NOAA Fisheries has announced a public comment period, through March 10, 2023, on the Council’s proposed Amendment 6 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (HMS) to authorize deep-set buoy gear (DSBG) as an additional gear type for catching swordfish and other HMS in federal waters off of California and Oregon.
The Council began reviewing and making recommendations on issuing exempted fishing permits to test DSBG in 2015. NOAA Fisheries review and approval of the FMP amendment culminates a Council process began in 2016. NOAA Fisheries must decide on whether to approve the proposed FMP amendment by April 9, 2023. NOAA Fisheries plans to publish proposed regulations implementing the amendment soon so that they are in place shortly after the FMP amendment review process concludes.
Implementation of Amendment 6 is intended to improve the economic viability of the West Coast swordfish fishery, while minimizing bycatch and protected species interactions. In addition to making DSBG a legal gear under the HMS FMP, it would establish a limited entry permit system in Federal waters of the Southern California Bight.