Final Rule to Amend the Pelagic Longline Take Reduction Plan
NOAA Fisheries amends the regulations implementing the Pelagic Longline Take Reduction Plan. Effective July 6, 2023, the final rule (1) removes the Cape Hatteras Special Research Area (CHSRA) and its special observer and research participation requirements, and (2) modifies the mainline length requirements for the EEZ portion of the Mid-Atlantic Bight to limit total length of active gear in the water and reduce soak times associated with pelagic longline sets that have multiple mainlines. Effective July 8, 2024, the final rule implements terminal gear (hook and gangion) requirements in order to make the hooks the weakest part of the terminal gear (so that the hooks straighten before the gangion breaks) in the U.S. Atlantic EEZ (effectively the EEZ portion of the Northeast Coastal, Mid-Atlantic Bight, South Atlantic Bight, and Florida East Coast statistical fishing areas - see map).
The actions in the final rule were based on consensus recommendations made by the Pelagic Longline Take Reduction Team. NOAA Fisheries is also removing long-finned pilot whales and Risso’s dolphins from the scope of the Plan as average annual mortality and serious injury incidental to the Atlantic pelagic longline is below the insignificance threshold of 10 percent of the PBR level for both species.