(a) Scientific research activity. Persons planning to conduct scientific research activities on board a scientific research vessel in the EEZ that may be confused with fishing are encouraged to submit to the appropriate Regional Administrator or Director, 60 days or as soon as practicable prior to its start, a scientific research plan for each scientific activity. The Regional Administrator or Director will acknowledge notification of scientific research activity by issuing to the operator or master of that vessel, or to the sponsoring institution, a Letter of Acknowledgment. This Letter of Acknowledgment is separate and distinct from any permit or consultation required under the MMPA, the ESA, or any other applicable law. The Regional Administrator or Director will include text in the Letter of Acknowledgment informing the applicant that such permits may be required and should be obtained from the agency prior to embarking on the activity. If the Regional Administrator or Director, after review of a research plan, determines that it does not constitute scientific research activity but rather fishing, the Regional Administrator or Director will inform the applicant as soon as practicable and in writing. In making this determination, the Regional Administrator, Director, or designee shall consider: the merits of the individual proposal and the institution(s) involved; whether the proposed activity meets the definition of scientific research activity; and whether the vessel meets all the requirements for a scientific research vessel. Foreign vessels that qualify as scientific research vessels and which are engaged in a scientific research activity may only engage in compensation fishing during the scientific research cruise and in accordance with the applicable scientific research plan. The Regional Administrator or Director may also make recommendations to revise the research plan to ensure the activity will be considered to be a scientific research activity. The Regional Administrator or Director may designate a Science and Research Director, or the Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, to receive scientific research plans and issue Letters of Acknowledgment. In order to facilitate identification of the activity as scientific research, persons conducting scientific research activities are advised to carry a copy of the scientific research plan and the Letter of Acknowledgment on board the scientific research vessel and to make it available for inspection upon the request of any authorized officer. It is recommended that for any scientific research activity, any fish, or parts thereof, retained pursuant to such activity be accompanied, during any ex-vessel activities, by a copy of the Letter of Acknowledgment. Activities conducted in accordance with a scientific research plan acknowledged by such a Letter of Acknowledgment are presumed to be scientific research activities. An authorized officer may overcome this presumption by showing that an activity does not fit the definition of scientific research activity or is outside the scope of the scientific research plan.
(b) Reports. Persons conducting scientific research are requested to submit a copy of any cruise report or other publication created as a result of the cruise, including the amount, composition, and disposition of their catch, to the appropriate Science and Research Director.