This final rule allows eligible historical captains the opportunity to replace their historical captain permits with standard federal charter/headboat for-hire permits for the reef fish and coastal migratory pelagic fisheries. An eligible captain is one that had a valid, non-expired, or renewable historical captain permit as of October 25, 2018, the qualifying date determined by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
WHEN THE RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:
The final rule will be effective on May 21, 2020.
This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.
• Only historical captain permits that were valid (non-expired) or renewable on October 25, 2018, will be eligible for replacement with standard for-hire permits.
• Individuals would have two years, or until June 21, 2022, from the implementation date of this action to replace eligible historical captain permits with standard for-hire permits and associate the newly issued standard for-hire permits with a vessel.
• On the effective date of this rule, May 21, 2020, all outstanding eligibility letters will become invalid. Persons who redeem a letter of eligibility for a historical captain permit before the implementation date of this rule will receive a historical captain permit, but will not be eligible to convert that permit into a standard for-hire permit at this time.
If you have further questions regarding this matter, please contact the Southeast Regional Office Sustainable Fisheries Office by telephone at (727) 824-5305, weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
The Environmental Assessment for the Framework Amendment Final Rule may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/framework-action-replacement-historical-captain-permits-standard-federal-charter-headboat.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Historical Captain Endorsement/Permit?
• A federal permit for historical captains was established in July 2002.
• Persons who met the eligibility requirements to qualify as a historical captain (listed below), and submitted evidence of eligibility within 90 days of the implementation of the 2001 final rule, were issued a letter of eligibility, which could be used to obtain a historical captain permit, valid only on the vessel that was operated by the historical captain.
• The eligibility criteria for the historical captain endorsement included any U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) licensed captain, who:
• demonstrated to NOAA Fisheries they were licensed by the USCG and operated (as a captain) a for-hire federally permitted vessel prior to March 29, 2001, but did not have a for-hire permit issued in their name,
• qualified for the permit within 90 days of implementation of the final rule, and
• demonstrated at least 25% of their earned income came from recreational for-hire fishing in one of the years 1997, 1998, 1999, or 2000.
• Captains who were issued a historical captain endorsement were able to continue participating in for-hire fishing. However, unlike the standard for-hire permit, the historical captain endorsement cannot be transferred to another entity and requires the endorsement holder to be present on the vessel while it is operating as a for-hire vessel.
How do I convert my eligible Historical Captain Permit?
• An eligible historical captain who wishes to convert their historical captain permit to a standard for-hire permit must submit an application along with their current historical captain permit (original document, not a copy) and supporting documents and fees. NOAA Permit Office staff will verify that the vessel the new for-hire permit will be issued to is either:
• owned by the historical captain applicant and does not have an existing Coastal Migratory Pelagics and/or Reef Fish Charter/Headboat For-Hire Federal Permit associated with it, or
• is leased to the historical captain applicant and does not have any other federal permit(s) associated with it in another permit holder’s name.
• If the vessel is to be leased, a fully executed lease agreement, of at least seven months, between the vessel owner and permit holder will need to be included with the application.
• Once the application has been approved, the historical captain will receive a Coastal Migratory Pelagics or Reef Fish Charter/Headboat For-Hire Federal Permit.
• Those individuals who do not take the opportunity to replace their historical captain permits with standard for-hire permits within this two-year period (by June 21, 2022) would maintain their historical captain permits.
• The new for-hire permit will keep the existing permit number, e.g., HRCG-9999 will convert to RCG-9999. All permit history associated with a historical captain permit will stay with the new standard permit.
Where can I find more information on Replacement of Historical Captain Permits with Standard Charter/Headboat Permits Framework Amendment?
Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Rich Malinowski
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505
By FAX: (727) 824-5308
By Phone: (727) 824-5305
The Framework Amendment may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/framework-action-replacement-historical-captain-permits-standard-federal-charter-headboat.