50 CFR § 622.53 - Bycatch reduction device (BRD) requirements.

§ 622.53 Bycatch reduction device (BRD) requirements.

(a) BRD requirement for Gulf shrimp. On a shrimp trawler in the Gulf EEZ, each net that is rigged for fishing must have a BRD installed that is listed in paragraph (a)(3) of this section and is certified or provisionally certified for the area in which the shrimp trawler is located, unless exempted as specified in paragraphs (a)(1)(i) through (iv) of this section. A trawl net is rigged for fishing if it is in the water, or if it is shackled, tied, or otherwise connected to a sled, door, or other device that spreads the net, or to a tow rope, cable, pole, or extension, either on board or attached to a shrimp trawler.

(1) Exemptions from BRD requirement -

(i) Royal red shrimp exemption. A shrimp trawler is exempt from the requirement to have a certified or provisionally certified BRD installed in each net provided that at least 90 percent (by weight) of all shrimp on board or offloaded from such trawler are royal red shrimp.

(ii) Try net exemption. A shrimp trawler is exempt from the requirement to have a certified or provisionally certified BRD installed in a single try net with a headrope length of 16 ft (4.9 m) or less provided the single try net is either placed immediately in front of another net or is not connected to another net.

(iii) Roller trawl exemption. A shrimp trawler is exempt from the requirement to have a certified or provisionally certified BRD installed in up to two rigid-frame roller trawls that are 16 ft (4.9 m) or less in length used or possessed on board. A rigid-frame roller trawl is a trawl that has a mouth formed by a rigid frame and a grid of rigid vertical bars; has rollers on the lower horizontal part of the frame to allow the trawl to roll over the bottom and any obstruction while being towed; and has no doors, boards, or similar devices attached to keep the mouth of the trawl open.

(iv) BRD certification testing exemption. A shrimp trawler that is authorized by the RA to participate in the pre-certification testing phase or to test a BRD in the EEZ for possible certification, has such written authorization on board, and is conducting such test in accordance with the “Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual” is granted a limited exemption from the BRD requirement specified in this section. The exemption from the BRD requirement is limited to those trawls that are being used in the certification trials. All other trawls rigged for fishing must be equipped with certified or provisionally certified BRDs.

(2) Procedures for certification and decertification of BRDs. The process for the certification of BRDs consists of two phases - an optional pre-certification phase and a required certification phase. The RA may also provisionally certify a BRD.

(i) Pre-certification. The pre-certification phase allows a person to test and evaluate a new BRD design for up to 60 days without being subject to the observer requirements and rigorous testing requirements specified for certification testing in the “Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual.”

(A) A person who wants to conduct pre-certification phase testing must submit an application to the RA, as specified in the “Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual.” The “Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual,” which is available from the RA, upon request, contains the application forms.

(B) After reviewing the application, the RA will determine whether to issue a Gear Test Authorization (GTA) to conduct pre-certification trials upon the vessel specified in the application. If the RA authorizes pre-certification, the RA's GTA must be on board the vessel during any trip involving the BRD testing.

(ii) Certification. A person who proposes a BRD for certification for use in the Gulf EEZ must submit an application to test such BRD, conduct the testing, and submit the results of the test in accordance with the “Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual.” The RA will issue a GTA to conduct certification trials upon the vessel specified in the application if the RA finds that: The operation plan submitted with the application meets the requirements of the “Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual”; the observer identified in the application is qualified; and the results of any pre-certification trials conducted have been reviewed and deemed to indicate a reasonable scientific basis for conducting certification testing. If an application for a GTA is denied, the RA will provide a letter of explanation to the applicant, together with relevant recommendations to address the deficiencies that resulted in the denial. To be certified for use in the fishery, the BRD candidate must successfully demonstrate a 30 percent reduction in total weight of finfish bycatch. In addition, the BRD candidate must satisfy the following conditions: There is at least a 50-percent probability the true reduction rate of the BRD candidate meets the bycatch reduction criterion and there is no more than a 10-percent probability the true reduction rate of the BRD candidate is more than 5 percentage points less than the bycatch reduction criterion. If a BRD meets both conditions, consistent with the “Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual,” NMFS, through appropriate rulemaking procedures, will add the BRD to the list of certified BRDs in paragraph (a)(3) of this section; and provide the specifications for the newly certified BRD, including any special conditions deemed appropriate based on the certification testing results.

(iii) Provisional certification. Based on data provided consistent with the “Bycatch Reduction Device Testing Manual,” the RA may provisionally certify a BRD if there is at least a 50-percent probability the true reduction rate of the BRD is no more than 5 percentage points less than the bycatch reduction criterion, i.e., 25 percent reduction in total weight of finfish bycatch. Through appropriate rulemaking procedures, NMFS will add the BRD to the list of provisionally certified BRDs in paragraph (a)(3) of this section; and provide the specifications for the BRD, including any special conditions deemed appropriate based on the certification testing results. A provisional certification is effective for 2 years from the date of publication of the notification in the Federal Register announcing the provisional certification.

(iv) Decertification. The RA will decertify a BRD if NMFS determines the BRD does not meet the requirements for certification or provisional certification. Before determining whether to decertify a BRD, the RA will notify the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in writing, and the public will be provided an opportunity to comment on the advisability of any proposed decertification. The RA will consider any comments from the Council and public, and if the RA elects to decertify the BRD, the RA will proceed with decertification via appropriate rulemaking.

(3) Certified and provisionally certified BRDs -

(i) Certified BRDS. The following BRDs are certified for use in the Gulf EEZ. Specifications of these certified BRDs are contained in Appendix D to this part.

(A) Fisheye - see Appendix D to part 622 for separate specifications in the Gulf and South Atlantic EEZ.

(B) Jones-Davis.

(C) Modified Jones-Davis.

(D) Cone Fish Deflector Composite Panel.

(E) Square Mesh Panel (SMP) Composite Panel.

(ii) [Reserved]

(b) [Reserved]

[78 FR 22952, Apr. 17, 2013, as amended at 85 FR 6818, Feb. 6, 2020]