National Fisherman


CHATHAM — The region's commercial lobster fishermen want no changes in federal rules governing vertical ropes in the water as they face proposals meant to protect rare whales.

About 60 people attended a public hearing Tuesday hosted by federal regulators at the community center, one of 16 hearings held in August and September along the East Coast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service is attempting to tighten regulations that protect rare North Atlantic right whales, humpbacks and fin whales from getting killed or seriously hurt from commercial fishing gear.

The regulations have changed over the years to address whale entanglement in gillnet and trap/pot gear. But more protection is needed to prevent the whales from getting entangled in vertical lines that hang from a single buoy at the water's surface to a trap on the ocean floor, federal officials say.

Along the Massachusetts coast, the idea favored so far by federal regulators would close waters along the Outer Cape and east of Chatham to trap/pot fishing from Jan. 1 through April 30. The favored approach would require more than one trap/pot on a single vertical rope, called a trawl, depending on region and distance to shore, and fishermen would have to put more and bigger identifying tags on both trap/pot and gillnet gear.

Read the full story at Cape Cod Times>>

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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