The fishing industry is always looking for methods to reduce the incidental catch of unwanted species, including protected species. Sometimes it is possible to reduce unintended catch during fishing operations by changing the way gear is constructed and/or used. To properly evaluate new gear types and methods, an experimental version must be tested under a variety of conditions likely to be encountered during a typical commercial trip. Testing not only demonstrates what effects are achieved, but also whether the gear can be safely and efficiently used.
Exempted fisheries typically occur when, in order to gather needed data, an experiment must be conducted using gear or methods that would otherwise be prohibited by existing regulations. An exempted fishing permit (EFP) is a permit issued by the Alaska Region of NMFS to allow these otherwise prohibited fishing activities. These permits are issued for limited experimental purposes to support projects that could benefit the groundfish fisheries and the environment. Examples of past projects supported by an EFP include the development of new gear types for an underutilized fishery and development of devices that reduce prohibited species bycatch.
Anyone who is planning on groundfish fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited by the regulations may apply for an EFP. The permit is issued to the applicant but a copy must be on the vessel at all times during the project.
Regulations that describe the application and review process for EFPs are at 50 CFR 679.6.
For more information click here to go to National Marine Fisheries Service Fisheries Alaska Region Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) page.