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exceeded.  Since that opinion was completed, no new information has emerged revealing effects of the action that may affect the listed species in the GOM that were analyzed in that opinion (i.e., sea turtles and whales) in a manner or to an extent not previously considered.  A new species has been listed, as well as critical habitat designated for an already listed species, since the last consultation.  Gulf sturgeon critical habitat, designated on March 19, 2003, is not located in the action area, thus will not be affected.  However, the smalltooth sawfish, which was listed as endangered on April 1, 2003, does occur in the action area and may be affected based on its previous incidental capture in this fishery.  

Otter trawls may directly affect smalltooth sawfish that are foraging within or moving through an active trawling location via direct contact with the gear.  The long, toothed rostrum of the smalltooth sawfish causes this species to be particularly vulnerable to entanglement in any type of netting gear, including the netting used in shrimp trawls.  The saw penetrates easily through nets, causing the animal to become entangled when it attempts to escape.  Mortality of entangled smalltooth sawfish is believed to occur as a result of the net being out of the water for a period of time with the smalltooth sawfish hanging from it before being disentangled (Simpfendorfer, pers. comm. 2005).  Despite increased effort placed on collecting smalltooth sawfish data since NMFS was petitioned to list the smalltooth sawfish in 1999 (e.g., Simpfendorfer and Wiley 2004, Poulakis and Seitz 2004), records of incidental capture in shrimp trawls are rare.  

4.3 Economic and Social Environment

4.3.1  Economic Environment

Section 6 contains a detailed description of the economic environment potentially affected by the measures in this amendment and is incorporated herein by reference.

4.3.2 Social Environment

4.3.2.1.  Shrimp Fishery

When examining the Gulf shrimp fishery’s social as opposed to economic environment, the focus of the discussion shifts primarily from vessels and firms to people and places (i.e. communities), though obviously vessels and firms are a part of those communities.  At this time, there is very little detailed information on fishermen, fishing-dependent businesses, or communities that depend on the Gulf shrimp fishery.  In order to understand the impact that any new rules and regulations will have on participants in the fishery, in-depth community profiles need to be developed that will aid in the description of communities involved in this fishery, both present and historical.  Social science research is currently being conducted by NMFS in communities in the Gulf of Mexico.  Part of this research is being conducted under contract with Impact Assessment, Inc. (IAI).  The purpose of this phase of the research is to compile baseline information regarding communities in each Gulf state, which are believed to have some level of association with marine fisheries.  That is, based on a full range of descriptive information and analyses, IAI developed a basic typology of the study communities and their involvement with marine fisheries and related industries.  NMFS will eventually use this information to determine which communities are “fishing communities,” as per the meaning of the term under National Standard 8.  In general, “fishing communities” are communities which are “substantially

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