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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of February 21, 2020

Title 50Chapter VIPart 660Subpart K → §660.707


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES
Subpart K—Highly Migratory Fisheries


§660.707   Permits.

(a) General. This section applies to vessels that fish for HMS off or land HMS in the States of California, Oregon, and Washington.

(1) A commercial fishing vessel of the United States must be registered for use under a general HMS permit that authorizes the use of specific gear, and a recreational charter vessel must be registered for use under a HMS permit if that vessel is used:

(i) To fish for HMS in the U.S. EEZ off the States of California, Oregon, and Washington; or

(ii) To land or transship HMS shoreward of the outer boundary of the U.S. EEZ off the States of California, Oregon, and Washington.

(2) The permit must be on board the vessel and available for inspection by an authorized officer, except that if the permit was issued while the vessel was at sea, this requirement applies only to any subsequent trip.

(3) A permit is valid only for the vessel for which it is registered. A permit not registered for use with a particular vessel may not be used.

(4) Only a person eligible to own a documented vessel under the terms of 46 U.S.C. 12102(a) may be issued or may hold (by ownership or otherwise) a general HMS permit.

(b) Application. (1) Following publication of the final rule implementing the FMP, NMFS will issue general HMS permits to the owners of those vessels on a list of vessels obtained from owners previously applying for a permit under the authority of the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act, the Tuna Conventions Act of 1950, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Fishery Management Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region, or whose vessels are listed on the vessel register of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.

(2) All permits issued by NMFS in accordance with paragraph (b)(1) of this section will authorize the use of specific fishing gear by the identified commercial fishing vessels.

(3) An owner of a vessel subject to these requirements who has not received a permit under this section from NMFS and who wants to engage in the fisheries must apply to the SFD for the required permit in accordance with the following:

(i) A West Coast Region Federal Fisheries application form may be obtained from the SFD or downloaded from the West Coast Region home page (http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/permits/commercial__fishing__research__permits.html) to apply for a permit under this section. A completed application is one that contains all the necessary information and signatures required.

(ii) A minimum of 15 days should be allowed for processing a permit application. If an incomplete or improperly completed application is filed, the applicant will be sent a notice of deficiency. If the applicant fails to correct the deficiency within 30 days following the date of notification, the application will be considered abandoned.

(iii) A permit will be issued by the SFD. If an application is denied, the SFD will indicate the reasons for denial.

(iv)(A) Any applicant for an initial permit may appeal the initial issuance decision to the Regional Administrator. To be considered by the Regional Administrator, such appeal must be in writing and state the reasons for the appeal, and must be submitted within 30 days of the action by the Regional Administrator. The appellant may request an informal hearing on the appeal.

(B) Upon receipt of an appeal authorized by this section, the Regional Administrator will notify the permit applicant, or permit holder as appropriate, and will request such additional information and in such form as will allow action upon the appeal.

(C) Upon receipt of sufficient information, the Regional Administrator will decide the appeal in accordance with the permit provisions set forth in this section at the time of the application, based upon information relative to the application on file at NMFS and the Council and any additional information submitted to or obtained by the Regional Administrator, the summary record kept of any hearing and the hearing officer's recommended decision, if any, and such other considerations as the Regional Administrator deems appropriate. The Regional Administrator will notify all interested persons of the decision, and the reasons for the decision, in writing, normally within 30 days of the receipt of sufficient information, unless additional time is needed for a hearing.

(D) If a hearing is requested, or if the Regional Administrator determines that one is appropriate, the Regional Administrator may grant an informal hearing before a hearing officer designated for that purpose after first giving notice of the time, place, and subject matter of the hearing to the applicant. The appellant, and, at the discretion of the hearing officer, other interested persons, may appear personally or be represented by counsel at the hearing and submit information and present arguments as determined appropriate by the hearing officer. Within 30 days of the last day of the hearing, the hearing officer shall recommend in writing a decision to the Regional Administrator.

(E) The Regional Administrator may adopt the hearing officer's recommended decision, in whole or in part, or may reject or modify it. In any event, the Regional Administrator will notify interested persons of the decision, and the reason(s) therefore, in writing, within 30 days of receipt of the hearing officer's recommended decision. The Regional Administrator's decision will constitute the final administrative action by NMFS on the matter.

(F) Any time limit prescribed in this section may be extended for a period not to exceed 30 days by the Regional Administrator for good cause, either upon his or her own motion or upon written request from the appellant stating the reason(s) therefore.

(4) General HMS permits issued under this subpart will remain valid until the first date of renewal, and permits may be subsequently renewed for 2-year terms. The first date of renewal will be the last day of the vessel owner's birth month in the second calendar year after the permit is issued (e.g., if the birth month is March and the permit is issued on October 3, 2007, the permit will remain valid through March 31, 2009).

(5) Replacement permits may be issued without charge to replace lost or mutilated permits. Replacement permits may be obtained by submitting to the SFD c/o the Regional Administrator a complete, signed vessel permit application. An application for a replacement permit is not considered a new application.

(6) Any permit that has been altered, erased, or mutilated is invalid.

(c) Display. Any permit issued under this subpart, or a facsimile of the permit, must be on board the vessel at all times while the vessel is fishing for, taking, retaining, possessing, or landing HMS shoreward of the outer boundary of the fishery management area unless the vessel was at sea at the time the permit was issued. Any permit issued under this section must be displayed for inspection upon request of an authorized officer.

(d) Sanctions. Procedures governing sanctions and denials are found at subpart D of 15 CFR part 904.

(e) Fees. An application for a permit, or renewal of an existing permit under this section will include a fee for each vessel. The fee amount required will be calculated in accordance with the NOAA Finance Handbook and specified on the application form.

(f) Federal limited entry drift gillnet permit—(1) General. This section applies to individuals fishing with large-mesh (14 inch or greater stretched mesh) drift gillnet (DGN) gear. Individuals who target, retain, transship, or land fish captured with a large-mesh DGN must possess a valid Federal limited entry DGN permit. Federal limited entry DGN permits are issued to an individual, and a vessel must be specified on the permit.

(2) Initial qualification. Upon publication of NMFS' final rule to establish the Federal limited entry DGN permit, all State of California limited entry DGN permit holders are eligible to obtain a Federal limited entry DGN permit. If a 2017-2018 California state DGN permit renewal application is not received by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or postmarked by March 31, 2018, the permit holder is not eligible to receive a 2018-2019 Federal limited entry DGN permit.

(3) Documentation and burden of proof. An individual applying for issuance, renewal, transfer, or assignment of a Federal limited entry DGN permit must prove that they meet the qualification requirements by submitting the following documentation, as applicable: A certified copy of the assigned vessel's documentation as a fishing vessel of the United States (U.S. Coast Guard or state) is the best evidence of vessel identification; a copy of a current State of California limited entry DGN permit is the best evidence of initial qualification for a Federal limited entry DGN permit; a copy of a written contract reserving or conveying limited entry rights is the best evidence of reserved or acquired rights; and other relevant, credible evidence that the applicant may wish to submit or that the SFD may request or require.

(4) Fees. Any processing fee will be determined by the service costs needed to process a permit request. If a fee is required, it would cover administrative expenses related to issuing limited entry permits, as well as renewing, transferring, assigning, and replacing permits. The amount of any fee will be calculated in accordance with the procedures of the NOAA Finance Handbook for determining the administrative costs of each special product or service. A fee may not exceed such costs and is specified with each application form. The appropriate fee must accompany each application.

(5) Initial decisions. (i) The SFD will make initial decisions regarding issuing, renewing, transferring, and assigning limited entry permits.

(ii) Adverse decisions shall be in writing and shall state the reasons for the adverse decision.

(iii) The SFD may decline to act on an application for issuing, renewing, transferring, or assigning a limited entry permit and will notify the applicant, if the permit sanction provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act at 16 U.S.C. 1858(a) and implementing regulations at 15 CFR part 904, subpart D, apply.

(6) Issuance. Federal limited entry DGN permits will be issued by the SFD. If an application is denied, the SFD will indicate the reasons for denial. A DGN permit will be issued to an individual and assigned to a specific vessel. A permit holder may assign the permit to another vessel once per permit year (April 1 to March 31).

(7) Appeals. Any applicant for an initial permit may appeal the initial issuance decision to the Regional Administrator. Appeals will be made and processed following procedures as described at paragraph (b)(3)(iv) of this section.

(8) Transfers. Federal limited entry DGN permits may be transferred to another individual only if the current permit holder has held the Federal DGN permit for a minimum of three consecutive years (counted April 1 to March 31 of the following year). At the time of the establishment of the Federal limited entry DGN permit system, the length of time an individual has held a State of California limited entry DGN permit carries over (e.g., if an individual has held a California DGN permit for two years, they are eligible to transfer the Federal DGN permit after holding the Federal DGN permit for one year). Exceptions to this limitation on permit transfer may be made under the following circumstances:

(i) The permit holder suffers from a serious illness or permanent disability that prevents the permit holder from earning a livelihood from commercial fishing.

(ii) If a deceased permit holder's estate or heirs submit a transfer request within six months of the permit holder's death.

(iii) Upon dissolution of marriage if the permit is held as community property.

(9) Renewals. (i) The SFD will send notices to renew limited entry permits to the most recent address of the permit holder on file.

(ii) The permit owner is responsible for renewing a limited entry permit.

(iii) The deadline for receipt or postmark of a Federal DGN permit renewal application is April 30 of the permit year (i.e., April 30, 2019 for 2019-2020 fishing season). Federal DGN permits must be renewed yearly.

(iv) A DGN permit that is allowed to expire will not be renewed unless the permit owner requests reissuance by July 31 (three months after the renewal application deadline) and NMFS determines that failure to renew was proximately caused by illness, injury, or death of the permit owner. If the permit expires, it will be forfeited and NMFS will not reissue the permit to anyone.

(10) Owner on-board requirement. (i) Except as provided in paragraphs (f)(10)(ii) through (v) of this section, the DGN permit holder must be on-board the vessel and in possession of a valid Federal limited entry DGN permit when engaged in DGN fishing activity.

(ii) A permit holder may designate another individual to fish under their permit for up to 15 days per fishing year (April 1 to March 31 of the following year); the substitute must comply with all other Federal permitting requirements. A permit holder shall notify NMFS of a substitution at least 24 hours prior to the commencement of the trip.

(iii) If the person who owns a Federal DGN permit is prevented from being on-board a fishing vessel because the person died, is ill, or is injured, NMFS may allow an exemption to the owner on-board requirement for more than 15 days. The person requesting the exemption must send a letter to NMFS requesting an exemption from the owner on-board requirements, with appropriate evidence as described at paragraph (f)(10)(iv) or (v) of this section. All exemptions for death, injury, or illness will be evaluated by NMFS and a decision will be made in writing to the permit owner (or, in the case of the death of the permit owner, to the estate or heirs of the permit owner) within 60 calendar days of receipt of the original exemption request.

(iv) Evidence of death of the permit owner shall be provided to NMFS in the form of a copy of a death certificate. In the interim before the estate is settled, if the deceased permit owner was subject to the owner on-board requirements, the estate of the deceased permit owner may send a letter to NMFS with a copy of the death certificate, requesting an exemption from the owner-on-board requirements. An exemption due to death of the permit owner will be effective only until such time that the estate of the deceased permit owner has registered the deceased permit owner's permit to a beneficiary, transferred the permit to another owner, or three years after the date of death as proven by a death certificate, whichever is earliest. An exemption from the owner-on-board requirement will be conveyed in a letter from NMFS to the estate of the permit owner and is required to be on the vessel during DGN fishing operations.

(v) Evidence of illness or injury that prevents the permit owner from participating in the fishery shall be provided to NMFS in the form of a letter from a certified medical practitioner. This letter must detail the relevant medical conditions of the permit owner and how those conditions prevent the permit owner from being on-board a fishing vessel during DGN fishing. An exemption due to injury or illness will be effective only for the fishing year of the request for exemption. In order to extend a medical exemption for a succeeding year, the permit owner must submit a new request and provide documentation from a certified medical practitioner detailing why the permit owner is still unable to be on-board a fishing vessel. An exemption from the owner-on-board requirement will be conveyed in a letter from NMFS to the permit owner and is required to be on the vessel during DGN fishing operations.

[69 FR 18453, Apr. 7, 2004, as amended at 72 FR 10937, Mar. 12, 2007; 74 FR 37178, July 28, 2009; 83 FR 11150, Mar. 14, 2018]

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