February 1, 2012 (MASGP-12-001-2)
CHANGES IN BRD REGULATIONS
On January 9, 2012, NOAA Fisheries Service began accepting public comment on proposed changes to shrimp regulations. One action would certify two new bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) for use in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic region. Both of the new BRDs represent modifications to the Composite Panel BRD, which is provisionally certified through May 24, 2012. The proposed rule would add these BRDs to the list of allowable BRDs, and provide technical specifications for the construction and subsequent legal enforcement of the BRDs. One version incorporates the addition of a square mesh panel (SMP Composite Panel BRD); the other version incorporates the addition of a “spooker” cone in the cod-end of the trawl behind the BRD (Cone Deflector Composite Panel BRD).
BRDs have been required in shrimp trawls in the South Atlantic since 1997, in the western Gulf of Mexico since 1998, and since 2004 for the eastern Gulf of Mexico. In 2008, NOAA Fisheries Service provisionally certified the Composite Panel BRD for use in federal waters throughout the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, and changed the classification for the Extended Funnel BRD in the Gulf of Mexico from “fully certified” to “provisionally certified.” Provisional certifications only allow the use of the BRD for a 2-year period. In 2010, NOAA Fisheries Service extended these provisional certifications to allow industry greater time to make modifications that would fully certify the BRDs. Such testing occurred on the Composite Panel BRD, resulting in the two modified versions being proposed for certification. No additional information is available for the Extended Funnel BRD in the Gulf of Mexico.
Therefore, as of May 25, 2012, the original Composite Panel BRD will be decertified for use in both the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic federal waters, and the Extended Funnel BRD will be decertified for use in Gulf of Mexico federal waters. Shrimpers who use the original Composite Panel BRD would have until May 25, 2012, to make the modifications to their BRDs to meet the new BRDs’ construction specifications. For information on how to make these modifications, contact Dan Foster (Phone: 228-549-1763; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
PROGRAM SEEKS CANDIDATES FOR FELLOWSHIP IN MARINE POLICY
The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium is seeking applicants for the 2013 Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. Knauss fellows spend a year in positions related to marine policy in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government in the Washington, D.C., area. Past fellows have worked in the offices of U.S. senators and representatives, on congressional subcommittees and at agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fellowships run from Feb. 1, 2013, to Jan. 31, 2014, and pay a stipend of $41,500 plus $9,000 for health insurance, moving and travel.
To apply, candidates must be in a graduate or professional program during the spring 2012 semester in a marine- or aquatic-related field at an accredited institution of higher education. Applications are due at the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium office Feb. 17, 2012, and must include a 2-page curriculum vitae (CV), an education and career goal statement (1,000 words), two letters of recommendation (including one from a major professor), undergraduate and graduate transcripts, a list of classes and plans for spring, summer and fall of 2012. For application details and information about the fellowship, visit the National Sea Grant College Program website or contact Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Research Coordinator Loretta Leist at email@example.com. To recommend potential candidates, contact LaDon Swann, director of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GULF OF MEXICO RECREATIONAL GROUPER SEASON CLOSED
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council reminds anglers that the recreational shallow-water grouper fishery is closed from February 1 through March 31. The annual closure, which includes gag, black, red, yellowfin, scamp, yellowmouth, rock hind and red hind, is designed to protect gag, which are often found and caught with the other grouper species. The two-month spawning season closure helps reduce overfishing of gag and rebuild its populations so that larger annual harvests may be possible in the future. Gag grouper, which is also part of the shallow-water grouper complex, has been closed since November 16, 2011. The proposed 2012 recreational gag season is July 1 through October 31.
STRATEGY PROPOSED TO RESPOND TO CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PLANTS
In partnership with state, tribal, and federal agency partners, the Obama Administration has released the first draft national strategy to help decision makers and resource managers prepare for and help reduce the impacts of climate change on species, ecosystems, and the people and economies that depend on them. The strategy represents a draft framework for unified action to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants, as well as the important benefits and services the natural world provides the nation every day, including jobs, food, clean water, clean air, building materials, storm protection, and recreation.
The draft of the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is available for public review and comment through March 5, 2012, online at www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov. The site provides information on submitting comments, and the dates/locations of five public information sessions and two webinars designed to provide details and encourage dialogue on the strategy and its development. To register for these meetings and for more information on the public comment process, visit www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/public-comments.php.
FISHERMEN PLAN TO RALLY IN WASHINGTON D.C.
Advocates for the recreational and commercial fishing industries want to replicate the success of a 2010 demonstration to protest overreaching federal regulations. They set March 21, 2012 as the date for strong rally in Washington D.C. The “Keep Fishermen Fishing” rally is being organized by a coalition of fishing groups, including the New Jersey-based Recreational Fishing Alliance and Garden State Seafood Association. Fishermen said that they want reforms in the Magnuson-Steven Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the overarching federal law that sets fishing rules and how catch limits are set. U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone Jr., D-NJ, and Jon Runyan, R-NJ, are among a group of coastal legislators who have proposed changes to the law without much success, so far.
But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is firm on its decision saying that the law is working to restore fish stocks. Commenting on this, Jim Donofrio of the Recreational Fishing Alliance said the law’s last reauthorization prevents fishermen from utilizing fish stocks even when they’ve been rebuilt. For commercial fishermen, a big concern is NOAA’s move toward using systems of assigned catch shares to control their catches. The “United We Fish” rally was first started in February 2010 which brought several thousand anglers and commercial fishermen together on the west side of Capitol Hill for a day-long demonstration.
LOUISIANA ANNOUNCES 2012 COMMERCIAL SEASON FOR NON-SANDBAR COASTAL SHARKS
On January 26, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced the 2012 commercial season for Non-Sandbar Large Coastal Sharks will open in Louisiana waters on February 15. In the spring, the commercial and recreational seasons for the harvest of all sharks in Louisiana waters will close from 12:01 a.m. April 1, 2012 until 12:01 p.m. July 1, 2012, due to an existing fixed closure to protect shark pupping. During the open season, commercial harvest of Non-Sandbar Large Coastal Sharks and Pelagic Sharks are regulated by the existing federal and state rules regarding trip limits, allowable species and requirements for permits and landings.
The Non-Sandbar Large Coastal Shark group is composed of the great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, nurse shark, blacktip shark, bull shark, lemon shark, silky shark, spinner shark and tiger shark. While sandbar sharks are a member of the Large Coastal Shark group, only specifically designated federally permitted vessels may take sandbar sharks while operating under conditions of that permit. Commercial fishing for Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks remains open in Louisiana waters currently and will remain open until the federal quota is met. The Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Shark group is composed of bonnethead shark, Atlantic sharpnose shark, blacknose shark and finetooth. Last year the commercial fishing season for Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks remained open for all of 2011, as the quota was not met.
There is no allowable harvest at any time for all Prohibited Species. Shark species falling in the category include Basking shark, white shark, bigeye sand tiger, sand tiger, whale shark, smalltooth sawfish, largetooth sawfish, Atlantic angel shark, Caribbean sharpnose shark, smalltail shark, bignose shark, Caribbean reef shark, dusky shark, Galapagos shark, narrowtooth shark, night shark, bigeye sixgill shark, bigeye thresher shark, longfin mako, sevengill shark and sixgill shark.
EMERGENCY BEACONS - SATELLITES HELP RESCUE 207 PEOPLE IN 2011
In 2011, NOAA satellites were critical in the rescues of 207 people from life-threatening situations throughout the United States and its surrounding waters. The satellites picked up distress signals from emergency beacons carried by downed pilots, shipwrecked boaters and stranded hikers, and relayed the information about their location to first responders on the ground. NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System, called COSPAS-SARSAT. This system uses a network of satellites to quickly detect and locate distress signals from emergency beacons onboard aircraft and boats, and from smaller, handheld personal locator beacons called PLBs. When a NOAA satellite finds the location of a distress signal, the information is relayed to the SARSAT Mission Control Center based at NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md. From there, the information is quickly sent to a Rescue Coordination Center, operated by either the U.S. Air Force for land rescues or the U.S. Coast Guard for water rescues. Since 1982, COSPAS-SARSAT has been credited with supporting more than 30,000 rescues worldwide, including more than 6,700 in the United States and its surrounding waters. Owners of emergency beacons are required to register them with NOAA at: http://www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov.
This information was compiled by Dave Burrage, Chris Boyd, Peter Nguyen and Benedict Posadas. For more information, visit our office at 1815 Popps Ferry Road, Biloxi, MS 39532 or telephone (228) 388-4710.
MSU Coastal Research and