(a) General. For limited experimental purposes, the Regional Administrator may authorize, after consulting with the Council, fishing for groundfish or fishing for Arctic fish in the Arctic Management Area in a manner that would otherwise be prohibited. No exempted fishing may be conducted unless authorized by an exempted fishing permit issued by the Regional Administrator to the participating vessel owner in accordance with the criteria and procedures specified in this section. Exempted fishing permits will be issued without charge and will expire at the end of a calendar year unless otherwise provided for under paragraph (e) of this section.
(b) Application. An applicant for an exempted fishing permit shall submit to the Regional Administrator, at least 60 days before the desired effective date of the exempted fishing permit, a written application including, but not limited to, the following information:
(1) The date of the application.
(2) The applicant's name, mailing address, and telephone number.
(3) A statement of the purpose and goal of the experiment for which an exempted fishing permit is needed, including a general description of the arrangements for disposition of all species harvested under the exempted fishing permit.
(4) Technical details about the experiment, including:
(i) Amounts of each species to be harvested that are necessary to conduct the experiment, and arrangement for disposition of all species taken.
(ii) Area and timing of the experiment.
(iii) Vessel and gear to be used.
(iv) Experimental design (e.g., sampling procedures, the data and samples to be collected, and analysis of the data and samples).
(v) Provision for public release of all obtained information, and submission of interim and final reports.
(5) The willingness of the applicant to carry observers, if required by the Regional Administrator, and a description of accommodations and work space for the observer(s).
(6) Details for all coordinating parties engaged in the experiment and signatures of all representatives of all principal parties.
(7) Information about each vessel to be covered by the exempted fishing permit, including:
(i) Vessel name.
(ii) Name, address, and telephone number of owner and master.
(iii) USCG documentation, state license, or registration number.
(iv) Home port.
(v) Length of vessel.
(vi) Net tonnage.
(vii) Gross tonnage.
(8) The signature of the applicant.
(9) The Regional Administrator may request from an applicant additional information necessary to make the determinations required under this section. Any application that does not include all necessary information will be considered incomplete. An incomplete application will not be considered to be complete until the necessary information is provided in writing. An applicant for an exempted fishing permit need not be the owner or operator of the vessel(s) for which the exempted fishing permit is requested.
(c) Review procedures.
(1) The Regional Administrator, in consultation with the Alaska Fishery Science Center, will review each application and will make a preliminary determination whether the application contains all the information necessary to determine if the proposal constitutes a valid fishing experiment appropriate for further consideration. If the Regional Administrator finds any application does not warrant further consideration, the applicant will be notified in writing of the reasons for the decision.
(2) If the Regional Administrator determines any application is complete and warrants further consideration, he or she will initiate consultation with the Council by forwarding the application to the Council. The Council's Executive Director shall notify the applicant of a meeting at which the Council will consider the application and invite the applicant to appear in support of the application, if the applicant desires. If the Regional Administrator initiates consultation with the Council, NMFS will publish notification of receipt of the application in the Federal Register with a brief description of the proposal.
(d) Notifying the applicant.
(1) The decision of the Regional Administrator, after consulting with the Council, to grant or deny an exempted fishing permit is the final action of the agency. The Regional Administrator shall notify the applicant in writing of the decision to grant or deny the exempted fishing permit and, if denied, the reasons for the denial, including:
(i) The applicant has failed to disclose material information required, or has made false statements as to any material fact, in connection with the application.
(ii) According to the best scientific information available, the harvest to be conducted under the permit would detrimentally affect living marine resources, including marine mammals and birds, and their habitat in a significant way.
(iii) Activities to be conducted under the exempted fishing permit would be inconsistent with the intent of this section or the management objectives of the FMP.
(iv) The applicant has failed to demonstrate a valid justification for the permit.
(v) The activity proposed under the exempted fishing permit could create a significant enforcement problem.
(vi) The applicant failed to make available to the public information that had been obtained under a previously issued exempted fishing permit.
(vii) The proposed activity had economic allocation as its sole purpose.
(2) In the event a permit is denied on the basis of incomplete information or design flaws, the applicant will be provided an opportunity to resubmit the application, unless a permit is denied because exempted fishing would detrimentally affect marine resources, be inconsistent with the management objectives of the FMP, create significant enforcement problems, or have economic allocation as its sole purpose.
(e) Terms and conditions. The Regional Administrator may attach terms and conditions to the exempted fishing permit that are consistent with the purpose of the experiment, including, but not limited to:
(1) The maximum amount of each species that can be harvested and landed during the term of the exempted fishing permit, including trip limitations, where appropriate.
(2) The number, sizes, names, and identification numbers of the vessels authorized to conduct fishing activities under the exempted fishing permit.
(3) The time(s) and place(s) where exempted fishing may be conducted.
(4) The type, size, and amount of gear that may be used by each vessel operated under the exempted fishing permit.
(5) The condition that observers be carried aboard vessels operated under an exempted fishing permit.
(6) Reasonable data reporting requirements.
(7) Such other conditions as may be necessary to assure compliance with the purposes of the exempted fishing permit and consistency with the FMP objectives.
(8) Provisions for public release of data obtained under the exempted fishing permit.
(f) Effectiveness. Unless otherwise specified in the exempted fishing permit or superseding notification or regulation, an exempted fishing permit is effective for no longer than 1 calendar year, but may be revoked, suspended, or modified during the calendar year. Exempted fishing permits may be renewed following the application procedures in paragraph (b) of this section.
(g) Recordkeeping and reporting requirements. In addition to the recordkeeping and reporting requirements in this section, the operator or manager must comply with requirements at § 679.5(a) through (k).