Fact Sheet: Exempted fishing permits

Exempted fishing permits (EFPs) allow for fishing activities that are exempt from the usual fishing regulations. They are a way for people and organizations involved in the fishery to experiment with new gears or techniques. The Council recommends EFPs to National Marine Fisheries Service, which is responsible for granting them.

Examples of past projects supported by an EFP include developing new gear types for an underutilized fishery and developing devices to reduce catch of prohibited species.

Why EFPs?

EFPs are commonly used to explore ways to reduce impacts on depressed stocks, encourage innovation and efficiency, measure the bycatch of overfished or other constrained stocks associated with certain fishing strategies, and evaluate current and proposed management measures. EFPs can also be used to study how to increase the use of underutilized species, explore areas of expansion for the groundfish fishery, and make harvesting more efficient.

Who can apply?

Anyone who would like to undertake fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited, but fit within the purposes of an EFP, can apply for one. This includes Federal or state agencies, marine fish commissions, nonprofit organizations, and individuals. You don’t have to be the owner or operator of the vessel(s) for which the EFP is requested, but a copy of the permit must be on a participating vessel at all times during the EFP project.

Applying for an EFP

The deadlines for submitting EFP proposals varies depending on the fishery. (EFPs are conducted for groundfish, highly migratory species, and coastal pelagic species, but not salmon). Contact the relevant Council staff (listed below) about the specific schedule for submitting proposals for Council review.

Applicants for an EFP in any fishery must submit a completed application in writing that explains and justifies the goals of the EFP. The advisory bodies, Council, or Scientific and Statistical Committee may ask for additional information. It can take several Council meetings for all of the necessary review to occur. Applicants are required to collect data and provide reports on results of approved EFPs.

See examples:

For best results

For best results, you should work with a NMFS Science Center, or other research organization, on the experimental design before submitting an EFP application to assure that your approach is sound. This will speed up the review process.

Once a Council recommendation is forwarded, NMFS publishes a Federal Register notice of the receipt of your application. NMFS may also need to write an environmental analysis of the impacts of the EFP before the permit can be issued. Given this process, plan on at least 6 to 18 months from the date of application submittal before the EFP is issued.

More information

For more information on EFPs, contact:

All are available by telephone at 503-820-2280.