NOAA Fisheries: New Management Measures in the Gulf Shrimp Fishery

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KEY MESSAGE:
A new rule for Amendment 17B to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan establishes transit provisions for shrimp vessels without a federal permit, specifies a minimum threshold number of Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) shrimp moratorium permits, and identifies a review panel process when that threshold is close to being met.

WHEN RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:

• The final rule will take effect on January 22, 2018.

WHAT THIS MEANS:

• The rule allows state-licensed shrimpers to transit from state waters through federal waters to return to state waters and port without a federal permit when gear is appropriately stowed.
• The rule sets a minimum threshold number of Gulf shrimp vessel permits at 1,072 and specifies a review panel process when/if that number is close to being met.
• Amendment 17B also defined aggregate maximum sustainable yield and aggregate optimum yield for the Gulf shrimp fishery.
Note:   The rule does not actively reduce the number of moratorium permits in the fishery.

FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 82 FR 60564, published Dec. 21, 2017

This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

Definitions:
Transit: non-stop progression through the area.
Fishing gear appropriately stowed: trawl doors and nets must be out of the water and the bag straps must be removed from the net.
Moratorium: period during which no new permits will be created.
Threshold: level or value.
Aggregate: all species combined for the fishery.
Maximum sustainable yield: highest possible annual catch that can be sustained over time.
Optimum yield: amount of harvest of a managed species that will provide the greatest overall benefit to the nation.

What transit provisions are addressed in the final rule?

• Transit through federal waters with shrimp on board currently requires a federal commercial Gulf shrimp moratorium permit.
• The transit provisions will allow state-licensed shrimpers to transit from state waters through federal waters to return to state waters and port without a federal permit.
• Vessels will need to be in transit and have fishing gear appropriately stowed.
What is the purpose of setting a minimum threshold number of moratorium permits for the Gulf shrimp fishery?
• The purpose of the threshold is to ensure an adequate number of permits are available to allow the shrimp fishery to achieve optimum yield.
• The number of federal commercial Gulf shrimp moratorium permits has declined, and there is fear that these declines will continue indefinitely until there are not enough permits left to support the fishery.
• Permits are terminated if the permit holder does not renew the permit within one year of the expiration date. A total of 493 Gulf shrimp permits have been terminated since the start of the permit moratorium because they were not renewed.
• Because the permit reduction is passive, the threshold could be reached relatively quickly, after many years, or not at all, depending on the rate of termination.
• The final rule will not remove any Gulf shrimp permits. The minimum threshold is only for the purposes of monitoring changes in fishery participation.
What will be the minimum threshold number of moratorium permits?
• The minimum threshold number of valid or renewable Gulf shrimp moratorium permits will be 1,072.
• Based on the current rate of 15 permits terminated per year, this threshold would be reached in about 24 years.

What will happen if / when the threshold is close to being met?

• A review panel will meet when the number of permits reaches 1,175 to review the threshold and details of a reserve pool of permits or other management measures before the threshold is reached.
• The review panel will consist of Shrimp Advisory Panel members, Scientific and Statistical Committee members, NOAA Fisheries, and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council staff.
• If the number of permits reaches 1,072, any permits that are not renewed within one year of the expiration date on the permit will go into a reserve pool.

What is a reserve pool?

• A reserve pool holds permits that are not renewed within a year of expiration and would otherwise be terminated.
• The review panel would determine how those permits would be re-issued.
What are aggregate maximum sustainable yield and optimum yield?
• The maximum sustainable yield is the highest possible annual catch that can be sustained over time, by keeping the stock at the level producing maximum growth.
• The optimum yield is the amount of harvest of a managed species that will provide the greatest overall benefit to the nation with respect to food production and recreational opportunities. The optimum yield is based on the maximum sustainable yield reduced by any relevant social, economic, or ecological factors.
• Although maximum sustainable yield and optimum yield are currently set for each species, their values for the entire fishery (aggregate) were needed to determine the minimum threshold for permits, because the permits cover all species.

Where can I find more information on Amendment 17B?

• Amendment 17B may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Website:   http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/shrimp/2017/am17b/index.html

Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Frank Helies
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