Beginning January 5, 2018, NOAA Fisheries will require vessels with Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) Charter/Headboat permits to also obtain a “commercial sale” endorsement in order to sell any catch of HMS. The new permit is obtainable for free when renewing or obtaining a 2018 HMS Charter/Headboat permit.
This change creates a provision for the commercial sale of Atlantic HMS by HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders. Such permit holders are currently able to sell Atlantic tunas and swordfish, and can also sell Atlantic sharks if they hold a Federal commercial shark permit. Because of this, vessels with the HMS Charter/Headboat permit could be considered as commercial fishing vessels, therefore subject to United States Coast Guard safety requirements, regardless of whether the permit holder does in fact engage in commercial fishing.
Once implemented next year, only HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders with the endorsement will be allowed to sell Atlantic tunas and swordfish. These vessels will also be held to commercial vessel Coast Guard safety standards. Those vessels with an HMS Charter/Headboat permit but without a “commercial sale” endorsement would not be categorized as commercial fishing vessels and therefore not subject to USCG safety requirements.