NOAA Fisheries allows state water exemptions for scallop fisheries in Maine and Massachusetts

WASHINGTON, DC – NOAA Fisheries (NMFS) has approved a final rule that would revise the State Waters Exemption Program under the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan.

NMFS has determined that both Maine and Massachusetts qualify for this exemption, and that allowing this exemption would have no adverse impact on the effectiveness of federal management measures for the scallop fishery overall in these areas.

This will provide continued fishing opportunities in Maine waters, and now within certain Massachusetts waters, after the Northern Gulf of Maine catch allocation has been reached for a year.

The State Waters Scallop Exemption Program allows federal permit holders to fish in the state waters scallop fishery on a more equitable basis where federal and state laws are inconsistent.

The program specifies that a state with a scallop fishery may be eligible for state waters exemptions from specific regulations if it has a scallop conservation program that does not jeopardize the objectives of the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan.

Under this final rule, vessels holding both a Massachusetts state scallop permit and either a Limited Access General Category (LAGC) Individual Fishing Quota or LAGC Northern Gulf of Maine federal scallop permit will be allowed to continue to fish in state waters once the federal total allowable catch (TAC) for the Northern Gulf of Maine Management Area has been fully harvested.

This action also modifies the State Waters Exemption for Maine to include vessels that have both a state scallop permit and an LAGC Individual Fishing Quota permit.

This exemption is already in place for vessels holding state scallop permits and LAGC Northern Gulf of Maine permits.

For additional information contact Jennifer Goebel, NMFS Regional Office, at (978) 281-9175.  /cfn/

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