Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Sea Turtle
Over the past two years NOAA Fisheries Service has documented elevated sea turtle strandings in the northern Gulf of Mexico, particularly throughout the Mississippi Sound area. A significant number of those turtles necropsied indicate they likely perished due to forced submergence, which is commonly associated with fishery interactions. Additionally, recent information on the size and scope of the skimmer trawl fleet indicates the fishery may be affecting sea turtles in a manner not previously considered, which warrants a new evaluation.
As a result, we are considering new regulations to reduce the incidental bycatch and mortality of sea turtles in the shrimp fishery of the southeastern United States. The scoping process will be the first stage in a multi-step process required by the National Environmental Policy Act to ensure that Federal agencies evaluate the environmental impacts of major Federal actions. During the scoping process, the public is provided with an opportunity to assist us in determining the scope of issues that require analysis. The analysis of issues and the environmental impacts of the proposed actions will be presented in a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will be made available for public comment. The notice of intent to prepare the draft EIS will be published in the Federal Register on June 24, 2011.
We prepared a scoping document and a list of frequently asked questions as aids to the public on the scoping process that we are about to undertake, which are available online at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pr.htm. The scoping document describes the major issues, current management and legal requirements, and identifies potential management measures to reduce interactions, and in particular, lethal interactions, between sea turtles and trawl fisheries.
Scoping comments may also be submitted during a concurrent 45-day comment period. When we publish the draft EIS, it will also have a 45-day public comment period.
How can we improve these fishery bulletins?
If you would like to receive these fishery bulletins via email as soon as they are published, email us at: SERO.Communications.Comments@noaa.gov. You will still receive a hard copy of these bulletins through the mail.
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is accepting proposals for the Boating Infrastructure Grant, or BIG, Program for federal fiscal year 2012.
BIG is a grant program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that reimburses up to 75 percent of costs for projects that construct, renovate or maintain tie-up facilities and related amenities for recreational transient vessels that are at least 26 feet long. It was authorized by Congress in 1998 and is funded by excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel.
The division serves as the liaison between projects in North Carolina and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the BIG Program. Proposals must be submitted to the division to be considered for this funding opportunity.
Some examples of potentially eligible activities include transient slips, mooring buoys, day-docks, safe harbor facilities (including temporary safe anchorage or a harbor of refuge during a storm), floating and fixed piers and breakwaters, dinghy docks, restrooms, retaining walls, bulkheads, dockside utilities (water, electric, telephone, Internet), sewage pumpout stations, recycling and trash receptacles, one-time dredging, navigational aids and marine fueling stations.
BIG funds are distributed each year. Grants are available on a two-tiered basis. For Tier 1 grants, all states may receive up to $100,000 per grant cycle as long as proposals meet the program's guidelines. Tier 2 grants are reserved for large-scale, more expensive undertakings and are awarded on a nationwide competitive basis.
For information about grant availability, project eligibility and proposal development, please visit the division’s website at http://www.ncdmf.net/grants/index-grants.html or contact Kelly Price, Federal Aid Coordinator for the division, at P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, NC 28557-0769. You may also contact Price at (252) 808-8168 or 1-800-682-2632 (in North Carolina only) or by email at Kelly.Price@ncdenr.gov. The deadline for applications to be received by the division is Aug. 5. Electronic submission is preferred.
Federal Fishery Managers Make Decisions Affecting Both South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fisheries
Members of the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils came to the table recently in Key West, Florida to approve measures impacting species managed jointly by the two councils. The Councils approved Spiny Lobster Amendment 10 for submission to the Secretary of Commerce, establishing Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs) as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Several changes were made during the joint committee meeting, based on input from the council’s Spiny Lobster Advisory Panels and testimony from the public received during public hearings held in April. Important changes include: increasing the Annual Catch Target to 6.6 million pounds (previously 6 million pounds); and delaying action on proposed closed areas for lobster trap fishing as well as new requirements to mark trap lines. Area closures and gear markings would help protect threatened Acropora corals and other protected resources. The protection measures, which are required by law for the lobster fishery, will be addressed in a later amendment. This will allow more time to work with the commercial industry and representatives from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in order to improve alternatives to better protect the corals.
The two councils moved forward with measures to establish ACLs and AMs for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia through Amendment 18 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan. For Atlantic Migratory Group king mackerel, the amendment would establish an ACL of 10.46 million pounds, with a commercial quota of 3.88 million pounds, up slightly from the current 3.71 million pounds. A recreational ACL of 6.58 million pounds was established, allowing current size and bag limits to remain in place. However, for Spanish mackerel the proposed ACL of
South Atlantic Actions
Also on schedule for approval during the Council’s August meeting is the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment. To meet the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the amendment establishes ACLs and AMs for species not undergoing overfishing including snapper grouper complex species, dolphin, wahoo, and golden crab. Accountability measures could close a commercial fishery and/or shorten recreational fishing seasons as necessary to prevent landings from exceeding the ACL.
The next meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is scheduled for August 9, 2011 in Charleston, SC. Details, including the meeting agenda and briefing book materials will be posted as they become available at www.safmc.net.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, one of eight regional councils, conserves and manages fish stocks from three to 200 miles offshore of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida.
NOAA Fisheries Service Announces Approval and Effective Dates for South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper
NOAA Fisheries Service will publish a final rule on June 15, 2011, implementing management measures to prevent the progressive shortening of fishing seasons for black sea bass, gag, and vermilion snapper, and to increase the trip limit for greater amberjack.
Changes from the Proposed Rule
• Mail: Kate Michie
Wilmington Man Sets New State Blackfin Tuna Record
MOREHEAD CITY – A Wilmington man set a new state blackfin tuna record with a 40 pound, 11 ounce fish caught off Wrightsville Beach in May.
Michael C. Accattato caught the fish May 10, breaking the former state record of 40 pounds, caught off Oregon Inlet in 2007. The fish measured 39 inches total length and 29.5 inches around the girth.
Accattato used a Synit Pe3 Shimano Stella 8000 SW rod and reel with a Williamson Jet popper lure on 70-pound test line. He was fishing with Capt. Richard Crosson, Jr. of Living Waters Guide Service in Wilmington.
The world record blackfin tuna weighed 49 pounds, 6 ounces and was caught off Marathon, Fla. in 2006.
For more information, contact Carole Willis, N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament coordinator with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries at (252) 808-8081 or Carole.Y.Willis@ncdenr.gov. For a photo of Accattato and his catch, go to http://www.ncfisheries.net/news/images2011/NewRecordBlackfin.html.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JUNE 4, 2011
States Schedule Hearings on Draft Omnibus Amendment for Spot, Spotted Seatrout and Spanish Mackerel
Arlington, Va. – Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina have scheduled their hearings to gather public comment on the Draft Omnibus Amendment for Spot, Spotted Seatrout and Spanish Mackerel. The dates, times, and locations of the scheduled meetings follow. (Note: South Carolina conducted its hearing on June 3 as part of its Marine Advisory Committee meeting.)
Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources, Fisheries Service
Virginia Marine Resources Commission
North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries
In March, the Commission's South Atlantic State-Federal Fisheries Management Board voted to take the next step in updating the fishery management plans (FMPs) for three important South Atlantic species — spot, spotted seatrout, and Spanish mackerel. With a combined coastwide commercial catch of 12.6 million pounds and a recreational harvest of 14.3 million fish, the three species represent a large draw for all fishermen.
The three FMPs had been adopted prior to passage of the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act and adoption of the Interstate Fisheries Management Program Charter in 1995. The Board has been working since August 2009 to develop this amendment and update the plans in order to provide for more efficient and effective management. Such updates include commercial and recreational management measures or recommendations, adaptive management, de minimis thresholds and exemptions, and monitoring recommendations or requirements. After receiving initial public comments and Board direction, the Draft Amendment is now available for public comment and state hearings.
Spanish mackerel is jointly managed by both the Commission and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Due to data limitations, the most recent stock assessment was not successful in establishing specific values for reference points. The original interstate FMP included a process to review and maintain consistency with federal management, which is essential to maintaining good conservation measures. Over the years, however, both federal and state regulations have changed, while the interstate FMP has remained unchanged. To address this consistency issue, the Draft Omnibus Amendment currently includes both adaptive management measures as well as a process for Board review and action in response to changes in the federal regulations, which will allow for greater uniformity across the jurisdictions. Currently, the federal FMP has a proposed Amendment 18, which is scheduled for a final vote by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at its June meeting. The proposed Amendment 18 changes are included in the current Draft Omnibus Amendment for public comment.
The original Spot and the Spotted Seatrout FMPs included no requirements for either management or monitoring. The current Draft Omnibus Amendment includes a management trigger for spot, which will help the Board in monitoring the status of the stock until a full coastwide stock assessment can be completed. High levels of spot bycatch present a challenge for managers, in terms of both yearly management and overall assessment of the stock health. For spotted seatrout, the Draft Omnibus Amendment includes measures to protect the spawning stock as well as a coastwide minimum size. These measures will be essential as increased coastal development presents management challenges to this very localized species. Coupled with adaptive management measures, the Draft Omnibus Amendment will provide options for both species to efficiently implement management measures should the Board determine that such measures are needed in the future.
Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the Draft Omnibus Amendment either by attending public hearings or providing written comments. The Draft Amendment can be obtained via the Commission’s website at www.asmfc.org under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at (703) 842-0740. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. (EST) on July 20, 2011 and should be forwarded to Danielle Brzezinski, FMP Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; (703) 842.0741 (FAX) or at email@example.com (Subject line: Draft Omnibus Amendment).
State Seeks Applicants for Saltwater Fishing License ProjectsMOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is accepting applications for proposals for the 2012 funding cycle from the N.C. Marine Resources Fund.
The fund, which receives proceeds from the sale of Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses, provides grants for projects that help manage, protect, restore, develop, cultivate and enhance the state’s marine resources.
Only universities, North Carolina local government entities, the state Division of Marine Fisheries and Wildlife Resources Commission are eligible to apply. Others must partner with one of these eligible entities.
Proposals will be evaluated based on the CRFL Strategic Plan for the Conservation and Improvement of North Carolina’s Marine Resources. The plan considers priority research needs identified in fishery management plans approved by the Marine Fisheries Commission, issues identified in the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan and research needs identified cooperatively with other agencies. The strategic plan can be found on the Division of Marine Fisheries website at http://www.ncfisheries.net/grants/CRFL_GrantsInfo.html.
Projects submitted for this funding cycle should fall under one of three programmatic areas:
All proposals must be submitted to the director of the Division of Marine Fisheries by 5 p.m. July 29. Directions for submitting a proposal and an application form can be downloaded from the Division of Marine Fisheries’ website at http://www.ncfisheries.net/grants/CRFL_GrantsInfo.html. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
For more information, contact CRFL Project Coordinator Bonnie Jones at (252) 808-8113 or (800) 682-2698. You may also email Jones at Bonnie.B.Jones@ncdenr.gov.