NOAA announced the next meeting dates for the Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel, including a one-day Recreational Roundtable/Large Pelagics Survey Workshop.

“This meeting is loaded with issues of primary importance to every fisherman," said David Schalit, President of the American Bluefin Tuna Association and an Advisory Panel member. Schalit explained that discussion will focus on basic fishery operations and structure, from quota allocations to temporal and spatial dimensions to a pelagic long line review. These are dynamic topics still to be settled by regulators.

“I would encourage every fisherman,” Schalit added, “to review the upcoming agenda and decide how to best participate in the open, public comment periods that are scheduled at the end of each day.”

There is “a shark depredation issue from Maine to Texas and the U.S. Caribbean Territories for which NOAA/NMFS will be seeking solutions during the upcoming meeting,” said Russell Hudson, with Directed Sustainable Fisheries and a member of the Advisory Panel. Hudson added that NOAA faces challenges in modeling population numbers for certain sharks, particularly the “highly migratory species that we share with neighboring countries. Comments and other suggestions regarding shark populations will be our focus during the meeting.”

These will be webinar meetings held on:

Tuesday, May 25 from 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Wednesday, May 26 from 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 27 from 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The recreational workshop will be held Friday, May 28, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Discussion will also include a new initiative by Maine to expand NOAA’s Atlantic tuna oversight into Maine’s state waters. Implementation was formally announced on Friday, April 23. This is the subject of a separate public hearing on May 14.

The Advisory Panel includes 50 individuals from state agencies, commercial fisheries, environmental groups and academia. The panel meets two to three times a year. The last meeting was Dec. 7, 2020. A key issue then was a NOAA plan to expand electronic technologies for reporting and tracking Atlantic HMS. That plan was expected to be released in spring 2021. A tech project update is on next month’s draft agenda.

A final agenda is still in the works (as this is written) but likely topics include:

  • Reconsidering the decision to open the former Gulf of Mexico Gear Restricted Area to pelagic longline fishing (Spring Gulf of Mexico Monitoring Area);
  • Review of the Atlantic shark fishery and shark depredation issues;
  • The electronic technologies update (referenced above); and
  • An HMS recreational fishing listening session.
  • To participate in the meetings, visit the NMFS event page

Advance registration is not required.

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