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Environmental assessment, regulatory impact review, and final regulatory flexibility act analysis for a final rule to implement the Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Plan and revise the large mesh size restriction under the Mid-Atlantic large mesh gillnet rule
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Filetype[PDF-1.92 MB]

  • Alternative Title:
    Final rule to implement the Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Plan and revise the large mesh size restriction under the Mid-Atlantic large mesh gillnet rule
  • Description:
    The majority of the Atlantic east coast commercial fisheries are managed under the authority of either individual states and/or the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA). These fisheries are also subject to the requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The 1994 amendments to the MMPA require the preparation and implementation of Take Reduction Plans (TRPs) for strategic marine mammal stocks that interact with Category I or II fisheries. The purposes of the ESA, as stated in Section 2(b), are to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered or threatened species depend may be conserved, to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered or threatened species, and to take such steps as may be appropriate to achieve the treaties and conventions set forth in the Act. This rulemaking combines two actions under different regulatory authorities, the MMPA and ESA. The action under the MMPA is necessary because the western North Atlantic coastal bottlenose dolphin stock, Tursiops truncatus, is a strategic stock in which the serious injury and mortality incidental to nine Category I and II fisheries is exceeding PBR levels. The Preferred Alternative will implement the final BDTRP, which contains regulatory and non-regulatory management measures to directly reduce bycatch of bottlenose dolphins incidental to these fisheries. Regulatory measures will achieve the short-term goal of the MMPA and include gillnet effort reduction, gear tending requirements, gear or gear deployment modifications for small, medium, and large mesh gillnets in seven management units from New Jersey through the east coast of Florida. Non-regulatory measures will also help meet the short-term goal and provide a framework for meeting the long-term goal of the MMPA. Non-regulatory measures include continued research and monitoring, enforcement of regulations, outreach to fishermen, and a collaborative effort with states to remove derelict crab trap/pot gear. The Preferred Alternative also contains an action under the ESA to amend the current large mesh gillnet size restriction in the mid-Atlantic large mesh gillnet rule from greater than 8-inch (20.3 cm) stretched mesh to 7-inches (17.8 cm) or larger stretched mesh. This action is intended to provide consistency in state and federal management of large mesh gillnets and facilitate compliance of commercial fishermen with these regulations.
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