For Immediate Release - March 15, 2013

Notice of Public Hearings Scheduled for April 17 & 18, 2013

Under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 30A and pursuant to the authority found at M.G.L. c. 130 § 17A and 80 the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission have scheduled a public hearing and public comment period to accept comment on regulations to amend 322 CMR 4.00, 6.00 and 7.00. MarineFisheries will take comment of the following proposed regulations:

  1. Whelk Management (322 CMR 6.12, 6.21 and 7.09)
    1. To increase spawning potential, increase the whelk shell width minimum size from 2 ¾” to 3 ½” over a 3 to 5-year period, and eliminate the tolerance for undersized whelk;
    2. To protect horseshoe crabs and ensure conch pot fishermen comply with the 200 pot limit, prohibit the use of horseshoe crabs as bait in any pot or trap other than conch pots and eel pots;
    3. To prevent future increases in fishing effort, retire all regulated fishery conch pot permits that did not report landing any whelk between 2007 and 2011; and
    4. Take comment on whether permit holders should be required to be on-board when commercial whelk potting is being conducted.
  1. Commercial State-Waters Sea Scallop Management (322 CMR 4.10 and 6.05)
    1. To minimize by-catch of undersized scallops and finfish,
      1. Increase the minimum ring size opening from 3.5” to 4”; and
      2. Establish a minimum twine top net mesh size opening of 10”
    2. To prevent overfishing of state waters scallop beds, establish a 200 lb. daily trip limit for shucked meats and an equivalent limit for whole in-shell sea scallops of 2,000 lbs.;
    3. Require that whole in-shell sea scallops be stored and landed only in level-filled standard fish totes, with each level filled standard fish tote assumed to constitute 100 lbs.;
    4. Exempt Coastal Access Permit holders with a federal sea scallop permit from the state’s possession and landing limits if transiting state-waters with gear stowed;
    5. Make unlawful the harvest or attempted harvest of sea scallops from federal waters without a federal sea scallop permit; and
    6. Require that any sea scallop discards occur the fishing grounds where harvested andprohibit the discarding of sea scallops within the coastal harbors and estuaries defined in 322 CMR 4.02.

Public Hearing Schedule

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at the Katharine Cornell Theater, 54 Spring Street, Tisbury, Massachusetts 02586.  From 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM.

Thursday, April 18, 2013 at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Admiral’s Hall, 101 Academy Drive, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts 02532.  From 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM.

Public comments will be accepted until 5PM on Monday April 22, 2013.  Please e-mail all public comments to jared.silva@state.ma.us or send to 251 Causeway Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02114.
For further information or to obtain a copy of the full proposed regulations please contact Jared Silva by phone (617-626-1534) or through e-mail (jared.silva@state.ma.us), or visit our website (www.mass.gov/marinefisheries).