50 CFR § 665.17 - Experimental fishing.

§ 665.17 Experimental fishing.

(a) General. The Regional Administrator may authorize, for limited purposes, the direct or incidental harvest of MUS or ECS that would otherwise be prohibited by this part. No experimental fishing may be conducted unless authorized by an EFP issued by the Regional Administrator in accordance with the criteria and procedures specified in this section. EFPs will be issued without charge.

(b) Observers. No experimental fishing for crustacean MUS or ECS may be conducted unless a NMFS observer is aboard the vessel.

(c) Application. An applicant for an EFP must submit to the Regional Administrator at least 60 days before the desired date of the EFP a written application including, but not limited to, the following information:

(1) The date of the application.

(2) The applicant's name, mailing address, and telephone number.

(3) A statement of the purposes and goals of the experiment for which an EFP is needed, including a general description of the arrangements for disposition of all species harvested under the EFP.

(4) A statement of whether the proposed experimental fishing has broader significance than the applicant's individual goals.

(5) For each vessel to be covered by the EFP:

(i) Vessel name.

(ii) Name, address, and telephone number of owner and operator.

(iii) USCG documentation, state license, or registration number.

(iv) Home port.

(v) Length of vessel.

(vi) Net tonnage.

(vii) Gross tonnage.

(6) A description of the species (directed and incidental) to be harvested under the EFP and the amount of such harvest necessary to conduct the experiment.

(7) For each vessel covered by the EFP, the approximate times and places fishing will take place, and the type, size, and amount of gear to be used.

(8) The signature of the applicant.

(d) Incomplete applications. The Regional Administrator may request from an applicant additional information necessary to make the determinations required under this section. An applicant will be notified of an incomplete application within 10 working days of receipt of the application. An incomplete application will not be considered until corrected in writing.

(e) Issuance.

(1) If an application contains all of the required information, NMFS will publish a notice of receipt of the application in the Federal Register with a brief description of the proposal and will give interested persons an opportunity to comment. The Regional Administrator will also forward copies of the application to the Council, the USCG, and the fishery management agency of the affected state, accompanied by the following information:

(i) The current utilization of domestic annual harvesting and processing capacity (including existing experimental harvesting, if any) of the directed and incidental species for which an EFP is being requested.

(ii) A citation of the regulation or regulations that, without the EFP, would prohibit the proposed activity.

(iii) Biological information relevant to the proposal.

(2) At a Council meeting following receipt of a complete application, the Regional Administrator will consult with the Council and the Director of the affected state fishery management agency concerning the permit application. The applicant will be notified in advance of the meeting at which the application will be considered, and invited to appear in support of the application, if the applicant desires.

(3) Within 5 working days after the consultation in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, or as soon as practicable thereafter, NMFS will notify the applicant in writing of the decision to grant or deny the EFP and, if denied, the reasons for the denial. Grounds for denial of an EFP include, but are not limited to, the following:

(i) The applicant has failed to disclose material information required, or has made false statements as to any material fact, in connection with his or her application.

(ii) According to the best scientific information available, the harvest to be conducted under the permit would detrimentally affect any species of fish in a significant way.

(iii) Issuance of the EFP would inequitably allocate fishing privileges among domestic fishermen or would have economic allocation as its sole purpose.

(iv) Activities to be conducted under the EFP would be inconsistent with the intent of this section or the management objectives of the FEP.

(v) The applicant has failed to demonstrate a valid justification for the permit.

(vi) The activity proposed under the EFP would create a significant enforcement problem.

(4) The decision to grant or deny an EFP is final and unappealable. If the permit is granted, NMFS will publish a notice in the Federal Register describing the experimental fishing to be conducted under the EFP. The Regional Administrator may attach terms and conditions to the EFP consistent with the purpose of the experiment including, but not limited to:

(i) The maximum amount of each species that can be harvested and landed during the term of the EFP, including trip limits, where appropriate.

(ii) The number, sizes, names, and identification numbers of the vessels authorized to conduct fishing activities under the EFP.

(iii) The times and places where experimental fishing may be conducted.

(iv) The type, size, and amount of gear which may be used by each vessel operated under the EFP.

(v) The condition that observers be carried aboard vessels operating under an EFP.

(vi) Data reporting requirements.

(vii) Such other conditions as may be necessary to assure compliance with the purposes of the EFP consistent with the objectives of the FEP.

(f) Duration. Unless otherwise specified in the EFP or a superseding notice or regulation, an EFP is effective for no longer than one (1) year from the date of issuance, unless revoked, suspended, or modified. EFPs may be renewed following the application procedures in this section.

(g) Alteration. Any EFP that has been altered, erased, or mutilated is invalid.

(h) Transfer. EFPs issued under subparts B through F of this part are not transferable or assignable. An EFP is valid only for the vessel(s) for which it is issued.

(i) Inspection. Any EFP issued under subparts B through F of this part must be carried aboard the vessel(s) for which it was issued. The EFP must be presented for inspection upon request of any authorized officer.

(j) Sanctions. Failure of the holder of an EFP to comply with the terms and conditions of an EFP, the provisions of subparts A through F of this part, any other applicable provision of this part, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or any other regulation promulgated thereunder, is grounds for revocation, suspension, or modification of the EFP with respect to all persons and vessels conducting activities under the EFP. Any action taken to revoke, suspend, or modify an EFP will be governed by 15 CFR part 904 subpart D. Other sanctions available under the statute will be applicable.

(k) Protected species. Persons fishing under an EFP must report any incidental take or fisheries interaction with protected species on a form provided for that purpose. Reports must be submitted to the Regional Administrator within 3 days of arriving in port.

[75 FR 2205, Jan. 14, 2010, as amended at 84 FR 2769, Feb. 8, 2019]