data and sufficient industry-level evaluation of these BRDs was delayed due to states needing time to develop compatible regulations in their territorial waters, and it took time for net shops and other manufacturers to produce a supply of BRDs for purchase by the industry. Thus, fishermen have not had the opportunity to use these new BRDs or to make improvements to them.

No new information exists to indicate these BRDs do not continue to meet the provisional certification criterion. Because of the limited time fishermen have had to evaluate the BRDs, NOAA Fisheries Service is proposing to re-certify them for an additional two-year period. Re-establishing these BRDs for use in the fishery would reduce regulatory confusion and allow fishermen a wider choice of gear when seeking the most effective BRD for the specific local fishing conditions.

Comments, identified by 0648-AY58, can be via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov

 

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