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
Volume 18 Third Quarter July - September 1998
Cellucci Signs New Law to Protect Egg-Bearing Lobsters
tags reveal tuna travels
right whale freed in Cape Cod Bay
Fish Display Auctions Key to Massachusetts' Seafood Future
monitoring improved for Boston Harbor Cleanup
Program Guide Available
of Contents for Rules Update including Public
Hearings, Regulatory Updates, Legislative Updates, and Scup
UPDATE: Judge's decision explained & ASMFC votes Massachusetts
"out of compliance"
the stroke of his pen, Governor Argeo Paul Cellucci helped preserve
one of the Commonwealth's most important resources by imposing stiffer
penalties on fishermen who blatantly violate state laws protecting
egg-bearing lobsters. On June 19 with the DMF Martha's Vineyard Lobster
Hatchery as a backdrop, the Governor signed into law House 90 thereby
increasing fines for taking or possessing egg-bearing lobsters.
With this major increase in penalties, it is no longer cost effective
to violate the law. Fines for taking an egg-bearing lobster were
increased from $50-100 to $150-$500 per lobster for the first offense.
For subsequent offenses, the penalty will be $500-$1000 per lobster
or imprisonment from 60 days to 6 months, or both. The even more
egregious crime of removing eggs from female lobsters carries a
heftier penalty of $250-$1000 per lobster for the first offense
and $100-$2000 per lobster or by imprisonment from 90 days to one
year, or both for any subsequent offense.
To safeguard the lobster resource and to deter violators, the Administration
filed the bill in January of 1997 on behalf of DMF. "This law
will give the Division of Law Enforcement the teeth it needs to
apprehend violators," exclaimed Commissioner John Phillips at
the signing ceremony. "This new law and the test developed by
DMF [see below] are two important law enforcement tools which will
ensure that violators are 'caught in the act' and are punished for
their crime against our natural resources"
The new law has extra impact because it provides authority for Environmental
Police Officers (EPOs) to use a test designed to detect when eggs
have been removed from female lobsters. DLE and DMF reported that
in recent years, violators have abandoned the practice of "scrubbing"
lobster eggs from the abdomen of female lobsters with a brush or
high-pressure water hose. Instead, violators have adopted the practice
of "dipping" lobsters in chemicals or substances capable of removing
is a cleaner procedure, leaving no trace of eggs or glue on swimmerets;
therefore, violators think they can avoid detection. Fortunately,
Michael Syslo, Director of the Lobster Hatchery, and Dr. Robert
Bullis, Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, have developed
and perfected a test for law enforcement to use to determine whether
lobsters have been "dipped." They have trained state and federal
law enforcement personnel to use the test with proven results. Under
the new law, EPOs may take a small part of a lobster in order to
test for chemical substances. Evidence of a "positive" result is
prima facie evidence of a violation.
Many thanks to the legislators who helped gain passage of this bill
in various stages, including Natural Resource Committee members:
Senators Lois Pines (Chair) and Robert Antonioni (Vice Chair) and
Representatives Douglas Petersen (Chair), George Peterson, Anthony
Verga, and Robert DeLeo.
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It has been argued that the Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery presents
the most difficult challenge to U.S. fishery managers. Regardless
of which fishery lays claim to that dubious title, the tough ones
often share the common obstacles of international agreements, competing
domestic interests, and high economic value for a species with extensive
migrations. The Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery displays all these traits
to an excess and is further characterized by uncertainty over many
basic aspects of tuna life history.
Atlantic bluefin tuna are presently managed under an international
agreement recognizing two Atlantic stocks separated into management
zones by the 45degrees west longitude line. Western Atlantic fisheries
have been under strict quota management since 1982. However, eastern
Atlantic fisheries, now enjoying record catches, only recently have
Population assessments assume mixing does not occur between the
two stocks and indicate serious reductions in both spawning stocks
during the last 20 years. More information on stock structure and
movements is clearly needed. Some bluefin do cross the Atlantic,
and concern is high over the potential for action (or inaction)
in one management zone to influence resources and fisheries in the
Due to their large size and highly migratory behavior, bluefin are
hard to handle and difficult to study. Unanswered questions remain
concerning their ocean-wide movements, stock structure and stock
mixing, and reproductive biology. Fortunately, new applications
in tagging technology are developing at an exciting rate and soon
should provide a wealth of information on giant bluefin habits in
Dr. Frank Mather of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) began
putting conventional tags on bluefin over 40 years ago. Since then,
recapture data from collective efforts have provided the basis for
much of what we know about bluefin wide-scale movements and growth
rates. Hydroacoustic tags have been applied to fish for the last
25 years to allow fine-scale tracking of bluefin movements.
These efforts also have provided revelations on bluefin physiology,
including Frank Carey's (also of WHOI) discovery that bluefin have
an ability to retain metabolic heat, an ability unmatched among
bony fish in the ocean.
DMF biologists have contributed to this field in recent years through
their participation in the tracking of 15 bluefin during experiments
on stress physiology and fine-scale movements. These experiments
involved two new tag types that combine the data logging capacity
of micro-processors with the tried and true approach of "tag and
The first tag type is the archival tag, which can store data such
as location, water temperature, body temperature, and depth for
several years. These data only can be retrieved when the tuna is
caught again and the tag is returned by fishermen. The second type
is the pop-up satellite tag which presently has limited data logging
capacity. The tag transmits data to an ARGOS satellite once it electronically
disengages from the tuna and floats to the surface at a predetermined
time. Pop-up tags have an external dart attachment while archival
tags are implanted internally into the body cavity with a sensor
protruding outside the stomach.
The real prize will come with development of an archival tag that
pops up and transmits all data to a satellite. This marriage is
expected soon and will depend on enhanced battery capacity to send
data to the satellite. The satellite will, in turn, send all this
valuable data to scientists' desk computers by e-mail.
Atlantic bluefin tuna studies using high technology tags began in
1996 with archival and satellite tag deployment off Cape Hatteras
by a Stanford University and NMFS team. In 1997, a team of scientists
and fishermen deployed 20 pop-up satellite tags off Massachusetts.
This New England project was a cooperative effort headed by Molly
Lutcavage of the New England Aquarium and included biologists from
DMF and the University of Hawaii, the East Coast Tuna Association
and expert tuna fishermen. The two essential ingredients to this
project were the tag itself, developed by Paul Howey of Microwave
Telemetry, Maryland, and the fishermen whose combined years of experience
put bluefin in good condition alongside tagging boats and at a rate
scientists could never hope to achieve by themselves.
Twenty pop-up satellite tags were deployed last fall by this cooperative
team working off Gloucester and Cape Cod. Bluefin were caught, outfitted
with tags, and released by the purse seine vessel, White Dove Too,
and rod and reel boats, Cookie Too and Low Bid. Tags were designed
to pop-up from the fish in groups of 5 tags at 5.5, 7.5, 8.5, and
9.5 month intervals. These pop-up times were selected to reveal
locations of bluefin around spring and early summer spawning periods
for the west and east Atlantic.
As of late July, 17 tags have communicated successfully to satellites,
revealing their locations and a record of water temperatures along
the migration. All pop-up locations were well east of the U.S. continental
shelf, and 4 tags popped-up east of the 45 degree west boundary
Surprisingly, none of the 17 recoveries occurred in the Gulf of
Mexico, the presumed spawning grounds for the western Atlantic bluefin.
One of the more vital issues that these new tags can provide is
spawning site fidelity. Do bluefin return to spawn at locations
where they originated or is there mixing among spawning sites in
the Atlantic? Are there other spawning locations?
This cooperative effort will continue in 1998 with deployment of
more pop-up tags designed to answer other questions on seasonal
movements. There will be new partnerships with more U.S. fishermen
and with NMFS and Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Each successful pop-up provides an enlightening trail of data on
individual bluefin. These data retrieved from the New England project
and other studies in different locations will provide a fascinating
view of behavior and movements of giant bluefin and will set the
stage for essential decisions on managing Atlantic bluefin throughout
You can be sure that technology available for tagging experiments
is not going to stop here. Imagine what the next millenium will
Brad Chase and Greg Skomal.
For more information contact the authors or any of the collaborators:
East Coast Tuna Assoc. (603) 898-8862
New England Aquarium (617) 973-5451
National Marine Fisheries Service 1-800-437-3936
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six-year old male northern right whale, entangled in lines for at
least a year, was freed in southern Cape Cod Bay on Friday July 24.
This whale was last seen in August and September of 1997 entangled
in the Bay of Fundy (Canada), carrying lines wrapped tightly around
its fluke. This rescue was an accomplishment for the state's Conservation
Plan supporting the federal Large Whale Take Reduction Plan.
Right whales are the most endangered large whale with a population
of only 300-350 animals. They use Cape Cod Bay during winter and
early spring for feeding, socializing, and possibly mating. During
January-April of 1998, DMF's aerial (and ship-board) surveillance
and monitoring program under contract to the Center for Coastal
Studies (CCS) in Provincetown, identified at least 95 individual
right whales in Cape Cod Bay. Predictably, whales departed Cape
Cod Bay by the end of April for other plankton-rich feeding grounds
(presumably) in the Bay of Fundy and off Nova Scotia. However, every
year there are occasional summertime reports of right whales that
appear to be transiting state waters and other areas of the Gulf
of Maine. Previous studies of satellite-tagged right whales have
documented these long distance wanderings.
DMF's Conservation Plan attempts to document all right whale sightings
year-round to determine if it is entangled in fishing gear. Researchers
use photographs to identify individual whales through the New England
Aquarium's Right Whale Catalog. They can track individual whale's
life history to determine if it ever was entangled or injured for
other reasons (e.g. ship strike).
On Friday morning, July 24, beach goers reported a large black whale
swimming near the Dennis shoreline in southern Cape Cod Bay. Dennis
Harbormaster, Ed Goggins, investigated and called CCS on his cellular
phone. He remained on-scene while CCS researchers steamed from Provincetown
to investigate. State Environmental Police also were sent to the
scene in a patrol vessel. Lower Cape Cod Bay during summer is known
for its recreational vessel traffic and density of lobster pots.
Fortuitously, the U.S. Coast Guard was also flying a fisheries enforcement
mission over state waters with State Environmental Police officer,
Lt. Peter Hanlon aboard. The Coast Guard agreed to divert the flight
to the scene for support. "Eagle eye" Hanlon saw not one but two
right whales and photographed them. He noticed the larger of the
two whales had lines wrapped around its fluke. There was constant
communication between the helicopter, the CCS vessel, and Harbormaster
Goggins. Researchers were assisted at CCS's request by some recreational
boaters who helped spot the whales after long dives.
The Center's federally-contracted Disentanglement Team arrived on
scene with the support of a Coast Guard cutter from Cape Cod Canal
Station along with DMF officials and Environmental Police. The team
felt the entanglement would eventually be life-threatening for the
whale. Within 3 hours, the Disentanglement Team of Stormy Mayo,
David Mattila, and Ed Lyman, working from their inflatable boat,
succeeded in cutting all lines wrapped around the fluke. Their time-tested
technique involves tiring the animal by adding large floats and
sea anchors to existing lines on the whale. Once the whale became
fatigued, they cut the lines wrapped on the fluke.The whale thrashed
for about 30 seconds pulling the lines through the wounds and free
of the tail.
Center scientists consulted New England Aquarium researchers and
identified the whale as #2212 in the right whale catalog. They compared
photographs taken last year during the Aquarium's summertime Bay
of Fundy research program that showed the whale was entangled in
the same black and red rope wrapped around the fluke. The year-long
entanglement had cut deeply into the whale's tail with obvious swelling
and scar tissue.
The whale swam off at high speed and surfaced about one half mile
away. Right whale #2212 is expected to survive the injuries because
researchers re-sighted it in the Bay of Fundy in mid-August. Surveillance
teams will be on the lookout to determine its long-term fate. The
second whale was watched by Harbormaster Goggins for a few hours
until it swam away from the entrance of Sesuit Harbor.
Fishermen and regulators were relieved that this was not a new entanglement.
Rather, it was a resolved former entanglement that provides evidence
of the time and distance right whales are capable of carrying gear.
For example, in June 1997, the Disentanglement Team rescued an 8
year-old male right whale off Chatham from gear that federal officials
believe was set 100 miles offshore.
There was another entangled whale (#2027) seen last summer in the
Bay of Fundy that was photographed gear-free in Cape Cod Bay on
January 4. Also, DMF's surveillance flights "resurrected" two right
whales presumed dead since they had not been seen in more than five
years. Documenting these whales are significant accomplishments
for the state's Conservation Program that attempts to fully document
all right whale sightings.
Meanwhile DMF's Conservation Engineering Program continues to work
with National Marine Fisheries Service colleagues and private researchers
to find ways to reduce the risk of harm from fishing gear for all
This event demonstrated extraordinary cooperation among citizens,
researchers, and all levels of government: town, state, and federal
agencies. Congratulations to all involved.
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Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Fisheries,
Wildlife, and Environmental Law Enforcement have released a report
entitled: The Massachusetts Fresh Marine Fish Marketplace, A Blueprint
for Growth and Stability. This report was completed by a consulting
firm at the request of the Massachusetts Seaport Advisory Council.
The focus of this report is fresh fish display auctions: the exchange
of fresh fish from harvesters to buyers. The Massachusetts seafood
industry employs over 24,000 people and generates about $4 billion
of economic activity. Harvesting, seafood processing, distribution,
and retail industries account for the majority of these jobs.
Seafood display auctions, such as those in New Bedford and Gloucester,
are vital links to allow the Massachusetts seafood industry to increase
revenues, improve fish quality, and re-position the state as a leading
provider and purveyor of seafood products to the world.
Display auctions unload fishing vessels, sort catches, and display
seafood in a large refrigerated room for buyers to inspect prior
to purchasing their supplies at an open auction. Most auctions operate
five days a week, and an early morning auction sells the catch landed
during the night at the facility.
In the past, most seafood in Massachusetts was purchased sight unseen
by the buyer. Display auctions promote higher quality and less uncertainty
by increasing the information available to both buyers and sellers
and providing a fair, more open, and efficient market for seafood.
These auctions ensure a common venue where buyers and sellers can
easily find each other and where the price is set through a fair
The report concludes that the two display auctions in Gloucester
and New Bedford and one "trip" style auction in Boston are operating
and selling fish, but functioning well below their potential to
serve more of the Massachusetts industry.
Declining fish stocks and stringent state and federal regulations
to restore fish populations have dramatically disrupted the fresh
fish marketplace for Massachusetts fishermen and processors. Today,
fishermen must navigate through layers of rules to earn a living:
closed areas, catch limits, limits on days-at-sea, and gear restrictions,
to name a few. Processors have replaced domestic supplies with imported
fish to keep their plants operating. Some stocks are rebounding,
but by necessity, restricted fishing will be a permanent way of
life for fishermen; higher quality will be the key to preserving
revenues in the future. The report identifies display auctions as
the most effective place to facilitate open, "transparent" trades
where quality is verified and demands a higher price.
Through an examination of display auction successes throughout Europe
and in Portland, New Bedford, and Gloucester, the Commonwealth seeks
to protect and secure this vital link in our seafood marketplace.
The report presents a blueprint for state government's role in overseeing
all seafood auctions in the Commonwealth; as an impartial arbiter
of standards; and as a partner at the table with industry to promote
display auctions and our seafood economy.
Plans for a state of the art market information system are complete
and ready for implementation. This central source for marketplace
information will improve information flow in the marketplace and
will be a very powerful business tool for the seafood industry.
Imagine accessing supply forecasts, real-time auctions, and auction
results or price trends from all of the auctions in Massachusetts
and New England through one source over the Internet.
The Commonwealth and the industry have an opportunity to focus the
world's attention on fresh seafood landed and processed in Massachusetts.
This important work will continue with the industry to implement
a comprehensive seafood auction system and achieve the goals of
stability and growth in this valuable piece of the Massachusetts
By David McCarron
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federal, state, and local agencies have worked with the Massachusetts
Water Resources Authority (MWRA) on the nationally known "Boston Harbor
Cleanup Project." DMF has devoted many hours to this cleanup effort
by offering expertise on diverse species from the Northern Right Whale
to the microscopic zooplankton that feed it. Possibly the most common
marine animals affected by the Boston Harbor Cleanup are soft shell
clams, blue mussels, scallops, and surf clams found in Boston Harbor
and Massachusetts Bay.
DMF's Shellfish Sanitation and Managment Program has monitored water
quality for shellfish areas in and around Boston Harbor since 1988.
Based on amounts of rainfall and operation of area wastewater treatment
plants, Shellfish Program biologists manage shellfish harvesting
in the Harbor and all shellfish are transported to DMF's depuration
plant in Newburyport before being marketed.
Areas are opened and closed in compliance with the National Shellfish
Sanitation Program (NSSP), a federal/state cooperative program recognized
by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Interstate
Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) for the sanitary control
of shellfish produced and sold for human consumption. NSSP requires
an agreement between the shellfish control agency (DMF) and operators
of any wastewater treatment facility that may impact shellfish areas.
MWRA operates the largest wastewater treatment plant in Boston Harbor
and the second largest in the country. The newly renovated and expanded
Deer Island facility provides primary and secondary treatment of
wastewater from 43 Boston area communities. DMF is notified weekly
of the plant's daily operation by MWRA personnel as part of an existing
written Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This provides DMF with
up-to-date information needed to ensure that sewage effluent is
not adversely affecting the overlying water quality of shellfish
DMF is notified within 24 hours (usually almost immediately) when
there are high effluent flows or plant malfunctions. Shellfish bed
closures are immediately imposed, if needed, to protect public health.
This working relationship has allowed DMF's Shellfish Program to
effectively manage Boston Harbor shellfish beds.
MWRA's $5 billion effort to upgrade its regional sewage treatment
facilities has reduced the discharge of inadequately treated sewage
effluent and sludge into shallow waters of Boston Harbor. One of
the final components of this effort has been the construction of
a new 9.5 mile outfall with a 24' diameter deep rock tunnel ending
at a depth of 100' in Massachusetts Bay. When the effluent is discharged,
it will flow through 55 diffuser heads spaced over the final 1 1/4
miles of the outfall tunnel. MWRA computer modeling predicts the
highest concentrations of contaminants will shift to offshore thereby
improving shellfishing opportunities in Boston Harbor while having
"....very limited impacts near the outfall in Massachusetts Bay,
and virtually no effect on Cape Cod Bay."
The moving of the Boston Harbor outfall to Massachusetts Bay has
required changes to the MOU between DMF and MWRA. In addition, as
a part of the U.S. EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
System (NPDES) program, a new discharge permit must be issued to
MWRA for the upgraded treatment plant and outfall. The new MOU with
an outfall monitoring plan will beincluded in that permit.
DMF shellfish biologists worked with MWRA to expand overlying water
quality monitoring throughout Massachusetts Bay to include fecal
coliform testing. The monitoring program will provide DMF with data
to assist a correct classification of shellfish areas adjacent to
the outfall in Massachusetts Bay in compliance with NSSP requirements.
The NSSP mandates a "Prohibited" area adjacent to each sewage treatment
plant outfall or a combination of "Prohibited" and "Conditional"
areas depending upon actual volume of flow, performance of the treatment
plant, water quality, dispersion and dilution, time of transport
of effluent to shellfish resources and time required to notify DMF
of problems and for DMF to effect closures. "Conditional" areas
can be harvested under certain conditions.
Three different types of sampling surveys - assisted by DMF - have
been established: Conditional Area monitoring, transect, and plume
tracking surveys. Stations were selected to provide information
about the effluent plume and its impact on Massachusetts Bay.
DMF chose 12 Conditional Area monitoring stations from existing
MWRA near field and far field monitoring stations. In addition to
fecal coliform levels, the stations provide monthly profiles of
physical, chemical, and biological water column characteristics
as well as the identification of seasonal cycles and effects of
high effluent flows and/or heavy rainfall. The conditional area
monitoring survey will be ongoing and is scheduled to begin this
Four transect sample runs have been set up for the following locations
to gauge the effluent plumes's impact on coastal shellfish resources:
Devereaux Beach in Marblehead, the eastern tip of Nahant, Nantasket
Beach in Hull, and Cohasset Harbor. DMF established 19 stations
over the four transects. These stations will be sampled 8 times
over two years, once a season before and after the outall goes on
Information collected from this sampling will include the same water
quality parameters as conditional area monitoring. DMF shellfish
biologists will use fecal coliform loading at the diffusers and
fecal coliform counts found along the transects at set distances
from the outfall to calculate field-verified dilution profiles.
These profiles will be used to determine time of travel of contaminants
from the outfall to shellfish resources along the coast. Transect
surveys also will provide baseline fecal coliform levels for Massachusetts
Once the outfall is on line, plume tracking surveys will be conducted
at least once per season to determine the effluent plume location
and dilution profile. Sample stations will be set during the tracking
surveys based on actual movement of the effluent plume. Water samples
will be collected for laboratory analysis of fecal coliform levels.
Sampling will also include salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen,
and suspended solids. Conditional area monitoring stations may be
revised or added to as a result of these Plume Tracking surveys.
It is the concensus of DMF and MWRA that DMF's current PSP (red
tide) and phytoplankton monitoring in shellfish and water samples
coupled with data supplied by MWRA from offshore phytoplankton sampling
provides DMF with sufficient information at the present time to
adequately protect public health.
The working relationship between DMF and MWRA has grown and evolved
along with the demands of meeting the needs of the Boston Harbor
Cleanup. The two agencies have worked together to develop monitoring
plans and notification agreements to assure that the marine environment
and public health are protected. The monitoring plans established
in this cooperative effort will allow a greater understanding of
the marine environment in Massachusetts Bay in the years to come.
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has successfully produced a new full-color magazine that describes
work being accomplished by our Sport Fish Program. We are extremely
proud to present this first edition of our Sport Fish Program
Guide. It is a companion piece to our ever popular, Saltwater
Fishing Guide. Both guides are available free of charge at
most Massachusetts coastal bait and tackle shops. It can also be obtained
at any of the Division's five office locations.
The Sport Fish Program, as is the cost of these Guides, is supported
by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration. Commonly called the Wallop-Breaux
Program. If you area recreational angler or boater, chances are
you have already contributed to this very successful program which
is fueled by excise taxes placed on fishing tackle and related equipment.
Enjoy these publications. Learn and obey the laws which govern your
sport, returned undersized or unwanted catch back to the water,
and do not misuse beach or marine habitat HappyFishing
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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
Argeo Paul Celucci, 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.
Publication #17020-12-7000 9/98-$2250
Division of Marine Fisheries
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02202
Hearings / Regulations / Legislation
Volume 8 Number 3
of Contents for Rules Update....
of Public Hearings
UPDATE: Judge's decision explained, industry fights for its fishery,
and ASMFC votes Massachusetts "out of compliance"
Notice of Public Hearings
of Massachusetts Fisheries Regulations (322 CMR)
Division of Marine Fisheries
for October 14 1998, at 9:00 a.m.
provisions of G.L. C. 30A and pursuant to authority found in G.L.
c 130 ss. 17A, 17(10), 80, and 104, the Division of Marine Fisheries
(DMF) and the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) have scheduled a hearing
to solicit public comment on a reorganization of the Massachusetts
marine fisheries regulations, 322 CMR. The recodification maintains
the current regulatory regime for marine fisheries regulations but
reorganizes 322 CMR into a more logical and concise order. This action
also satisfies part of Executive Order #384 for state agencies to
reduce unnecessary regulatory burden.
One public hearing has been scheduled: 100 Cambridge St, Room 210,
Bluefish Amendment #1
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council
& Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
Hearings held from August 24 - September 3, 1998
Hearings have been held to solicit public comments on proposed management
measures regarding Bluefish Management Plan Amendment 1. Comments
on these proposals will be accepted through September 15. This
amendment addresses rebuilding of bluefish over a 9-year schedule.
The most notable issues concerning Massachusetts fishermen are mechanisms
for establishing individual state’s commercial quotas, a 12" minimum
size limit for recreational and commercial fishermen, and mandatory
permitting and reporting by all commercial fishermen harvesting
bluefish as well as charter and party boats. For more detailed information
on the proposals contact David Pierce at DMF, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery
Management Council at 302-674-2331, or ASMFC at 202-289-6400.
Whiting and Red Hake
New England Fishery Management Council
Scheduled for September 21-October 2, 1998
Federal hearings will be held in September and October to solicit
public comments about proposed management measures for Amendment
11 to the Multispecies FMP. This amendment addresses the management
of whiting, offshore hake, and red hake. Anyone interested can obtain
copies of the public hearing documents from the Council. Public
comments will be taken at the public hearings or through written
comments up until mid-October. Most whiting and red hake are caught
in federal waters. However the rules would affect all holders of
federal multispecies permits even if the vessel is fishing in state
waters. These proposals will affect DMF's ongoing management of
whiting and hake fisheries, conducted as experimental fisheries
in state and federal waters deploying a raised footrope trawl. Issues
such as permit moratoriums, permit eligibility (based on historical
landings), gear restrictions, and others will be discussed at the
meeting. Any action taken by the Council likely will likely in effect
by summer of 1999. For more information, contact Lori V. LeFevre
at the New England Fishery Management Council Suntaug Office Park-
5 Broadway Saugus, MA 01906 (781) 231-0422
Seven hearings have been scheduled:
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Maine: Monday, Sept. 21 at 6:00 p.m., Holiday Inn by the Bay,
88 Spring Street
Massachusetts: Tuesday, Sept 22 at 6:00 p.m., Provincetown
Massachusetts: Wednesday, September 23 at 6:00 p.m. (after
Council meeting) The Tavern on the Harbor, 30 Western Avenue
River, New Jersey: Monday, September 28 at 7:30 p.m., Holiday
New York: Tuesday, September 29 at 7:30 p.m., Ramada Inn 1830
Rhode Island: Wednesday, September 30 at 4:00 p.m., Narragansett
Beach, Virginia: Friday, October 2 at 5:00 p.m. Virginia Marine
the period May - July, 1998, the following decisions were made by
DMF and the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Commission:
Squid trawler season lengthened an extra 2 weeks through June 14.
Squid trawling (using small-mesh nets in Nantucket Sound, Vineyard
Sound, and state waters around the islands) was allowed through
June 14. DMF granted this 2-week extension for draggermen who hoped
catches would improve in early June after they experienced dismal
catches throughout May when catches usually peak. Preliminary landings
figures suggest 1998 will result in the lowest catches in 21
years from Nantucket and Vineyard Sound. DMF and fishermen had hoped
the inshore migration of squid was delayed by weather or other oceanographic
factors. Sea sampling and reports from dealers and fishermen showed
squid size composition never shifted to predominately small squid,
and by-catch of other species remained minimal.
DMF has taken strong steps to manage this fishery conservatively
during the 1990's, including a shortened season, by-catch limits,
and a contentious exclusion of large (larger than 72 ft.) trawlers.
This past season was especially frustrating since DMF had planned
with gear experts and cooperating draggermen to study fish and squid
behavior in the trawls to improve bycatch reduction. The scarcity
of squid and many finfish species has hindered this work's progress.
This research may prove critical for the long term management and
conservation of scup since fishery scientists have identified discards
in the offshore small-mesh trawl fishery as a primary source of
mortality that will prevent stock recovery. Squid are managed in
federal waters by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
Flounder (fluke): With draggermen frustrated by dismal squid
catches, DMF opened the fluke fishery (when the trip limit increased
from 100 to 300 lbs.) early on June 24, instead of the previously
scheduled July 6 date.
MFC denied a petition (aired at May hearings) to amend the summer/fall
fluke (summer flounder) fishery. This petition, submitted by the
Massachusetts Inshore Commercial Fishermen's Association, called
for increases in the summer possession limit for fluke from 300
to 400 lbs./day and the creation of two no-fishing days per week.
Also a second petition was "tabled" that would have created different
license categories and trip limits for commercial fishermen catching
fluke with hook and line. MFC requested DMF staff convene a meeting
with handliners and draggermen to discuss these issues.
Finally, the fluke fishery was closed for the season on July
23. This brief summer fishery (29 days) constituted the shortest
summer fishery for vessels targeting fluke since quotas were established
in 1993. Fluke were extremely abundant this season evidenced by
many draggers reaching their daily limit in just a few hours of
bass commercial fishery was closed on August 9. Like fluke,
this fishery also saw its annual quota being taken earlier (just
28 days of fishing) than any previous year due to reported high
catch rates and suspected increased fishing effort. Commercial fishery
catch and effort statistics will be examined this winter to detect
any trends. DMF has convened a striped bass advisory group to discuss
bass in-state management for both the recreational and commercial
sectors. Any recommendations from the group will be considered by
the MFC and DMF for public hearings prior to the 1999 fishing season.
approved a DMF proposal to require all commercial fishermen licensed
by DMF to accommodate sea samplers for the purpose of observing
and acquiring information about fishing operations and sampling
catches for biological information. Previously only trawlers fishing
in state waters (with Coastal Access Permits) were required to accommodate
sea samplers, but now all licensed commercial fishermen, whether
they are fishing in state or federal waters, will be required to
accommodate DMF's observers. Regulations will be filed this fall.
regulations were enacted regarding the wholesale processing and
possession of frozen shell-on lobster tails by permitted dealers.
These rules permit processing this product for distribution and
sale outside the Commonwealth. Contact DMF's Jim Fair for
copies of the new regulations. The rules were also published in
last quarter's RULES UPDATE.
regulations expected this fall requiring trap tags on all traps
set by commercial lobstermen, fish, and conch pot fishermen.
These tags will be available this fall and will be required to be
placed on all gear during 1999. These actions are designed to improve
compliance and the enforceability of trap limits. Upcoming federal
and state lobster trap limit regulations that vary by region have
complicated and delayed the development of this program. All commercial
lobstermen, fish, and conch pot fishermen will receive a detailed
letter in the weeks ahead about the program and its requirements.
approved final regulations that further restricted the taking of
juvenile eels (elvers). These rules had been filed as emergency
actions during the winter months when elvers were migrating through
Massachusetts coastal creeks.
Minimum Size. It shall be unlawful for any person to fish for, take,
or have in possession American eels measuring less than 4 inches
total length (elvers) unless authorized by a special permit issued
by the Director.
Prohibited Fishing Gear. During the period February 15 through June
15, inclusive, it shall be unlawful for any person, while in or
on the waters of or upon the banks of streams or rivers within the
coastal waters, to possess or have under his/her control any device
with mesh or openings measuring less than 1/8 inch, including, but
not limited to dip nets, set nets, and traps adapted for the taking
of elvers, or to leave any such gear in said areas during the closed
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July, Governor Cellucci signed H91, An act relative to the transfer
of certain fishing licenses. This new law allows DMF to create regulations
governing the transfer of some limited acess fishery permits. DMF
already has regulations governing transfer of lobster and mobile gear
(dragging) permits. This law will enable DMF to devise new regulations
allowing permit transfers for other fisheries are limited-entry: fish
potting, conch potting, gillnetting, surfclam and ocean quahog dredging,
and other future limited-entry fisheries.
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last issue of the DMF NEWS announced that Chief U.S. District Judge
Tauro ruled in favor of DMF’s scup lawsuit against the Secretary of
Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). On April
27, 1998 Chief U.S. District Judge Tauro:
reasons for the Judge's decision were provided in his June 24 written
opinion. He stated:
that portion of the 1997 regulatory amendment establishing a state-by-state
allocation of the summer commercial scup fishing quota;
enforcement of the voided portion of the regulatory amendment,
including the calculation and enforcement of "overages"; and
the Secretary of Commerce to promulgate, in due course, a regulation
which sets forth state-by-state quotas in compliance with National
Standard #4 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
must highlight that the Commonwealth owes a debt of gratitude to the
Southeastern Massachusetts Inshore Fishermen's Alliance that spent
significant time and money to intervene in the scup lawsuit by arguing
that the Regulatory Amendment "will cause severe and irreparable
injury to applicants [SEMIFA] who fish commercially in the coastal
waters off the coast of Massachusetts..." SEMIFA members are mostly
owners/operators and crew of small commercial fishing boats fishing
in Massachusetts waters and inshore waters of the EEZ and owners/operators
of shoreside support businesses. From May through early fall SEMIFA
members fish for scup and other species with weirs, floating traps,
fish pots, and hand-held hook-and-line gear.
Secretary...ignored existing data when he approved the 1997 regulatory
amendment. More fundamentally, in ignoring that data, the Secretary
promulgated a regulation that he knew, or should have known, would
allocate fishing privileges in an inequitable manner.
relying on its incomplete database, NMFS discriminated against
that the court does not think that the mechanism provided
in the regulation for seeking an adjustment to a state's quota
is a sufficient remedy. A state may only seek to have its quota
amended on the basis of 1983-1992 data, much of which no longer
sum, although NMFS had no "affirmative obligation" to collect
data on the inshore fishery...and although selecting the data
on which to rely in developing a regulation is within the Secretary's
discretion...,the Secretary cannot choose to use data that he
knows is seriously flawed. This is particularly true when doing
so will have a discriminatory effect. Such a choice, the court
finds, was arbitrary and capricious.
court finds that NMFS abused its discretion, but only in developing
the state-by-state allocation of the summer commercial scup fishing
quota and, accordingly, voids only that portion of the regulation.
As ordered on April 27, 1998, the Secretary shall not seek to
enforce the voided portion of the regulatory amendment , including
the calculation of "overages," and shall, in due course, promulgate
a new regulation that is consistent with National Standard #4.
In addition to SEMIFA, individual fishermen and a dealer intervened:
Ernest Eldredge, Robert French, Paul Girard, Kevin Medeiros, Eric
Rodegast, Mark Simonitsch, and Robert Davies. Although not an intervener,
another dealer, Norberto DeMello of New Bedford, played a major
role by providing his 1986-1996 scup purchase records to the court.
The willingness of these fishermen and dealers to fight to protect
their fishery is a testament to the Regulatory Amendment's inequitable
and unfair treatment of the Commonwealth, as recognized by Judge
Unfortunately, this inequitable and unfair treatment still is not
recognized by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the
Council's partner in scup management. Not a defendant in the Commonwealth's
lawsuit, ASMFC's Scup Management Board is unconvinced by DMF's arguments
and refuses to be guided by the Judge's decision. At its August
5 meeting the Scup Board ruled Massachusetts out-of-compliance with
the ASMFC version of the Scup Plan because we exceeded our Council/ASMFC
scup 1997 quota [voided by the federal judge], yet we allowed our
1998 commercial scup fishery to take place even though our quota
The Management Board has recommended that the Policy Board of ASMFC
at its annual meeting in October agree with the Board's decision
and notify the Secretary of Commerce that Massachusetts is out-of-compliance.
Ordinarily, the consequence would be a moratorium on commercial
and recreational fishing for scup in Massachusetts waters provided
for by the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act.
However, there's Judge Tauro's decision ordering the Secretary "to
promulgate, in due course, a regulation which sets forth state-by-state
quotas in compliance with National Standard #4 of the Magnuson-Stevens
Act." It seems that the Secretary might be placed in the awkward
position of receiving an ASMFC request for Secretarial action counter
to the Judge's order. Time will tell.
Return to Table of Contents for Rules
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is published quarterly to publicize regulatory matters affecting
Director: Philip G. Coates, DMF
Commissioner: John C. Phillips, DFWELE
Secretary: Trudy Coxe, EOEA
Governor: Argeo Paul Celucci
Editor: Daniel J. McKiernan, DMF / Art Dir.: David G. Gabriel, DFWELE