NMFS Northeast Regional Office
NOAA Fisheries Reducing the Risk of Large Whale Entanglement in East Coast Fishing Gear
NOAA Fisheries Service has issued a final rule implementing new measures to further reduce the risk of entangling large whales in fishing gear along the East Coast.
The new measures cover commercial fishing operations that use the types of trap/pot or gillnet gear that are known to, or could, harm large whales. The measures in the rule are identical to those identified as the preferred alternative in the final environmental impact statement for this action, published by the agency in August. The final rule and other supporting documentation can be accessed online here: http://www.nero.noaa.gov/whaletrp
More trap/pot and gillnet fisheries are now included under the whale protection plan, the areas exempted from all or portions of the plan are expanded both in coastal waters and in deep offshore waters, and more markings will be required on fishing gear to improve understanding of how and where entanglements occur. Short-duration management areas currently used to protect unexpected aggregations of Northern right whales will be eliminated six months after publication of the final rule. Expanded seasonal area management zones apply until one year after publication of the final rule, when affected fisheries would be required to use sinking groundline on a broad-scale basis. See the final rule and other supporting documentation for more specifics on these and other requirements.
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