The Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment; Changes to Year-Round and Seasonal Closure Areas

Effective Date: April 9, 2018
Bulletin
04/05/2018

In January 2018, we approved the majority of the New England Fishery Management Council’s Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment. The final rule implementing the approved changes to year-round and seasonal closure areas has published and is now effective.

We approved the majority of the Council’s recommendations for changes to year-round closure areas. However, we disapproved the Council’s recommendations for eastern Georges Bank and Cox Ledge. As a result, the Closed Area II Closure Area and the Closed Area II Habitat Closure Area remain with the same footprint, restrictions, and exemptions. A thorough description of our rationale is provided in the final rule.

Among other changes, this rule implements the Council’s recommendation to remove the Closed Area I Closure Area and to implement a seasonal closure in the Closed Area I North Area from February 1 through April 15. Because this action became effective upon publication, Closed Area I North will remain closed through April 15, under the restrictions and exemptions listed on page 4 of this bulletin. In addition, a new seasonal closure will go into effect on April 15, 2018, and will remain closed to certain gears through April 30, 2018. This measure, known as the “Spring Massachusetts Bay Spawning Closure Area,” will close Block 125 for spawning protection. See the table on page 4 for details.

A description of the full suite of year-round groundfish and habitat closures, as well as the new seasonal closures is provided on pages 3 and 4. Tables with the coordinates for these areas are provided as an attachment. Other closures may apply to your vessel, depending on your permits, target species, and gear.

NOTE: The Closed Area I and the Nantucket Lightship Closure Areas remain closed to scallop vessels until allowed via a follow-on scallop action. The Council has proposed new access areas for those areas in Framework Adjustment 29. Approval and implementation of those recommendations is pending.

We also approved the Council’s recommendations for essential fish habitat designations, as well as Habitat Areas of Particular Concern designations. These designations do not have any implementing regulations. More information on these designations can be found here:

neefhclosedareas.jpg

Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment; Year-Round and Seasonal Closure Areas

 

Area Name

Measures

Small Eastern Maine Habitat Management Area (HMA)

Closed to mobile bottom-tending gear

Fippennies Ledge HMA

Closed to mobile bottom-tending gear

Ammen Rock HMA

Closed to all fishing, expect lobster traps

Shrimp Trawl Exemption Area

Closed to mobile bottom-tending gear, except shrimp trawls

Stellwagen Dedicated Habitat Research Area1

Same restrictions as Cashes Ledge [Groundfish] Closure Area

Great South Channel HMA

Closed to mobile bottom-tending gear

Great South Channel HMA, clam dredges exempted2

Closed to mobile bottom-tending gear, except hydraulic clam dredges for 1 year

Cashes Ledge HMA

Closed to mobile bottom-tending gear

Jeffreys Bank HMA

Closed to mobile bottom-tending gear

Western Gulf of Maine [Groundfish] Closure Area

Same as Cashes Ledge [Groundfish] Closure Area

Georges Bank Dedicated Habitat Research Area1

Closed to mobile bottom-tending gear

Cashes Ledge [Groundfish] Closure Area

Closed to all fishing vessels, except:

  • Charter and party vessels with a letter of authorization;
  • Vessels fishing with exempted gears: Pelagic hook and line, pelagic longline, spears, rakes, diving gear, cast nets, tongs, harpoons, weirs, dipnets, stop nets, pound nets, pelagic gillnets, pots and traps, shrimp trawls (with a properly configured grate as defined in the regulations), and surfclam and ocean quahog dredges;
  • Vessels participating in the mid-water trawl exempted fishery;
  • Vessels participating in the purse seine exempted fishery; and
  • Vessels that are transiting, provided that gear is properly stowed

Western Gulf of Maine Habitat Closure Area

Closed to mobile bottom-tending gear

Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank Roller Gear Restricted Area

Trawls prohibited from using roller gear larger than 12 inches

Closed Area II Habitat Closure Area

Closed to mobile bottom-tending gear

Closed Area II [Groundfish] Closure Area

Closed to all fishing, except:

  • Pot gear for lobsters or hagfish;
  • Pelagic longline gear or pelagic hook-and-line gear, or harpoon gear;
  • Pelagic midwater trawl gear, with bycatch limits;
  • Fishing in a Special Access Program;
  • Tuna purse seine gear outside of the portion of Closed Area II Habitat Closure Area;
  • Fishing in the Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock Special Access Program or the Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock Special Access Program;
  • Transiting the area, provided the vessel's fishing gear is stowed and there is a compelling safety reason;
  • The vessel has declared into the Eastern U.S./Canada Area and is transiting Closed Area II;
  • Fishing for scallops within the Closed Area II Access Area; and
  • Vessels that are transiting, provided that gear is properly stowed.

1 Dedicated Habitat Research Areas are designated for 3 years, after which the Regional Administrator will consult with the Council and the public on whether to maintain the designation.
2 Hydraulic clam dredges are exempted from the majority of the Great South Channel HMA for 1 year (i.e., until March 31, 2019), while the Council considers if a more discrete, longer-term exemption is appropriate and feasible.

New Seasonal Closures – These new seasonal closures are in addition to all other existing seasonal gear or area restriction currently in the regulations.

Area Name

Season

Measures

Closed Area I North Seasonal Closure

February 1–April 15

  • Vessels that are transiting;
  • Vessels fishing with exempted gears (spears, rakes, diving gear, cast nets, tongs, harpoons, weirs, dip nets, stop nets, pound nets, pots and traps, purse seines, surfclam/quahog dredge gear, pelagic hook and line, pelagic longlines, or single pelagic gillnets);
  • Vessels participating in the mid-water trawl exempted fishery; and
  • Vessels fishing with scallop dredges.

Closed Area II Seasonal Closure1

 

Winter Massachusetts Bay Spawning Protection Area

November 1–January 31

Closed all vessels, except:

  • Vessels that do not have a Federal Northeast multispecies permit and are fishing exclusively in state waters;
  • Vessels fishing with exempted gears (Pelagic hook and line, pelagic longline, spears, rakes, diving gear, cast nets, tongs, harpoons, weirs, dipnets, stop nets, pound nets, pelagic gillnets, pots and traps, shrimp trawls (with a properly configured grate), and surfclam and ocean quahog dredges);
  • Charter/party or recreational fishing vessels, provided that pelagic hook and line gear is used, and there is no retention of regulated species or ocean pout; and
  • Vessels that are transiting.

Spring Massachusetts Bay Spawning Protection Area

April 15–April 30

Closed to all vessels, except:

  • The same exemptions noted above for the Winter Mass Bay spawning closure;
  • Vessels participating in the mid-water trawl exempted fishery;
  • Vessels participating in the purse seine exempted fishery;
  • Sea scallop dredge gear when under a scallop day-at-sea;
  • Vessels lawfully in a scallop dredge exemption area;
  • Charter and party vessels with a Letter of Authorization; and
  • Recreational vessels.

1 The year-round Closed Area II Closure Area is still effective and the restrictions for that measure take precedence.

Groundfish Year-Round Closed Areas

Cashes Ledge Closure Area

Point

N. lat.

W. long.

CL1

43°07′ N

69°02′ W

CL2

42°49.5′ N

68°46′ W

CL3

42°46.5′ N

68°50.5′ W

CL4

42°43.5′ N

68°58.5′ W

CL5

42°42.5′ N

69°17.5′ W

CL6

42°49.5′ N

69°26′ W

CL1

43°07′ N

69°02′ W

Western Gulf of Maine Closure Area

Point

N. lat.

W. long.

WGM1

43° 15’ N

70° 15’ W

WGM2

42° 15’ N

70° 15’ W

WGM3

42° 15’ N

70° 00’ W

WGM4

43° 15’ N

70° 15’ W

WGM1

43° 15’ N

70° 15’ W

Closed Area II Closure Area

Point

N. lat.

W. long.

Note

CAII1

41°00′

67°20′

 

CAII2

41°00′

66°35.8′

 

CAII3

41°18.45’

(1)

(2)

CAII4

(3)

67°20’

(2)

CAII5

42°22′

67°20′

 

CAII1

41°00′

67°20′1

 

(1) The intersection of 41°18.45’ N. lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, approximately 41°18.45’ N. lat. and 66°24.89’ W. long.
(2) From Point CAII3 to Point CAII4 along the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary
(3) The intersection of 67°20’ W. long. And the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, approximately 42°22.06’ N. lat. and 67°20’ W. long.

New Seasonal Groundfish Closure Areas

Winter Massachusetts Bay Spawning Protection Area

Point

N. Latitude

W. Longitude

WSPA1

42° 23.61’

70° 39.21’

WSPA2

42° 07.68’

70° 26.79’

Spring Massachusetts Bay Spawning Protection Area

Point

N. Latitude

W. Longitude

Note

SSPA1

42°30’

(1)

 

SSPA2

42°30’

70°30’

 

SSPA3

42°00’

70°30’

 

SSPA4

42°00’

(2)

(3)

SSPA5

(4)

71°00’

(3)

SSPA6

(5)

71°00’

(6)

SSPA1

42°30’

(1)

(6)

(1) The intersection of 42°30’ N. lat. and the coastline at Marblehead, MA
(2) The intersection of 42°00’ N. lat. and the coastline at Kingston, MA
(3) From Point SSPA4 to Point SSPA5 following the coastline of Massachusetts
(4) The intersection of 71°00’ W. long and the coastline at Quincy, MA
(5) The intersection of 71°00’ W. long and the northernmost coastline at East Boston, Boston, MA
(6) From Point SSPA6 back to Point SSPA 1 following the coastline of Massachusetts

Closed Area I—North

Point

N. lat.

W. long.

CIN1

41°30′

69°23′

CIN2

41°30′

68°30′

CIN3

41°26′

68°30′

CIN4

41°04′

69°01′

CIN1

41°30′

69°23′

Closed Area II Closure Area

Point

N. lat.

W. long.

Note

CAII1

41°00′

67°20′

 

CAII2

41°00′

66°35.8′

 

CAII3

41°18.45’

(1)

(2)

CAII4

(3)

67°20’

(2)

CAII5

42°22′

67°20′

 

CAII1

41°00′

67°20′1

 

(1) The intersection of 41°18.45’ N. lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, approximately 41°18.45’ N. lat. and 66°24.89’ W. long.
(2) From Point CAII3 to Point CAII4 along the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary
(3) The intersection of 67°20’ W. long. And the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, approximately 42°22.06’ N. lat. and 67°20’ W. long.

Habitat Management Areas

Eastern Maine HMA

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

EMH1*

44°07.65’ N

68°10.64’ W

EMH2

44° 02.50’ N

68° 06.10’ W

EMH3

43° 51.00’ N

68° 33.90’ W

EMH4*

43° 56.62’ N

68° 38.12’ W

* Points 1 and 4 are intended to fall along the outer limit of Maine state waters.

Jeffreys Bank HMA

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

JBH1

43° 31’ N

68° 37’ W

JBH2

43° 20’ N

68° 37’ W

JBH3

43° 20’ N

68° 55’ W

JBH4

43° 31’ N

68° 55’ W

JBH1

43° 31’ N

68° 37’ W

Cashes Ledge HMA

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

CLH1

43° 01.0’ N

69° 00.0’ W

CLH2

43° 01.0’ N

68° 52.0’ W

CLH3

42° 45.0’ N

68° 52.0’ W

CLH4

42° 45.0’ N

69° 00.0’ W

CLH1

43° 01.0’ N

69° 00.0’ W

Fippennies Ledge HMA

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

FLH1

42° 50.0’ N

69° 17.0’ W

FLH2

42° 44.0’ N

69° 14.0’ W

FLH3

42° 44.0’ N

69° 18.0’ W

FLH4

42° 50.0’ N

69° 21.0’ W

FLH1

42° 50.0’ N

69° 17.0’ W

Ammen Rock HMA

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

ARH1

42° 55.5’ N

68° 57.0’ W

ARH2

42° 52.5’ N

68° 55.0’ W

ARH3

42° 52.5’ N

68° 57.0’ W

ARH4

42° 55.5’ N

68° 59.0’ W

ARH1

42° 55.5’ N

68° 57.0’ W

Western Gulf of Maine HMA

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

WGMH1

43° 15’ N

70° 15’ W

WGMH2

42° 15’ N

70° 15’ W

WGMH3

42° 15’ N

70° 00’ W

WGMH4

43° 15’ N

70° 15’ W

WGMH1

43° 15’ N

70° 15’ W

Western Gulf of Maine Shrimp Exemption Area

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

SEA1

43° 15’ N

70° W

SEA2

43° 13’ N

70° W

SEA3

43° 13’ N

70° 05’ W

SEA4

43° 09’ N

70° 05’ W

SEA5

43° 09’ N

70° 08’ W

SEA6

42° 55’ N

70° 08’ W

SEA7

42° 55’ N

70° 15’ W

SEA8

43° 15’ N

70° 15’ W

SEA1

43° 15’ N

70° W

Closed Area II Habitat Closure Area

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

Notes

CIIH1

42° 10’ N

67° 20’ W

 

CIIH 2

42° 10’ N

67° 9.38’ W

(1)(2)

CIIH 3

42° 00’ N

67° 0.63’ W

(2)(3)

CIIH 4

42° 00’ N

67° 10’ W

 

CIIH 5

41° 50’ N

67° 10’ W

 

CIIH 6

41° 50’ N

67° 20’ W

 

CIIH1

42° 10’ N

67° 20’ W

 

(1) Point CIIH2 represents the intersection of 42°10’ N. lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary
(2) From Point CIIH2 to Point CIIH3 along the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary
(3) Point CIIH3 represents the intersection of 42°00’ N. lat. and the U.S.-Canada maritime Boundary

Great South Channel HMA

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

GSCH1

41° 30.3’ N

69° 31.0’ W

GSCH 2

41° 0.00’ N

69° 18.5’ W

GSCH 3

40° 51.7’ N

69° 18.5’ W

GSCH 4

40° 51.6’ N

69° 48.9’ W

GSCH 5

41° 30.2’ N

69° 49.3’ W

GSCH1

41° 30.3’ N

69° 31.0’ W

Great South Channel Mobile Bottom-Tending Gear Closure   
The hydraulic clam dredge exemption does not apply in the area defined as the straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

GSC 1

41° 30.3’ N

69° 31.0’ W

MBTG 2

41° 21.0’ N

69° 27.2’ W

MBTG 3

41° 21.0’ N

69° 43.0’ W

MBTG 4

41° 30.0’ N

69° 43.0’ W

GSC 1

41° 30.3’ N

69° 31.0’ W


Dedicated Habitat Research Areas

Stellwagen DHRA

Point

N Latitude

W Longitude

SDHRA1

42° 15.0’ N

70° 00.0’ W

SDHRA2

42° 15.0’ N

70° 15.0’ W

SDHRA3

42° 45.2’ N

70° 15.0’ W

SDHRA4

42° 46.0’ N

70° 13.0’ W

SDHRA5

42° 46.0’ N

70° 00.0’ W

SDHRA1

42° 15.0’ N

70° 00.0’ W

Georges Bank DHRA

Point

Latitude

Longitude

GBDHRA1

40°54.95’ N.

68°53.37’ W.

GBDHRA2

40°58’ N.

68°30’ W.

GBDHRA3

40°45’ N.

68°30’ W.

GBDHRA4

40°45’ N.

68°45’ W.

 

For small entity compliance guides, this bulletin complies with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act of 1996. This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Greater Atlantic Region.