Gloucester, Mass., January 13
NOAA Fisheries is today proposing rules for lobstering
in federal waters from Maine to North Carolina. The rules are
intended to complement lobster management measures developed
by the interstate commission that manages lobster fishing in
state waters. Lobsters are overfished and at significant risk
of sharp decline because of very high fishing pressure.
"We can't eliminate the risk of stock collapse with the management steps we take in federal waters alone," said Terry Garcia, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. "I believe that this proposal strengthens the state/federal partnership that is so essential to safeguarding the lobster fishery. This is the fastest way to move forward with devising measures to rebuild American lobster stocks."
The rules propose that federal managers adopt the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's approach to management, and that NOAA Fisheries implement in federal waters complementary measures to end overfishing and rebuild the lobster resource. The federal managers will utilize the industry management teams set up by the state commission to develop the necessary conservation measures.
The federal proposal links future
management measures to rebuilding goals of both the commission's
plan and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management
Act. In addition to the measures already in effect under federal
and interstate rules, the proposed rules require the approximately
2,700 federal lobster trap permit holders to declare exclusively
into near-shore areas or the offshore area, to abide by caps
on the number of lobster traps, and to use trap tags. Federal
permit holders will be limited to the more restrictive measures
operative in state waters if they fish there. NOAA Fisheries
would work closely with the commission to develop additional
measures needed to meet the interstate plan's goals for ending
overfishing and increasing egg production.
In December 1997, the Atlantic
States Marine Fisheries Commission amended its lobster plan for
state waters and made recommendations for measures to be applied
in both state and federal waters. "We worked with the commission
for two years to develop the interstate plan. Now we're proposing
to accept those recommendations, and expand on them to meet our
responsibilities in the federal zone," Garcia said.
For more information contact Teri Frady at (508) 495-2239.
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