The Area 5 Waiver is a permit category that may be selected by federal lobster permit holders with an Area 5 trap allocation who also hold a federal black sea bass permit. By opting into the Area 5 Waiver, permit holders are exempted from the more restrictive lobster trap gear specifications and trap tagging requirements to target black sea bass with unbaited traps. While in the Area 5 Waiver category, the vessel may retain the non-trap possession limit of lobster. The information below answers some frequently asked questions regarding the Area 5 Waiver.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who does this bulletin apply to?
All federal lobster permit holders with an Area 5 lobster trap allocation and federal black sea bass permit are receiving this as a reminder about the Area 5 Waiver permit category. There have been some questions recently from the industry and enforcement officials about this permit category. For clarity, the Area 5 Waiver program has not changed—this bulletin is just a reminder.
Who is eligible to use the Area 5 Waiver?
You must have both a limited access federal black sea bass and American lobster permit with an Area 5 lobster trap allocation.
What does the Area 5 Waiver category mean?
By choosing the Area 5 Waiver permit category, dual black sea bass and Area 5 lobster permit holders can opt out of the directed lobster trap fishery and fish with an unlimited number of unbaited traps to target black sea bass.
What do I need to do to switch my permit from an Area 5 to an Area 5 Waiver?
Contact the Greater Atlantic Region Permit Office at (978) 282-8483 to request a permit application that will allow you to opt into the Area 5 Waiver category and opt out of the directed Area 5 lobster fishery. You may do this at any time during the fishing year, and there is no limit to the amount of times you may opt in or out of the Area 5 lobster fishery. Processing the applications and re-issuing the permit may take up to 30 days so plan accordingly.
Will switching to an Area 5 Waiver affect my black sea bass or Area 5 lobster permit?
No. The change from an Area 5 to an Area 5 Waiver is an administrative permit category change that will not affect your lobster trap allocation or limited access eligibility in either the federal lobster or the black sea bass fisheries.
Can I retain lobsters after I switch to an Area 5 Waiver?
Yes; however, you are limited to the non-trap possession limit of 100 lobsters per day or up to 500 lobsters for a trip of 5 or more days.
If my permit has the Area 5 lobster permit category on it can I set traps for other species in addition to my lobster traps?
No. If you are in the directed Area 5 lobster trap fishery, you may only fish with lobster traps that meet the federal lobster trap gear specifications. You may only fish the number of traps that your lobster permit is allocated. All traps must be tagged. You may retain other species if permitted to do so, consistent with the regulations for those other fisheries. You may not fish other types of traps in addition to your lobster traps.
What if I’m fishing for species that aren’t regulated in federal waters such as conch or whelk?
You may fish for conch and whelk in federal waters, while abiding by any state requirements. If you are in the Area 5 Waiver, you may fish an unlimited number of unbaited traps and may retain these species along with the non-trap possession limit for lobster. If you are in the directed Area 5 lobster trap fishery, you may only fish tagged lobster traps that meet the lobster trap specifications, not to exceed your Area 5 lobster trap allocation.
What gear can I use with the Area 5 Waiver?
While in the Area 5 Waiver category, the traps are exempt from the lobster trap gear specifications and lobster trap tagging requirement. You may fish an unlimited number of traps, but traps must be unbaited. All gear, regardless of permit category,must comply with the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan regulations. For more information on gear requirements for the lobster fishery, see our lobster info sheet.
What if I want to switch back into the directed Area 5 lobster trap fishery?
To switch back into the Area 5 lobster fishery, contact the Permit Office, and they will send you another permit application to designate Area 5 on your permit. Once your permit is in the Area 5 lobster category, you may no longer fish any traps in excess of your Area 5 lobster trap allocation. All traps must meet the federal lobster gear specifications and must be tagged with a lobster trap tag.