STATE OF MAINE
LARGE WHALE TAKE REDUCTION CONTINGENCY PLANS
State of Maine is fully committed to the protection of the Atlantic Large
Whales, while at the same time protecting the economic and operational
realities of our State’s fisheries. Maine
supports the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team recommendations for
the development and implementation of fishing gear modifications. This strategy offers multiple simple and practical ways to
reduce the risk of serious injury and or mortality to whales, while at the
same time allowing the fisheries to operate over the areas in which they
currently exist. Maine does not
support the concept of large area or seasonal closures.
Maine does support dynamic area management that acknowledges the
variability in spatial distribution between whales and fishing gear off the
Maine coast, and recognizes that every situation that involves both the
fisheries and or marine mammals is different and unique.
requires immediate federal funding in order to implement the State dynamic
area management plan prior to the 2001summer fishing season.
Upon receipt of funding, Department of Marine Resources will hire a
Whale Take Reduction Coordinator who will be directly responsible for the
development and implementation of a State
sightings and surveillance program, and serve as a liaison between the
Department, Maine’s three lobster associations and the State’s seven
Lobster Zone Management Councils. The
Department will coordinate the local surveillance and monitoring of any
movements of all whales observed to be in an area where there is State of
Maine fishing gear. This regional approach will allow for the fishermen of Maine
to effectively monitor the position of whale(s) for the entire duration of
the time that whale(s) are in Maine fishing areas.
At the same time the Department will establish joint Marine Patrol
and industry standby assistance for any immediate support required for
potential disentanglement efforts or consideration of a dynamic area
The Department will be responsible for all State and inter-zone
communications, and will establish a communication hotline for fishermen.
The Maine Marine Patrol will be connected to a statewide network of
people trained in how to disentangle marine mammals.
In event of an entanglement, they will be alerted and quickly moved
to the area. Marine Patrol
vessels and or officers will be directly involved with every reported
Confirmed sightings of eight or more right whales in a specific area
(1/8 degree square) for two or more consecutive observations will trigger
the State of Maine to implement fishing gear risk reductions until the
whales are observed to be out of the area or for a maximum of two weeks.
Areas closed would be equal to 1/8 degree square.
Gillnetters will be required to remove their gear from the area.
Lobstermen will be required to reduce the risk of all vertical lines
in the water column. Resightings of the eight animals would extend the closure
until the whales are observed to be out of the area or for another two
weeks. Plankton tows will be
conducted to help determine whether the whales are feeding or in transit.