16 U.S. Code § 1383a - Interim exemption for commercial fisheries
(a) Effective and termination dates of preemptive provisions; law governing incidental taking of marine mammals in course of commercial yellowfin tuna fishing
(1) During the period beginning on November 23, 1988, and until superseded by regulations prescribed under section 1387 of this title, or until September 1, 1995, whichever is earlier, except as provided in paragraph (2), the provisions of this section, rather than sections 1371, 1373, and 1374 of this title, shall govern the incidental taking of marine mammals in the course of commercial fishing operations by persons using vessels of the United States and vessels which have valid fishing permits issued by the Secretary in accordance with section 1824 (b) of this title. In any event it shall be the immediate goal that the incidental kill or serious injury of marine mammals permitted in the course of commercial fishing operations be reduced to insignificant levels approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate.
(b) Proposed and final list of fisheries taking marine mammals; publication in Federal Register; grant of exemption; conditions; suspension of grant of exemption; administration of exemption provisions; fees
(1) The Secretary shall, after consultation with the Marine Mammal Commission—
(A) publish in the Federal Register, for public comment, not later than sixty days after November 23, 1988, a proposed list of those fisheries, along with a statement of the marine mammals and the approximate number of vessels or persons involved in each such fishery, that have—
(B) publish in the Federal Register not later than one hundred and twenty days after November 23, 1988, a final list of the fisheries and other information required by paragraph (A), together with a summary of the provisions of this section and information sufficient to advise vessel owners on how to obtain an exemption and otherwise comply with the requirements of this section; and
(C) at least once each year thereafter, and at such other times as the Secretary considers appropriate, reexamine, based on information gathered from the program established under subsections (c), (d), (e), and (f) of this section, and other relevant sources and after notice and opportunity for public comment, the classification of fisheries and other determinations required under subparagraph (A) and publish in the Federal Register any necessary changes.
(A) An exemption shall be granted by the Secretary in accordance with this section for a vessel engaged in a fishery identified under paragraph (1)(A)(i) or (ii), upon receipt by the Secretary of a completed registration form providing the name of the vessel owner, the name and description of the vessel, the fisheries in which it will be engaged, and such other information as the Secretary considers necessary. A decal or other physical evidence that the exemption is current and valid shall be issued by the Secretary at the time an exemption is granted, and so long as the exemption remains current and valid, shall be reissued annually thereafter.
(B) No exemption may be granted under this section to the owner of a vessel unless such vessel—
(C) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, exemptions granted under this section shall authorize the incidental taking of marine mammals, other than California sea otters, from any species or stock, including a population stock designated as depleted, but shall not authorize the intentional lethal taking of any Steller sea lion, any cetacean, or any marine mammals from a population stock designated as depleted.
(A) Beginning two hundred and forty days after November 23, 1988, each owner of a vessel engaged in any fishery identified under paragraph (1)(A)(i) or (ii) shall, in order to engage lawfully in that fishery—
(i) have registered with the Secretary in order to obtain for each such vessel owned an exemption for the purpose of incidentally taking marine mammals in accordance with this section;
(ii) ensure that a decal or such other physical evidence of a current and valid exemption as the Secretary may require is displayed on or is in the possession of the master of each such vessel; and
(B) Any owner of a vessel receiving an exemption under this section for any fishery identified under paragraph (1)(A)(i) shall, as a condition of that exemption, take on board a natural resource observer if requested to do so by the Secretary.
(C) An owner of a vessel engaged in a fishery identified under paragraph (1)(A)(i) or (ii) who—
(iii) fails to ensure that a decal or other physical evidence of such exemption issued by the Secretary is displayed on or is in possession of the master of the vessel,
and the master of any such vessel engaged in such fishery, shall be deemed to have violated this subchapter, and shall be subject to the penalties of this subchapter except in the case of unknowing violations before January 1, 1990.
(D) If the owner of a vessel has obtained and maintains a current and valid exemption from the Secretary under this section and meets the requirements set forth in this section, the owner of such vessel, and the master and crew members of the vessel, shall not be subject to the penalties set forth in this subchapter for the incidental taking of marine mammals while such vessel is engaged in a fishery to which the exemption applies.
(E) Each owner of a vessel engaged in any fishery not identified in paragraph (1)(A)(i) or (ii), and the master and crew members of such a vessel, shall not be subject to the penalties set forth in this subchapter for the incidental taking of marine mammals if such owner reports to the Secretary, in such form and manner as the Secretary may require, instances of lethal incidental taking in the course of that fishery.
(4) The Secretary shall suspend or revoke an exemption granted under this section and shall not issue a decal or other physical evidence of the exemption for any vessel until the owner of such vessel complies with the reporting requirements under subsection (c) of this section and such requirements to take on board a natural resource observer under paragraph (3)(B) as are applicable to such vessel.
(A) The Secretary shall develop, in consultation with the appropriate States, Regional Fishery Management Councils, and other interested parties, the means by which the granting and administration of exemptions under this section shall be integrated and coordinated, to the maximum extent practicable, with existing fishery licenses, registrations, and related programs.
(B) The Secretary shall utilize newspapers of general circulation, fishery trade associations, electronic media, and other means of advising commercial fishermen of the provisions of this section and the means by which they can comply with its requirements.
(C) The Secretary is authorized to charge a fee for the granting of an exemption under this subsection. The level of fees charged under this subparagraph shall not exceed the administrative costs incurred in granting an exemption. Fees collected under this subparagraph shall be available to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere for expenses incurred in the granting and administration of exemptions under this section.
(c) Compilation of information by vessel owners; contents
The owner of each vessel holding an exemption granted under subsection (b) of this section shall regularly compile information which shall be used in a report to be submitted to the Secretary at the close of the fishing season or annually, as the Secretary may prescribe. Such report shall be submitted in such form as the Secretary may require and shall include the following:
(2) the date and approximate time of any incidental taking of a marine mammal, together with the area in which the incidental taking occurred, the fishing gear used at the time of the incidental taking, and the species of fish involved; and
(3) for each incidental taking, the number and species of marine mammals involved, whether the marine mammals were deterred from gear or catch, incidentally injured, incidentally killed, or lethally removed to protect gear, catch, or human life.
If there was no incidental taking of marine mammals during the reporting period, a report stating that fact shall be filed with the Secretary.
(d) Program for enhancement and verification of information received from vessel owners; confidentiality of information
(1) The Secretary shall establish a program to enhance the quality of and verify information received from reports submitted by owners of vessels who have been granted an exemption under subsection (b) of this section. The program shall include, but not be limited to—
(C) other such information gathering and verification activities that will enable the Secretary to determine reliably the nature, type, and extent of the incidental taking of marine mammals that occurs in a fishery.
Except to the extent authorized by the provisions of subsection (e) of this section, the program shall not include placement of observers aboard exempted vessels.
(e) Observers on board exempted vessels; confidentiality of information; authorization of appropriations
(1) For each fishery identified under subsection (b)(1)(A)(i) of this section, the Secretary shall, after consultation with the appropriate Regional Fishery Management Councils, other Federal and State agencies, and other interested parties, and subject to paragraph (6), place observers on board exempted vessels so as to monitor not less than 20 percent nor more than 35 percent of the fishing operations by vessels in the fishery to obtain statistically reliable information on the species and number of marine mammals incidentally taken in the fishery. If the Secretary determines that fewer than 20 percent of the fishing operations by vessels in the fishery will be monitored during the course of the fishing season, the Secretary shall implement the alternative observation program described in subsection (f) of this section to the extent necessary to supplement the observer program described in this subsection.
(2) When determining the distribution of observers among fisheries and between vessels in a particular fishery, the Secretary shall be guided by the following standards:
(B) the requirement that assignment of observers is fair and equitable among fisheries and among vessels in a fishery;
(C) consistent with paragraph (1), the requirement that no individual person or vessel, or group of persons or vessels, be subject to excessive or overly burdensome observer coverage; and
(3) If the Secretary finds that, for reasons beyond his or her control, the Secretary cannot assign observers to all the fisheries identified under subsection (b)(1)(A)(i) of this section at the level of observer coverage set forth in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall allocate available observers among such fisheries, consistent with paragraph (2), according to the following priority:
(A) those fisheries that incidentally take marine mammals from any population stock designated as depleted;
(B) those fisheries that incidentally take marine mammals from population stocks that the Secretary believes are declining;
(C) those fisheries other than those described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) in which the greatest incidental take of marine mammals occur; and
The Secretary may, with the consent of the vessel owner, station an observer on board a vessel engaged in a fishery not identified under subsection (b)(1)(A)(i) of this section.
(4) Information gathered by observers shall be subject to the provisions of subsection (j) of this section. Consistent with the requirements of paragraph (1), the Secretary shall, if requested by the Appropriate  Regional Fishery Management Council, or in the case of a State fishery, the State, require observers to collect additional information, including but not limited to the quantities, species, and physical condition of target and non-target fishery resources and, if requested by the Secretary of the Interior, seabirds.
(5) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (4), the Secretary may decline to require observers to collect information described in such paragraph, if the Secretary finds in writing, following public notice and opportunity for comment, that such information will not contribute to the protection of marine mammals or the understanding of the marine ecosystem, including fishery resources and seabirds.
(6) The Secretary shall not be required to place an observer on a vessel in a fishery if the Secretary finds that—
(A) in a situation where harvesting vessels are delivering fish to a processing vessel and the catch is not taken on board the harvesting vessel, statistically reliable information can be obtained from an observer on board the processing vessel to which the fish are delivered;
(B) the facilities of a vessel for the quartering of an observer, or for carrying out observer functions, are so inadequate or unsafe that the health or safety of the observer or the safe operation of the vessel would be jeopardized; or
(A) An observer on a vessel (or the observer’s personal representative) under the requirements of this section or section 1374 of this title that is ill, disabled, injured, or killed from service as an observer on that vessel may not bring a civil action under any law of the United States for that illness, disability, injury, or death against the vessel or vessel owner, except that a civil action may be brought against the vessel owner for the owner’s willful misconduct.
(f) Alternative observation program
(1) The Secretary shall establish an alternative observation program to provide statistically reliable information on the species and number of marine mammals incidentally taken in those fisheries identified pursuant to subsection (b)(1)(A)(i) of this section for which the required level of observer coverage has not been met or for any other fisheries about which such reliable information is not otherwise available. The alternative program shall include, but not be limited to, direct observation of fishing activities from vessels, airplanes, or points on shore.
(2) Individuals engaged in the alternative observation program shall collect scientific information on the fisheries subject to observation, consistent with the requirements of paragraph (1) and subsection (e)(4) and (5) of this section. All information collected shall be subject to the provisions of subsection (j) of this section.
(g) Review of information and evaluation of effects of incidental taking on population stocks of marine mammals; promulgation of emergency regulations to mitigate immediate and significant adverse impacts; action to mitigate non-immediate impacts
(1) The Secretary shall review information regarding the incidental taking of marine mammals and evaluate the effects of such incidental taking on the affected population stocks of marine mammals.
(2) If the Secretary finds, based on the information received from the programs established under subsections (c), (d), (e), and (f) of this section, that the incidental taking of marine mammals in a fishery is having an immediate and significant adverse impact on a marine mammal population stock or, in the case of Steller sea lions and North Pacific fur seals, that more than 1,350 and 50, respectively, will be incidentally killed during a calendar year, the Secretary shall consult with appropriate Regional Fishery Management Councils and State fishery managers and prescribe emergency regulations to prevent to the maximum extent practicable any further taking. Any emergency regulations prescribed under this paragraph—
(A) shall, to the maximum extent practicable, avoid interfering with existing State or regional fishery management plans;
(C) shall remain in effect for not more than one hundred and eighty days or until the end of the fishing season, whichever is earlier; and
(D) may be terminated by the Secretary at an earlier date by publication in the Federal Register of a notice of termination if the Secretary determines the reasons for the emergency regulations no longer exist.
In prescribing emergency regulations under this paragraph, the Secretary shall take into account the economics of the fishery concerned and the availability of existing technology to prevent or minimize incidental taking of marine mammals.
(3) If the Secretary finds, based on information received from the programs established under subsections (c), (d), (e), and (f) of this section, that incidental taking of marine mammals in a fishery is not having an immediate and significant adverse impact on a marine mammal population stock but that it will likely have a significant adverse impact over a period of time longer than one year, the Secretary shall request the appropriate Regional Fishery Management Council or State to initiate, recommend, or take such action within its authority as it considers necessary to mitigate the adverse impacts, including adjustments to requirements on fishing times or areas or the imposition of restrictions on the use of vessels or gear.
(4) The Secretary shall impose appropriate conditions and restrictions on an exemption granted under subsection (b) of this section if—
(A) a Regional Fishery Management Council or State does not act in a reasonable period of time on a request made by the Secretary under paragraph (3); or
(h) Information and management system for processing and analyzing reports and information; accessibility to public
The Secretary shall design and implement an information management system capable of processing and analyzing reports received from the programs established under subsections (c), (d), (e), and (f) of this section, and other relevant sources, including Federal and State enforcement authorities, marine mammal stranding networks, and the marine mammal researchers. The information shall be made accessible to the public on a continuing basis, but in any case no later than six months after it is received, subject to the provisions of subsection (j) of this section.
(i) Utilization of services of State and Federal agencies and private entities
When carrying out the Secretary’s responsibilities under subsections (b), (d), (e), (f), and (h) of this section, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, utilize the services and programs of State agencies, Federal agencies (including programs established by Regional Fishery Management Councils), marine fisheries commissions, universities, and private entities, on a reimbursable basis or otherwise. The Secretary is authorized to enter into contracts and agreements to carry out his or her responsibilities and shall establish appropriate guidelines to ensure that other programs used or contracted for will meet the same standards as a program established by the Secretary. A person contracting with the Secretary to provide observer services under subsection (e) of this section must provide evidence of financial responsibility in an amount and form prescribed by the Secretary to compensate employees (or their survivors) adequately for any illness, disability, injury, or death from service on a vessel.
(j) Confidentiality of information; exceptions
(1) Any information collected under subsection (c), (d), (e), (f), or (h) of this section shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except—
(B) to State employees pursuant to an agreement with the Secretary that prevents public disclosure of the identity or business of any person;
(2) The Secretary shall prescribe such procedures as may be necessary to preserve such confidentiality, except that the Secretary shall release or make public any such information in aggregate, summary, or other form which does not directly or indirectly disclose the identity or business of any person.
The Secretary, in consultation with any other Federal agency to the extent that such agency may be affected, shall prescribe such regulations as necessary and appropriate to carry out the purposes of this section.
(l) Suggested regime governing incidental taking of marine mammals following termination of interim exemptions
(1) The Chairman of the Marine Mammal Commission shall, after consultation with interested parties and not later than February 1, 1990, transmit to the Secretary and make available to the public recommended guidelines to govern the incidental taking of marine mammals in the course of commercial fishing operations, other than those subject to section 1374 (h)(2) of this title, after October 1, 1993. Such guidelines shall be developed by the Commission and its Committee of Scientific Advisers on Marine Mammals and shall—
(A) be designed to provide a scientific rationale and basis for determining how many marine mammals may be incidentally taken under a regime to be adopted to govern such taking after October 1, 1993;
(B) be based on sound principles of wildlife management, and be consistent with and in furtherance of the purposes and policies set forth in this chapter; and
(C) to the maximum extent practicable, include as factors to be considered and utilized in determining permissible levels of such taking—
(2) The Secretary shall advise the Chairman of the Commission in writing if the Secretary determines that any additional information or explanation of the Chairman’s recommendations is needed, and the Chairman shall respond in writing to any such request by the Secretary.
(3) On or before February 1, 1991, the Secretary, after consultation with the Marine Mammal Commission, Regional Fishery Management Councils, and other interested governmental and nongovernmental organizations, shall publish in the Federal Register, for public comment, the suggested regime that the Secretary considers should, if authorized by enactment of any additional legislation, govern incidental taking of marine mammals, other than those subject to section 1374 (h)(2) of this title, after October 1, 1993. The suggested regime shall include—
(B) a description of the arrangements for consultation and cooperation with other Federal agencies, the appropriate Regional Fishery Management Councils and States, the commercial fishing industry, and conservation organizations; and
(4) On or before January 1, 1992, the Secretary, after consultation with the Marine Mammal Commission, and consideration of public comment, shall transmit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries of the House of Representatives recommendations pertaining to the incidental taking of marine mammals, other than those subject to section 1374 (h)(2) of this title, after October 1, 1993. The recommendations shall include—
(A) the suggested regime developed under paragraph (3) of this subsection as modified after comment and consultations;
(m) Consultation with Secretary of the Interior
The Secretary shall consult with the Secretary of the Interior prior to taking actions or making determinations under this section that affect or relate to species or population stocks of marine mammals for which the Secretary of the Interior is responsible under this subchapter.
(n) Owner of fixed commercial fishing gear deemed owner of vessel engaged in fishery in which gear deployed
For the purposes of this section, the owner of fixed or other commercial fishing gear that is deployed with or without the use of a vessel shall be deemed to be an owner of a vessel engaged in the fishery in which that gear is deployed.
As used in this section—
(3) the term “vessel engaged in a fishery” means a fishing vessel as defined in section 2101(11a) of title 46 or a fish processing vessel as defined in section 2101(11b) of that title, which is engaged in fishery.
 So in original. Probably should not be capitalized.
 See References in Text note below.
Source(Pub. L. 92–522, title I, § 114, as added Pub. L. 100–711, § 2(a)(2),Nov. 23, 1988, 102 Stat. 4755; amended Pub. L. 103–86, Sept. 30, 1993, 107 Stat. 930; Pub. L. 103–228, Mar. 31, 1994, 108 Stat. 281; Pub. L. 103–238, § 15(a),Apr. 30, 1994, 108 Stat. 559; Pub. L. 104–43, title IV, § 404(a)(1),Nov. 3, 1995, 109 Stat. 390; Pub. L. 104–208, div. A, title I, § 101(a) [title II, § 211(b)], Sept. 30, 1996, 110 Stat. 3009, 3009–41.)
References in Text
Section 1802 of this title, referred to in subsec. (o)(1), (4), was subsequently amended, and section 1802 (8) and (27) no longer defines the terms “fishery” and “vessel of the United States”. However, such terms are defined elsewhere in that section.
1996—Subsecs. (a)(1), (b)(2)(B)(ii), (o)(1), (4). Pub. L. 104–208made technical amendment to references in original act which appear in text as references to sections 1802 (8), (27) and 1824 (b) of this title.
1994—Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 103–238, as amended by Pub. L. 104–43, substituted “until superseded by regulations prescribed under section 1387 of this title, or until September 1, 1995, whichever is earlier,” for “ending May 1, 1994.”
Pub. L. 103–228substituted “May 1, 1994.” for “April 1, 1994,”.
1993—Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 103–86substituted “April 1, 1994” for “October 1, 1993”.
Effective Date of 1996 Amendment
Pub. L. 104–208, div. A, title I, § 101(a) [title II, § 211(b)], Sept. 30, 1996, 110 Stat. 3009, 3009–41, provided that the amendment made by that section is effective 15 days after Oct. 11, 1996.
Effective Date of 1995 Amendment
Pub. L. 104–43, title IV, § 404(a)(2),Nov. 3, 1995, 109 Stat. 391, provided that: “The amendment made by paragraph (1) [amending this section] shall be effective on and after April 30, 1994.”
Abolition of House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries
Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries of House of Representatives abolished and its jurisdiction transferred by House Resolution No. 6, One Hundred Fourth Congress, Jan. 4, 1995. Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries of House of Representatives treated as referring to Committee on Resources of House of Representatives in case of provisions relating to fisheries, wildlife, international fishing agreements, marine affairs (including coastal zone management) except for measures relating to oil and other pollution of navigable waters, or oceanography by section 1(b)(3) ofPub. L. 104–14, set out as a note preceding section 21 of Title 2, The Congress. Committee on Resources of House of Representatives changed to Committee on Natural Resources of House of Representatives by House Resolution No. 6, One Hundred Tenth Congress, Jan. 5, 2007.