NEWS is published
quarterly by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to inform
and educate its constituents on matters relating to the conservation
and sustainable use of the Commonwealth's marine resources
16 Second Quarter April-June 1996
Bass Sale Ban, Public Hearings Scheduled
Profile of the Massachusetts Striped Bass Commercial
Recreational & Commercial Bass Statistics
Making a Splash! , Massachusetts Governor's
Seafood Task Force
Sea Herring IWP's
DMF Lobster Project Gets a Hand from
the U.S. Coast Guard
Right Whale - Judge to Rule in Lawsuit
Right Whale - Massachusetts Actions to Protect
the Northern Right Whale
Tuna - Proposed Rule Changes
Environmental Police Officer Receives Coast Guard
Rules Update, includes Public
Hearing notices and Regulatory & Legislative Updates
the request of the Marine Fisheries Commission, DMF has scheduled
two public hearings, May 20 at Sandwich High School and May 22 at
the Fuller School in Gloucester, to consider a petition to ban striped
bass commercial fishing in Massachusetts as well as ban the sale of
any wild striped bass. The petition was submitted by Coastal Conservation
Association of Massachusetts (formerly called New England Coastal
Conservation Association) with over 5,000 signatures, and the campaign
was sponsored for CCA by the Orvis Company of Vermont.
These hearings could produce some of the largest crowds ever seen
for a state fisheries public hearing, so the Commission has decided
on some protocol. Representatives of CCA will be allowed to argue
the merits of the petition at the outset of the hearing. Then elected
officials and representatives of organizations will be given opportunities
to speak. We will request (but not mandate) of those who wish to
testify to submit written comments to help establish a clear record
on the issues.
Members of the public are cautioned that these public hearings are
not like "town meetings", where each person is allowed to cast a
vote on the issue. There will be no votes or polls taken among members
of the audience. Furthermore, we will discourage people from simply
lining up at the microphone to state their support or opposition,
thereby casting a pseudo "vote." If someone belongs to an association,
we hope they'll speak through their representatives, but of course
any individual will be allowed to speak on their own behalf. All
these "ground rules" may seem constraining, but they're our only
means to conduct an orderly hearing in the mere four hours allotted.
According to Phil Coates, DMF Director, the hearings should focus
on the matter of resource allocation. Atlantic striped bass stocks
were declared restored by Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
(ASMFC) in 1995, and the condition of these stocks is not the central
issue of this petition. However, if anyone has a question about
interstate management of striped bass, DMF staff will be available
to provide answers.
Our state's commercial striped bass fishery dates back to colonial
times, and although catches have fluctuated with stock abundance
or regulatory changes, commercial fishing has never been prohibited.
The fishery was limited to hook and line and minimum sizes were
enacted in 1945. Commercial landings peaked during the 1960s and
1970s when reported annual totals routinely exceeded well over 1
million lbs. Increases to minimum sizes were instituted throughout
the 1980s, and a commercial harves quota was imposed in 1990. The
Massachusetts quota was limited to just 20% (238,000 lbs.) of average
annual landings that occurred during the peak years of the fishery
(1972-1979), and the quota remained unchanged through 1994.
Meanwhile, abundance of striped bass steadily swelled, and stocks
reached full recovery in 1995. Recreational catches also increased
incrementally each year during the early 1990s keeping pace with
growth of stocks. Amendment #5 of the ASMFC Striped Bass Plan allowed
increased commercial quotas (commensurate with the stock recovery)
and increased recreational catches. The increase in commerccial
quota allowed under Amendment #5, using 1993 as a base year and
a 34 inch minimum size target, was from 238,000 to 990,000 lbs.
However, DMF and MFC allowed just 750,000 lbs. The actual number
of fish killed (including deaths due to catch & release) by commercial
anglers (1993 vs. 1995) was 17,700 as compared to 52,000, or a three-fold
increase. The recreational fishery grew at the same rate during
that period. Recreationally related mortality increased from 95,200
fish in 1993 to 335,200 fish in 1995.
Dan McKiernan with contributions by Paul Diodati
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Limit: 34 inches.
gear allowed: Rod and reel and handlines only - Netting
Mass. commercial quota allowed by the Interstate Plan: 807,000
lbs. with 28" min. size or 999,000 lbs. with 34" min. size.
commercial quota approved by the Mass. Marine Fisheries Commission:
750,000 lbs. Actual 1995 landings: 782,000 lbs.
annual landings during 1990-1994: 219,000 lbs. (approximately.
allocation allowed during 1990-1994: 238,000 lbs.
day of commercial season: July 1. Fishery opens with alternating
3-week open and 1-week closed periods until quota reached.
of 1995 commercial season: 71 days. Fishery was closed
on Sept. 9.
of days commercial fishing allowed in 1995: 57.
bass caught out-of state may also be imported into Mass. during
winter months, December - March.
of striped bass special permit: $10 for residents, $50 for
non-residents (in addition to a regular commercial permit).
of striped bass permit holders: 3,353; number who sold
at least one bass: 982.
by counties: Barnstable, 51%; Essex, 20%; Bristol: 13%; Suffolk:
6%; Plymouth: 5%; Dukes: 4%; all others: 1%.
average price (paid to fishermen): $1.34; highest in Nantucket:
$2.47, lowest in Bristol County: $1.01.
quarter, we published preliminary catch and harvest figures for Massachusetts'
recreational and commercial fisheries in the article titled "Striped
Bass Gamefish Petition." We overestimated recreational harvest, especially
in the latter half of the season. Recreational harvest was about 73,000
fish, not 166,000 as reported. We apologize for this error.
Consequently, in Massachusetts, recreational fishing accounted for
85% of total fishing mortality (335,200 out of 393,500 fish) - not
89% as previously reported. Of the actual fish harvested, 64% (73,000
fish) were taken by recreational fishermen (not 80% as previously
reported). Harvest for recreational fishermen would have been higher
if we had adopted the liberalized regulations (min. size 28 inches,
2 fish/day) allowed for states' coastal fisheries under Amendment
#5 of the ASMFC Striped Bass Plan. All states from RI south to North
Carolina liberalized their recreational restrictions and most enjoyed
sizeable increases in harvest. Massachusetts had the largest recreational
fishery of all states in 1995 with over 3.3 million bass caught,
but just 2% (73,000) were retained as harvest. See figure below.
1995 estimated bass mortality (# of fish) in Massachusetts for each
Recreational Harvest Estimated mortality *
due to Catch & Release Totals
Recreational 073,000 262,200 335,200
Commercial 041,000 017,300 058,300
=========== ============= ======
Totals 114,000 279,500 393,500
* Based on estimated 8% mortality rate of released fish.
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East Coast Recreational Fishery Statistics, 1994 vs. 1995 (This
is a graphic which is available as a hard copy from MDMF)
by the Governor's Seafood Task Force
Supermarkets and Retail Fish Markets Support the Fishing Industry
in a Big Way!
Making A Splash! Campaign promoting underutilized and
undervalued species, which was highlighted in a previous DMF News,
kicks-off this June! Massachusetts restaurants, supermarkets and retail
fish markets are pledging to carry and promote Cape Shark, Mackerel,
Whiting, Red Hake and Herring, when in season, through October. Campaign
Partners to date include Stop & Shop, Bread & Circus, DeMoulas Market
Basket and some independent fish markets. Restaurants from all over
the state are signing on, including seafood chains Legal Sea Foods
and SkipJacks, famous Boston and Cambridge restaurants East Coast
Grill, Turner Fisheries, Union Oyster House, Hampshire House, Swan
River Seafood Restaurant (Dennisport), Red Lion Inn (Stockbridge),
Webster House (Worcester), Folger Hotel and Restaurant (Nantucket),
Anthony's Island Pier Restaurant (Tyngsboro), and many more!
Chefs & The Phantom Gourmet Promote the Campaign!
Phantom Gourmet cooking show, airing on New England Cable News on
Saturday June 1st at 9 a.m., will be dedicated to the Campaign. Tune
in to see some of Boston's top chefs prepare a dish using the Campaign's
underutilized species. The chefs - Daniel Bruce, Boston Harbor
Hotel, Guida Ponte, Legal Sea Foods, Robert Fathman, Grill
23, Don Chapelle, Brew Moon, Ana Sortun, Casablanca
and Nori Koishikawa, Sakura Bona, are donating their time to
support the Campaign and the fishing industry.
for Local Media Coverage!
Boston Globe's food pages will highlight the Campaign and our
fish soon. The July issue of Boston Magazine will feature a
full-page ad including a listing of all our Campaign Partners where
consumers can purchase and taste the fish. Ads are planned for regional
papers, such as the Gloucester Times and Cape Cod Times.
The publicity blitz starts in July. We are looking to make a real
Splash! across Massachusetts.
is Your Campaign - Get Involved!
the Campaign to be successful, we need to supply high quality, fresh
fish to our Campaign Partners. Our Partners will be looking to buy
their fish from the best sources possible. If you sell our targeted
fish and want to get involved in this exciting program, please call
Regan Larkin Communications at 617-268-1380 for information. If you
are interested in attending the invitation-only Kick-Off Event call
us at 617-268-1380.
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herring internal processing operations (IWPs) in Massachusetts suddenly
have become very controversial. With some sea herring stocks reaching
record levels, and with limited markets for sea herring, foreign (usually
Russian) processing ships have filled the market void by purchasing
herring over-the-side from local fishermen. But with a growing interest
in herring processing in Massachusetts to fill the void of depleted
groundfish stocks, many industry representatives are opposing any
transfers to foreign vessels next year.
IWPs involve U.S. fishermen's sale of herring to foreign processing
ships anchored in internal waters. Massachusetts has had herring
IWPs since 1985 when 2,997,400 lbs. (1,360 metric tons) were transferred.
The best years for these IWPs were in 1989 (19,285,000 lbs. or 8,750
metric tons) and 1990 (21,312,700 lbs. or 9,670 metric tons). Since
1991, IWPs have had little or no success for a number of reasons,
such as unavailability of foreign ships.
IWPs need the Governor's approval. The federal Magnuson Fishery
Conservation and Management Act (Public Law 94-265) dictates that
a state's governor may not grant permission for an IWP if he determines
that "fish processors within the State have adequate capacity, and
will utilize such capacity, to process all the United States harvested
fish from the fishery concerned that are landed in the State." Since
the first IWP, Massachusetts governors have asked the Commonwealth's
Marine Fisheries Commission, working with DMF, to provide them with
advice. Every year that advice was heeded.
There always has been opposition to herring IWPs in Massachusetts,
but there has been enough support to justify some allocation to
foreign processors. But this year the opposition appears to be building,
especially among the Gloucester fishing industry. For example, the
Executive Director of the Gloucester Fisheries Commission has expressed
the Commission's opposition to any future sea herring IWPs. He described
Gloucester's efforts to fund the Gloucester Herring Project involving
more than $7.8 million in current investment projects that are expected
to "create an opportunity for at least $30 million dollars in additional
production investment over the next two years." Clearly, Gloucester
is confident it can take advantage of abundant sea herring.
The Commission stated:
Gloucester Herring Plan will put processors back to work and will
expand their facilities. It will increase the work force to about
200 jobs. It will give the larger dragger fishing fleet a new avenue
to direct their efforts. It will boost the economy of the whole
The Mayor of Gloucester, Brian Tobey, agreed. In fact, the Mayor
with unanimous support of the City Council, has approved $500,000
to the Gloucester Herring Project, and the "fathers of the City"
in conjunction with herring participants have donated approximately
$150,000 for the Herring Project.
IWP proponents insist their operations have merit for Massachusetts.
For example, Resource Trading Company of Portland Maine, a Massachusetts
IWP applicant and longtime participant, recently stated to Governor
Massachusetts herring industry enjoys a glut of resource but limited
access to international markets. A long-time leading herring processor,
Resource Trading Company, recognizes that IWP projects are the only
way the industry can access international markets for herring on
a competitive basis. As a result of successful IWP projects we have
operated in the past, we have strengthened the harvesting sector
and helped stabilize the flow of product to in-state herring processing
and bait marketing operations. The proposed project offers $3.0
million in market to the region's fishermen without diverting any
fish from current Massachusetts processors and users..."
We have scheduled a public meeting in Gloucester for May 22 to hear
comments on applications for this summer and next year. Our standard
procedure is to hold the meeting and assist the Marine Fisheries
Commission make a recommendation to the Governor regarding allocations
he should approve.
Will IWPs have a future in Massachusetts? It all depends on the
success of the Gloucester Herring Project and Massachusetts' ability
to increase and maintain its processing capacity for herring. With
herring stocks at an all time high, now seems to be the best time
for the industry to seize new opportunities. At the same time, fisheries
managers must be watchful that early enthusiasm doesn't lead to
too much fishing pressure especially in the Gulf of Maine, where
stock assessment information is uncertain and some fishermen urge
caution else the overfishing problem experienced in the Gulf of
Maine during the 1970s might occur again.
David E. Pierce
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past winter was one to remember with not only record snowfall, but
frozen docks and bays, and strong winds - the field sampler's nemesis.
Consequently getting to one of our temperature monitoring sites at
the Buzzards Bay Horntower (south of the mouth of Buzzards Bay) was
particularly hazardous due to its "steaming" distance from port and
exposure to winds. Our problem was resolved with the welcomed assistance
of the U.S. Coast Guard, Menemsha Station, on Marthas Vineyard. Senior
Chief Colin Eliot made arrangements to transport our divers to the
Captain "C. D." Dawson and his crew manned a 40-ft. Coast Guard
vessel and assisted our divers, Vinnie Malkoski and Paul Caruso
to retrieve the monitor. Vinnie and Paul reciprocated by clearing
debris from the propellers on the station's vessels. Although this
cooperative effort did not match the thrill and excitement level
of an at-sea rescue mission for which the men and women of the U.S.
Coast Guard are famous, it highlighed the helpful spirit which is
highly valued when conducting operations at sea.
Since October 1985, we have been monitoring water temperatures in
Massachusetts coastal waters. The first time & temperature monitor
(TTM) was attached to a concrete mooring and deployed on the ocean
floor at Cleveland Ledge in upper Buzzards Bay. Since then, additional
monitoring sites were established both north and south of Cape Cod
to provide a long-term source of bottom temperatures which would
be helpful to our work on the Coastal Lobster Investigations Project
and other DMF studies. Additional monitoring stations have been
established by DMF's Sportfish and Power Plant Projects. For many
species, including lobster, temperature is an important factor affecting
spawning time and success as well as distribution and abundance.
Programmed to record temperature every two hours, these monitors
have a battery life of 530 days. We attempt to change them annually,
however, weather and other sampling responsibilities often delay
retrieval and replacement of them by DMF divers.
These unique data sets are available to other researchers. Contact
us for more information
by Bruce T. Estrella, Coastal Lobster Project Leader
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Judge Douglas P. Woodlock of the District of Massachusetts is set
to rule in a one-year old law suit filed by Richard "Max" Strahan
against DMF. Mr. Strahan, purportedly representing himself in the
suit, challenges DMF's authority to license commercial fishing gear.
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has filed a "friend of the court"
brief in support of Mr. Strahan. DMF is being represented by the Office
of the Massachusetts Attorney General. Judge Woodlock will conduct
a hearing in the suit on May 21, at 2:30 p.m.
In the suit, Mr. Strahan requested an injunction against DMF from
issuing, or renewing commercial fishermen permits. He seeks a Court
revocation of all existing commercial fishermen permits until DMF
is issued a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) "incidental
take" permit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and a "small
take" permit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). He contends
that commercial fishing permits authorize the taking of fish, including
lobsters, for commercial purposes with gear that may entangle a
northern right whale thus resulting in a "take" under the ESA and
MMPA. At prior court hearings, Mr. Strahan suggested he seeks a
ban on fixed gear in Cape Cod Bay during the months of March, April,
and May. Indeed, CLF has admitted as much by noting in a court motion
that this "case involves an attempt to force officials of the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts to adopt measures to protect" the northern right
NMFS is not a party to the suit. NMFS has never taken the legal
position that DMF needs such federal permits to issue state commercial
fishing permits. Furthermore, NMFS has informed DMF that these permits,
if applied for, could not be issued to DMF because the northern
right whale is so severely depleted. In short, Mr. Strahan's suit
is, in reality, a request that the federal court take over the Commonwealth's
commercial fishing license scheme to enact and enforce a federal
court-ordered ban on gill net and lobster pot fishing in Massachusetts
waters. Mr. Strahan's suit fails to address the primary cause of
northern right whale mortality _ large ship strikes, not fixed gear
entanglements. Furthermore, the evidence shows that fixed gear entangling
right whales has come from federal or Canadian waters. There is
no evidence to show that any entanglements of northern right whales
in fixed gear are caused by gear set in Massachusetts waters by
Massachusetts licensed fishermen. Of note, the recent establishment
of a northern right whale critical habitat by NMFS, which was supported
by the Commonwealth, did not place any restrictions on fixed gear.
Mr. Strahan has never petitioned NMFS or the New England Fishery
Management Council to ban fixed gear in waters frequented by northern
No other government, state or federal, has done more to protect
the northern right whale than the Commonwealth. (See page 7.) The
Commonwealth now chairs the NMFS New England Whale Recovery Plan
Implementation Team. Through a Memorandum of Agreement, the Commonwealth
has combined and coordinated the marine fisheries expertise of DMF
and the endangered species expertise of the Division of Fisheries
and Wildlife to address northern right whale protection. The Commonwealth
awaits the execution of a cooperative endangered species agreement
with NMFS to provide further protection for the northern right whale.
NMFS has recognized the Commonwealth's efforts to protect the northern
right whale. NMFS stated in a recent Federal Register notice
that "it recognizes and appreciates the efforts of the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts to protect the northern right whale."
Given this history, it is curious that the Commonwealth finds itself
in court as a defendant awaiting the Court's Order on May 21. It
is the commercial fishing industry, however, that will feel the
effects of any injunctive relief granted to Mr. Strahan.
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was the first to:
a blue ribbon committee pursuant to state legislation to study
the northern right whale and make
for their protection in 1985 and 1986;
a 500 yard buffer zone around northern right whales;
to all licensed commercial fishermen information on increased
awareness and protection for the northern right whale; and
state and federal agencies with ocean dumping jurisdiction to
minimize dumping activities in northern right whale high use areas.
addition, the Commonwealth has:
use of sink gill nets south of Boston during March, south of Cape
Cod from April to November 15, and
of Cape Ann during November;
a program using Coast Guard surveillance flights to locate northern
right whales in state waters. The Commonwealth's Division of Environmental
Law Enforcement continues to report whale sightings to Provincetown's
Center for Coastal Studies and intends to report these locations
to the Boston Harbor Pilots and Harbor Masters who then will pass
this information to ship traffic and commercial fishermen, respectively;
$50,000 in research contracts with the New England Aquarium and
the Center for Coastal Studies to investigate the population status,
seasonality and habitat use of northern right whales;
a member of the National Right Whale Recovery Team and helped
draft the National Right Whale Recovery Plan;
the potential for northern right whale entanglements in fixed
fishing gear by prohibiting the use of more then 800 lobster pots
by coastal lobstermen; and
a moratorium on the issuance of new sink gill net regulated fishery
David C. Hoover, General Counsel
Department of Fisheries, Wildlife & Environmental Law Enforcement
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rule changes for the Atlantic tuna fisheries were posted in the Federal
Register by NMFS in late April. No major changes are proposed
for the 1996 Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery. The primary objectives
of the rules are to allocate the U.S. share of ICCAT's bluefin quota
for the western Atlantic and to fine tune effort control measures
in the General Category. The proposed quota category allocations are
of similar proportion to last season. One notable change is the pre-season
transfer of 95 mt from the reserve quota to the Angling Category to
compensate for overages in 1995 and catches of small bluefin off of
Cape Hatteras earlier this year. Monthly quotas and days off were
first introduced last season in the General Category for the purpose
of preventing early quota closures. These measures are again proposed
with slight changes. For example, a change to the days off scheme
is offered with the consecutive days of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
The 1996 fishing days and monthly quotas are listed in the rule.
Minor changes are proposed for the purse seine category to allow
for the dockside transfer of portions of individual vessel quotas,
and to allow the landing of dressed tuna. An increase in the minimum
size of yellowfin and bigeye tuna from 22 to 27 inches (curved fork
length) is also proposed. This will create a uniform minimum size
for bluefin and these other tunas, which can be difficult to identify
at that small size. Although not included as proposed rule changes,
NMFS also requests comments on several topics for future consideration,
including: the growing North Carolina fishery, the use of airplanes
in the General Category, and a ban on landing bluefin less than
73 inches. The deadline for comments is May 22nd.
Call NMFS in Gloucester, 508-281-9300, for more details.
Return to the Table of Contents
Peter J. Hanlon of the Division of Environmental Law Enforcement received
a "Meritorious Public Service Award" from the U.S. Coast Guard on
May 3. Lieutenant Hanlon was cited for his work from August 1977 through
December 1995 with Air Station Cape Cod involving enforcement of marine
fisheries regulations. The Award stated:
Hanlon clearly realized the benefits of developing an effective
working relationship with the Coast Guard at Air Station Cape Cod,
and worked to achieve an unprecedented level of cooperation with
the First Coast Guard District. Fisheries law enforcement has achieved
continuous success as a result of the cooperation..."
We congratulate Peter for this deserved recognition. He continues
to promote this DELE/Coast Guard relationship that now is being
used to locate northern right whales in Massachusetts waters, especially
Cape Cod Bay during the spring. During his overflights with Coast
Guard, Peter notes whale locations and reports those sightings to
DMF and others concerned about right whale protection, including
the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.
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EDITORS: Dan McKiernan & David Pierce
GRAPHICS: David Gabriel
DMF receives state and federal funds to conduct research, management
and development of the Commonwealth's marine fishery resources.
Information in this publication in alternative formats is available.
Philip G. Coates, Director, DMF
John C. Phillips, Comm'nr DFWELE
Trudy Coxe, Secretary, EOEA
William F. Weld, Governor
Comments and suggestions for the newsletter are welcome. Please
contact the Editors at (617) 727-3193, or write to DMF, 100 Cambridge
St., Boston, MA 02202.
Division Of Marine Fisheries
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02202
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Hearings/ Regulations/ Legislation
Volume 6 Number 2
of Contents for Rules Update....
of Public Meeting, IWP
Notices of Public Hearings
Regulatory Update: including Fluke, Striped
Bass, Sea Scallop, and Monkfish
of Public Meeting Sea Herring Internal Waters Processing Scheduled
for May 22, 1996
DMF has scheduled a public meeting to accept public comments on applications
by companies for Internal Waters Processing Operations for Sea Herring.
These operations involve domestic companies providing logistical and
financial arrangements for a foreign processing vessel to anchor in
state internal waters and accept sea herring catches over the side
from U.S. vessels. The federal Magnuson Conservation and Management
Act allows these operations when a state's Governor "determines that
fish processors within the state do not have adequate capacity to
process the amount landed in the state." These applications pertain
to the 1996-97 fishing year for herring that begins on July 1.
Meeting to be held on May 22 at 2:30 p.m. in the Friend Room of the
Sawyer Public Library in Gloucester.
Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Commission Scheduled for May 20
and 22, 1996
The Marine Fisheries Commission has scheduled two hearings to discuss
a single petition pertaining to striped bass sale: Public petition
from the New England Coast Conservation Association to
commercial fishing for wild striped bass in Massachusetts state
waters and ban the sale of wild striped bass anywhere in Massachusetts."
proposal would amend current state striped bass regulations, 322 CMR
Two hearings have been scheduled:
Monday May 20, 1996 at 7:00 PM at the Sandwich High School Auditorium,
Quaker Meetinghouse Road
Wednesday May 22 at 7:00 PM in Gloucester at the Fuller School Auditorium
off Blackburn Circle.
Marine Fisheries Commission Scheduled for June 24 and 25, 1996
The Marine Fisheries Commission has scheduled two hearings to discuss
the following proposals and public petitions:
1) DMF proposal to amend winter flounder regulations (322
CMR 6.01 and 6.23) to repeal the current prohibition on taking of
winter flounder in Mt. Hope Bay and its tributaries. Proposed rules
would complement those recently adopted by Rhode Island Division
of Fish & Wildlife for recreational fishing in Narragansett Bay.
DMF proposes to increase the possession limit to four fish per person
(per day) during the period April 13-May 19 and September 28-October
28. During the remainder of the year, flounder harvest will still
be prohibited, and no commercial harvest will be allowed during
any time of the year in this area. No changes are proposed for state
waters outside Mount Hope Bay.
2) DMF proposal to amend recreational regulations for cod and
haddock, (322 CMR 6.03) to complement pending federal regulations
changes. DMF proposes to increase the recreational minimum size
for all recreational anglers for cod and haddock from 19" to 20"
in 1996, and to 21" in 1997. Also for recreational fishermen fishing
from shore or on private vessels, a ten-fish combined bag limit
for cod and haddock would be adopted.
3) Petitions to amend surf clam regulations (322 CMR 6.08)
will be considered. The Division will hear comments on petitions
from eleven cities and towns to make changes to areas closed to
dredging and surf clam management areas established by this regulation.
The Town of Provincetown is requesting that:
1. A small boat dredge area be established in the area from Long
Point to Race Point out to one mile from shore;
2. That boats fishing in this area be limited to a 16" dredge and
a daily catch limit of 20 bu., except that present regulated fishery
permit holders be limited to 50 bu.; 3. That a new limited gear
(16" dredge) permit be established to allow new entry to the fishery
by small boats.
The Town of Wellfleet is requesting an exemption from the seasonal
depth contour to allow dredging by small vessels using limited gear
inside the 20 ft. contour within town waters from Great Island to
the Truro town line.
The Towns of Orleans, Brewster, Dennis, Sandwich and Bourne are
requesting a change in the inner boundary of the management
area along the north side of Cape Cod, moving the limit of the closed
area farther offshore to a line-of-sight boundary.
The Town of Yarmouth is requesting the elimination of the 12
Ft. contour seasonal dredging restriction and prohibiting dredging
inside the 20 ft. contour year-round.
The Towns of Ipswich and Rockport and the City of Gloucester are
requesting the establishment of areas closed to dredging should
commercial fishing for surf clams be allowed on the north shore.
There is no dredging allowed in these areas now, but the towns wish
to establish an inner boundary if a management area is established
under the regulation.
Copies of the town petitions and maps depicting the proposed changes
are available from DMF.
DMF proposal to clarify M.G.L. Chapter 130 sec. 41 that prohibits
the possession of "female lobsters from which eggs have been removed
other than natural hatching", to specifically prohibit the possession
of lobsters treated with certain chemical solutions that may result
in the removal of eggs.
Two hearings have been scheduled:
Monday June 24, 1996 at 7:00 PM at the Fuller School off Blackburn
Circle in Gloucester
Tuesday June 25 at the Mass. Maritime Academy Auditorium in Buzzards
the period March - May the following decisions were made by DMF and
the Marine Fisheries Commission.
for the 1996 summer flounder fishery amended.
limit of 100 lbs. (per day) established on March 25 and will remain
in effect through June 17 when the limit will be increased to 300
lbs. to accommodate the summer-time directed fishery. The annual quota
is expected to be reached by - or before early September.
Massachusetts' one week opening (Feb. 1-7) and 5,000 lb. trip limit
resulted in about 173,000 lbs. landed against the state quota, about
50,000 lbs. short of the winter-time target approved by the Marine
Fisheries Commission. Since the inception of state quotas in 1993
DMF has allocated the annual quota 30:70 to the winter and summer
fisheries, respectively. This year's state quota is 757,841 lbs.
with 227,290 lbs. allocated to the winter fishery and the remaining
530,342 lbs. to the summer fishery.
Enforcement: After DMF adjudicatory proceedings, DELE and three
fishermen have agreed to penalties imposed for possession of more
than the fluke landing limit last year. Three different fluke permit
suspensions have been imposed: (1) June 17 through July 16, 1996,
(2) June 17 through June 30, 1996 and during the first and second
weeks of the 1997 fluke season, and (3) June 17 through June 23,
1996, July 8 through July 14, 1996, and the first and fourth weeks
of the 1997 season. All three fishermen are on probation, and any
further violations will result in permanent revocation of their
fluke permits. A New Bedford dealer also has agreed to a 1996 suspension
of his fluke authorization permit and a one year probation from
May 1 through April 30, 1997 with the understanding that any violations
of marine fishery laws during the probation period will result in
revocation of his dealer permit. An adjudicatory proceeding has
been scheduled for another fluke dealer and will be heard shortly.
was taken on two public petitions regarding striped bass: one to ban
gaffing and another to allow filleting of striped bass aboard charter
The Commission voted to disapprove the request to ban gaffing after
much debate that focused on enforceability of the regulation and
validity of some fishermen's claims that gaffing is necessary in
certain fishing situations. DMF and the Commission appreciated the
petitioner's concerns about needless mortality inflicted upon improperly
handled undersized striped bass. DMF agreed to undertake an educational
campaign to raise fishermen's awareness about proper handling of
fish to ensure survival when released.
The Commission approved a petition from the Cape Cod Charter Boat
Association to amend current regulations to allow filleting of bass
during sportfish charter trips, at-sea. Since 1993, regulations
have allowed authorized charterboat operators to fillet bass for
customers at the dock. These rules were adopted to accommodate charter
operators whose customers found it difficult to handle and transport
whole "keeper-sized" bass. (Imagine four successful charterboat
customers trying to get their four keeper bass into the trunk of
a mid-sized passenger car.)
Charter operators convincingly argued their case for at-sea filleting
at the Buzzards Bay public hearing. They urged DMF to accommodate
them to shorten the waiting time for customers to depart the vessel
with their catch. Also, the captains sought to minimize turnaround
time at the dock for those who run "half-day" charter excursions.
The strongest support for the proposal came from charterboat captains
who operate from ports with tidal constraints (e.g Rock Harbor,
To accommodate DMF's concerns about enforceability of minimum size
regulations, the petitioners suggested the carcasses of the filleted
fish could be retained aboard the boat for inspection by environmental
police, and the number of carcasses match the number of customers
aboard the vessel and no more than two fillets per customer be allowed.
This new regulation will be in effect after May 17. Commercial charter
and party boat operators who seek permission to fillet bass for
their customers at-sea or at the dock must apply for permission
from the Director. DMF will issue letters of authorization with
specific conditions. For more information contact Kevin Creighton
at ext. 377.
Commission approved the DMF proposal to amend sea scallop dredge restrictions
(322 CMR 4.10) effective January 1, 1997 to increase the minimum
ring size from 3 1/4" to 3 1/2", consistent with changes in the federal
management plan. Fishermen whose vessels have been issued a federal
scallop permit should be aware that they must already be in compliance
with the larger ring size, even if they are fishing in state waters.
The Commission voted to allow fishermen in state waters without federal
permits using non-conforming dredges until the end of the year to
replace their equipment.
proposal to amend monkfish regulations to regulate the landing of
livers and specify tail length measuring techniques was tabled until
the June or July business meeting.
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is published quarterly to publicize regulatory matters affecting marine
Director: Philip G. Coates, DMF
Commissioner: John C. Phillips, DFWELE
Secretary: Trudy Coxe, EOEA
Governor: William F. Weld
Editor: Daniel J. McKiernan , DMF/ Art Dir.: David G. Gabriel, DFWELE