ATLANTIC LARGE WHALE TAKE REDUCTION 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:
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
B. 2000 Gear Modifications Key Documents
C. 2002 Gear Modifications Key Documents
E. June 2007 Southeast Region Modifications Key Documents
F. October 2007 Broad-based Gear Modification Key Documents
G. September 2008 Broad-based Gear Modification Effective Date Extension and Clarification Key Documents