Gulf Coast Fisherman
AIS RULE BECOMES EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 2016
Even if you believe you don't need one, or it's an expense you can't afford, if your boat is 65 feet or longer, and you operate on any navigable U.S. waters, the Coast Guard is requiring you to have an automatic identification system. The ruling, "Vessel Requirements for Notices of Arrival and Departure and Automatic Identification System" becomes effective March 2, 2015. However, you have until March 1, 2016 to install the AIS. The Coast Guard is requiring commercial vessels 65 feet and longer that operate in U.S. waters to be equipped with an automatic identification system by March 1, 2016.
If you aren't aware of this rule, you're not alone. Though the rule has been in the works for about 11 years, the Coast Guard hasn't done a very good job of publicizing it. The Coast Guard says the purpose of the AIS requirement and the Notice of Arrival and Departure, which affects only commercial vessels 300 gross tons or less coming from a foreign port is, "to improve navigation safety, enhance the Coast Guard's ability to identify and track vessels, and to heighten the Coast Guard's overall situational and maritime domain awareness, which will enhance mariner's navigation safety and the Coast Guard's ability to address threats to maritime transportation security."
Commercial fishermen won't be alone in the Coast Guard's AIS rulemaking. It's estimated that 5,848 commercial boats are affected. Of that total, 2,906 are commercial fishing boats, the largest vessel group subject to the requirement. Another 1,429 tugs and other towing boats make up the next largest group of boats affected. For those who haven't seen the benefit of AIS, the Coast Guard says it's "the most effective tool currently available to enhance a mariner's situational awareness and our own [maritime domain awareness]."
In the comment period to the proposed rulemaking, one concern from several people in the fishing industry was that having to install and use AIS meant that a fishing boat captain's hot spots would no longer be his secret; other boats would quickly join him. However, the Coast Guard reasoned that the ability of an AIS unit to help a boat navigate safely superseded the need for someone to keep his favorite fishing spots secret. From a financial standpoint, owners of commercial fishing boats 65 feet and longer did luck out in that they are only required to have class-B AIS and not class A, though they can if they want. That's opposed to other categories, such as passenger boats over 65 feet, which must have class-A AIS. The Coast Guard figures an average class-B AIS unit costs about $700, whereas the average cost of a class-A unit is $3,230. For more information visit the website http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=AISFAQ (Source: Southern Shrimp Alliance e-mail Tuesday, 24 February 2015)
SCOPING WORKSHOPS FOR REEF FISH AMENDMENT 36 RED SNAPPER IFQ PROGRAM MODIFICATIONS
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will hold a series of scoping workshops to discuss and take public comment on a proposed amendment to make modifications to the Red Snapper Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program. The Council is looking at a broad range of potential modifications to the Red Snapper IFQ program, including changes to the program's eligibility requirements; redistribution of shares held in inactive accounts to address regulatory discards; consideration of a full retention commercial fishery for red snapper; exploring share, allocation, and vessel caps on quota; requirements for the use of shares and/or allocation; withholding full distribution of shares in the event of an anticipated mid-year quota change; and increasing enforcement of all commercial reef fish landings. Although this action focuses on red snapper specifically, the implication of Red Snapper IFQ program changes on the Grouper-Tilefish IFQ program, and other potential issues within the Grouper-Tilefish IFQ program will also be discussed. The workshop schedule is as follows:
GULF COUNCIL SEEKS APPLICANTS FOR FISHERY ADVISORY PANELS
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is taking applications for seats on its advisory panels. Working at the grass roots level, advisory panel members provide expertise and guidance to the Council on the development and implementation of federal fishery management plans for the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf Council has ten advisory panels and four ad hoc advisory panels comprised of individuals who are knowledgeable about and interested in the conservation and management of the fishery resources, or who are engaged in the harvest of Gulf of Mexico managed species. Members include private anglers, charter‑for‑hire operators, headboat operators, commercial fishers, seafood dealers and processors, nongovernmental organizations, scientists, and concerned citizens. Membership provides individuals with an opportunity to become more directly involved in the management decision‑making process. Advisory panel members are appointed by the Council and serve a two‑year term. Advisory panel members generally meet no more than once or twice per year and are compensated for travel and per diem expenses. Ad Hoc panels operate in the same manner; however, these panels are temporary and are disbanded when the panel charge has been met. Applications are now being accepted for the following panels:
- Coastal Migratory Pelagics
- Data Collection
- Outreach & Education
- Red Drum
- Red Snapper
- Reef Fish
- SEDAR Workshop
- Spiny Lobster
- Ad Hoc Artificial Substrate
- Ad Hoc Red Snapper IFQ
- Ad Hoc Red Snapper Charter For‑Hire
- Ad Hoc Headboat Reef Fish
To apply, visit http://www.gulfcouncil.org/forms/Advisory_Form.php and complete the online application. Appointments are limited to a maximum of two advisory panels. Membership on Ad Hoc Panels is unlimited. If you need a paper copy of the application, please send an email to AP.Applicants@gulfcouncil.org, or call the Council office at 813‑348.1630 to request an application. Applications must be received by March 13, 2015 for consideration by the Council during its March/April meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi. NOTE: If you currently serve on an advisory panel, you must reapply during this appointment process.
OIL SPILL SCIENCE FIVE YEARS LATER, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
Mark your calendars and plan on attending a special session at the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama on March 18, 2015 beginning at 1:30 p.m. During this session, scientists will present the latest fisheries‑related research about the impacts that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and dispersant application had on Gulf of Mexico habitats, communities, and individual species. There will also be a short facilitated discussion to determine what questions are still unknown and identify future research priorities. This input will be shared with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) who is investing $500 million in oil spill‑related research over a ten year period. This session has been organized and will be led by Sea Grant as part of the new Oil Spill Outreach Science program: https://gulfseagrant.wordpress.com/oilspilloutreach/.
This information was compiled by Dave Burrage, 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