HMS FMP Amendment 6: Authorization of a deep-set buoy gear fishery

Action status

  • Implemented
  • Undergoing NMFS Review
  • Approved by Council
  • Under development by the Council

In March 2016 the Council began scoping the authorization of a fishery using deep-set buoy gear (DSBG) to target swordfish.

In November 2018 the Council adopted a final range of alternatives for authorizing use of deep-set buoy gear (DSBG) as described in HMSMT Report 1, including modifications and the range of qualification rankings found in Supplemental HMSMT Report 2, except that Alternative 3, Stand-Alone drift gillnet (DGN) Permit Trade-in, is removed from the range. The Council also incorporated both the alternative proposed in  Supplemental HMSAS Report 1, and the public comment provided by Tara Brock in  Supplemental Comment 2 as part of the final range of alternatives.

In November 2018 the Council also adopted a preliminary preferred alternative for a limited entry permit program for vessels fishing in Federal waters east of 120° 28’ 18” W. longitude. As described under Alternative 2 in HMSMT Report 1, all other Federal waters offshore of California and Oregon would be “open access.”

The Council’s preliminary preferred alternative was a variation of Alternative 1 described in Supplemental HMSMT Report 2. Alternative 1 provides an ordered list of qualifying criteria to be used to determine the order of applicants to whom a limited entry DSBG permit would be issued. Individuals could only possess one limited entry permit. 

The Council took final action, adopting a preferred alternative, in September 2019. It is a variation on the preliminary preferred alternative with the following elements:

  1. A limited entry (LE) permit for DSBG fishing in Federal waters east of 120° 28’ 18” W. longitude; all other Federal waters offshore of California and Oregon would be “open access”
  2. Individuals may only be issued a single DSBG LE permit
  3. For the LE permit, up to 50 permits will be issued in the first permit year with up to 25 permits issued annually in subsequent years until either a) a maximum of 300 permits are issued, b) the National Marine Fisheries Service determines less than 300 are necessary to ensure compliance with the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, or c) the Council recommends to NMFS that less than 300 permits are necessary to meet stakeholder needs. Permit issuance is intended to be cumulative, adding 25 permits each year to the prior year total until a maximum of 300 is reached. Any permits issued in previous years that were not issued or renewed would also be available for issuance each year.
  4. Limited entry permits for the area east of 120° 28’ 18” W. longitude will be issued using the following ranking categories in the order listed:
  1. DSBG EFP holders who made at least 10 observed DSBG sets by December 31, 2018.
  2. DGN LE permit holders who made at least one DGN landing between the 2013-2014 and 2017-2018 fishing years and surrender their DGN LE permit as part of a state or federal DGN permit trade-in or buy-back program.
  3. DSBG EFP holders who have made at least 10 observed DSBG sets by the effective date of the Final Rule authorizing DSBG.
  4. Individuals who possessed a California Swordfish Permit in the 2018-2019 fishing year and made at least one swordfish landing using harpoon gear between the 2013-2014 and 2017-2018 fishing years.
  5. DGN LE permit holders who have made at least one DGN landing between the 2013-2014 and 2017-2018 fishing years and did not surrender their DGN LE permit as part of a state or federal DGN permit trade-in or buy-back program.
  6. DGN permit holders who have not made a swordfish landing with DGN gear since March 31, 2013 and surrender their DGN LE permit as part of a state or federal DGN LE permit trade-in or buy-back program.
  7. DGN LE permit holders who have not made a swordfish landing with DGN gear since March 31, 2013 and did not surrender their DGN LE permit as part of a state or federal DGN permit trade-in or buy-back program.

Thereafter LE permits are issued to any individual with a documented commercial swordfish landing. The basis for documenting a commercial swordfish landing attributable to the applicant will be specified in Federal regulations.

HMS LE DSBG permits are not transferable.

The preferred alternative includes the following definition of deep-set buoy gear:

Line fishing gear in two configurations: standard buoy gear and linked buoy gear. The gear consists of either a vertical line affixed to a buoy array with one or more hooks, or a horizontal line with hooks attached, connected to the terminal ends of two vertical lines affixed to buoy arrays respectively. Both configurations limit the number of hooks used and require the hooks to be set deeper than a specified minimum depth and that buoys are configured to avoid entanglement. The gear is fished during specified hours and requires active tending.

The Council proposal has been transmitted to National Marine Fisheries Service which is undertaking the reviews (NEPA, ESA, etc.) prior to implementation.