The Division of Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries) is issuing this advisory to remind all lobster trap fishermen that they must comply with the state’s Cape Cod Bay Right Whale Critical Habitat (Critical Habitat) and Outer Cape Cod Lobster Conservation Management Area (OCCLCMA) gear haul-out regulations.

cape cod bay critical habitat area

During the period of January 1 through May 15, all Cape Cod Bay lobster trap fishermen, fishing within the Critical Habitat, must:

  1. Not abandon their gear - federal rules require gear be hauled every 30 days;
  2. Not set single traps;
  3. Set “doubles” and “triples” with only one buoy line;
  4. Set trawls of four or more traps with buoy lines on each trawl end;
  5. Fit every buoy line with a 500 lb break-away weak link;
  6. Mark all buoys with a three-foot stick and twin orange markers visibly attached to the top of the buoy; and
  7. Use sinking groundline between connecting pots on a pot trawl.

The Office of Environmental Law Enforcement and the MarineFisheries will be conducting surveys of the Critical Habitat for non-compliant fishing gear. Non-compliant gear may be confiscated and the permit holder may be subject to permit suspension or revocation, as well as any applicable fines and removal fees.

MarineFisheries has worked on the local, state and federal level to reduce the risk of harm to endangered right whales by fishing gear.  This work is primarily accomplished by the Right Whale Conservation Program through surveillance, monitoring, disentanglement, and conservation engineering. The goal of these efforts is to ensure that lobster trap fishermen and large whales can continue to co-exist. 

All OCCLCMA fishermen are required to remove their lobster trap gear from the OCCLCMA during the period of January 15 through March 15. It is unlawful to set, haul or abandon traps in this area during the gear haul-out period. This measure is a part of the effort control plan for the OCCLCMA lobster fishery, as approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.            

For more information, please visit our website at, and you may view the applicable Gear Configuration, Critical Habitat, and OCCLCMA Haul-Out regulations.