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NMFS seeks suggestions on Atlantic logbook keeping

Now's your chance to suggest ways to improve or simplify the logbooks needed when fishing in the Atlantic. A public comment period has been opened for the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Vessel Logbooks and Cost-Earnings Data Reports. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) is taking suggestions as part of the ongoing government paperwork reduction effort. NMFS announced the effort in in the Federal Register of Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014.

You can send your thoughts by Oct. 14 to Jennifer Jessup, departmental paperwork clearance officer, DoC, Room 6616, 14th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20230, If you have any questions, contact Katie Davis at (727) 824-5399 or Refer to Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Control Number: 0648-0371 and NOAA Form Number: 88-191.

NMFS has to get routine approval from OMB to continue using the form and first ask for public suggestions. NMFS is not proposing any changes.

It asks fishermen to keep the logbooks of their catch of Atlantic swordfish, sharks, billfish and tuna to monitor quotas in compliance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act of 1975, which implements the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas .

NMFS supplements the logbooks through the observer program. Logbooks are also supposed to record catch of other species of sea life incidentally. NMFS tries, for instance, to monitor catch of protected species such as sea turtles.

NMFS gets about 10,216 responses a year from boat owners. NMFS does not figure cost estimates for the reports but says it takes about 10 minutes to complete cost/earnings summaries attached to logbook reports, 30 minutes for an annual expenditure form, 12 minutes to do a logbook catch report, and two minutes for negative logbook catch reports.

All told, NMFS estimates it will take people about 36,189 hours a year total to fill out the forms.

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