DANVERS, MA – The New England Fishery Management Council’s habitat alternatives for the Gulf of Maine cover three distinct subregions – Eastern, Central, and Western – and include three options each for spawning area closures and Dedicated Habitat Research Areas (DHRAs).
Here are the habitat management alternatives:
• Eastern Gulf of Maine – The council has proposed three alternatives for this region with Alternative 2 being “preferred.” The preferred alternative would designate two new year-round management areas – a “Machias Habitat Management Area” and a “Large Eastern Maine Habitat Management Area.”
Under this alternative, the council is proposing one preferred option that would completely restrict the use of mobile bottom-tending gear in one or both of the management areas. Its second preferred option is to restrict “all gears capable of catching groundfish” in addition to mobile bottom-tending gear. Lobster traps would not be impacted by the restrictions.
• Central Gulf of Maine – The council has proposed four alternatives for this region with Alternative 4 being “preferred.” This alternative, when coupled with the council’s preferred gear option, calls for a prohibition on the use of mobile bottom-tending gear in modified versions of the current Jeffreys Bank and Cashes Ledge habitat closure areas and the establishment of a new habitat management area on Ammen Rock, which, under this preferred alternative, would be closed to all fishing gear and activities except lobster trapping. And,
• Western Gulf of Maine (WGOM) – The council has proposed eight alternatives here with Alternatives 1, 7a, and 8 being preferred. In combination, these alternatives would retain the existing WGOM Habitat Closure Area and WGOM Closed Area as they are – so “no action” – but include an exemption for shrimp trawling in the northwestern portion of the WGOM Habitat Closure Area and define the current 12″ maximum diameter Inshore Roller Gear Restricted Area as a “habitat management measure.”
The combined preferred habitat alternatives for the Gulf of Maine can be seen on the accompanying chart (this page).
Read the rest and much, much more in the May issue of Commercial Fisheries News.
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