NOAA 99-21
Contact: Gordon Helm

Managers have better control over fishing gear that can harm fish and habitat

NOAA Fishery managers now have a strong, new regulatory tool to protect fish stocks from potentially harmful fishing gear, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today.

As part of the new regulations, fishery managers have published a list of allowable fisheries and fishing gear that can be utilized in those fisheries. The regulations, which affect all federally managed marine waters, were finalized in late January and will become effective July 26, 1999. After that date, no person or vessel may employ fishing gear or participate in a fishery that is not included in the published list, unless they notify fishery managers 90 days in advance of fishing or use of the gear.

"The new regulations allow fishery managers to proactively manage a new gear or fishery before it can impact the stocks and associated fish habitat," said Rolland Schmitten, NOAA Fisheries director. "In the past, anyone who desired to fish for any species or use any gear type could do so unless otherwise restricted. These new regulations represent the administration's new approach to fisheries management, and are the embodiment of the precautionary approach as adopted by the United States under the international code of conduct for responsible fisheries, and Congress' Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act."

The list of fisheries and fishing gear was developed from information provided by the eight regional fishery management councils that manage fisheries under their geographical jurisdiction. In addition, the list contains fisheries and gear types that are not now managed under a specific fishery management plan.

The list was supplemented by information contained in an annual list of fisheries that interact with marine animals, also prepared by NOAA Fisheries, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The list of gear is limited to gear types that do not include differentiation based on gear deployment. For example, "jig" and "troll" are considered deployment methods for hook- and-line gear, and are not included in the list. In addition, definitions of each
gear type were developed to describe and differentiate among gear used in the
fisheries. The gear definitions are an important aspect of this effort because the definitions will determine the specific allowable gear in each fishery. Definitions also have implications for determining if a particular gear type is sufficiently different from those listed so as to require notification under this provision of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

A copy of the final rule, including the list of fisheries and gear, can be obtained on the Internet at: