NMFS News Release

Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930



Date: April 23, 1999

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is seeking interested vessel operators for participation in an experimental fishery for sea scallops in groundfish closed areas on Georges Bank and Nantucket Shoals.

NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) has recently submitted a request to conduct an experimental fishery for Atlantic sea scallops on Georges Bank and Nantucket Shoals. Data generated from the experiment will be used to further develop a potential area management plan for scallops. This request, which is currently under review, would map the distribution and estimate the abundance of scallops, and determine the rate and distribution of finfish and invertebrate bycatches to sea scallop dredges in Closed Area I and the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area. The experiment will also test gear designs to minimize finfish bycatch rates and provide an opportunity to collect habitat information in Closed Area I, Closed Area II, and the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area.

To prepare for the experimental fishery, should it be approved, NMFS is soliciting interested limited access scallop vessel operators in advance. Participating vessels would be required to commit to this experiment for approximately two weeks and have 14 DAS available for the experiment. Three or four vessels will be selected via a lottery system. The time period is likely to be June through August. Also, vessels would be allowed to retain no more than 14,000 pounds of scallop meats and vessels would be required to hire two samplers. Additional criteria will be announced when the details are developed, including criteria specifying gear standardization.

Recognizing that academic and research cooperation is vital to the successful completion of this project, NMFS also invites interested academic institutions, research organizations, industry, and environmental groups to participate in this experiment.

Vessel operators interested in participating in this experiment need to notify NMFS in writing (mail or fax) by May 14. Please include your name, vessel name and permit number, and telephone number. Should you have any questions, please call 978-281-9278.

National Marine Fisheries Service

Attn: David Gouveia

1 Blackburn Drive

Gloucester, MA 01930

Fax: 978-281-9135

This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator of the

National Marine Fisheries Service

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