Contact: Teri Frady


Gloucester, MA — NOAA Fisheries is considering changes to rules governing lobstering in federal waters off the Northeastern United States in order to make federal rules more consistent with recent changes to the interstate lobster management plan, developed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

The agency will conduct four public meetings between Dec. 12 and 15 to explain alternatives being considered. Written public comments will be accepted through Jan. 9.

The most significant measure under consideration would restrict access to some lobster management areas to those operators who have fished in the areas prior to September 1, 1999. Lobster traps would be allocated to eligible fishing operations based the number historically fished by that operation during a specific time period.

Other measures under consideration include a trap reduction schedule for one lobster management area, clarification of some lobster management area boundaries, and modifications to trap limits for some New Hampshire lobstermen who hold both state and federal permits.

The agency is also seeking public comments on increasing the minimum legal size for retained lobsters. Although this is not yet a part of the interstate management plan, it is under discussion. If a minimum size increase is adopted by the states, the agency will likely be asked to consider complementary increases for federal waters.

Public meetings will be held in Narragansett, R.I. on December 12; in Portland, Maine on December 13; in Riverhead, N.Y. on December 14; and in Toms River, N.Y. on December 15. For a copy of the full proposal, the permit holder letter summarizing the alternatives, and more information on the locations and times for the public meetings, visit this Web site (see documents listed under "November"):

The Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission develops interstate fishery management plan measures and recommends changes to regulations governing the lobster fishery in federal waters. As the responsible agency for fishery management in federal waters, NOAA Fisheries responds to these recommendations, acting to make federal rules consistent with the interstate plan objectives and applicable federal law.