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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of April 7, 2020

Title 50Chapter VIPart 660Subpart C → §660.21


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES
Subpart C—West Coast Groundfish Fisheries


§660.21   Seabird Avoidance Program.

This section contains the requirements of the Seabird Avoidance Program.

(a) Purpose. The purpose of the Seabird Avoidance Program is to minimize interactions between fishing gear and seabird species, including short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus).

(b) Applicability. The requirements specified in paragraph (c) of this section apply to the following fishing vessels when operating within the EEZ north of 36° N latitude:

(1) Vessels greater than or equal to 26 ft (7.9 m) LOA engaged in commercial fishing for groundfish with bottom longline gear, including snap gear, as defined under “Fishing gear” in §660.11, including those operating under the gear switching provisions of the Limited Entry Trawl Fishery, Shorebased IFQ Program as specified in §660.140(k), or those operating under the limited entry fixed gear fishery in subpart E or under the open access fishery in subpart F of this part, except as provided in paragraphs (b)(2) of this section.

(2) Exemptions. The requirements specified in paragraph (c) of this section do not apply to Pacific Coast treaty Indian fisheries, as described at §660.50, or to anglers engaged in recreational fishing for groundfish, as described in Subpart G of this Part.

(c) Seabird Avoidance Requirements—(1) General requirements. The operator of a vessel described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section must comply with the following requirements, unless operating under the provisions of paragraph (c)(3) of this section:

(i) Gear onboard. Have onboard the vessel seabird avoidance gear meeting the material standards specified in paragraph (c)(1)(iv) of this section and in accordance to the vessel size and gear type specific requirements as specified in paragraph (c)(2) of this section.

(ii) Gear inspection. Upon request by an authorized officer or observer, make the seabird avoidance gear available for inspection.

(iii) Gear use. Use seabird avoidance gear as specified in paragraph (c)(2) of this section that meets the material standards specified in paragraph (c)(1)(iv) of this section while bottom longline and snap gears are being deployed.

(iv) Material standards for all streamer lines. All streamer lines must:

(A) Have streamers spaced every 16.4 ft (5 m).

(B) Have individual streamers that hang attached to the mainline to 9.8 in (0.25 m) above the waterline in the absence of wind.

(C) Have streamers constructed of material that is brightly colored, UV-protected plastic tubing or 38 inch (9.5 mm) polyester line or material of an equivalent density.

(v) Handling of hooked short-tailed albatross. If a short-tailed albatross is hooked or entangled by a vessel, owners and operators must ensure that the following actions are taken:

(A) Stop the vessel to reduce the tension on the line and bring the bird on board the vessel using a dip net;

(B) Determine if the bird is alive or dead.

(C) If alive, follow these instructions:

(1) Cover the bird with a towel to protect its feathers from oils or damage while being handled;

(2) Remove any entangled lines or hooks from the bird without further injuring the bird;

(3) Place the bird in a safe enclosed place;

(4) If the hook has been ingested or is inaccessible, keep the bird in a safe, enclosed place and submit it to NMFS or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service immediately upon the vessel's return to port. Do not give the bird food or water.

(5) Assess whether the bird meets the following criteria for release:

(i) Able to hold its head erect and respond to noise and motion stimuli;

(ii) Able to breathe without noise;

(iii) Capable of flapping and retracting both wings to normal folded position on its back;

(iv) Able to stand on both feet with toes pointed forward; and

(v) Feathers are dry.

(6) If bird does not meet criteria for release:

(i) Immediately contact NMFS or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the numbers listed on the West Coast Seabird Avoidance Measures flyer and request veterinary guidance;

(ii) Follow the veterinary guidance regarding the handling and release of the bird.

(D) If dead, freeze the bird immediately with an identification tag attached directly to the specimen listing the species, location and date of mortality, and band number if the bird has a leg band. Attach a duplicate identification tag to the bag or container holding the bird. Any leg bands present must remain on the bird. Contact NMFS or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the numbers listed on the West Coast Seabird Avoidance Measures flyer, inform them that you have a dead short-tailed albatross on board, and submit the bird to NMFS or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within 72 hours following completion of the fishing trip.

(E) All incidents involving the hooking of short-tailed albatross must be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement by the vessel operator within 72 hours of taking an albatross by phoning 360-753-7764 (WA); 503-682-6131 (OR); or 916-414-6660 (CA).

(F) If a NMFS observer is on board at the time of a hooking event, the observer shall be responsible for the disposition of any captured short-tailed albatross and for reporting to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement. Otherwise, the vessel operator shall be responsible.

(2) Gear requirements and performance standards. The operator of a vessel identified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section must comply with the following gear requirements:

(i) For vessels with masts, poles, or rigging using snap gear as defined at §660.11, the following requirements apply:

(A) Vessels must deploy a minimum of a single streamer line in accordance with the requirements of paragraphs (c)(1)(iv) of this section, except as provided in paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section.

(B) Streamer lines must be a minimum length of 147.6 ft (45 m).

(C) Streamer lines must be deployed so that streamers are in the air a minimum of 65.6 ft (20 m) aft of the stern and within 6 ft 7 in (2 m) horizontally of the point where the main groundline enters the water before the first hook is set. A minimum of 4 streamers must be out of the water aft of the stern.

(ii) For vessels with masts, poles, or rigging using bottom longline other than snap gear, as defined in paragraph (6)(i) of the definition of fishing gear in §660.11, the following requirements apply:

(A) Streamer lines must be a minimum length of 300 feet (91.4 m).

(B) The number of streamer lines required and the streamer line deployment requirements vary by vessel length as follows:

(1) Vessels greater than or equal to 26 feet (7.9 m) and less than 55 feet (16.8 m) LOA must use a minimum of one streamer line. Streamer line must be deployed before the first hook is set in such a way that streamers are in the air for a minimum of 131.2 ft (40 m) aft of the stern and within 6.6 ft (2 m) horizontally of the point where the main groundline enters the water. A minimum of 8 streamers must be out of the water aft of the stern.

(2) Vessels greater than or equal to 55 feet (16.8 m) LOA must use paired streamer lines. At least one streamer line must be deployed before the first hook is set in such a way that streamers are in the air for a minimum of 131.2 ft (40 m) aft of the stern and within 6.6 ft (2 m) horizontally of the point where the main groundline enters the water. A minimum of 8 streamers must be out of the water aft of the stern. The second streamer line must be deployed within 90 seconds thereafter.

(i) For vessels deploying gear from the stern, the streamer lines must be deployed from the stern, one on each side of the main groundline.

(ii) For vessels deploying gear from the side, the streamer lines must be deployed from the stern, one over the main groundline and the other on one side of the main groundline.

(iii) Vessels without masts, poles, or rigging. A minimum of 1 buoy bag line must be used by vessels without superstructure, including masts, poles, or rigging. The buoy bag line must hang over the area where baited hooks may be accessible to seabirds, which is generally within 6.5 feet (2 m) of the sea surface.

(iv) The following weather safety exemptions apply, based on vessel length:

(A) Vessels greater than or equal to 26 feet (7.9 m) and less than 55 feet (16.8 m) LOA are exempted from the requirements of paragraph (c)(1)(iii) of this section when a National Weather Service Small Craft Advisory for Winds is in effect, or other National Weather Service Advisory for wind speeds exceeding those that trigger a Small Craft Advisory for Winds. This exemption applies only during the time and within the area indicated in the National Weather Service Weather Advisory or in an area seaward of such an area.

(B) Vessels 55 feet and longer (16.8 m) LOA are exempted from the requirements of paragraph (c)(1)(iii) of this section when a National Weather Service Gale Warning is in effect. This exemption applies only during the time and within the area indicated in the National Weather Service Gale Warning.

(3) Night setting. The operator of a vessel described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, that begins and completes deployment of gear between one hour after local sunset and one hour before local sunrise is exempt from the provisions of paragraphs (c)(1) and (2) of this section.

[80 FR 71980, Nov. 18, 2015, as amended at 84 FR 67678, Dec. 11, 2019]

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