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No Appeal of Court Order Vacating the Inshore Midwater Trawl Restricted Area

July 21, 2022

The inshore midwater trawl restricted area is not in effect and will be removed from federal regulations through an upcoming rulemaking.

In 2021, Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan prohibited the use of midwater trawl gear inshore of 12 nautical miles from the U.S./Canada border to the Rhode Island/Connecticut border and inshore of 20 nautical miles off the east coast of Cape Cod (Figure 1).

On March 29, 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin issued a judgment vacating the inshore midwater trawl restricted area measure that was implemented through Amendment 8. As a result, the inshore midwater trawl restricted area provisions are not in effect and cannot be enforced.

On May 27, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal as a protective measure, but later decided not to pursue the matter further.

On June 30, 2022, the First Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss its appeal of Judge Sorokin’s decision. NOAA Fisheries plans to remove the obsolete inshore midwater trawl restricted area regulations in the upcoming rulemaking that sets Atlantic herring specifications.

Figure 1. Map of the Inshore Midwater Trawl Restricted Area (Not Presently in Effect)

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Amendment 8 inshore midwater trawl restricted area

This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.