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e-CFR data is current as of September 17, 2020

Title 50Chapter VIPart 697Subpart A → §697.4


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 697—ATLANTIC COASTAL FISHERIES COOPERATIVE MANAGEMENT
Subpart A—General Provisions


§697.4   Vessel permits and trap tags.

(a) Limited access American lobster permit. Any vessel of the United States that fishes for, possesses, or lands American lobster or Jonah crab in or harvested from the EEZ must have been issued and carry on board a valid Federal limited access lobster permit. The requirement in this paragraph (a) does not apply to: Charter, head, and commercial dive vessels that possess 6 or fewer American lobsters per person or 50 Jonah crab per person aboard the vessel if such lobsters or crabs are not intended for, nor used, in trade, barter or sale; recreational fishing vessels; and vessels that fish exclusively in state waters for American lobster or Jonah crab.

(1) Eligibility in 1999 and thereafter. To be eligible for issuance or renewal of a Federal limited access lobster permit for fishing year 1999 and thereafter, a vessel must:

(i) Have been issued a Federal limited access lobster permit for the preceding fishing year by the last day of such fishing year unless a CPH has been issued as specified in paragraph (a)(5) of this section or unless otherwise authorized by the Regional Administrator;

(ii) Be replacing a vessel that was issued a Federal limited access lobster permit for the preceding year; or

(iii) Be replacing a vessel issued a CPH.

(2) Qualification restriction. Unless the Regional Administrator determines otherwise, no more than one vessel may qualify, at any one time, for a Federal limited access lobster permit based on that or another vessel's fishing and permit history. If more than one vessel owner claims eligibility for a limited access permit, based on one vessel's fishing and permit history, the Regional Administrator will determine who is eligible for the permit or a CPH under paragraph (a)(3) of this section.

(3) Change in ownership. The fishing and permit history, and management area designation, when required of a vessel, is presumed to transfer with the vessel whenever it is bought, sold or otherwise transferred, unless there is a written agreement, signed by the transferor/seller and transferee/buyer, or other credible written evidence, verifying that the transferor/seller is retaining the vessel's fishing and permit history, and management area designation, for the purposes of replacing the vessel.

(4) Consolidation restriction. Federal limited access American lobster permits, and any rights or privileges associated thereto, may not be combined or consolidated.

(5) Confirmation of permit history. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this part, a person who does not currently own a fishing vessel, but who has owned a qualifying vessel that has sunk, been destroyed, or transferred to another person, must apply for and receive a CPH if the fishing and permit history of such vessel has been retained lawfully by the applicant. To be eligible to obtain a CPH, the applicant must show that the qualifying vessel meets the eligibility requirements, as applicable, in this part. Issuance of a valid CPH preserves the eligibility of the applicant to apply for a limited access permit for a replacement vessel based on the qualifying vessel's fishing and permit history at a subsequent time, subject to the replacement provisions specified in this section. If fishing privileges have been assigned or allocated previously under this part, based on the qualifying vessel's fishing and permit history, the CPH also preserves such fishing privileges. A CPH must be applied for in order for the applicant to preserve the fishing rights and limited access eligibility of the qualifying vessel. An application for a CPH must be received by the Regional Administrator no later than 30 days prior to the end of the first full fishing year in which a vessel permit cannot be issued. Failure to do so is considered abandonment of the permit as described in paragraph (o) of this section. A CPH issued under this part will remain valid until the fishing and permit history preserved by the CPH is used to qualify a replacement vessel for a limited access permit. Any decision regarding the issuance of a CPH for a qualifying vessel that has been applied for or been issued previously a limited access permit is a final agency action subject to judicial review under 5 U.S.C. 704. Information requirements for the CPH application are the same as those for a limited access permit. Any request for information about the vessel on the CPH application form means the qualifying vessel that has been sunk, destroyed, or transferred. Vessel permit applicants who have been issued a CPH and who wish to obtain a vessel permit for a replacement vessel based upon the previous vessel history may do so pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.

(6) Restriction on permit splitting. A Federal limited access lobster permit will not be issued to a vessel or its replacement, or remain valid, if the vessels' permit or fishing history has been used to qualify another vessel for another Federal fishery.

(7) Management area designations for vessels fishing with traps. (i) For fishing year 2000 and beyond, it is unlawful for vessels issued a limited access American lobster permit fishing with traps, to retain on board, land, or possess American lobster in or from the management areas specified in §697.18, unless such fishing vessel has been issued a valid management area designation certificate or valid limited access American lobster permit specifying such management area(s).

(ii) Each owner of a fishing vessel that fishes with traps capable of catching lobster must declare to NMFS in his/her annual application for permit renewal which management areas, as described in §697.18, the vessel will fish in for lobster with trap gear during that fishing season. The ability to declare into Lobster Conservation Management Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and/or the Outer Cape Management Area, is first contingent upon a one-time initial qualification. The Area 3, 4, and 5 qualification programs are concluded and the Area 1, 2, and Outer Cape Area qualification programs are set forth in paragraphs (a)(7)(vi) through (a)(7)(viii) of this section.

(iii) A lobster management area designation certificate or limited access American lobster permit shall specify in which lobster management area or areas the vessel may fish.

(iv) Once a vessel has been issued a lobster management area designation certificate or limited access American lobster permit specifying the lobster EEZ management areas in which the vessel may fish, no changes to the EEZ management areas specified may be made for such vessel for the remainder of the fishing year. There are two exceptions to this re-designation restriction:

(A) Vessels that have been bought, transferred, or become a replacement vessel for another qualified vessel may request re-designation of the EEZ management areas within 45 days of the effective date of the vessel's permit; and

(B) All vessels will have one opportunity to request a correction in permit category, if such request is made in writing to the Regional Administrator within 45 days of the effective date of the vessel's permit.

(v) A vessel issued a lobster management area designation certificate or limited access American lobster permit specifying more than one EEZ management area must abide by the most restrictive management measures in effect for any one of the specified areas, regardless of the area being fished, for the entire fishing year.

(vi) Participation requirements for EEZ Nearshore Management Area 1. To fish for lobster with traps in the Federal waters of Area 1 after April 30, 2013, a Federal lobster permit holder must initially qualify into the area, or have an open pending application to fish in the area. To qualify, the permit holder seeking initial qualification must satisfy the following requirements in an application to the Regional Administrator:

(A) Qualification criteria. To initially qualify into Area 1, the applicant must establish with documenting proof the following:

(1) That the applicant has a valid and current Federal lobster permit as of the date of the application; and

(2) That the involved Federal lobster permit had an Area 1 trap designation at some time during the 2008 fishing year, which was May 1, 2008, through April 30, 2009; and

(3) That at least one Area 1 trap tag was purchased to fish with traps under the involved Federal lobster permit in any one fishing year from 2004 to 2008.

(B) Documentary proof. To satisfy the Area 1 Initial Qualification and Trap Allocation Criteria set forth in paragraph (a)(7)(vi)(A) of this section, the applicants will be limited to the following documentary proof:

(1) As proof of a valid Federal lobster permit, the applicant must provide a copy of the vessel's current Federal lobster permit. The potential qualifier may, in lieu of providing a copy, provide NMFS with such data that will allow NMFS to identify the Federal lobster permit in its database, which will at a minimum include: The applicant's name and address; vessel name; and permit number.

(2) As proof of the lobster permit's 2008 Area 1 trap designation, the applicant must provide a copy of the vessel's Federal lobster permit for the 2008 fishing year. The potential qualifier may, in lieu of providing a copy, provide NMFS with such data that will allow NMFS to identify the Federal lobster permit in its database, which will at a minimum include: The applicant's name and address; vessel name; and permit number.

(3) As proof of Area 1 trap tag purchases in any one fishing year from 2004 to 2008, the applicant must provide documentation from those years, either from the trap tag vendor supplying the tags or from the state or Federal government agency, affirming the purchase of the tags from the vendor.

(4) The Regional Administrator may, at his or her discretion, waive documentary obligations for certain elements of the qualification criteria for an applicant if NMFS itself has clear and credible evidence that will satisfy that qualification criteria for the applicant.

(C) Application period. Federal lobster permit holders seeking entry into the Area 1 trap fishery must apply for qualification by November 1, 2012. Failure to apply for Area 1 access by that date shall be considered a waiver of any future claim for trap fishery access into Area 1.

(D) Appeal of denial of permit. Any applicant having first applied for initial qualification into the Area 1 trap fishery pursuant to paragraph (a)(7)(vi) of this section, but having been denied access, may appeal to the Regional Administrator within 45 days of the date indicated on the notice of denial. Any such appeal must be in writing.

(1) Grounds for appeal: The sole grounds for administrative appeal shall be that NMFS erred clerically in concluding that the vessel did not meet the criteria in paragraph (a)(7)(vi) of this section. Errors arising from oversight or omission such as ministerial, mathematical, or typographical mistakes will form the basis of such an appeal. Alleged errors in substance or judgment do not form a sufficient basis of appeal under this paragraph. The appeal must set forth the basis for the applicant's belief that the Regional Administrator's decision was made in error. If the appealing applicant does not clearly and convincingly prove that an error occurred, the appeal must be denied.

(2) Appellate timing and review. All appeals must be in writing and must be submitted to the Regional Administrator postmarked no later than 45 days after the date on NMFS's Notice of Denial of Initial Qualification application. Failure to register an appeal within 45 days of the date of the Notice of Denial will preclude any further appeal. The appellant may notify the Regional Administrator of his or her intent to appeal within the 45 days and request a time extension to procure the necessary documentation. Time extensions shall be limited to 30 days and shall be calculated as extending 30 days beyond the initial 45-day period that begins on the original date on the Notice of Denial. Appeals submitted beyond the deadlines stated herein will not be accepted. Upon receipt of a complete written appeal with supporting documentation in the time frame allowable, the Regional Administrator will then appoint an appeals officer who will review the appellate documentation. After completing a review of the appeal, the appeals officer will make findings and a recommendation, which shall be advisory only, to the Regional Administrator, who shall make the final agency decision whether to qualify the applicant.

(3) Status of vessels pending appeal. The Regional Administrator may authorize a vessel to fish with traps in Area 1 during an appeal. The Regional Administrator may do so by issuing a letter authorizing the appellant to fish up to 800 traps in Area 1 during the pendency of the appeal. The Regional Administrator's letter must be present onboard the vessel while it is engaged in such fishing in order for the vessel to be authorized to fish. If the appeal is ultimately denied, the Regional Administrator's letter authorizing fishing during the appeal will become invalid 5 days after receipt of the notice of appellate denial or 15 days after the date on the notice of appellate denial, whichever occurs first.

(vii) Participation requirements for EEZ Nearshore Outer Cape Area (Outer Cape Area). To fish for lobster with traps in the EEZ portion of the Outer Cape Area, a Federal lobster permit holder must apply for access in an application to the Regional Administrator. The application process is set forth as follows:

(A) Qualification criteria. To initially qualify into the EEZ portion of the Outer Cape Area, the applicant must establish with documentary proof the following:

(1) That the applicant possesses a current Federal lobster permit;

(2) That the applicant landed lobster caught in traps from the Outer Cape Area in either 1999, 2000, or 2001. Whichever year used shall be considered the qualifying year for the purposes of establishing the applicant's Outer Cape Area trap allocation;

(B) Trap allocation criteria. To receive a trap allocation for the EEZ portion of the Outer Cape Area, the qualified applicant must also establish with documentary proof the following:

(1) The number of lobster traps fished by the qualifying vessel in 2000, 2001, and 2002; and

(2) The total pounds of lobster landed in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

(C) Trap allocation formula. The Regional Administrator shall allocate traps for use in the Outer Cape Area based upon the applicant's highest level of Effective Traps Fished during the qualifying year. Effective Traps Fished shall be the lower value of the maximum number of traps reported fished for that qualifying year compared to the predicted number of traps that is required to catch the reported poundage of lobsters for that year as set forth in the Commission's allocation formula identified in Addendum XIII to Amendment 3 of the Commission's Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Lobster.

(D) Documentary proof. To satisfy the Outer Cape Area Qualification and Trap Allocation Criteria set forth in paragraphs (a)(7)(vii)(A) and (B) of this section, the applicants will be limited to the following documentary proof:

(1) As proof of a valid Federal lobster permit, the applicant must provide a copy of the vessel's current Federal lobster permit. The potential qualifier may, in lieu of providing a copy, provide NMFS with such data that will allow NMFS to identify the Federal lobster permit in its database, which will at a minimum include: The applicant's name and address; vessel name; and permit number.

(2) As proof of traps fished in the Outer Cape Area and lobsters landed from the Outer Cape Area in 2000, 2001, or 2002, the applicant must provide the documentation reported to the state of the traps fished and lobsters landed during any of those years, as follows:

(i) State records. An applicant must provide documentation of his or her state reported traps fished and lobster landings in 2000, 2001, or 2002. The Regional Administrator shall presume that the permit holder was truthful and accurate when reporting to his or her state the traps fished and lobster landed in 2000, 2001, and 2002, and that the state records of such are the best evidence of traps fished and lobster landed during those years.

(ii) State decision. An applicant may provide his or her state's qualification and allocation decision to satisfy the documentary requirements of this section. The Regional Administrator shall accept a state's qualification and allocation decision as prima facie evidence in support of the Federal qualification and allocation decision. The Regional Administrator shall presume that the state decision is appropriate, but that presumption is rebuttable and the Regional Administrator may choose to disallow the use of the state decision if the state decision was incorrect or based on factors other than those set forth in this section. This state decision may include not only the initial state qualification and allocation decision, but may also incorporate state trap transfer decisions that the state allowed since the time of the initial allocation decision.

(iii) States lacking reporting. An applicant may provide Federal vessel trip reports, dealer records, or captain's logbook as documentation in lieu of state records if the applicant can establish by clear and convincing evidence that the involved state did not require the permit holder to report traps or landings during 2000, 2001, or 2002.

(E) Application period. Applicants will have 180 days to submit an application. The time period for submitting an application for access to the EEZ portion of the Outer Cape Area begins on May 7, 2014 (application period start date) and ends November 3, 2014. Failure to apply for Outer Cape Management Area access by that date shall be considered a waiver of any future claim for trap fishery access into the Outer Cape Area.

(F) Appeal of denial of permit. Any applicant having first applied for initial qualification into the Outer Cape Area trap fishery pursuant to this section, but having been denied access or allocation, may appeal to the Regional Administrator within 45 days of the date indicated on the notice of denial. Any such appeal must be in writing. Appeals may be submitted in the following two situations:

(1) Clerical Appeal. The grounds for Clerical Appeal shall be that the Regional Administrator erred clerically in concluding that the vessel did not meet the criteria in paragraph (a)(7)(vii) of this section. Errors arising from oversight or omission such as ministerial, mathematical, or typographical mistakes would form the basis of such an appeal. Alleged errors in substance or judgment do not form a sufficient basis of appeal under this paragraph. The appeal must set forth the basis for the applicant's belief that the Regional Administrator's decision was made in error. If the appealing applicant does not clearly and convincingly prove that an error occurred, the appeal must be denied.

(2) Director's Appeal. A state's marine fisheries agency may appeal on behalf of one of its state permit holders. The only grounds for a Director's Appeal shall be that the Regional Administrator's decision on a dual permit holder's Federal permit has created a detrimental incongruence with the state's earlier decision on that permit holder's state permit. In order to pursue a Director's Appeal, the state must establish the following by a preponderance of the evidence:

(i) Proof of an incongruence. The state must establish that the individual has a state lobster permit that the state has qualified for access with traps into the Outer Cape Area, as well as a Federal lobster permit that the Regional Administrator has denied access or restricted the permit's trap allocation into the Outer Cape Area. The state must establish that the incongruent permits were linked during the year or years used in the initial application such that the fishing history used in Federal and state permit decisions was the same.

(ii) Proof of detriment. The state must provide a letter supporting the granting of trap access for the Federal permit holder. In the support letter, the state must explain how the incongruence in this instance is detrimental to the Outer Cape Area lobster fishery and why granting the appeal is, on balance, in the best interests of the fishery overall. A showing of detriment to the individual permit holder is not grounds for this appeal and will not be considered relevant to the decision.

(G) Appellate timing and review. All appeals must be submitted to the Regional Administrator in writing and reviewed as follows:

(1) Clerical Appeals timing. Applicants must submit Clerical Appeals no later than 45 days after the date on the NMFS Notice of Denial of the Initial Qualification Application. NMFS shall consider the appeal's postmark date as constituting the submission date for the purposes of determining timing. Failure to register an appeal within 45 days of the date of the Notice of Denial will preclude any further appeal. The appellant may notify the Regional Administrator in writing of his or her intent to appeal within the 45 days and request a time extension to procure the necessary documentation. Time extensions shall be limited to 30 days and shall be calculated as extending 30 days beyond the initial 45-day period that begins on the original date on the Notice of Denial. Appeals submitted beyond the deadlines stated herein will not be accepted.

(2) Director's Appeals timing. State Directors must submit Director's Appeals on behalf of their constituents no later than 180 days after the date of the NMFS Notice of Denial of the Initial Qualification Application. NMFS shall consider the appeal's postmark date as constituting the submission date for the purposes of determining timing. Failure to register an appeal within 180 days of the date of the Notice of Denial will preclude any further appeal. The Director may notify the Regional Administrator in writing of his or her intent to appeal within the 180 days and request a time extension to procure the necessary documentation. Time extensions shall be limited to 30 days and shall be calculated as extending 30 days beyond the initial 180-day period that begins on the original date on the Notice of Denial. Appeals submitted beyond the deadline will not be accepted.

(3) Agency response. Upon receipt of a complete written appeal with supporting documentation in the time frame allowable, the Regional Administrator will then appoint an appeals officer who will review the appellate documentation. After completing a review of the appeal, the appeals officer will make findings and a recommendation, which shall be advisory only, to the Regional Administrator, who shall make the final agency decision whether to qualify the applicant.

(H) Status of vessels pending appeal. The Regional Administrator may authorize a vessel to fish with traps in the Outer Cape Area during an appeal. The Regional Administrator may do so by issuing a letter authorizing the appellant to fish up to 800 traps in the Outer Cape Area during the pendency of the appeal. The Regional Administrator's letter must be present onboard the vessel while it is engaged in such fishing in order for the vessel to be authorized. If the appeal is ultimately denied, the Regional Administrator's letter authorizing fishing during the appeal will become invalid 5 days after receipt of the notice of appellate denial, or 15 days after the date on the notice of appellate denial, whichever occurs first.

(viii) Participation requirements for EEZ nearshore lobster management area 2 (Area 2). To fish for lobster with traps in the EEZ portion of Area 2, a Federal lobster permit holder must apply for access in an application to the Regional Administrator. The application process is as follows:

(A) Qualification criteria. To initially qualify into the EEZ portion of Area 2, the applicant must establish with documentary proof the following:

(1) That the applicant possesses a current Federal lobster permit;

(2) That the applicant landed lobster caught in traps from Area 2 in 2001, 2002, or 2003. Whichever year used shall be considered the qualifying year for the purposes of establishing the applicant's Area 2 trap allocation;

(B) Trap allocation criteria. To receive a trap allocation for the EEZ portion of Area 2, the qualified applicant must also establish with documentary proof the following:

(1) The number of lobster traps fished by the qualifying vessel in the qualifying year; and

(2) The total pounds of lobster landed during that qualifying year.

(C) Trap allocation formula. The Regional Administrator shall allocate traps for use in Area 2 based upon the applicant's highest level of Effective Traps Fished during the qualifying year. Effective Traps Fished shall be the lower value of the maximum number of traps reported fished for that qualifying year compared to the predicted number of traps that is required to catch the reported poundage of lobsters for that year as set forth in the Commission's allocation formula identified in Addendum VII to Amendment 3 of the Commission's Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Lobster.

(D) Documentary proof. To satisfy the Area 2 Qualification and Trap Allocation Criteria set forth in paragraphs (a)(7)(viii)(A) and (B) of this section, the applicants will be limited to the following documentary proof:

(1) As proof of a valid Federal lobster permit, the applicant must provide a copy of the vessel's current Federal lobster permit. The potential qualifier may, in lieu of providing a copy, provide NMFS with such data that will allow NMFS to identify the Federal lobster permit in its database, which will at a minimum include: The applicant's name and address; vessel name; and permit number.

(2) As proof of traps fished in Area 2 and lobsters landed from Area 2 in 2001, 2002, or 2003, the applicant must provide the documentation reported to the state of the traps fished and lobsters landed during any of those years as follows:

(i) State records. An applicant must provide documentation of his or her state reported traps fished and lobster landings in 2001, 2002, or 2003. The landings must have occurred in a state adjacent to Area 2, which the Regional Administrator shall presume to be limited to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and/or New York. The Regional Administrator shall presume that the permit holder was truthful and accurate when reporting to his or her state the traps fished and lobster landed in 2001, 2002, and 2003 and that the state records of such are the best evidence of traps fished and lobster landed during those years.

(ii) State decision. An applicant may provide his or her state's qualification and allocation decision to satisfy the documentary requirements of this section. The Regional Administrator shall accept a state's qualification and allocation decision as prima facie evidence in support of the Federal qualification and allocation decision. The Regional Administrator shall presume that the state decision is appropriate, but that presumption is rebuttable and the Regional Administrator may choose to disallow the use of the state decision if the state decision was incorrect or based on factors other than those set forth in this section. This state decision may include not only the initial state qualification and allocation decision, but may also incorporate state trap transfer decisions that the state allowed since the time of the initial allocation decision.

(iii) States lacking reporting. An applicant may provide Federal vessel trip reports, dealer records, or captain's logbook as documentation in lieu of state records if the applicant can establish by clear and convincing evidence that the involved state did not require the permit holder to report traps or landings during 2001, 2002, or 2003.

(E) Application period. Applicants will have 180 days to submit an application. The time period for submitting an application for access to the EEZ portion of Area 2 begins on May 7, 2014 (application period start date) and ends November 3, 2014. Failure to apply for Area 2 access by that date shall be considered a waiver of any future claim for trap fishery access into Area 2.

(F) Appeal of denial of permit. Any applicant having first applied for initial qualification into the Area 2 trap fishery pursuant to this section, but having been denied access, may appeal to the Regional Administrator within 45 days of the date indicated on the notice of denial. Any such appeal must be in writing. Appeals may be submitted in the following three situations:

(1) Clerical Appeal. The grounds for Clerical Appeal shall be that the Regional Administrator clerically erred in concluding that the vessel did not meet the criteria in paragraph (a)(7)(viii) of this section. Errors arising from oversight or omission, such as ministerial, mathematical, or typographical mistakes, would form the basis of such an appeal. Alleged errors in substance or judgment do not form a sufficient basis of appeal under this paragraph. The appeal must set forth the basis for the applicant's belief that the Regional Administrator's decision was made in error. If the appealing applicant does not clearly and convincingly prove that an error occurred, the appeal must be denied.

(2) Medical or Military Hardship Appeal. The grounds for a Hardship Appeal shall be limited to those situations in which medical incapacity or military service prevented a Federal lobster permit holder from fishing for lobster in 2001, 2002, and 2003. If the Federal lobster permit holder is able to prove such a hardship, then the individual shall be granted the additional years of 1999 and 2000 from which to provide documentary proof in order to qualify for and fish traps in Area 2. In order to pursue a Hardship Appeal, the applicant must establish the following by a preponderance of the evidence:

(i) Proof of medical incapacity or military service. To prove incapacity, the applicant must provide medical documentation from a medical provider, or military service documentation from the military, that establishes that the applicant was incapable of lobster fishing in 2001, 2002, and 2003. An applicant may provide his/her state's qualification and allocation appeals decision to satisfy the documentary requirements of this section. The Regional Administrator shall accept a state's appeals decision as prima facie evidence in support of the Federal decision on the appeal. The Regional Administrator shall presume that the state decision is appropriate, but that presumption is rebuttable and the Regional Administrator may choose to disallow the use of the state decision if the state decision was incorrect or based on factors other than those set forth in this section.

(ii) Proof of Area 2 trap fishing in 1999 and 2000. To prove a history of Area 2 lobster trap fishing in 1999 and/or 2000, the applicant must provide documentary proof as outlined in paragraph (a)(7)(viii)(D) of this section.

(3) Director's Appeal. A state's marine fisheries agency may appeal on behalf of one of its state permit holders. The only grounds for a Director's Appeal shall be that the Regional Administrator's decision on a dual permit holder's Federal permit has created a detrimental incongruence with the state's earlier decision on that permit holder's state permit. In order to pursue a Director's Appeal, the state must establish the following by a preponderance of the evidence:

(i) Proof of an incongruence. The state must establish that the individual has a state lobster permit, which the state has qualified for access with traps into Area 2, as well as a Federal lobster permit, which the Regional Administrator has denied access or restricted the permit's trap allocation into Area 2. The state must establish that the incongruent permits were linked during the year or years used in the initial application such that the fishing history used in Federal and state permit decisions was the same.

(ii) Proof of detriment. The state must provide a letter supporting the granting of trap access for the Federal permit holder. In the support letter, the state must explain how the incongruence in this instance is detrimental to the Area 2 lobster fishery and why granting the appeal is, on balance, in the best interests of the fishery overall. A showing of detriment to the individual permit holder is not grounds for this appeal and will not be considered relevant to the decision.

(G) Appellate timing and review. All appeals must be submitted to the Regional Administrator in writing and reviewed as follows:

(1) Clerical Appeals timing. Applicants must submit Clerical Appeals no later than 45 days after the date on the NMFS Notice of Denial of the Initial Qualification Application. NMFS shall consider the appeal's postmark date as constituting the submission date for the purposes of determining timing. Failure to register an appeal within 45 days of the date of the Notice of Denial will preclude any further appeal. The appellant may notify the Regional Administrator in writing of his or her intent to appeal within the 45 days and request a time extension to procure the necessary documentation. Time extensions shall be limited to 30 days and shall be calculated as extending 30 days beyond the initial 45-day period that begins on the original date on the Notice of Denial. Appeals submitted beyond the deadlines stated herein will not be accepted.

(2) Medical or Military Hardship Appeals timing. Applicants must submit Medical or Military Hardship Appeals no later than 45 days after the date on the NMFS Notice of Denial of the Initial Qualification Application. NMFS shall consider the appeal's postmark date as constituting the submission date for the purposes of determining timing. Failure to register an appeal within 45 days of the date of the Notice of Denial will preclude any further appeal. The appellant may notify the Regional Administrator in writing of his or her intent to appeal within the 45 days and request a time extension to procure the necessary documentation. Time extensions shall be limited to 30 days and shall be calculated as extending 30 days beyond the initial 45-day period that begins on the original date on the Notice of Denial. Appeals submitted beyond the deadlines stated herein will not be accepted.

(3) Director's Appeals timing. State Directors must submit Director's Appeals on behalf of their constituents no later than 180 days after the date of the NMFS Notice of Denial of the Initial Qualification Application. NMFS shall consider the appeal's postmark date as constituting the submission date for the purposes of determining timing. Failure to register an appeal within 180 days of the date of the Notice of Denial will preclude any further appeal. The Director may notify the Regional Administrator in writing of his or her intent to appeal within the 180 days and request a time extension to procure the necessary documentation. Time extensions shall be limited to 30 days and shall be calculated as extending 30 days beyond the initial 180-day period that begins on the original date on the Notice of Denial. Appeals submitted beyond the deadline will not be accepted.

(4) Agency response. Upon receipt of a complete written appeal with supporting documentation in the time frame allowable, the Regional Administrator will appoint an appeals officer who will review the appellate documentation. After completing a review of the appeal, the appeals officer will make findings and a recommendation, which shall be advisory only, to the Regional Administrator, who shall make the final agency decision whether to qualify the applicant.

(H) Status of vessels pending appeal. The Regional Administrator may authorize a vessel to fish with traps in Area 2 during an appeal. The Regional Administrator may do so by issuing a letter authorizing the appellant to fish up to 800 traps in Area 2 during the pendency of the appeal. The Regional Administrator's letter must be present onboard the vessel while it is engaged in such fishing in order for the vessel to be authorized. If the appeal is ultimately denied, the Regional Administrator's letter authorizing fishing during the appeal will become invalid 5 days after receipt of the notice of appellate denial or 15 days after the date on the notice of appellate denial, whichever occurs first.

(b) Condition. Vessel owners who apply for a Federal limited access American lobster permit under this section must agree, as a condition of the permit, that the vessel and vessel's fishing, catch, and pertinent gear (without regard to whether such fishing occurs in the EEZ or landward of the EEZ, and without regard to where such fish or gear are possessed, taken, or landed), are subject to all requirements of this part, as well as gear, time, and area restrictions issued or set forth in other parts, including, but not limited to, 50 CFR parts 229 and 648. The vessel and all such fishing, catch, and gear shall remain subject to all applicable state or local requirements. If a requirement of this part and a management measure required by state or local law differ, any vessel owner permitted to fish in the EEZ must comply with the more restrictive requirement.

(c) Vessel permit application. Applicants for a Federal limited access American lobster permit under this section must submit a completed application on an appropriate form obtained from the Regional Administrator. To be complete, an application for a Federal limited access American lobster permit must contain at least the following information, and any other information specified on the application form or otherwise required by the Regional Administrator: Vessel name; owner name, mailing address, and telephone number; U.S. Coast Guard documentation number and a copy of the vessel's U.S. Coast Guard documentation or, if undocumented, state registration number and a copy of the state registration; lobster management area designation the vessel will fish in, as specified in §697.18, if fishing with traps capable of catching American lobster; home port and principal port of landing; overall length; gross tonnage; net tonnage; engine horsepower; year the vessel was built; type of construction; type of propulsion; approximate fish-hold capacity; type of fishing gear used by the vessel; number of crew; permit category; if the owner is a corporation, a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation; and the names and addresses of all shareholders owning 25 percent or more of the corporation's shares; if the owner is a partnership, a copy of the Partnership Agreement and the names and addresses of all partners; if there is more than one owner, names of all owners having more than a 25 percent interest; and name and signature of the owner or the owner's authorized representative. The application must be signed by the owner of the vessel, or the owner's authorized representative, and be submitted to the Regional Administrator at least 30 days prior to the date on which the permit is needed by the applicant. The Regional Administrator shall notify the applicant of any deficiency in the application.

(d) Trap tag application, lost and replacement tags. (1) Beginning fishing year 2000, any lobster trap fished in Federal waters must have a valid Federal lobster trap tag permanently attached to the trap bridge or central cross-member, unless exempt under §697.26.

(2) Trap tags shall be issued by the Regional Administrator, or, by state agencies, by agreement with the Regional Administrator, provided that such state tagging programs accurately identify the Federal limited access American lobster permit holder. NMFS will provide notice to American lobster permit holders as to the procedure for applying for trap tags and any required fees.

(3) Vessel owners or operators are required to report to the Regional Administrator lost, destroyed, and missing tags as soon as feasible within 7 days after the tags have been discovered lost, destroyed, or missing, by letter or fax to the Regional Administrator.

(4) Requests for replacement of lost tags in excess of the tag limit specified in §697.19(c) must be submitted in writing to the Regional Administrator on an appropriate form obtained from the Regional Administrator and signed by the permit holder or authorized representative. The form and request for replacement tags will be reviewed by the Regional Administrator on a case-by-case basis and a decision will be reached on the number of replacement tags to be issued, if any. A check for the cost of the replacement tags must be received before tags will be re-issued.

(e) Fees. The Regional Administrator may charge a fee to recover the administrative expenses of issuing a permit or trap tags required under this section. Fee amounts shall be calculated in accordance with the procedures of the NOAA Finance Handbook, available from the Regional Administrator, for determining administrative costs of each special product or service. Fees may not exceed such costs and shall be specified with each application form. The applicable fee must accompany each application; if it does not, the application will be considered incomplete for purposes of paragraph (f) of this section. Any fee paid by an insufficiently funded commercial instrument shall render any permit issued on the basis thereof null and void.

(f) Issuance. (1) Except as provided in subpart D of 15 CFR part 904, the Regional Administrator shall issue a permit or tags, as applicable, within 30 days of receipt of the application unless:

(i) The applicant has failed to submit a completed application. An application is complete when all requested forms, information, documentation, and fees, if applicable, have been received;

(ii) The application was not received by the Regional Administrator by any applicable deadline set forth in this section;

(iii) The applicant and applicant's vessel failed to meet all applicable eligibility requirements set forth in this section or the number of tags requested exceeds the applicable tag limit specified in §697.19(c);

(iv) The applicant has failed to meet any other application or tag requirements stated in this part.

(v) The application is for initial qualification for access to Area 3, 4 or 5 pursuant to the historical participation process in paragraphs (a)(7)(vi)(D), (a)(vii)(D), and (a)(viii)(D) of this section.

(2) Incomplete applications. Upon receipt of an incomplete or improperly executed application for any permit under this part, the Regional Administrator shall notify the applicant of the deficiency in the application. If the applicant fails to correct the deficiency within 30 days following the date of notification, the application will be considered abandoned.

(g) Expiration. A permit expires annually upon the renewal date specified in the permit.

(h) Duration. A permit will continue in effect until the renewal date unless it is revoked, suspended, or modified under 15 CFR part 904, or otherwise expires, or ownership changes, or the applicant has failed to report any change in the information on the permit application to the Regional Administrator as specified in paragraph (k) of this section.

(i) Reissuance. A vessel permit may be reissued by the Regional Administrator when requested in writing by the owner or authorized representative, stating the need for reissuance, the name of the vessel, and the number of the permit requested to be reissued. An application for a reissued permit is not considered a new application. The fee for a reissued permit shall be the same as for an initial permit.

(j) Transfer. A permit issued under this part is not transferable or assignable. A permit will be valid only for the fishing vessel, owner and/or person for which it is issued.

(k) Change in application information. Within 15 days after a change in the information contained in an application submitted under this section, a written notice of the change must be submitted to the Regional Administrator. If the written notice of the change in information is not received by the Regional Administrator within 15 days, the permit is void.

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

(m) Display. A vessel permit must be carried, at all times, on board the vessel for which it is issued and shall be subject to inspection upon request by any authorized officer. Any permit issued under this part must be maintained in legible condition.

(n) Sanctions. Permits issued or sought under this section may be suspended, revoked, or modified, by procedures governing enforcement-related permit sanctions and denials, found at subpart D of 15 CFR part 904.

(o) Abandonment or voluntary relinquishment of limited access American lobster permits. Failure to renew a limited access permit in any fishing year bars the renewal of the permit in subsequent years. If a vessel's Federal limited access American lobster permit or CPH is voluntarily relinquished to the Regional Administrator, or abandoned through failure to renew or otherwise, no Federal limited access American lobster permit or CPH may be reissued or renewed based on the qualifying vessel's history.

(p) Permit category change. A vessel permit category change (for individuals who possess a dual Federal limited access permit for American lobster and black sea bass and who restrict fishing operations to Area 5) may be issued by the Regional Administrator when requested in writing by the owner or by an authorized representative of a vessel meeting the eligibility requirements under §697.26(a).

[64 FR 68248, Dec. 6, 1999, as amended at 66 FR 14501, Mar. 13, 2001; 68 FR 14925, Mar. 27, 2003; 71 FR 13037, Mar. 14, 2006; 77 FR 32431, June 1, 2012; 79 FR 19021, Apr. 7, 2014; 84 FR 61579, Nov. 13, 2019]

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