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ATLANTIC LARGE WHALE TAKE REDUCTION PLAN

The Plan

With the help of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team (ALWTRT), NOAA Fisheries Service (NMFS) developed the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP) in 1997 to reduce the level of serious injury and mortality of three strategic stocks of large whales (North Atlantic right , humpback , and fin ) in commercial gillnet and trap/pot fisheries. The measures identified in the ALWTRP were also intended to benefit minke whales, which are not designated as a strategic stock, but are known to be incidentally injured or killed in gillnet and trap/pot fisheries.

In general, the ALWTRP consists of a combination of regulatory and non-regulatory programs, including:

 

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Affected Fisheries-Category I & II

  • Northeast/Mid-Atlantic American lobster trap/pot;
  • Atlantic blue crab trap/pot;
  • Atlantic mixed species trap/pot which includes, but is not limited to: crab (red, Jonah, and rock), hagfish, finfish (black sea bass, scup, tautog, cod, haddock, pollock, redfish (ocean perch), and white hake), conch/whelk, and shrimp;
  • Northeast sink gillnet;
  • Northeast anchored float gillnet;
  • Northeast drift gillnet;
  • Mid-Atlantic gillnet;
  • Southeastern US Atlantic shark gillnet; and
  • Southeast Atlantic gillnet.

The ALWTRP went into effect in 1997 , published in the Federal Register as an Interim Final Rule. The regulations contained in that rule were updated in February 1999 , and again in December of 2000 . In January 2002 , NMFS published three rules that (1) made further modifications to commercial fishing gear, (2) established a system for temporarily restricting fishing in areas where unexpected aggregations of right whales are observed (Dynamic Area Management , DAM), and (3) established restricted areas based on the annual, predictable aggregations of right whales (Seasonal Area Management,SAM ).

In June 2007, NMFS published a final rule expanding the Southeast U.S. Restricted Area and prohibiting gillnet fishing or possession during the right whale calving season, with some exceptions.

In October 2007, NMFS issued a final rule implementing broad-based gear modifications, largely to replace the DAM and SAM programs. This broad-based gear modification strategy included expanded weak link and sinking groundline requirements; additional gear marking requirements; changes in boundaries; seasonal restrictions for gear modifications; expanded exempted areas; and regulatory language changes for the purposes of clarification and consistency. This final rule was extended and clarified in September 2008 .

A. 1997 ALWTRP Implementation Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

Draft ALWTRP N/A 02/01/1997
ALWTRP Proposed Rule 62 FR 16519 04/07/1997
ALWTRP Environmental Assessment N/A 07/15/1997
ALWTRP Interim Final Rule 62 FR 39157 07/22/1997

B. 2000 Gear Modifications Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

ALWTRP Gear Modifications Interim Final Rule 65 FR 80368 12/21/2000
ALWTRP Environmental Assessment N/A 12/06/2000
Gear Modifications Interim Final Rule Delay of Effective Date 66 FR 5489 01/19/2001

C. 2002 Gear Modifications Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

ALWTRP Gear Modifications Proposed Rule 66 FR 49896 10/01/2001
Environmental Assessment for Final Rule N/A 12/28/2001
ALWTRP Gear Modifications Final Rule 67 FR 1300 01/10/2002
Corrections to Gear Modification Final Rule 67 FR 15493 04/02/2002

D. DAM and SAM Key Documents 

E. June 2007 Southeast Region Modifications Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

SE Modifications Proposed Rule 71 FR 66482 11/15/2006
Environmental Assessment N/A 11/15/2006
Finding of No Significant Impact N/A 11/15/2006
Notice to Reopen Public Comment 72 FR1689 01/16/2007
SE Modifications Final Rule 74 FR 34632 06/25/2007

F. October 2007 Broad-based Gear Modification Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

Draft EIS 70 FR 9306 Feb 2005
Broad-based gear modification proposed rule 70 FR 35894 06/21/2005
Final EIS 72 FR 46217 August 2007
Broad-based gear modification final rule 72 FR 57104 10/05/2007
Correction to broad-based gear modification final rule 73 FR 19171 04/09/2008

G. September 2008 Broad-based Gear Modification Effective Date Extension and Clarification Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

Extension and Clarification Proposed Rule 73 FR 32278 06/06/2008
Press Release N/A 08/29/2008
Extension and Clarification Final Rule 73 FR 51228 09/02/2008
DAM Program Temporary Reinstatement 73 FR 58942 10/08/2008

H. Vertical Line Rule Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

Draft EIS N/A July 2013
Proposed Rule 78 FR 42654 July 16, 2013
Final EIS N/A May 2014
Final Rule 79 FR 36586 June 27, 2014

I. Change to Massachusetts Restricted Area Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

Final Rule 79 FR 73848 December 12, 2014
Proposed Rule 79 FR 68918 November 6, 2014

J. Change to Vertical Line Rule Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

Draft Environmental Assessment N/A March 2015
Proposed Rule 80 FR 14345 March 19, 2015
Final Environmental Assessment N/A May 2015
Final Rule 80 FR 30367 May 28, 2015