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Northeast Multispeces (Groundfish) - Recreational Fishing Transiting Regulations

Contact:
Sustainable  Fisheries Division
(978) 281 –9315
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 9, 2017

When fishing is prohibited in the Gulf of Maine, a recreational fishing vessel may possess cod and/or haddock that was caught outside the Gulf of Maine while transiting the Gulf of Maine. The vessel must adhere to the possession limits outside the area, all bait and hooks must be removed from fishing rods, and any cod and haddock on board must be gutted and stored.

When fishing is permitted in the Gulf of Maine, a recreational fishing vessel that fishes inside and outside the Gulf of Maine on the same trip, or fishes outside the Gulf of Maine and transits the Gulf of Maine on the same trip, must comply with the most restrictive possession limit and (larger) minimum fish size for all fish on board.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I fish inside and outside the Gulf of Maine on the same trip?

Yes. All haddock and cod on board must meet the larger of the two minimum sizes set for fish inside and outside the Gulf of Maine when fishing is permitted in the Gulf of Maine, for that species. Vessels may not fish in the Gulf of Maine when in possession of cod, or haddock, during seasons when fishing is prohibited in the Gulf of Maine. 

When the Gulf of Maine is closed to cod fishing, can I fish for cod elsewhere?

Yes. A recreational fishing vessel may fish for cod outside the Gulf of Maine when the Gulf of Maine is closed to cod fishing. A recreational fishing vessel may possess cod caught outside the Gulf of Maine while transiting the Gulf of Maine when cod fishing is prohibited in the Gulf of Maine.

Can I fillet fish at sea?

Yes. Fillets do not need to meet the minimum fish size, provided the fillets are from legal-sized fish. Fish fillets must have at least 2 square inches of contiguous skin to allow ready identification of the species while possessed on board the vessel and at the time of landing.

Do state regulations apply to trips that fish in Federal waters?

Yes. Vessels that fish in Federal waters are still subject to state regulations when in state waters and when landing. When Federal and state regulations differ, Federally permitted vessel operators are subject to the more restrictive measures. Please confirm state regulations before you fish.

Example 1 (Gulf of Maine haddock season open, Gulf of Maine cod season closed)

On August 15, a recreational fishing vessel docked in Scituate, Massachusetts, wants to travel to Stellwagen Bank in the Gulf of Maine Regulated Mesh Area to catch haddock and then travel around Provincetown and south of 42 degrees N. Latitude (i.e., outside of the Gulf of Maine) to fish for cod, before returning to port in Scituate. In order to do this, the vessel must abide by the following requirements:

  1. The vessel must discard any cod caught while fishing in the Gulf of Maine;
  1. Any haddock retained by the vessel must have a total length of at least 18 inches;
  1. The vessel may retain cod, within the possession limit, caught outside the Gulf of Maine with a total length of at least 22 inches;
  1. The vessel may possess fillets less than the minimum size specified, if the fillets are taken from legal-sized fish;
  1. The vessel may not re-enter the Gulf of Maine Regulated Mesh Area to fish, when in possession of cod;
  1. All bait and hooks must be removed from fishing rods while transiting the Gulf of Maine;
  1. All cod must be gutted and stored while transiting the Gulf of Maine; and
  1. The vessel may not fish in the Gulf of Maine while in possession of cod.

Example 2 (Gulf of Maine haddock and cod season closed)

On September 30, a recreational fishing vessel wants to travel outside of the Gulf of Maine regulated mesh area to fish for cod and haddock. The vessel must transit the Gulf of Maine regulated mesh area to return to port. In order to do this, the vessel must abide by the following requirements:

  1. Any haddock retained by the vessel must have a total length of at least 18 inches;
  1. The vessel may retain cod, within the possession limit, caught outside the Gulf of Maine with a total length of at least 22 inches;
  1. The vessel may possess fillets less than the minimum size specified, if the fillets are taken from legal-sized fish;
  1. All bait and hooks must be removed from fishing rods while transiting the Gulf of Maine;
  1. All cod and haddock must be gutted and stored while transiting the Gulf of Maine; and
  1. The vessel may not fish in the Gulf of Maine while in possession of cod and/or haddock.

Whaleback Cod Spawning Protection Area

Gear Restrictions

 

From April 1 through June 30 of each year, all recreational vessels, including private recreational and charter/party vessels, may only use pelagic hook-and-line gear, as defined below, when fishing in the Whaleback Cod Spawning Protection Area.

Point

N. Latitude

W. Longitude

CSPA1

42° 50.95’

70° 32.22’

CSPA2

42° 47.65’

70° 35.64’

CSPA3

42° 54.91’

70° 41.88’

CSPA4

42° 58.27’

70° 38.64’

Pelagic hook-and-line gear is defined as handline or rod and reel gear that is designed to fish for, or that is being used to fish for, pelagic species. No portion of this gear may be operated in contact with the bottom at any time.

Possession Restrictions

Any vessel fishing in the Whaleback Cod Spawning Protection Area, including pelagic hook-and-line gear by recreational vessels, is prohibited from possessing or retaining groundfish or ocean pout from April 1 through June 30 of each year.

Transiting

Recreational and commercial vessels are allowed to transit the Whaleback Cod Spawning Protection Area, provided all gear is stowed in accordance with the regulations.

For small entity compliance guides, this bulletin complies with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act of 1996.  This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Greater Atlantic Region.