NOAA Requests Comment on a Change to Bluefin Regulations

COURTESY OF NOAA

CAPE COD – NOAA is seeking public comment regarding a request from the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance for an exemption from a regulation that prohibits having unauthorized gear on board while fishing for, retaining, or possessing a bluefin tuna.

In their application, the Alliance suggest that the use of electronic monitoring, already required by federal fishing authorities is a sufficient at-sea monitoring to verify that the catch of bluefin tuna occurred on authorized gear.

The regulation was designed to allow enforcement to not only verify that only the authorized gear type was used to catch the bluefin tuna, but also serves as an effort control for bluefin tuna as it limits the number of vessels that can actively pursue bluefin tuna to those with only authorized gear.

The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance has offered to test the effectiveness of Electronic Monitoring for confirming authorized gear is used to catch Atlantic tunas, while unauthorized gear is also onboard.

They have also committed to 100 percent of the trips being recorded and 100 percent of the footage being reviewed. Vessels using harpoon gear would have EM camera views that would allow for viewing all fishing operations to ensure compliance, including adding necessary cameras to cover the pulpit and harpoon throw. If granted, this exemption would run through the end of the year.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is accepting public comment on the matter. Comments must be received by August 1, 2017, and may be submitted online.

By DAVID BEATTY, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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