50 CFR § 648.12 - Experimental fishing.
The Regional Administrator may exempt any person or vessel from the requirements of subparts A (General provisions), B (mackerel, squid, and butterfish), D (Atlantic sea scallop), E (Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog), F (NE multispecies and monkfish), G (summer flounder), H (scup), I (black sea bass), J (Atlantic bluefish), K (Atlantic herring), L (spiny dogfish), M (Atlantic deep-sea red crab), N (tilefish), O (skates), and P (Mid-Atlantic forage species) of this part for the conduct of experimental fishing beneficial to the management of the resources or fishery managed under that subpart. The Regional Administrator shall consult with the Executive Director of the MAFMC before approving any exemptions for the Atlantic chub mackerel, Atlantic mackerel, Illex squid, longfin squid butterfish, summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, spiny dogfish, bluefish, and tilefish fisheries, including exemptions for experimental fishing contributing to the development of new or expansion of existing fisheries for Mid-Atlantic forage species.
(a) The Regional Administrator may not grant such an exemption unless he/she determines that the purpose, design, and administration of the exemption is consistent with the management objectives of the respective FMP, the provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, and that granting the exemption will not:
(1) Have a detrimental effect on the respective resources and fishery;
(2) Cause any quota to be exceeded; or
(3) Create significant enforcement problems.
(b) Each vessel participating in any exempted experimental fishing activity is subject to all provisions of the respective FMP, except those necessarily relating to the purpose and nature of the exemption. The exemption will be specified in a letter issued by the Regional Administrator to each vessel participating in the exempted activity. This letter must be carried on board the vessel seeking the benefit of such exemption.
(d) Temporary possession letter of authorization (LOA): The Regional Administrator (RA), or the RA's designee, may issue an LOA to eligible researchers on board federally permitted fishing vessels on which species of fish that otherwise could not be legally retained would be possessed temporarily for the purpose of collecting catch data. Under this authorization, such species of fish could be retained temporarily for data collection purposes, but shall be discarded as soon as practicable following data collection.
(1) Eligible activities. An LOA may be issued by the RA, or the RA's designee, to temporarily exempt a vessel, on which a qualified fishery research technician is collecting catch data, from the following types of fishery regulations: Minimum fish size restrictions; fish possession limits; species quota closures; prohibited fish species, not including species protected under the Endangered Species Act; and gear-specific fish possession restrictions.
(2) Eligibility criteria. Only personnel from the following bodies are eligible for a temporary possession LOA: Foreign government agency; U.S. Government agency; U.S. state or territorial agency; university (or other educational institution accredited by a recognized national or international accreditation body); international treaty organization; or scientific institution.
(3) Application requirements. To obtain a temporary possession LOA, an eligible applicant, as defined under paragraph (d)(2) of this section, is required to submit a complete application, which must contain the following information: The date of the application; the applicant's name, mailing address, and telephone number; a statement of the purposes and goals for which the LOA is needed; the name(s) and affiliation of the fishery research technicians will collect the data; a statement demonstrating the qualifications of the research technician that will collect the data; the species (target and incidental) expected to be harvested under the LOA; the proposed disposition of all regulated species harvested under the LOA; the approximate time(s) and place(s) fishing will take place; the type, size, and amount of gear to be used; and the signature of the applicant. In addition, for each vessel to be covered by the LOA, as soon as the information is available and before operations begin, the applicant is required to supply to NMFS the vessel operator name, the vessel's Federal fishing permit number, and the vessel registration or documentation number.