NMFS News Release

Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930

Experimental Whiting Seprator Trawl Fishery Reauthorized for 1998

Date: June 25, 1998

Dear Multispecies Permit Holder:

This is to announce that the experimental whiting separator trawl fishery in the Small Mesh Northern Shrimp Exemption Area has been re-authorized for the 1998 fishing season. This fishery was not authorized as a permanent exempted fishery in part due to the discrepancy in the data reporting by the experimental fishery participants. Because the purpose of the experiment is to collect data from the participating vessels, it is unlikely that the experiment will be continued in the future if Vessel Trip Reports are not complete and accurate, including reporting of discards.

To improve the data collected from this experimental fishery, there is an important change that you should note. This year, you must choose whether or not to enroll in the program under a "landed-use-only" restriction. The landed-use-only restriction means that you may not transfer at-sea or use the catch as bait on the same trip during which it was caught.

The option for tuna fishers or for those who may wish to transfer bait at-sea is to obtain an "at-sea utilization allowed" permit. You may also choose to land your catch in this category.

You do not have to remain in one category for the entire season, but you may only be in one category at a time, and you must remain in a category for at least 7 days. Separating the fishery in this way may allow for better coverage by Maine observers among the different types of trips and may improve the analysis at the conclusion of the experiment.

As with the previous two year's experiments, the 1998 experimental fishery requires the use of a separator trawl that conforms to the following specifications:

Trawl nets must consist of 1.75" or greater size mesh (measured inside between the knots) throughout the codend and lengthening section of the net.The trawl must contain a separator grate (rigid or semi-rigid) consisting of parallel bars of not more than 40mm spacing that excludes all fish and other objects, except those that are small enough to pass between its bars into the codend of the trawl. The separator grate must be secured in the trawl, forward of the codend at an angle of approximately 45, in such a manner that it precludes the passage of fish or other objects into the codend without the fish or objects having first passed between the bars of the grate. A fish outlet or hole must be provided to allow fish or other objects that are too large to pass between the bars of the grate to pass out of the net. The aftermost edge of this outlet must be at least as wide as the grate at the point of attachment. The fish outlet must extend forward from the grate toward the mouth of the net.The trawl may contain a funnel of net material in the lengthening piece of the net forward of the grate to direct catch towards the grate. The trawl may only have bare wire legs no longer than 15 fathoms and may not have ground cables.Vessel owners wishing to enroll in the fishery may do so by calling (978) 281-9370. Participation period is for a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of 30 days. Vessel owners must indicate the vessel, Federal permit number and desired participation period and permit type (landed-use only or at-sea use). Vessels may begin to fish when the vessel owner has received the experimental fishing permit and has it on board the vessel.

For further information interested parties may call the Northeast Regional Office information line at (978)281-9278.

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