GULF of MEXICO vs. NOAA FISHERIES
On February 23, 2023 The Court system set aside a Final Rule for the Southeast For-Hire Program in the Gulf of Mexico. This means ALL For-Hire Federally Permitted Charter Captains in the Gulf of Mexico are NOT REQUIRED to report any logbooks (report fish) or have a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) aboard. This is HUGE for the Gulf of Mexico Charter Captains.
Mid 2020 Captain Allen Walburn filed a Lawsuit against NOAA Fisheries in regards to the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and reporting system. In 2022 NOAA then made it a requirement that all Gulf of Mexico Federally Permitted Charter Vessels obtain a VMS.
This VMS had to be installed by a professional at our own expense, although NOAA did reimburse us for the purchase of the VMS equipment. However, it was still an invasion of our privacy. For a whole year all Charter Captains were required to give our hard worked locations (spots) and what fish we caught and kept.
Friday, February 24th, 2023 it was announced that the lawsuit against NOAA was won by Captain Allen Walburn. Exciting news for us Gulf of Mexico Charter Captains!
Here is the link to the COURT Case and all the Updates: https://nclalegal.org/mexican-gulf-fishing-company-et-al-v-national-oceanic-and-atmospheric-administration-et-al/
On February 27th, 2023 I called NOAA and spoke with the VMS department. I asked what the next steps are for renewing Federal Permits, they advised that the VMS is no longer a requirement to renew Permits.
I waited a couple days and decided to call again and spoke with the Permit department this time. A lady answered and I asked my same question, she stated that we in fact do still need the VMS and Logbook to renew permits. It made me confused and decided to call a third time to the VMS department. I advised I was confused and need clarity, the lady then said the there is no requirement at this time to renew Federal Permits.
The VMS department stated that not everyone has gotten the memo and that she will advise the managers to send out an email advising everyone. She did however confirm again that VMS and Logbook is no longer a requirement for renewing Permits.
What a relief it was to myself that I at least was getting the right answers for my business.
On the morning of March 5th, 2023 I find out there was an article released by the Gulf Council pertaining to this Lawsuit which has a bunch of information for you to read through along with FAQs.
Here is the link to the Gulf Council NOAA Fisheries Court Update:
To summarize all this up, the Gulf of Mexico Federally Permitted For-Fire Charter Captains are NOT REQUIRED to obtain or have installed VMS and it is not a REQUIREMENT to submit LOGBOOKS.
HUGE WIN FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO!!
However, the Atlantic Fisheries still battle with NOAA on their Rules. Send prayers for the Atlantic Fisheries.
THANK YOU TO CAPTAIN ALLEN WALBURN and his TEAM for filing this Lawsuit and WINNING!!!!!
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