NMFS News Release





Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930




Annual Management Measures for the Northeast Multispecies FMP for the Period May 1, 2000 - April 30, 2001

Dear Permit Holder:

This letter is to inform you of new regulations implementing annual management measures for the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the period May 1, 2000 - April 30, 2001. These regulations are necessary to achieve the rebuilding goals of the FMP and were recommended by the New England Fishery Management Council in Framework Adjustment 33.

All of the measures in Framework 33 have been approved, with the exception of a provision that would have reduced the enrollment period for the Large Mesh Permit Categories (Categories F & G) from one year to one month, and would have reduced the minimum mesh size for trawl vessels enrolled in the category from 8-inches to 7-inches in exchange for a 25% increase in allocated days-at-sea (DAS). This measure has been disapproved by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) due to inadequate analysis. Permit holders who have already enrolled in one of the Large Mesh permit categories are being individually notified by letter of the procedure for changing categories, if they desire to do so.

To provide a useful summary of the management measures, this letter describes major existing measures as well as new measures. With two exceptions that are noted below, all measures are in effect on May 1, 2000. There are two points to emphasize:

(1) There is a new Georges Bank (GB) area closure to the east and southeast of Cape Cod that will be in effect May 1, 2000. Details of the closure and area boundaries follow.

(2) The measures for the Gulf of Maine (GOM) include conditional closures that will go into effect in November and January if landings of GOM cod are high during the May - July period. I urge you not to direct fishing effort on GOM cod, but to utilize the trip limit only for GOM cod caught incidentally while fishing for other species. NMFS will make GOM cod landings estimates available through our website and fax-on-demand systems (see last paragraph). There is currently no real-time monitoring system for GOM cod available. Therefore, to provide some immediate information to industry, NMFS will be relying on vessel interviews to obtain information on area fished. I request your cooperation with our interviewers.

CLOSURE AREAS

Georges Bank (GB) Seasonal Closure Area - From May 1 through May 31, no fishing vessel or person on a fishing vessel may enter, fish in, or be in, and no fishing gear capable of catching multispecies, unless otherwise allowed as described below, may be in the area known as the GB Seasonal Closure Area. A chart depicting the GB Seasonal Closure Area is attached. The May GB Seasonal Closure Area is defined as the straight lines connecting the following points:

Georges Bank Seasonal Closure Area
[May 1 - May 31]
Point N. Lat. W. Long.
GB1 42°00' (1)
GB2 42°00' 67°20'
GB3 41°30' 67°20'
GB4 41°30' 69°23'
GB5 (2) 69°00'
GB6 41°00' 69°00'
GB7 41°00' 70°00'
GB1 42°00' (1)

(1) Cape Cod shoreline on Atlantic Ocean

(2) Western boundary of Closed Area 1 (app. 41°02.8').

Exemptions: The following vessels are exempt from the GB Seasonal Closure Area, and may fish in the Area in May:

Transiting: A vessel may transit the GB Seasonal Closure Area provided its gear is stowed properly according to the regulations. The regulations implementing Framework 33 allow a slightly less restrictive gear stowage option for trawl vessels transiting the GB Seasonal Closure Area that is identical to the stowage option for trawl vessels transiting the GOM Rolling Closure Areas (i.e. not Cashes Ledge Closure, Western GOM Area Closure, Closed Area I, Closed Area II, or Nantucket Lightship Closed Area). This trawl stowage provision is as follows:

On-reel stowage for vessels transiting the GB Seasonal Closure Area and GOM Rolling Closure Areas only.

(i) The net is on a reel, and its entire surface is covered with canvas or other similar material that is securely bound;

(ii) The towing wires are detached from the doors; and

(iii) No containment rope, codend tripping device, or other mechanism to close off the codend is attached to the codend.

GOM Closure Areas and Conditional Closure Areas - The GOM Closure Areas will remain the same as they were in fishing year 1999, with one potential difference. If preliminary landings data through July 31, 2000, indicate that more than 759 metric tons (mt) of GOM cod has been landed, the Cashes Ledge Closed Area will be closed for an additional month (November) and Blocks 124 & 125 in Massachusetts Bay and Stellwagen Bank will be closed in January 2001 (i.e. Conditional Closure Areas).

Charts indicating the times and areas of the GOM Rolling Closure Areas, the Cashes Ledge Closure Area, the Western GOM Closure Area, and the Conditional Cashes Ledge & GOM Rolling Closure Areas are attached. Exemptions and transiting provisions for these closure areas will remain unchanged. If the Conditional Closure Areas are implemented, the exemptions and transiting provisions that currently apply to the GOM Rolling Closure Areas and the Cashes Ledge Closure Area will apply, and permit holders will be notified.

LANDING LIMITS

Haddock Landing Limit - From May 1, 2000 through September 30, 2000, the haddock landing limit will be 3000 lbs/DAS, or part of a DAS, with a maximum of 30,000 lbs/trip. From October 1, 2000 through April 30, 2001, the haddock landing limit will be 5,000 lbs/DAS, or part of a DAS, up to 50,000 lbs per trip. Since the haddock landing limit does not contain a "running clock", this limit is based solely upon the DAS clock. The haddock limit may be adjusted, either down or up, at any time during the fishing year to a level that will ensure that the target TAC (6,252 mt) will not be exceeded, or to a level that will ensure that at least 75% of the target TAC (4,689 mt) is landed, respectively. The haddock landing limit is effective for all vessels fishing under a multispecies day-at-sea.

GB Cod Landing Limit - For the 2000 fishing year, the daily GB cod landing limit for vessels fishing under a multispecies DAS and in compliance with the "Gulf of Maine Cod Landing Limit Exemption Authorization" will remain at 2000 lbs/DAS, or part of a DAS, with a maximum 20,000 lbs/trip. Since the GB cod landing limit does not contain a "running clock" provision, this limit is based solely upon the DAS clock. Vessels may land 2,000 pounds of GB cod per DAS, or part of a DAS, not to exceed 20,000 pounds per trip and may call out of the DAS program upon returning to port. Unlike the GOM cod landing limit, a vessel may immediately start a new trip on the DAS clock after unloading and land GB cod on that trip at any time.

GOM Cod Landing Limit - For the 2000 fishing year, the Gulf of Maine cod landing limit for vessels on a multispecies DAS and fishing north of the cod exemption area* will remain unchanged at 400 lbs/DAS, and not to exceed 4000 lbs of GOM cod per trip. The existing modified "running clock" remains in effect. In summary, for trips less than 24 hours, a vessel may land 400 lbs of GOM cod. However, the vessel may not land GOM cod on a subsequent trip until 24 hours have elapsed since the start of the previous trip. For trips greater than 24 hours, the "running clock" provision restricts GOM cod trip limit overages to one day's catch (400 pounds), provided that the vessel remains called out of the DAS program for the remainder of the 24 hours.

*Cod exemption: A vessel fishing under a multispecies DAS is exempt from the GOM cod landing limit if a valid GOM Cod Landing Limit Exemption Authorization is on board the vessel and the vessel is fishing in the cod exemption area (south of a line running from Cape Cod eastward along the 42 00' N. Lat. and then running northward at 69 30' W. Long. to 42 20' N. Lat. and then extending eastward to Closed Area II). The minimum enrollment period for the exemption is 30 days. The exemption authorization letter may be obtained by calling 978-281-9278.

Removal of Requirement To Call the GOM "Cod Hail Line" to Report GOM Cod Landing Limit Overages - As of May 1, 2000, it will no longer be necessary to call the GOM "cod hail line" to report overages of the daily GOM cod landing limit. All other aspects of the GOM cod landing limit remain unchanged.

The following table explains how the GOM cod landing limit works with the DAS clock.

Length of Trip

(hrs & DAS)

Landing Limit (Lbs.) Report Hail Weight for Overages Other

Restrictions

0-24 hrs

(first DAS)

400 No Vessel may not land GOM cod again until 24 hours have elapsed from time of call-in.
> 24 and < 48 hrs

(more than 1 DAS, up to 2 DAS)

800

(2 times 400 lbs)

No Vessel may not call-out of the DAS program or depart from port, until at least 48 hours have elapsed.
> 48 and < 72 hrs

(more than 2 DAS, up to 3 DAS)

1,200

(3 times 400 lbs)

No Vessel may not call-out of the DAS program or depart from port, until at least 72 hours have elapsed.
> 3 DAS and < 9 DAS calculate using above examples No calculate using above examples
more than 9 DAS 4,000 No Vessel may not call-out of the DAS program or depart from port, until at least 10 DAS have elapsed

For vessels with multispecies permit category C (small vessel exemption), H (handgear) and J (scallop multispecies possession limit) the total landing limit for cod, haddock and yellowtail flounder (combined) is 300 lbs per trip.

THE FOLLOWING MEASURE WILL BE EFFECTIVE ON June 1, 2000:

Prohibition on Fishing Under a Multispecies DAS While Taking Passengers for Hire - Beginning June 1, 2000, vessels with limited access multispecies permits are prohibited from fishing under a multispecies DAS when carrying passengers for hire.

THE FOLLOWING MEASURE WILL BE EFFECTIVE UPON APPROVAL OF THE PRA REQUIREMENTS CONTAINED THEREIN (PERMIT HOLDERS WILL BE NOTIFIED AT THAT TIME):

Charter/Party Vessel Certificate to Fish in GOM Closed Areas

Vessels fishing under charter/party regulations may not fish in GOM closed areas (Rolling Closures, Cashes Ledge Closure, & WGOM Year-Round Closure) unless the vessel has on board a letter of authorization issued by the Northeast Regional Office of NMFS. As a condition of this letter, the vessel owner must agree to the following: (1) fish harvested or possessed by the vessel may not be sold, or intended for trade, barter, or sale, regardless of where the fish are caught; (2) the vessel has no gear other than rod and reel or handline gear on board; and (3) the vessel may not use any multispecies DAS during the period of participation. This letter of authorization, which is valid for a minimum of three months, must be carried on board the vessel and is available upon request from the Northeast Regional Office of NMFS at (978) 281-9370.

This letter is only a summary of the approved regulations. To obtain these regulations in their entirety or to access the fax-on-demand system, you may call 978-281-9278. In addition, our website is available at: http://www.wh.whoi.edu/ro/doc/nero.html.

This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service







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