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DMR Home > Species Info > Whales > DAMs December 5, 2007

NMFS announces that lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen must comply with required gear modifications (see below) in two Maine DAM zones, December 5 - December 19, 2007

(from E-mail dated Nov. 28, 2007)

Dear ALWTRT Member or Interested Party:

On November 20, 2007, two separate aggregations of right whales were sighted 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 Northern right whales. (An e-mail which included an advance notice regarding these DAM zones was sent previously.) An aggregation of 7 right whales was seen in the vicinity of 43º 01' N. latitude and 70º 09' W. longitude, south of Portland, ME, and an aggregation of 21 right whales was seen in the vicinity of 43º 21' N. latitude and 68º 35' W. longitude, south of Rockland, ME.

NMFS announces that lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen must comply with the required gear modifications (see below) in these two DAM areas, effective 0001 hours December 5, 2007, through 2400 hours December 19, 2007. The regulations apply to lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishermen in an area totaling approximately 1,580 square nautical miles south of Portland, ME, and an area totaling approximately 1,939 square nautical miles south of Rockland, ME. Once effective, all anchored gillnet and lobster trap/pot gear must comply with the gear restrictions required to continue fishing in the DAM zones for the restricted time period. In addition, NMFS requires that no additional gear be set in the DAM zones during the 15-day period unless that gear has been modified accordingly.

I. DAM zone south of Portland, ME

Coordinates for the DAM zone effective 0001 hours December 5, 2007, through 2400 hours December 19, 2007, are as follows:

43º 21´ N., 70º 26´ W (NW Corner)
43º 21´ N., 69º 42´ W
42º 40´ N., 69º 42´ W
42º 40´ N., 70º 35´ W
43º 12´ N., 70º 35´ W and follow the coastline north to
42º 13´ N., 70º 35´ W
43º 16´ N., 70º 35´ W and follow the coastline north and east to
43º 21´ N., 70º 26´ W (NW Corner)

Special note for gillnet fisherman: a portion of this DAM zone overlaps the Western Gulf of Maine Closure Area for Northeast Multispecies found at 50 CFR 648.81(e). Due to this closure, sink gillnet gear is prohibited from this portion of the DAM zone.

II. DAM zone south of Rockland, ME

Coordinates for the DAM zone effective 0001 hours December 5, 2007, through 2400 hours December 19, 2007, are as follows:

43º 42´ N., 69º 04´ W (NW Corner)
43º 42´ N., 68º 02´ W
42º 59´ N., 68º 02´ W
42º 59´ N., 69º 04´ W
43º 42´ N., 69º 04´ W (NW Corner)

Special note for gillnet fisherman: a portion of this DAM zone overlaps the Cashes Ledge Closure Area for Northeast Multispecies found at 50 CFR 648.81(d). Due to this closure, sink gillnet gear is prohibited from this portion of the DAM zone.

The permit holder letter including the DAM zones' coordinates and restrictions [is] available on the ALWTRP website (http://www.nero.nmfs.gov/whaletrp) under “What’s New.” Additionally, an outreach supplement showing the DAM zones overlayed onto a Nautical Chart [is] available. NMFS will be notifying the public of the DAM zones by issuing radio announcements, working through appropriate media, distributing the permit holder letters 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 zones and their 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 “Regulations Implementing 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:

*************************

I. DAM Program Gear Requirements for the DAM Zone South of Portland, ME

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. The breaking strength of each net panel weak link must not exceed 1,100 lb (498.8 kg). The weak link requirements apply to all variations in net panel size. One weak link must be placed in the center of the floatline and one weak link must be placed in the center of each of the up and down lines at both ends of the net panel. Additionally, one weak link must be placed as close as possible to each end of the net panels on the floatline; or, one weak link must be placed between floatline tie-loops between net panels and one weak link must be placed where the floatline tie-loops attach to the bridle, buoy line, or groundline at each end of a net string;
  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.

II. DAM Program Gear Requirements for the DAM Zone South of Rockland, ME

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 Nearshore Lobster Waters 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 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. The breaking strength of each net panel weak link must not exceed 1,100 lb (498.8 kg). The weak link requirements apply to all variations in net panel size. One weak link must be placed in the center of the floatline and one weak link must be placed in the center of each of the up and down lines at both ends of the net panel. Additionally, one weak link must be placed as close as possible to each end of the net panels on the floatline; or, one weak link must be placed between floatline tie-loops between net panels and one weak link must be placed where the floatline tie-loops attach to the bridle, buoy line, or groundline at each end of a net string;
  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.