For Immediate Release - May 07, 2012

Seasonal Fixed Gear Restrictions in Cape Cod Bay Right Whale Critical Habitat Area Are Suspended

Pursuant to the authority found at 322 CMR 12.05(2), the seasonal gear restrictions requiring lobster permit holders fish pot trawls with specific endline configurations has been suspended.  Lobster permit holders fishing in the Cape Cod Bay Right Whale Critical Habitat Area are hereby authorized to fish single traps.  Fixed gear restrictions will go into effect again on January 1, 2013.

During the month of May, aerial surveillance efforts by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and the Division of Marine Fisheries have not yielded a right whale sighting in Cape Cod Bay, east of Cape Cod or on Stellwagen Bank. Current conditions are advanced for this time of year and compare favorably to typical conditions in early June.  A recent habitat sampling survey of Cape Cod Bay found zooplankton densities and species composition not compatible with right whale feeding aggregations.

MarineFisheries would like to thank fishermen, whale watch companies, and others for their assistance and compliance with measures designed to protect this highly endangered marine mammal.  MarineFisheries monitors the presence of right whales in Cape Cod Bay through aerial surveys, habitat sampling, and acoustic monitoring. Sightings observed through these efforts allow MarineFisheries to address threats to right whales on a real-time basis. We greatly appreciate the diligence and alertness of mariners and our surveillance team during the 2012 season.

For more information, contact Erin Burke at 508-990-2860 or visit the MarineFisheries website at http://www.mass.gov/marinefisheries