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DMR Home > Species Info > Whales > DAM Zone, February 16, 2008

NMFS announces that lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen must comply with required gear modifications (see below) in a DAM zone southeast of Portland, Maine, February 16 through March 1, 2008

(from E-mail dated Feb 12, 2008:)

Dear ALWTRT Member or Interested Party:

On February 4, 2008, eighteen North Atlantic right whales were sighted southeast of Portland, Maine, in the proximity of 42º 42' N latitude and 69º 02' W longitude which resulted in NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) taking action under the Dynamic Area Management (DAM) program to provide protection for these aggregations of right whales.

NMFS announces that lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen must comply with the required gear modifications (see below) in an area southeast of Portland, Maine, effective 0001 hours February 16, 2008, through 2400 hours March 1, 2008. The regulations apply to lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen in an area totaling approximately 2,708 square nautical miles in February and approximately 2,648 square nautical miles in March (the area of overlap with SAM West is excluded). Once effective, all anchored gillnet and lobster trap/pot gear must comply with the gear restrictions required to continue fishing in a DAM zone for the restricted time period. In addition, NMFS requires that no additional gear be set in the DAM zone during the 15-day period unless that gear has been modified accordingly.

The coordinates for the DAM Zone effective from 0001 hours February 16, 2008, through 2400 hours February 29, 2008, are as follows:

43º 10´ N., 69º 33´ W (NW Corner)
43º 10´ N., 68º 26´ W
42º 15´ N., 68º 26´ W
42º 15´ N., 69º 33´ W
43º 10´ N., 69º 33´ W (NW Corner)

The coordinates for the March DAM Zone, effective from 0001 hours March 1, 2008, through 2400 hours March 1, 2008, are as follows:

43º 10´ N., 69º 33´ W (NW Corner)
43º 10´ N., 68º 26´ W
42º 15´ N., 68º 26´ W
42º 15´ N., 69º 24´ W
42º 30´ N., 69º 24´ W
42º 30´ N., 69º 33´ W
43º 10´ N., 69º 33´ W (NW Corner)

Special note for gillnet fishermen: Portions of this DAM zone overlap the following fishery closure areas: the year-round Northeast Multispecies year-round Cashes Ledge Closure Area found at 50 CFR 648.81(d); (February) Cashes Ledge Closure Area for Harbor Porpoise found at 50 CFR 229.33(a)(6); and (March) Northeast Multispecies seasonal Gulf of Maine Rolling Closure Area I found at 50 CFR 648.81(f)(i). Due to these closures, sink gillnet gear is prohibited from these portions of the DAM zone.

A permit holder letter including the DAM zone coordinates and restrictions is now posted on the ALWTRP website (http://www.nero.nmfs.gov/whaletrp) under “What’s New.” An outreach supplement showing the DAM zone overlayed onto a Nautical Chart is also available. NMFS will be notifying the public of the DAM zone by issuing radio announcements, working through appropriate media, distributing the permit holder letter to affected fishermen, as well as other means. As an ALWTRT member or interested party, NMFS appreciates your assistance in spreading the word about the DAM zone and its gear restrictions.

To obtain the DAM regulations in their entirety, please call 978-281-9300 x6505. In addition, these regulations are available by accessing the ALWTRP web page (http://www.nero.nmfs.gov/whaletrp/) and going to “The Plan” and “Elements of the Plan.” If you have any questions regarding these regulations, please call 978-281-9300 x6505 or the ALWTRP Coordinator at the number below. If you have questions about the gear requirements for this DAM zone, you may also contact John Higgins ( or 207-677-2316).

**************************
Diane Borggaard
Large Whale Coordinator
NOAA/NMFS/NERO Protected Resources Division
1 Blackburn Dr.
Gloucester, MA 01930
Ph: 978-281-9300 ext. 6503
Fax: 978-281-9394
e-mail:
*************************

DAM Program Gear Requirements

In addition to those gear modifications currently implemented under the ALWTRP at 50 CFR 229.32, the following gear modifications are required in the DAM zone. If the requirements and exceptions for gear modification in the DAM zone, as described below, differ from other ALWTRP requirements for any overlapping areas and times, then the more restrictive requirements will apply in the DAM zone. Please note that the below provides a summary of the DAM Program gear requirements and is not a substitute for the ALWTRP regulations.

Lobster Trap/Pot Gear

Fishermen utilizing lobster trap/pot gear within the portions of Northern Inshore State Lobster Waters, Northern Nearshore Lobster Waters, and Stellwagen Bank/Jeffrey’s Ledge Restricted Area that overlap with the DAM zone are required to utilize all of the following gear modifications while the DAM zone is in effect:

  1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line. Floating groundlines are prohibited;
  2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of the buoy line;
  3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per trawl; and
  4. A weak link with a maximum breaking strength of 600 lb (272.4 kg) must be placed at all buoys.

Fishermen utilizing lobster trap/pot gear within the portion of the Offshore Lobster Waters Area that overlap with the DAM zone are required to utilize all of the following gear modifications while the DAM zone is in effect:

  1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line. Floating groundlines are prohibited;
  2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of the buoy line;
  3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per trawl; and
  4. A weak link with a maximum breaking strength of 1,500 lb (680.4 kg) must be placed at all buoys.

Anchored Gillnet Gear

Fishermen utilizing anchored gillnet gear within the portions of Other Northeast Gillnet Waters Area and Stellwagen Bank/Jeffrey’s Ledge Restricted Area that overlap with the DAM zone are required to utilize all the following gear modifications while the DAM zone is in effect:

  1. Groundlines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line. Floating groundlines are prohibited;
  2. All buoy lines must be made of either sinking or neutrally buoyant line, except the bottom portion of the line, which may be a section of floating line not to exceed one-third the overall length of the buoy line;
  3. Fishermen are allowed to use two buoy lines per string;
  4. Each net panel must have a total of five weak links with a maximum breaking strength of 1,100 lb (498.8 kg). Net panels are typically 50 fathoms (91.4 m) in length, but the weak link requirements would apply to all variations in panel size. These weak links must include three floatline weak links. The placement of the weak links on the floatline must be: one at the center of the net panel and one each as close as possible to each of the bridle ends of the net panel. The remaining two weak links must be placed in the center of each of the up and down lines at the panel ends;
  5. A weak link with a maximum breaking strength of 1,100 lb (498.8 kg) must be placed at all buoys; and
  6. All anchored gillnets, regardless of the number of net panels, must be securely anchored with the holding power of at least a 22 lb (10.0 kg) Danforth-style anchor at each end of the net string.