Chapter 41, Atlantic Menhaden - New Designated Partnership Agreement Program Available for Menhaden Fishery Established

Maine Department of Marine Resources has completed rulemaking for Chapter 41 Atlantic Menhaden. The final rule is available on our website and the updated regulation is available within the Chapters page.



  • Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Season - May 1 through November 30
    • Non-commercial fishery begins May 1, 2024
    • Pound net operators may begin June 1, 2024, with incidental catch limit of 1,050 pounds
    • Commercial fishery begins Monday, June 17, 2024
  • Designated Partnership Agreements:  A pair of harvesters may form a harvest partnership under rules specified in Section 41.06. Application form must be filled out completely by both license holders and submitted prior to May 31, 2024 for approval to Ensure that your mailing address in LEEDS is current. Approval letters will be mailed as applications are processed. 


Chapter 41 Atlantic Menhaden

BRIEF SUMMARY: This rulemaking establishes limitations for the 2024 menhaden season. It establishes an annual end date for the fishery of November 30. It creates a new program in which two commercial menhaden license holders may enter into a Designated Partnership Agreement, which will allow either vessel to remove fish from a purse seine that has been set by one of the vessels in the Designated Partnership Agreement. A definition is provided for “fish box” or “tank” so that harvesters may use fish boxes or tanks to meet the requirement to store fish upon harvest. It clarifies that reporting requirements apply to all fish landed or retained. It creates an incidental bycatch limit of 1,050 lbs for individuals operating a pound net or fish weir during periods when the commercial menhaden fishery is paused by the Commissioner or when the commercial fishery is closed prior to the opening of the Episodic Event Set Aside Program. It amends the weekly limit for the State Allocated Fishery from 18,000 pounds to 17,850 pounds and amends the Small Scale Fishery daily limit from 6,000 to 5,950 pounds. The fishing and landing days for the Episodic Event Set Aside Program are proposed to be Monday and Thursday and the daily limit is increased from 6,000 lbs to 7,000 lbs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Tuesday, March 19, 2024


2024 State Menhaden Fishery

Designated Partnership Agreement FAQ

 What is the purpose of the Designated Partnership Agreement (DPA) pilot program?

A: The DPA pilot program was added to the Menhaden regulation for 2024 in response to industry concerns. It is an attempt to create an avenue for some harvesters to reduce the amount of fish “slippage” occurring during the fishery.

If approved for a DPA, when may I use the DPA privilege?

A: Commercial Menhaden harvesters utilizing purse seine gear may apply for and if approved utilize the privileges of their DPA during the 2024 State Allocation Fishery only.

What does the language “similarly rigged to fish with purse seine gear” mean as used in the DPA regulation?

A: “Similarly rigged to fish with purse seine gear” means that both vessels listed on a DPA must be fully rigged to fish at all times when engaged in the Menhaden fishery. Both vessels must have equipment and a purse seine net with them that would allow either vessel to make a set and take fish without their partner present.

Does the vessel limit still apply to vessels issued an approved DPA?

A: Yes, weekly vessel limits still apply to each vessel in a DPA. It is still unlawful for a vessel to fish for, take or possess more than the vessel weekly limit. Furthermore, if Vessel A and Vessel B fish together under a DPA and Vessel A takes aboard 51 barrels, Vessel A is then done fishing for the week – Vessel A may not make another set nor assist Vessel B in further harvest activities.

Which vessel acting under an approved DPA is responsible for reporting the fish retained/landed?

A: Each vessel is responsible for reporting their own fish. The fish you take aboard your vessel must be reported by your vessel.

Vessels A and B are in an approved DPA. Could Vessel A brail fish from their purse seine net onto Vessel B.

A: No, each vessel must brail their own fish out of the purse seine.

Could two vessels who share a purse seine net fish under a DPA?

A: No, each vessel must be “similarly rigged to fish with purse seine gear.” This means each vessel must have their own purse seine. Vessels who have shared a net in the past may continue to do so but would not be able to fish legally under a DPA with only one net.

If I have an approved DPA for the 2024 State allocation fishery, do I have to fish with my partner vessel?

A: No, vessels who have an approved DPA are not required to always fish together. Each vessel may fish alone.