NOAA Fisheries has updated its FAQs regarding longline pot gear and the placement of biodegradable panels on “slinky pots.” The applicable regulation, 50 CFR 679.2 (definition of “authorized fishing gear” at (15)(i)), defines these as:
Biodegradable panel. Each pot used to fish for groundfish must be equipped with a biodegradable panel at least 18 inches (45.72 cm) in length that is parallel to, and within 6 inches (15.24 cm) of, the bottom of the pot, and that is sewn up with untreated cotton thread of no larger size than No. 30.
While round, tunnel-shaped “slinky pots” do not have a distinct top or bottom, NMFS has concluded that it is possible to configure them to comply with the regulation. Each pot used to harvest federally managed groundfish must be equipped with a biodegradable panel at least 18 inches (45.72 cm) in length that is sewn up with untreated cotton thread of no larger size than No. 30. Each 18” panel must be sewn into the mesh covering the frame of a tunnel-shaped pot on the curved surface of the pot (not on a tunnel end).
Under the existing regulation, wrapping the door closure of a pot with untreated cotton thread DOES NOT meet the regulatory definition of a biodegradable panel for any type of pot.
We encourage you to read the updated Frequently Asked Questions for the Longline Pot Gear GOA IFQ Sablefish Fishery. Question #8 contains example photographs of biodegradable panels on “slinky pots” that NMFS has found to be compliant.