FB22-052: NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments for an Application for an Exempted Fishing Permit to Test Experimental Bycatch Reduction Devices in Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Fishery

Louisiana shrimp
Louisiana shrimp

Key Message:

NOAA Fisheries is accepting comments on an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from Texas Sea Grant.  The applicant proposes to test new bycatch reduction device (BRD) designs in the commercial shrimp fishery in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf).

This project would identify and develop new bycatch-reducing technology to minimize commercial shrimp trawl finfish discard mortality.  Additionally, the project seeks to advance cost-effective solutions and incentives to the Gulf shrimp fleet that would maximize the adoption of improved BRDs.

How To Comment On The Application:

The comment period is open now through September 12, 2022.  You may submit comments by electronic submission or by postal mail.  Comments sent by any other method (such as e-mail), to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.

Application information:  https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/commercial-fishing/better-bycatch-reduction-device-gulf-shrimp-fleet-project.

Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 

  1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2022-0089.
  2. Click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields.
  3. Enter or attach your comments.

Mail:  Submit written comments to Frank Helies, NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

Program Concepts

  • The Better BRDs for the Gulf Shrimp Fleet Project is a collaborative effort amongst Louisiana Sea Grant, Texas Sea Grant, NOAA Restoration Center, and NOAA Fisheries to restore finfish populations damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill through development and certification of new BRDs for the commercial shrimp industry throughout the Gulf.
  • This project would identify and develop new bycatch-reducing technology to minimize commercial shrimp trawl finfish discard mortality and advance cost-effective solutions and incentives that would maximize the adoption of improved BRDs.
  • New BRD designs would first be vetted by NOAA Fisheries Gear Research Branch partners during proof-of-concept dive and vessel testing aboard the R/V Caretta off Panama City, Florida and Pascagoula, Mississippi. The applicant would further evaluate the vetted BRDs through a commercial stakeholder testing period prior to certification trials.
  • Up to 30 federally-permitted commercial Gulf shrimp vessels would be selected to test gear that passed the proof-of-concept testing. The gear testing effort would continue up to submission for BRD certification.
  • During testing, vessels listed on the EFP would be surveyed for qualitative information about the new BRDs, and any other use recommendations that are needed. Additional information including time and difficulty to install, longevity, ease of use (tangling during deployment/retrieval, shark damage), bycatch and shrimp retention characteristics, and overall cost would be collected to assist with recruitment for industry wide roll out.

NOAA Fisheries finds this application warrants further consideration, and is seeking public comment on the application.  A final decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NOAA Fisheries’ review of public comments received, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils’ recommendations, consultations with the affected states, and the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as a determination that it is consistent with all applicable laws.

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