Dear Permit Holder:
This letter is to inform you of new regulations implementing Framework Adjustment 25 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, effective on May 1, 1998.
CHANGES TO THE MULTISPECIES GULF OF MAINE (G0M) AREA CLOSURES:
For the period May 1, 1998, through April 30, 2001, the multispecies closures for the Massachusetts Bay and Mid-coast Areas are replaced by a four-step inshore "rolling" closure, an offshore seasonal area closure and a near-shore, year-round area closure. All other multispecies closures remain in effect and all previously existing closures to gillnet gear for marine mammal protection also remain in effect (Massachusetts Bay, Mid-coast, and Northeast Area Closures, and the Cape Cod Bay Critical Habitat Closure Area).
The following vessels are exempt from the GOM closures:
Vessels that do not have a Federal multispecies permit and are fishing exclusively in state waters; Charter, party, or recreational vessels; and, Vessels fishing with pelagic hook and line, pelagic longline, spears, rakes, diving gear, cast nets, tongs, harpoons, weirs, dipnets, stop nets, pound nets, pelagic gillnets, pots and traps, purse seines, shrimp trawls (with a properly configured grate as defined under this part), surf clam and ocean quahog dredges, and midwater trawls. A vessel may transit through the GOM area closures provided its gear is stowed properly according to the regulations. Attached is a chart that shows the GOM closures in effect as of May 1, 1998. The new area coordinates are as follows:
Inshore Closure Area I - Closed March 1 through March 31:
1 Massachusetts shoreline.
2 Cape Cod shoreline on Cape Cod Bay.
3 Cape Cod shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean.
Inshore Closure Area II - Closed April 1 through April 30:
1 Massachusetts shoreline.
2 New Hampshire shoreline.
Inshore Closure Area III - Closed May 1 through May 31:
1 New Hampshire shoreline.
2 Maine shoreline.
Inshore Closure Area IV - Closed June 1 through June 30:
1 Maine shoreline.
Cashes Ledge Closure Area - Closed June 1 through June 30:
Western GOM Area Closure - This area is closed year-round:
The GOM multispecies closure areas override some exempted fisheries areas. The exempted fisheries affected by this rule include: Small Mesh Area 2, the GOM Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption, and the GOM/GB Monkfish and Dogfish Gillnet Exemptions. Because parts of Small Mesh Area 2 and Stellwagen Bank/Jeffreys Ledge Juvenile Protection Area lie within the year-round Western GOM Area Closure, this rule adjusts the coordinates of these two areas as follows:
Small Mesh Area 2
Stellwagen Bank Juvenile Protection Area
Jeffreys Ledge Juvenile Protection Area
For the period May 1, 1998, through April 30, 2001, the GOM cod landing limit for vessels fishing under a multispecies day-at-sea (DAS) north of the cod exemption area* is reduced from 1,000 lb to 700 lb/DAS or any part of a DAS. To ensure that landings are kept below the 1,783 mt target total allowable catch (TAC) level, the limit will be reduced to as low as 400 lb/DAS, or any part of a DAS, when 50 percent of the target TAC is reached.
*Cod exemption: A vessel fishing under a multispecies DAS is exempt from the GOM cod landing limit if there is a valid Cod Limit Exemption Certificate on board the vessel (which can be obtained by calling 978-281-9278), and the vessel is fishing south of the line connecting the points below. The enrollment period for this exemption is a minimum of 30 days.
|4200' N||Cape Cod Coastline|
|4200' N||6930' W|
|4220' N||6930' W|
|4220' N||6720' W|
CHANGES TO THE HADDOCK LANDING LIMIT:
For the 1998 fishing year only, during the period May 1 through August 31, the haddock landing limit is 1,000 lb/DAS, up to a maximum of 10,000 lb/trip. Beginning September 1, 1998, the landing limit increases to 3,000 lb/DAS up to a maximum of 30,000 lb/trip. Similar to cod, this provision includes a trigger mechanism to reduce the landing limit when 75 percent of the Georges Bank haddock target TAC is caught.
Changes to the cod or haddock trip limits will be published in the Federal Register and notices will be sent to permit holders.
POSTPONEMENT OF VESSEL TRACKING SYSTEM (VTS):
This rule postpones the mandatory use of VTS by multispecies vessels with an individual DAS allocation for the 1998 fishing year only.
RAISED FOOTROPE REQUIREMENT IN SMALL MESH AREA 1 & 2:
This rule requires the use of raised footrope gear on trawl vessels fishing in the Small Mesh 1 and 2 exemption areas. This gear must be fished in a manner that keeps the net off the ocean bottom when towed. A fact sheet describing the specifications of the raised footrope trawl is enclosed.
This letter is a summary only of the approved regulations. To read these regulations in their entirety, you are encouraged to obtain a complete copy by calling 978-281-9278, or via our website: http://www.wh.whoi.edu/ro/doc/nero.html.