Gillnet Fishing: Closed Area I and Nantucket Lightship Closure Areas

November 01, 2019

Gillnetters fishing in Nantucket Lightship Groundfish and the Closed Area I Groundfish Closure Areas must remove gear as soon as safely possible.

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On October 28, 2019, Federal District Court Judge James E. Boasberg issued an Order and Opinion on a lawsuit challenging a portion of the New England Fishery Management Council’s Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2. 

The Order prohibits NOAA Fisheries from allowing gillnet fishing in the former Nantucket Lightship Groundfish and the Closed Area I Groundfish Closure Areas, until such time as NOAA Fisheries has fully complied with requirements of the Endangered Species Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, consistent with the Opinion.

NOAA Fisheries is studying the Opinion and will put regulations in place as soon as possible to comply with the Order to close the areas to gillnet fishing until further notice. 

To facilitate compliance with the Order, all gillnet gear must be removed from these areas as soon as possible, consistent with safe vessel operations.

Closed Area I Coodinates
Point N. Latitude W. Longitude
CI1 41°30′ 69°23′
CI2 40°45′ 68°45′
CI3 40°45′ 68°30′
CI4 41°30′ 68°30′
CI1 41°30′ 69°23′
Nantucket Lightship Closed Area Coordinates
Point N. Latitude W. Longitude
G10 40°50′ 69°00′
CN1 40°20′ 69°00′
CN2 40°20′ 70°20′
CN3 40°50′ 70°20′
G10 40°50′ 69°00′

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to do if I am fishing gillnets in these areas?

As soon as it is safe to do so, you should remove your gillnet gear from the areas. Gear may be reset in areas that remain open to fishing with gillnets or brought back to port. 

When do I need to retrieve gillnet gear I have in the areas?

As soon as it is safe to do so. 

Can I keep and sell the fish caught in the gear when I retrieve it?

Yes, you may retain, land, and sell catch from this gear consistent with the possession limits and minimum sizes. You should not reset gillnet gear in these areas after retrieving it.

Can I fish in the areas with dredge, trawl, hook, or trap gear?

Yes, the judge’s Order was specific to prohibiting gillnets from fishing in these areas. All other fishing requirements remain in place, including the Closed Area I North Seasonal Closure (February 1-April 15) and the Georges Bank Dedicated Habitat Research Area (closed to mobile bottom-tending gear).

Is this a temporary requirement?

The judge’s Order prohibits NOAA Fisheries from allowing gillnet fishing in these areas until we fully comply with requirements of the Endangered Species Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. We are studying the Judge’s Opinion to determine how to do so and are currently uncertain of the duration of these prohibitions. We will keep permit holders updated through bulletins, web updates, and email announcements.

Does the order apply to sector vessels that previously fished under an exemption?

Yes. Although sectors previously were granted an exemption to use certain gillnets in the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area, the judge’s Order prohibits NOAA Fisheries from allowing the use of any gillnets in the areas. 

 

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on November 04, 2019