Massachusetts requests exemptions from new vertical line rule to protect whales

BOSTON, MA – Concerns for the safety and economic health of its fishermen have prompted the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to file a request with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for exemptions and modifications to new whale protection measures announced in June.

DMF put together the request following extensive discussions with lobstermen and fish potters, who identified two provisions of the new Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP) amendment as particularly worrisome.

One was the creation of the Massachusetts Restricted Area, which closes all of Cape Cod Bay and waters to the north and east from Jan. 1 through April 30 annually (see CFN August 2014 for details).

During a July 31 meeting convened by DMF in Chatham, lobstermen detailed the impact the closure would have on their operations.  Not only would some lose valuable fishing time during the closure period, but a lot of lobstermen would have to scramble to get their gear out of the water during the lucrative holiday season in December, potentially risking their
lives if the weather was bad.  On the other end of the closure, many predicted chaos as lobstermen rushed to get their gear set all at the same time starting May 1…


Read the rest and much, much more in the October issue of Commercial Fisheries News.

Read online immediately and download for future reference.