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e-CFR data is current as of October 22, 2020

Title 50Chapter VIPart 648Subpart F → §648.80


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES
Subpart F—Management Measures for the NE Multispecies and Monkfish Fisheries


§648.80   NE Multispecies regulated mesh areas and restrictions on gear and methods of fishing.

Except as provided in §648.17, all vessels must comply with the following minimum mesh size, gear and methods of fishing requirements, unless otherwise exempted or prohibited.

(a) Gulf of Maine (GOM) and GB Regulated Mesh Areas—(1) GOM Regulated Mesh Area. The GOM Regulated Mesh Area (copies of a map depicting the area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request) is that area:

(i) Bounded on the east by the U.S.-Canada maritime boundary, defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Point N. lat.W. long.
G1(1)(1)
G243°5867°22
G342°53.167°44.4
G442°3167°28.1
CII342°2267°202

1The intersection of the shoreline and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary.

2The U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary.

(ii) Bounded on the south by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Point N. lat.W. long.
CII342°2267°201
G642°2067°20
G742°2069°30
G842°0069°30
G942°00(2)

1The U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary.

2The intersection of the Cape Cod, MA, coastline and 42°00 N. lat.

(2) GB Regulated Mesh Area. The GB Regulated Mesh Area (copies of a map depicting the area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request) is that area:

(i) Bounded on the north by the southern boundary of the GOM Regulated Mesh Area as defined in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section; and

(ii) Bounded on the east by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

GB Regulated Mesh Area

PointN. latitudeW. longitude
CII342°2267°201
SNE140°2465°432

1The U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary.

2The U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary as it intersects with the EEZ.

(iii) Bounded on the west by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Point N. lat.W. long.
G12(1)70°00
G1140°5070°00
NL140°5069°40
NL240°18.769°40
NL340°22.769°00
   (2)69°00

1South facing shoreline of Cape Cod.

2Southward to its intersection with the EEZ.

(3) GOM Regulated Mesh Area minimum mesh size and gear restrictions—(i) Vessels using trawls. Except as provided in paragraphs (a)(3)(i) and (vi) of this section and §648.85(b)(6), and unless otherwise restricted under paragraph (a)(3)(iii) of this section, the minimum mesh size for any trawl net, except a midwater trawl, on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under the NE multispecies DAS program or on a sector trip in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area is 6-inch (15.2-cm) diamond mesh or 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) square mesh, applied throughout the body and extension of the net, or any combination thereof, and 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) diamond mesh or square mesh applied to the codend of the net as defined in paragraphs (a)(3)(i)(A) and (B) of this section, provided the vessel complies with the requirements of paragraph (a)(3)(vii) of this section. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(A) For vessels greater than 45 ft (13.7 m) in length overall, a diamond mesh codend is defined as the first 50 meshes counting from the terminus of the net, and a square mesh codend is defined as the first 100 bars counting from the terminus of the net.

(B) For vessels 45 ft (13.7 m) or less in length overall, a diamond mesh codend is defined as the first 25 meshes counting from the terminus of the net, and a square mesh codend is defined as the first 50 bars counting from the terminus of the net.

(ii) Vessels using Scottish seine, midwater trawl, and purse seine. Except as provided in paragraphs (a)(3)(ii) and (vi) of this section, and unless otherwise restricted under paragraph (a)(3)(iii) of this section, the minimum mesh size for any Scottish seine, midwater trawl, or purse seine on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under a DAS in the NE multispecies DAS program in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area is 6-inch (15.2-cm) diamond mesh or 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) square mesh applied throughout the net, or any combination thereof, provided the vessel complies with the requirements of paragraph (a)(3)(vii) of this section. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(iii) Large-mesh vessels. When fishing in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area, the minimum mesh size for any trawl net vessel, or sink gillnet, on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under a DAS in the Large-mesh DAS program, specified in §648.82(b)(4), is 8.5-inch (21.6-cm) diamond or square mesh throughout the entire net. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(iv) Gillnet vessels—(A) Trip gillnet vessels—(1) Mesh size. Except as provided in paragraphs (a)(3)(iv) and (vi) of this section, and unless otherwise restricted under paragraph (a)(3)(iii) of this section, for any vessel that obtains an annual designation as a Trip gillnet vessel, the minimum mesh size for any sink gillnet when fishing in the NE multispecies DAS program or on a sector trip in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area is 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) throughout the entire net. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(2) Net size requirements. Nets may not be longer than 300 ft (91.4 m), or 50 fathoms (91.4 m) in length.

(B) Day gillnet vessels—(1) Mesh size. Except as provided in paragraphs (a)(3)(iv) and (vi) of this section, and unless otherwise restricted under paragraph (a)(3)(iii) of this section, for any vessel that obtain an annual designation as a Day gillnet vessel, the minimum mesh size for any sink gillnet when fishing under the NE multispecies DAS program or on a sector trip in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area is 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) throughout the entire net. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(2) Number of nets. A day gillnet vessel fishing under a NE multispecies DAS or on a sector trip and fishing in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area may not fish with, haul, possess, or deploy more than 50 roundfish sink gillnets or 100 flatfish (tie-down) sink gillnets, each of which must be tagged pursuant to paragraph (a)(3)(iv)(C) of this section, except as provided in §648.92(b)(8)(i). Vessels may fish any combination of roundfish and flatfish gillnets up to 100 nets, and may stow additional nets not to exceed 160 nets, counting deployed nets.

(3) Net size requirements. Nets may not be longer than 300 ft (91.4 m), or 50 fathoms (91.4 m) in length.

(4) Tags. Roundfish nets must be tagged with two tags per net, with one tag secured to each bridle of every net, within a string of nets, and flatfish nets must have one tag per net, with one tag secured to every other bridle of every net within a string of nets. Gillnet vessels must also abide by the tagging requirements in paragraph (a)(3)(iv)(C) of this section.

(C) Obtaining and replacing tags. Tags must be obtained as described in §648.4(c)(2)(iii), and vessels must have on board written confirmation issued by the Regional Administrator, indicating that the vessel is a Day gillnet vessel or a Trip gillnet vessel. The vessel operator must produce all net tags upon request by an authorized officer. A vessel may have tags on board in excess of the number of tags corresponding to the allowable number of nets, provided such tags are onboard the vessel and can be made available for inspection.

(1) Lost tags. Vessel owners or operators are required to report lost, destroyed, and missing tag numbers as soon as feasible after tags have been discovered lost, destroyed or missing, by letter or fax to the Regional Administrator.

(2) Replacement tags. Vessel owners or operators seeking replacement of lost, destroyed, or missing tags must request replacement of tags by letter or fax to the Regional Administrator. A check for the cost of the replacement tags must be received by the Regional Administrator before tags will be re-issued.

(v) Hook gear restrictions. Unless otherwise specified in this paragraph (a)(3)(v) or §648.87(c), vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access permit and fishing under a NE multispecies DAS or on a sector trip, and vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Small-Vessel permit in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area, and persons on such vessels, are prohibited from fishing, setting, or hauling back, per day, or possessing on board the vessel, more than 2,000 rigged hooks. All longline gear hooks must be circle hooks, of a minimum size of 12/0. An unbaited hook and gangion that has not been secured to the ground line of the trawl on board a vessel during the fishing trip is deemed to be a replacement hook and is not counted toward the 2,000-hook limit. A “snap-on” hook is deemed to be a replacement hook if it is not rigged or baited during the fishing trip. The use of de-hookers (“crucifer”) with less than 6-inch (15.2-cm) spacing between the fairlead rollers is prohibited. Vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Hook Gear permit and fishing under a multispecies DAS or on a sector trip in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area, and persons on such vessels, are prohibited from possessing gear other than hook gear on board the vessel. Vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Handgear A permit, and persons on such vessels, are prohibited from fishing, or possessing on board the vessel, gear other than handgear. Vessels fishing with tub-trawl gear are prohibited from fishing, setting, or hauling back, per day, or possessing on board the vessel more than 250 hooks.

(vi) Other restrictions and exemptions. A vessel is prohibited from fishing in the GOM or GB Exemption Area as defined in paragraph (a)(17) of this section, except if fishing with exempted gear (as defined under this part) or under the exemptions specified in paragraphs (a)(5) through (a)(7), (a)(9) through (a)(16) and (a)(18) through (a)(19), (d), (e), (h), and (i) of this section; or if fishing under a NE multispecies DAS; or if fishing on a sector trip; or if fishing under the Small Vessel or Handgear A permit specified in §648.82(b)(5) and (6), respectively; or if fishing under a Handgear B permit specified in §648.88(a); or if fishing under the scallop state waters exemptions specified in §648.54 and paragraph (h)(3)(i) of this section; or if fishing under a scallop DAS or general category trip in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section; or if fishing pursuant to a NE multispecies open access Charter/Party or Handgear permit specified in §648.88; or if fishing as a charter/party or private recreational vessel in compliance with §648.89. Any gear used by a vessel in this area must be authorized under one of these exemptions. Any gear on a vessel that is not authorized under one of these exemptions must be stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(vii) Rockhopper and roller gear restrictions. For all trawl vessels fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip in the GOM/GB Inshore Restricted Roller Gear Area, the diameter of any part of the trawl footrope, including discs, rollers, or rockhoppers, must not exceed 12 inches (30.5 cm). The GOM/GB Inshore Restricted Roller Gear Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Inshore Restricted Roller Gear Area

PointN. LatitudeW. Longitude
142°00(1)
242°00(2)
342°00(3)
442°0069°50
543°0069°50
643°0070°00
743°3070°00
843°30(4)

1Massachusetts shoreline.

2Cape Cod shoreline on Cape Cod Bay.

3Cape Cod shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean.

4Maine shoreline.

(4) GB regulated mesh area minimum mesh size and gear restrictions—(i) Vessels using trawls. Except as provided in paragraph (a)(3)(vi) of this section, this paragraph (a)(4)(i), §648.85(b)(6) and (8), and §648.87(c)(2)(ii), and unless otherwise restricted under paragraph (a)(4)(iii) of this section, the minimum mesh size for any trawl net, except a midwater trawl, and the minimum mesh size for any trawl net when fishing in that portion of the GB Regulated Mesh Area that lies within the SNE Exemption Area, as described in paragraph (b)(10) of this section, that is not stowed and available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under the NE multispecies DAS program or on a sector trip in the GB Regulated Mesh Area is 6-inch (15.2-cm) diamond mesh or 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) square mesh applied throughout the body and extension of the net, or any combination thereof, and 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) diamond mesh or square mesh applied to the codend of the net as defined in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, provided the vessel complies with the requirements of paragraphs (a)(3)(vii) of this section. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(ii) Vessels using Scottish seine, midwater trawl, and purse seine. Except as provided in paragraph (a)(3)(vi) of this section, and this paragraph (a)(4)(ii), and unless otherwise restricted under paragraph (a)(4)(iii) of this section, the minimum mesh size for any Scottish seine, midwater trawl, or purse seine, and the minimum mesh size for any Scottish seine, midwater trawl, or purse seine, when fishing in that portion of the GB Regulated Mesh Area that lies within the SNE Exemption Area, as described in paragraph (b)(10) of this section, that is not stowed and available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under a DAS in the NE multispecies DAS program in the GB Regulated Mesh Area is 6-inch (15.2-cm) diamond mesh or 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) square mesh applied throughout the net, or any combination thereof, provided the vessel complies with the requirements of paragraph (a)(3)(vii) of this section. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(iii) Large-mesh vessels. When fishing in the GB Regulated Mesh Area, the minimum mesh size for any trawl net, or sink gillnet, and the minimum mesh size for any trawl net, or sink gillnet, when fishing in that portion of the GB Regulated Mesh Area that lies within the SNE Exemption Area, as described in paragraph (b)(10) of this section, that is not stowed and available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under a DAS in the Large-mesh DAS program, specified in §648.82(b)(5), is 8.5-inch (21.6-cm) diamond or square mesh throughout the entire net. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(iv) Gillnet vessels. Except as provided in paragraph (a)(3)(vi) of this section and this paragraph (a)(4)(iv), for Day and Trip gillnet vessels, the minimum mesh size for any sink gillnet, and the minimum mesh size for any roundfish or flatfish gillnet when fishing in that portion of the GB Regulated Mesh Area that lies within the SNE Exemption Area, as described in paragraph (b)(10) of this section, that is not stowed and available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, when fishing under a DAS in the NE multispecies DAS program or on a sector trip in the GB Regulated Mesh Area is 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) throughout the entire net. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(A) Trip gillnet vessels. A Trip gillnet vessel fishing under a NE multispecies DAS or on a sector trip and fishing in the GB Regulated Mesh Area may not fish with nets longer than 300 ft (91.4 m), or 50 fathoms (91.4 m) in length.

(B) Day gillnet vessels—(1) Number of nets. A Day gillnet vessel fishing under a NE multispecies DAS or on a sector trip and fishing in the GB Regulated Mesh Area may not fish with, haul, possess, or deploy more than 50 nets, except as provided in §648.92(b)(8)(i).

(2) Net size requirements. Vessels may fish any combination of roundfish and flatfish gillnets, up to 50 nets. Such vessels, may stow additional nets not to exceed 150, counting the deployed net. Such vessels may stow additional nets in accordance with the definition of not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2 not to exceed 150 nets, counting the deployed net.

(3) Tags. Roundfish or flatfish nets must be tagged with two tags per net, with one tag secured to each bridle of every net within a string of nets.

(4) Obtaining and replacing tags. See paragraph (a)(3)(iv)(C) of this section.

(v) Hook gear restrictions. Unless otherwise specified in this paragraph (a)(4)(v), vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access permit and fishing under a NE multispecies DAS, and vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Small-Vessel permit, in the GB Regulated Mesh Area, and persons on such vessels, are prohibited from possessing gear other than hook gear on board the vessel and prohibited from fishing, setting, or hauling back, per day, or possessing on board the vessel, more than 3,600 rigged hooks. All longline gear hooks must be circle hooks, of a minimum size of 12/0. An unabated hook and gangions that has not been secured to the ground line of the trawl on board a vessel is deemed to be a replacement hook and is not counted toward the 3,600-hook limit. A “snap-on” hook is deemed to be a replacement hook if it is not rigged or baited. The use of de-hookers (“crucifer”) with less than 6-inch (15.2-cm) spacing between the fairlead rollers is prohibited. Vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Hook gear permit and fishing under a multispecies DAS in the GB Regulated Mesh Area, and persons on such vessels, are prohibited from possessing gear other than hook gear on board the vessel. Vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Handgear A permit are prohibited from fishing or possessing on board the vessel, gear other than hand gear. Vessels fishing with tub-trawl gear are prohibited from fishing, setting, or hauling back, per day, or possessing on board the vessel more than 250 hooks.

(vi)-(viii) [Reserved]

(5) Small Mesh Northern Shrimp Fishery Exemption. Vessels subject to the minimum mesh size restrictions specified in this paragraph (a) may fish for, harvest, possess, or land northern shrimp in the GOM, GB, SNE, and MA Regulated Mesh Areas, as described under paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(2), (b)(1), and (c)(1) of this section, respectively, with nets with a mesh size smaller than the minimum size specified, if the vessel complies with the requirements of paragraphs (a)(5)(i) through (iii) of this section.

(i) Restrictions on fishing for, possessing, or landing fish other than shrimp. An owner or operator of a vessel fishing in the northern shrimp fishery under the exemption described in this paragraph (a)(5) may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than shrimp, except for the following, with the restrictions noted, as allowable incidental species: Longhorn sculpin; combined silver hake and offshore hake—up to an amount equal to the total weight of shrimp possessed on board or landed, not to exceed 3,500 lb (1,588 kg); and American lobster—up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board or 200 lobsters, whichever is less, unless otherwise restricted by landing limits specified in §697.17 of this chapter. Silver hake and offshore hake on board a vessel subject to this possession limit must be separated from other species of fish and stored so as to be readily available for inspection.

(ii) Requirement to use a finfish excluder device (FED). A vessel must have a rigid or semi-rigid grate consisting of parallel bars of not more than 1-inch (2.54-cm) spacing that excludes all fish and other objects, except those that are small enough to pass between its bars into the codend of the trawl, secured in the trawl, forward of the codend, in such a manner that it precludes the passage of fish or other objects into the codend without the fish or objects having to first pass between the bars of the grate, in any net with mesh smaller than the minimum size specified in paragraphs (a)(3) and (4) of this section. The net must have an outlet or hole to allow fish or other objects that are too large to pass between the bars of the grate to exit the net. The aftermost edge of this outlet or hole must be at least as wide as the grate at the point of attachment. The outlet or hole must extend forward from the grate toward the mouth of the net. A funnel of net material is allowed in the lengthening piece of the net forward of the grate to direct catch towards the grate. (Copies of a schematic example of a properly configured and installed FED are available from the Regional Administrator upon request.)

(iii) Time restrictions. A vessel may only fish under this exemption during the northern shrimp season, as established by the Commission and announced in the Commission's letter to participants.

(6) Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area. Vessels subject to the minimum mesh size restrictions specified in paragraphs (a)(3) and (4) of this section may fish with, use, or possess nets in the Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area with a mesh size smaller than the minimum size specified, if the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (a)(6)(i) of this section. The Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area (copies of a map depicting the area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request) is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area

Point N. lat.W. long.
C142°1068°10
C241°3068°41
CI441°3068°30
C341°12.868°30
C441°0568°20
C541°5567°40
C142°1068°10

(i) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing in the Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area under this exemption must have on board a valid letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator.

(B) An owner or operator of a vessel fishing in this area may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than whiting and offshore hake combined—up to a maximum of 30,000 lb (13,608 kg), except for the following, with the restrictions noted, as allowable incidental species: Atlantic herring, up to the amount specified in §648.204; longhorn sculpin; squid, butterfish, and Atlantic mackerel, up to the amounts specified in §648.26; spiny dogfish, up to the amount specified in §648.235; red hake, up to the amount specified in §648.86(d), monkfish and monkfish parts—up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board or up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail-weight/146 lb (66 kg) whole-weight of monkfish per trip, as specified in §648.94(c)(4), whichever is less; and American lobster—up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board or 200 lobsters, whichever is less, unless otherwise restricted by landing limits specified in §697.17 of this chapter.

(C) Counting from the terminus of the net, all nets must have a minimum mesh size of 3-inch (7.6-cm) square or diamond mesh applied to the first 100 meshes (200 bars in the case of square mesh) for vessels greater than 60 ft (18.3 m) in length and applied to the first 50 meshes (100 bars in the case of square mesh) for vessels less than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) in length.

(D) Fishing is confined to a season of June 15 through October 31, unless otherwise specified by notification in the Federal Register.

(E) When a vessel is transiting through the GOM or GB Regulated Mesh Areas specified under paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section, any nets with a mesh size smaller than the minimum mesh specified in paragraphs (a)(3) or (4) of this section must be stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, unless the vessel is fishing for small-mesh multispecies under another exempted fishery specified in this paragraph (a).

(F) A vessel fishing in the Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area may fish for small-mesh multispecies in exempted fisheries outside of the Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area, provided that the vessel complies with the more restrictive gear, possession limit, and other requirements specified in the regulations of that exempted fishery for the entire participation period specified on the vessel's letter of authorization and consistent with paragraph (a)(15)(i)(G) of this section. For example, a vessel may fish in both the Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area and the Southern New England or Mid-Atlantic Exemption Areas, and would be restricted to a minimum mesh size of 3 in (7.62 cm) and a maximum trip limit of 30,000 lb (13,607.77 kg) for silver hake and offshore hake, combined, as required in the Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area.

(ii) Sea sampling. The Regional Administrator shall conduct periodic sea sampling to determine if there is a need to change the area or season designation, and to evaluate the bycatch of regulated species, especially haddock.

(iii) Annual review. The NEFMC shall conduct an annual review of data to determine if there are any changes in area or season designation necessary, and to make appropriate recommendations to the Regional Administrator following the procedures specified in §648.90.

(7) Transiting. (i) Vessels fishing in the Small Mesh Area 1/Small Mesh Area 2 fishery, as specified in paragraph (a)(9) of this section, may transit through the Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Area as specified in paragraph (a)(11) of this section with nets of mesh size smaller than the minimum mesh size specified in paragraphs (a)(3) or (4) of this section, provided that the nets are stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2. Vessels fishing in the Small Mesh Northern Shrimp Fishery, as specified in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, may transit through the GOM, GB, SNE, and MA Regulated Mesh Areas, as described in paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(2), (b)(1), and (c)(1) of this section, respectively, with nets of mesh size smaller than the minimum mesh size specified in paragraphs (a)(3), (a)(4), (b)(2), and (c)(2) of this section, provided the nets are stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(ii) Vessels subject to the minimum mesh size restrictions specified in paragraphs (a)(3) or (4) of this section may transit through the Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Areas defined in paragraphs (a)(11) and (18) of this section with nets on board with a mesh size smaller than the minimum size specified, provided that the nets are stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, and provided the vessel has no fish on board.

(iii) Vessels subject to the minimum mesh size restrictions specified in paragraphs (a)(3) or (4) of this section may transit through the GOM and GB Regulated Mesh Areas defined in paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section with nets on board with a mesh size smaller than the minimum mesh size specified and with small mesh exempted species on board, provided that the following conditions are met:

(A) All nets with a mesh size smaller than the minimum mesh size specified in paragraphs (a)(3) or (4) of this section are stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(B) A letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator is on board.

(C) Vessels do not fish for, possess on board, or land any fish, except when fishing in the areas specified in paragraphs (a)(6), (a)(10), (a)(15), (b), and (c) of this section. Vessels may retain exempted small-mesh species as provided in paragraphs (a)(6)(i), (a)(10)(i), (a)(15)(i), (b)(3), and (c)(3) of this section.

(8) Addition or deletion of exemptions—(i) Exemption allowing no incidental catch of regulated multispecies. An exemption may be added in an existing fishery for which there are sufficient data or information to ascertain the amount of regulated species bycatch, if the Regional Administrator, after consultation with the NEFMC, determines that the percentage of regulated species caught as bycatch is, or can be reduced to, less than 5 percent, by weight, of total catch, unless otherwise specified in this paragraph (a)(8)(i) of this section, and that such exemption will not jeopardize fishing mortality objectives. The 5-percent regulated species incidental bycatch standard could be modified for a stock that is not in an overfished condition, or if overfishing is not occurring on that stock. When considering modifications of the standard, it must be shown that the change will not delay a rebuilding program, or result in overfishing or an overfished condition. In determining whether exempting a fishery may jeopardize meeting fishing mortality objectives, the Regional Administrator may take into consideration various factors including, but not limited to, juvenile mortality, sacrifices in yield that will result from that mortality, the ratio of target species to regulated species, status of stock rebuilding, and recent recruitment of regulated species. A fishery can be defined, restricted, or allowed by area, gear, season, or other means determined to be appropriate to reduce bycatch of regulated species. The Regional Administrator may modify or delete an existing exemption if he/she determines that the catch of regulated species is equal to or greater than 5 percent, by weight of total catch, or another pertinent approved amount, or that continuing the exemption may jeopardize meeting fishing mortality objectives. Notification of additions, deletions, or modifications will be made through issuance of a rule in the Federal Register.

(ii) Exemption allowing incidental catch of regulated species. An exemption may be added in an existing fishery that would allow vessels to retain and land regulated multispecies, under the restrictions specified in paragraphs (a)(8)(ii)(A) through (C) of this section, if the Regional Administrator, after consultation with the NEFMC, considers the status of the regulated species stock or stocks caught in the fishery, the risk that this exemption would result in a targeted regulated species fishery, the extent of the fishery in terms of time and area, and the possibility of expansion in the fishery. Incidental catch in exempted fisheries under this paragraph (a)(8)(ii) are subject, at a minimum, to the following restrictions:

(A) A prohibition on the possession of regulated multispecies that are overfished or where overfishing is occurring;

(B) A prohibition on the possession of regulated species in NE multispecies closure areas; and

(C) A prohibition on allowing an exempted fishery to occur that would allow retention of a regulated multispecies stock under an ongoing rebuilding program, unless it can be determined that the catch of the stock in the exempted fishery is not likely to result in exceeding the rebuilding mortality rate.

(iii) For exemptions allowing no incidental catch of regulated species, as defined under paragraph (a)(8)(i) of this section, the NEFMC may recommend to the Regional Administrator, through the framework procedure specified in §648.90(c), additions or deletions to exemptions for fisheries, either existing or proposed, for which there may be insufficient data or information for the Regional Administrator to determine, without public comment, percentage catch of regulated species. For exemptions allowing incidental catch of regulated species, as defined under paragraph (a)(8)(ii) of this section, the NEFMC may recommend to the Regional Administrator, through the framework procedure specified in §648.90(c), additions or deletions to exemptions for fisheries, either existing or proposed, for which there may be insufficient data or information for the Regional Administrator to determine, without public comment, the risk that this exemption would result in a targeted regulated species fishery, the extent of the fishery in terms of time and area, and the possibility of expansion in the fishery.

(iv) Unless otherwise specified within the exempted fisheries authorized under this paragraph (a)(8), incidental catch is restricted, at a minimum, to the following:

(A) With the exception of fisheries authorized under paragraph (a)(8)(ii) of this section, a prohibition on the possession of regulated species;

(B) A limit on the possession of monkfish or monkfish parts of 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board or as specified by §648.94(c)(3), (4), (5) or (6), as applicable, whichever is less;

(C) A limit on the possession of lobsters of 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board or 200 lobsters, whichever is less; and

(D) A limit on the possession of skate or skate parts in the SNE Exemption Area described in paragraph (b)(10) of this section of 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board.

(9) Small Mesh Area 1/Small Mesh Area 2—(i) Description. (A) Unless otherwise prohibited in §648.81, §648.370, or §648.371, a vessel subject to the minimum mesh size restrictions specified in paragraph (a)(3) or (4) of this section may fish with or possess nets with a mesh size smaller than the minimum size, provided the vessel complies with the requirements of paragraph (a)(5)(ii) or (a)(9)(ii) of this section, and §648.86(d), from July 15 through November 15, when fishing in Small Mesh Area 1; and from January 1 through June 30, when fishing in Small Mesh Area 2. While lawfully fishing in these areas with mesh smaller than the minimum size, an owner or operator of any vessel may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than: Silver hake and offshore hake, combined, and red hake—up to the amounts specified in §648.86(d); butterfish, Atlantic mackerel, or squid, up the amounts specified in §648.26; spiny dogfish, up to the amount specified in §648.235; Atlantic herring, up to the amount specified in §648.204; and scup, up to the amount specified in §648.128.

(B) Small-mesh Areas 1 and 2 are defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting these areas are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

Small Mesh Area I

Point N. lat.W. long.
SM143°0370°27
SM242°5770°22
SM342°4770°32
SM442°4570°29
SM542°4370°32
SM642°4470°39
SM742°4970°43
SM842°5070°41
SM942°5370°43
SM1042°5570°40
SM1142°5970°32
SM143°0370°27

Small Mesh Area II

Point N. lat.W. long.
SM1343°05.669°55
SM1443°10.169°43.3
SM1542°49.569°40
SM1642°41.569°40
SM1742°36.669°55
SM1343°05.669°55

(ii) Raised footrope trawl. Vessels fishing in the Small Mesh Areas I and II Exemption Programs described in §648.80(a)(9)) must configure the vessel's gear with a raised footrope trawl, configured in such a way that, when towed, the gear is not in contact with the ocean bottom. Vessels are presumed to be fishing in such a manner if their trawl gear is designed as specified in paragraphs (a)(9)(ii)(A) through (D) of this section and is towed so that it does not come into contact with the ocean bottom.

(A) Eight-inch (20.3-cm) diameter floats must be attached to the entire length of the headrope, with a maximum spacing of 4 ft (122.0 cm) between floats.

(B) The ground gear must all be bare wire not larger than 12 inch (1.2 cm) for the top leg, not larger than 58 inch (1.6 cm) for the bottom leg, and not larger than 34 inch (1.9 cm) for the ground cables. The top and bottom legs must be equal in length, with no extensions. The total length of ground cables and legs must not be greater than 40 fathoms (73 m) from the doors to wing ends.

(C) The footrope must be longer than the length of the headrope, but not more than 20 ft (6.1 m) longer than the length of the headrope. The footrope must be rigged so that it does not contact the ocean bottom while fishing.

(D) The raised footrope trawl may be used with or without a chain sweep. If used without a chain sweep, the drop chains must be a maximum of 38 -inch (0.95-cm) diameter bare chain and must be hung from the center of the footrope and each corner (the quarter, or the junction of the bottom wing to the belly at the footrope). Drop chains must be hung at intervals of 8 ft (2.4 m) along the footrope from the corners to the wing ends. If used with a chain sweep, the sweep must be rigged so it is behind and below the footrope, and the footrope is off the bottom. This is accomplished by having the sweep longer than the footrope and having long drop chains attaching the sweep to the footrope at regular intervals. The forward end of the sweep and footrope must be connected to the bottom leg at the same point. This attachment, in conjunction with the headrope flotation, keeps the footrope off the bottom. The sweep and its rigging, including drop chains, must be made entirely of bare chain with a maximum diameter of 516 inches (0.8 cm). No wrapping or cookies are allowed on the drop chains or sweep. The total length of the sweep must be at least 7 ft (2.1 m) longer than the total length of the footrope, or 3.5 ft (1.1 m) longer on each side. Drop chains must connect the footrope to the sweep chain, and the length of each drop chain must be at least 42 inches (106.7 cm). One drop chain must be hung from the center of the footrope to the center of the sweep, and one drop chain must be hung from each corner. The attachment points of each drop chain on the sweep and the footrope must be the same distance from the center drop chain attachments. Drop chains must be hung at intervals of 8 ft (2.4 m) from the corners toward the wing ends. The distance of the drop chain that is nearest the wing end to the end of the footrope may differ from net to net. However, the sweep must be at least 3.5 ft (1.1m) longer than the footrope between the drop chain closest to the wing ends and the end of the sweep that attaches to the wing end.

(10) Nantucket Shoals Dogfish Fishery Exemption Area. Vessels subject to the minimum mesh size restrictions specified in paragraph (a)(3) or paragraph (a)(4) of this section may fish with, use, or possess nets of mesh smaller than the minimum size specified in the Nantucket Shoals Dogfish Fishery Exemption Area, if the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (a)(10)(i) of this section. The Nantucket Shoals Dogfish Fishery Exemption Area (copies of a map depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request) is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Nantucket Shoals Dogfish Exemption Area

Point N. lat.W. long.
NS141°4570°00
NS241°4569°20
NS341°3069°20
Cl141°3069°23
NS541°26.569°20
NS640°5069°20
NS740°5070°00
NS141°4570°00

(i) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing in the Nantucket Shoals Dogfish Fishery Exemption Area, under the exemption, must have on board a letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator and may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than dogfish, except as provided under paragraph (a)(10)(i)(D) of this section.

(B) Fishing is confined to June 1 through October 15.

(C) When transiting the GOM or GB Regulated Mesh Areas, specified under paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section, any nets with a mesh size smaller than the minimum mesh size specified in paragraphs (a)(3) and (4) of this section must be stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(D) Incidental species provisions. The following species may be possessed and landed, with the restrictions noted, as allowable incidental species in the Nantucket Shoals Dogfish Fishery Exemption Area: Longhorn sculpin; silver hake—up to 200 lb (90.7 kg); monkfish and monkfish parts—up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board or up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail-weight/146 lb (66 kg) whole-weight of monkfish per trip, as specified in §648.94(c)(4), whichever is less; American lobster—up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board or 200 lobsters, whichever is less, unless otherwise restricted by landing limits specified in §697.17 of this chapter; and skate or skate parts—up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board..

(E) A vessel fishing in the Nantucket Shoals Dogfish Fishery Exemption Area, under the exemption, must comply with any additional gear restrictions specified in the letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator.

(ii) Sea sampling. The Regional Administrator may conduct periodic sea sampling to determine if there is a need to change the area or season designation, and to evaluate the bycatch of regulated species.

(11) [Reserved]

(12) Nantucket Shoals Mussel and Sea Urchin Dredge Exemption Area. Unless otherwise prohibited in §648.81, §648.370, or §648.371, a vessel may fish with a dredge in the Nantucket Shoals Mussel and Sea Urchin Dredge Exemption Area, provided that any dredge on board the vessel does not exceed 8 ft (2.4 m), measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge, and the vessel does not fish for, harvest, possess, or land any species of fish other than mussels and sea urchins. The area coordinates of the Nantucket Shoals Mussel and Sea Urchin Dredge Exemption Area are the same coordinates as those of the Nantucket Shoals Dogfish Fishery Exemption Area specified in paragraph (a)(10) of this section.

(13) GOM/GB Dogfish and Monkfish Gillnet Fishery Exemption Area. Unless otherwise prohibited in §648.81, §648.370, or §648.371, a vessel may fish with gillnets in the GOM/GB Dogfish and Monkfish Gillnet Fishery Exemption Area when not under a NE multispecies DAS if the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (a)(13)(i) of this section. The GOM/GB Dogfish and Monkfish Gillnet Fishery Exemption Area is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

N lat.W long.
41°3570°00
42°49.570°00
42°49.569°40
43°1269°00
(1)69°00

1Due north to Maine shoreline.

(i) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing under this exemption may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than monkfish, or lobsters in an amount not to exceed 10 percent by weight of the total catch on board, or 200 lobsters, whichever is less.

(B) All gillnets must have a minimum mesh size of 10-inch (25.4-cm) diamond mesh throughout the net.

(C) Fishing is confined to July 1 through September 14.

(ii) [Reserved]

(14) GOM/GB Dogfish Gillnet Exemption. Unless otherwise prohibited in §648.81, §648.370, or §648.371, a vessel may fish with gillnets in the GOM/GB Dogfish and Monkfish Gillnet Fishery Exemption Area when not under a NE multispecies DAS if the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (a)(14)(i) of this section. The area coordinates of the GOM/GB Dogfish and Monkfish Gillnet Fishery Exemption Area are specified in paragraph (a)(13) of this section.

(i) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing under this exemption may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than dogfish, or lobsters in an amount not to exceed 10 percent by weight of the total catch on board, or 200 lobsters, whichever is less.

(B) All gillnets must have a minimum mesh size of 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) diamond mesh throughout the net.

(C) Fishing is confined to July 1 through August 31.

(ii) [Reserved]

(15) Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery. Unless otherwise prohibited in §648.370 or §648.371, vessels subject to the minimum mesh size restrictions specified in paragraphs (a)(3) or (4) of this section may fish with, use, or possess nets in the Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery area with a mesh size smaller than the minimum size specified, if the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (a)(15)(i) of this section. This exemption does not apply to the Cashes Ledge Closure Areas or the Western GOM Area Closure specified in §648.81(a)(3) and (4), respectively. The Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery Area (copies of a chart depicting the area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request) is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery Exemption Area

[September 1 through November 20]

PointN lat.W long.
RF 142°14.0570°08.8
RF 242°09.269°47.8
RF 341°54.8569°35.2
RF 441°41.569°32.85
RF 541°3969°44.3
RF 641°45.669°51.8
RF 741°52.369°52.55
RF 841°55.569°53.45
RF 942°08.3570°04.05
RF 1042°04.7570°16.95
RF 1142°0070°13.2
RF 1242°0070°24.1
RF 1342°07.8570°30.1
RF 142°14.0570°08.8

Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery Exemption Area

[November 21 through December 31]

PointN lat.W long.
RF 142°14.0570°08.8
RF 242°09.269°47.8
RF 341°54.8569°35.2
RF 441°41.569°32.85
RF 541°3969°44.3
RF 641°45.669°51.8
RF 741°52.369°52.55
RF 841°55.569°53.45
RF 942°08.3570°04.05
RF 142°14.0570°08.8

(i) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing in the Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery under this exemption must have on board a valid letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator. To obtain a letter of authorization, vessel owners must write to or call during normal business hours the Northeast Region Permit Office and provide the vessel name, owner name, permit number, and the desired period of time that the vessel will be enrolled. Since letters of authorization are effective the day after they are requested, vessel owners should allow appropriate processing and mailing time. To withdraw from a category, vessel owners must write to or call the Northeast Region Permit Office. Withdrawals are effective the day after the date of request. Withdrawals may occur after a minimum of 7 days of enrollment.

(B) All nets must be no smaller than a minimum mesh size of 2.5-in (6.35-cm) square or diamond mesh, subject to the restrictions as specified in paragraph (a)(15)(i)(D) of this section. An owner or operator of a vessel enrolled in the raised footrope whiting fishery may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than silver hake, offshore hake, and red hake, subject to the applicable possession limits as specified in §648.86(d), except for the following allowable incidental species: Butterfish, Atlantic mackerel, and squid, up to the amounts specified in §648.26; scup, up to the amount specified in §648.128; spiny dogfish, up to the amount specified in §648.235, and Atlantic herring, up to the amount specified in §648.204.

(C) [Reserved]

(D) All nets must comply with the minimum mesh sizes specified in paragraphs (a)(15)(i)(B) of this section. Counting from the terminus of the net, the minimum mesh size is applied to the first 100 meshes (200 bars in the case of square mesh) from the terminus of the net for vessels greater than 60 ft (18.3 m) in length and is applied to the first 50 meshes (100 bars in the case of square mesh) from the terminus of the net for vessels less than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) in length.

(E) Raised footrope trawl gear is required and must be configured as specified in paragraphs (a)(9)(ii)(A) through (D) of this section.

(F) Fishing may only occur from September 1 through November 20 of each fishing year, except that it may occur in the eastern portion only of the Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery Exemption Area from November 21 through December 31 of each fishing year.

(G) A vessel enrolled in the Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery may fish for small-mesh multispecies in exempted fisheries outside of the Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery exemption area, provided that the vessel complies with the more restrictive gear, possession limit and other requirements specified in the regulations of that exempted fishery for the entire participation period specified on the vessel's letter of authorization. For example, a vessel may fish in both the Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery and the Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area, and would be restricted to a minimum mesh size of 3 inches (7.6 cm), as required in the Cultivator Shoal Whiting Fishery Exemption Area; the use of the raised footrope trawl; and the catch and bycatch restrictions of the Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery, except for scup.

(ii) Sea sampling. The Regional Administrator shall conduct periodic sea sampling to evaluate the bycatch of regulated species.

(16) GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery. Unless otherwise prohibited in §648.370 or §648.371, vessels subject to the minimum mesh size restrictions specified in paragraphs (a)(3) or (4) of this section may fish with, use, and possess in the GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery area from July 1 through November 30 of each year, nets with a mesh size smaller than the minimum size specified, if the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraphs (a)(16)(i) and (ii) of this section. The GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery Area (copies of a chart depicting the area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request) is defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Whiting Fishery Exemption Area

[July 1 through November 30]

PointN lat.W long.
GRF143°1570°35.4
GRF243°1570°00
GRF343°25.270°00
GRF443°41.869°20
GRF543°58.869°20

(i) Mesh requirements and possession restrictions. (A) All nets must comply with a minimum mesh size of 2.5-in (6.35-cm) square or diamond mesh, subject to the restrictions specified in paragraph (a)(16)(i)(B) of this section. An owner or operator of a vessel participating in the GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish, other than silver hake and offshore hake, subject to the applicable possession limits as specified in paragraph (a)(16)(i)(C) of this section, and red hake, subject to the possession limit specified in §648.86, except for the following allowable incidental species: Butterfish, Atlantic mackerel, and squid, up to the amounts specified in §648.26; Atlantic herring, up to the amount specified in §648.204; and alewife.

(B) All nets must comply with the minimum mesh size specified in paragraph (a)(16)(i)(A) of this section. Counting from the terminus of the net, the minimum mesh size is applied to the first 100 meshes (200 bars in the case of square mesh) from the terminus of the net for vessels greater than 60 ft (18.3 m) in length and is applied to the first 50 meshes (100 bars in the case of square mesh) from the terminus of the net for vessels less than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) in length.

(C) An owner or operator of a vessel participating in the GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery may fish for, possess, and land combined silver hake and offshore hake only up to 7,500 lb (3,402 kg). An owner or operator fishing with mesh larger than the minimum mesh size specified in paragraph (a)(16)(i)(A) of this section may not fish for, possess, or land silver hake or offshore hake in quantities larger than 7,500 lb (3,402 kg).

(ii) Gear specifications. In addition to the requirements specified in paragraph (a)(16)(i) of this section, an owner or operator of a vessel fishing in the GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery must configure the vessel's trawl gear as specified in paragraphs (a)(16)(ii)(A) through (C) of this section.

(A) An owner or operator of a vessel fishing in the GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery must configure the vessel's gear with a raised footrope trawl as specified in paragraphs (a)(9)(ii)(A) through (C) of this section. In addition, the restrictions specified in paragraphs (a)(16)(ii)(B) and (C) of this section apply to vessels fishing in the GOM Grate Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery.

(B) The raised footrope trawl must be used without a sweep of any kind (chain, roller frame, or rockhopper). The drop chains must be a maximum of 38 -inch (0.95 cm) diameter bare chain and must be hung from the center of the footrope and each corner (the quarter, or the junction of the bottom wing to the belly at the footrope). Drop chains must be at least 42 inches (106.7 cm) in length and must be hung at intervals of 8 ft (2.4 m) along the footrope from the corners to the wing ends.

(C) The raised footrope trawl net must have a rigid or semi-rigid grate consisting of parallel bars of not more than 50 mm (1.97 inches) spacing that excludes all fish and other objects, except those that are small enough to pass between its bars into the codend of the trawl. The grate must be secured in the trawl, forward of the codend, in such a manner that it precludes the passage of fish or other objects into the codend without the fish or objects having to first pass between the bars of the grate. The net must have an outlet or hole to allow fish or other objects that are too large to pass between the bars of the grate to exit the net. The aftermost edge of this outlet or hole must be at least as wide as the grate at the point of attachment. The outlet or hole must extend forward from the grate toward the mouth of the net. A funnel of net material is allowed in the lengthening piece of the net forward of the grate to direct catch towards the grate.

(iii) Annual review. On an annual basis, the Groundfish PDT will review data from this fishery, including sea sampling data, to determine whether adjustments are necessary to ensure that regulated species bycatch remains at a minimum. If the Groundfish PDT recommends adjustments to ensure that regulated species bycatch remains at a minimum, the Council may take action prior to the next fishing year through the framework adjustment process specified in §648.90(c), and in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act.

(17) GOM/GB Exemption Area—Area definition. The GOM/GB Exemption Area (copies of a map depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request) is that area:

(i) Bounded on the east by the U.S.-Canada maritime boundary, defined by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Gulf of Maine Georges Bank Exemption Area

Point N. lat.W. long.
G1(1)(1)
G243°5867°22
G342°53.167°44.4
G442°3167°28.1
G541°18.666°24.8

1The intersection of the shoreline and the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary

(ii) Bounded on the south by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank Exemption Area

PointN. latitudeW. longitude
G640°55.566°38
G740°4568°00
G840°3768°00
G940°3069°00
NL340°22.769°00
NL240°18.769°40
NL140°5069°40
G1140°5070°00
G12(1)70°00

1Northward to its intersection with the shoreline of mainland Massachusetts.

(18) [Reserved]

(19) Cape Cod Spiny Dogfish Exemption Areas. Unless otherwise prohibited in §648.370 or §648.371, vessels issued a NE multispecies limited access permit that have declared out of the DAS program as specified in §648.10, or that have used up their DAS allocations, may fish in the Eastern or Western Cape Cod Spiny Dogfish Exemption Area as defined under paragraphs (a)(19)(i) and (ii) of this section, when not under a NE multispecies or scallop DAS, provided the vessel complies with the requirements for the Eastern or Western area, specified in paragraphs (a)(19)(i) and (ii) of this section, respectively.

(i) Eastern area definition. The Eastern Cape Cod Spiny Dogfish Exemption Area is defined by the straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting the area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request): Eastern Cape Cod Spiny Dogfish Exemption Area [June 1 through December 31, unless otherwise specified in paragraph (a)(19)(i)(A) of this section]

Point N. latitude W. longitude
CCD 142/0070/00
CCD 242/0069/47.5
CCD 341/4069/47.5
CCD 441/29.569/35.5
CCD 541/29.569/23
CCD 641/2669/20
CCD 741/2069/20
CCD 841/20(1)
CCD 9(2)70/00
CCD 10(3)70/00
CCD 11(4)70/00
CCD 142/0070/00

1The eastern coastline of Nantucket, MA at 41°20 N. lat.

2The northern coastline of Nantucket, MA at 70°00 W. long.

3The southern coastline of Cape Cod, MA at 70°00 W. long., then along the eastern coastline of Cape Cod, MA to Point—11

4The northern coastline of Cape Cod, MA, at 70°00 W. long.

(A) Requirements. (1) A vessel fishing in the Eastern Cape Cod Spiny Dogfish Exemption Area specified in this paragraph (a)(19) may not fish for, possess on board, or land any NE regulated species in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (a)(19) of this section.

(2) Vessels may use gillnet gear, as specified in §648.80(a)(4)(iv), or longline gear as specified in §648.80(a)(4)(v), from June 1 through December 31.

(3) Vessels may use handgear from June 1 through August 31.

(B) [Reserved]

(ii) Western area definition. The Western Cape Cod Spiny Dogfish Exemption Area is bounded on the north by 42°11.5 N. lat., bounded on the east by 70°00 W. long., and bounded on the south and west by the coast of Massachusetts (copies of a chart depicting the area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request).

(A) Requirements. (1) A vessel fishing in the Western Cape Cod Spiny Dogfish Exemption Area specified in this paragraph (a)(19) may not fish for, possess on board, or land any NE regulated species in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (a)(19) of this section.

(2) Vessels may use longline gear as specified in §648.80(a)(4)(v), and handgear from June 1 through August 31.

(B) [Reserved]

(b) Southern New England (SNE) Regulated Mesh Area—(1) Area definition. The SNE Regulated Mesh Area (copies of a map depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request) is that area:

(i) Bounded on the east by the western boundary of the GB Regulated Mesh Area described under paragraph (a)(2)(iii) of this section; and

(ii) Bounded on the west by a line beginning at the intersection of 74°00 W. long. and the south facing shoreline of Long Island, NY, and then running southward along the 74°00 W. long. line.

(2) Gear restrictions—(i) Vessels using trawls. Except as provided in paragraphs (b)(2)(i) and (vi) of this section, and §648.85(b)(6), and unless otherwise restricted under paragraph (b)(2)(iii) of this section, the minimum mesh size for any trawl net, not stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, except midwater trawl, on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under the NE multispecies DAS program or on a sector trip in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area is 6-inch (15.2-cm) diamond mesh or 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) square mesh, applied throughout the body and extension of the net, or any combination thereof, and 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) square or diamond mesh applied to the codend of the net, as defined in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(ii) Vessels using Scottish seine, midwater trawl, and purse seine. Except as provided in paragraphs (b)(2)(ii) and (vi) of this section, the minimum mesh size for any Scottish seine, midwater trawl, or purse seine, not stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under a DAS in the NE multispecies DAS program in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area is 6-inch (15.2-cm) diamond mesh or 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) square mesh applied throughout the net, or any combination thereof. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(iii) Large-mesh vessels. When fishing in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area, the minimum mesh size for any trawl net vessel, or sink gillnet, not stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2 on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under a DAS in the Large-mesh DAS program, specified in §648.82(b)(4), is 8.5-inch (21.6-cm) diamond or square mesh throughout the entire net. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(iv) Gillnet vessels. For Day and Trip gillnet vessels, the minimum mesh size for any sink gillnet not stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, when fishing under a DAS in the NE multispecies DAS program or on a sector trip in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area, is 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) throughout the entire net. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) x 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), to vessels fishing with gillnet gear under a monkfish-only DAS in the SNE Dogfish Gillnet Exemption Area in accordance with the provisions specified under paragraph (b)(7)(i)(A) of this section; to vessels fishing with gillnet gear under a monkfish-only DAS in the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area in accordance with the provisions specified under paragraph (c)(5)(ii) of this section; or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters. Day gillnet vessels must also abide by the tagging requirements in paragraph (a)(3)(iv)(C) of this section.

(A) Trip gillnet vessels. A Trip gillnet vessel fishing under a NE multispecies DAS or on a sector trip and fishing in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area may not fish with nets longer than 300 ft(91.4 m), or 50 fathoms (91.4 m) in length.

(B) Day gillnet vessels—(1) Number of nets. A Day gillnet vessel fishing under a NE multispecies DAS or on a sector trip and fishing in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area may not fish with, haul, possess, or deploy more than 75 nets, except as provided in §648.92(b)(8)(i). Such vessels may stow additional nets in accordance with the definition of not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2 not to exceed 150 nets, counting the deployed net.

(2) Net size requirements. Nets may not be longer than 300 ft (91.4 m), or 50 fathoms (91.4 m), in length.

(3) Tags. Roundfish or flatfish gillnets must be tagged with two tags per net, with one tag secured to each bridle of every net within a string of nets.

(C) Obtaining and replacing tags. See paragraph (a)(3)(iv)(C) of this section.

(v) Hook gear restrictions. Unless otherwise specified in this paragraph (b)(2)(v), vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access permit and fishing under a NE multispecies DAS, and vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Small-Vessel permit, in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area, and persons on such vessels, are prohibited from fishing, setting, or hauling back, per day, or possessing on board the vessel, more than 2,000 rigged hooks. All longline gear hooks must be circle hooks, of a minimum size of 12/0. An unabated hook and gangions that has not been secured to the ground line of the trawl on board a vessel is deemed to be a replacement hook and is not counted toward the 2,000-hook limit. A “snap-on” hook is deemed to be a replacement hook if it is not rigged or baited. The use of de-hookers (“crucifer”) with less than 6-inch (15.2-cm) spacing between the fairlead rollers is prohibited. Vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Hook Gear permit and fishing under a multispecies DAS in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area, and persons on such vessels, are prohibited from possessing gear other than hook gear on board the vessel. Vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Handgear A permit are prohibited from fishing, or possessing on board the vessel, gears other than handgear. Vessels fishing with tub-trawl gear are prohibited from fishing, setting, or hauling back, per day, or possessing on board the vessel more than 250 hooks.

(vi) Other restrictions and exemptions. A vessel is prohibited from fishing in the SNE Exemption Area, as defined in paragraph (b)(10) of this section, except if fishing with exempted gear (as defined under this part) or under the exemptions specified in paragraphs (b)(3), (b)(5) through (9), (b)(12), (c), (e), (h), and (i) of this section; or if fishing under a NE multispecies DAS; or if fishing on a sector trip; or if fishing under the Small Vessel or Handgear A permit specified in §648.82(b)(5) and (6), respectively; or if fishing under a Handgear B permit specified in §648.88(a); or if fishing under a scallop state waters exemption specified in §648.54; or if fishing under a scallop DAS or General Category scallop permit in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section; or if fishing pursuant to a NE multispecies open access Charter/Party or Handgear permit specified in §648.88; or if fishing as a charter/party or private recreational vessel in compliance with the regulations specified in §648.89. Any gear on a vessel, or used by a vessel, in this area must be authorized under one of these exemptions or must be stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(3) Exemptions—(i) Species exemption. Unless otherwise restricted in §648.86, owners and operators of vessels subject to the minimum mesh size restrictions specified in paragraphs (a)(4) and (b)(2) of this section may fish for, harvest, possess, or land butterfish, dogfish (caught by trawl only), herring, Atlantic chub mackerel, Atlantic mackerel, ocean pout, scup, shrimp, squid, summer flounder, silver hake and offshore hake, and weakfish with nets of a mesh size smaller than the minimum size specified in the GB and SNE Regulated Mesh Areas when fishing in the SNE Exemption Area defined in paragraph (b)(10) of this section, provided such vessels comply with requirements specified in paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section and with the mesh size and possession limit restrictions specified under §648.86(d).

(ii) Possession and net stowage requirements. Vessels may possess regulated species while in possession of nets with mesh smaller than the minimum size specified in paragraphs (a)(4) and (b)(2) of this section when fishing in the SNE Exemption Area defined in paragraph (b)(10) of this section, provided that such nets are stowed and are not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, and provided that regulated species were not harvested by nets of mesh size smaller than the minimum mesh size specified in paragraphs (a)(4) and (b)(2) of this section. Vessels fishing for the exempted species identified in paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section may also possess and retain the following species, with the restrictions noted, as incidental take to these exempted fisheries: Conger eels; sea robins; black sea bass; red hake; tautog (blackfish); blowfish; cunner; John Dory; mullet; bluefish; tilefish; longhorn sculpin; fourspot flounder; alewife; hickory shad; American shad; blueback herring; sea raven; Atlantic croaker; spot; swordfish; monkfish and monkfish parts—up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board or up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail-weight/146 lb (66 kg) whole weight of monkfish per trip, as specified in §648.94(c)(4), whichever is less; American lobster—up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board or 200 lobsters, whichever is less; and skate and skate parts (except for barndoor skate and other prohibited skate species (see §§648.14(v)(2) and 648.322(g))—up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board.

(4) Addition or deletion of exemptions. Same as in paragraph (a)(8) of this section.

(5) SNE Monkfish and Skate Trawl Exemption Area. Unless otherwise required or prohibited by monkfish or skate regulations under this part, a vessel may fish with trawl gear in the SNE Monkfish and Skate Trawl Fishery Exemption Area when not operating under a NE multispecies DAS if the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (b)(5)(i) of this section, and the monkfish and skate regulations, as applicable, under this part. The SNE Monkfish and Skate Trawl Fishery Exemption Area is defined as the area bounded on the north by a line extending eastward along 40°10 N. lat., and bounded on the west by the western boundary of the SNE Exemption Area as defined in paragraph (b)(10)(ii) of this section.

(i) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing under this exemption may only fish for, possess on board, or land monkfish and incidentally caught species up to the amounts specified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(B) All trawl nets must comply with the minimum mesh size specified under §648.91(c)(1)(i).

(C) A vessel not operating under a multispecies DAS may fish for, possess on board, or land skates, provided:

(1) The vessel is called into the monkfish DAS program (§648.92) and complies with the skate possession limit restrictions at §648.322;

(2) The vessel has a valid letter of authorization on board to fish for skates as bait, and complies with the requirements specified at §648.322(c); or

(3) The vessel possesses and/or lands skates or skate parts in an amount not to exceed 10 percent by weight of all other species on board as specified at paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(ii) [Reserved]

(6) SNE Monkfish and Skate Gillnet Exemption Area. Unless otherwise required by monkfish regulations under this part, a vessel may fish with gillnet gear in the SNE Monkfish and Skate Gillnet Fishery Exemption Area when not operating under a NE multispecies DAS if the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (b)(6)(i) of this section; the monkfish regulations, as applicable, under §§648.91 through 648.94; and the skate regulations, as applicable, under §§648.4 and 648.322. The SNE Monkfish and Skate Gillnet Fishery Exemption Area is defined by a line running from the Massachusetts shoreline at 41°35 N. lat. and 70°00 W. long., south to its intersection with the outer boundary of the EEZ, southwesterly along the outer boundary of the EEZ, and bounded on the west by the western boundary of the SNE Exemption Area, as defined in paragraph (b)(10)(ii) of this section.

(i) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing under the SNE Monkfish and Skate Gillnet Exemption may only fish for, possess on board, or land monkfish as specified in §648.94(b), spiny dogfish up to the amount specified in §648.235, and other incidentally caught species up to the amounts specified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(B) All gillnets must have a minimum mesh size of 10-inch (25.4-cm) diamond mesh throughout the net.

(C) All nets with a mesh size smaller than the minimum mesh size specified in paragraph (b)(6)(i)(B) of this section must be stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2.

(D) A vessel not operating under a NE multispecies DAS may fish for, possess on board, or land skates, provided:

(1) The vessel is called into the monkfish DAS program (§648.92) and complies with the skate possession limit restrictions at §648.322;

(2) The vessel has a valid letter of authorization on board to fish for skates as bait, and complies with the requirements specified at §648.322(c); or

(3) The vessel possesses and/or lands skates or skate parts in an amount not to exceed 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board as specified at paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(ii) [Reserved]

(7) SNE Dogfish Gillnet Exemption Area. Unless otherwise required by monkfish regulations under this part, a gillnet vessel may fish in the SNE Dogfish Gillnet Fishery Exemption Area when not operating under a NE multispecies DAS if the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (b)(7)(i) of this section and the applicable dogfish regulations under subpart L of this part. The SNE Dogfish Gillnet Fishery Exemption Area is defined by a line running from the Massachusetts shoreline at 41°35 N. lat. and 70°00 W. long., south to its intersection with the outer boundary of the EEZ, southwesterly along the outer boundary of the EEZ, and bounded on the west by the western boundary of the SNE Exemption Area as defined in paragraph (b)(10)(ii) of this section.

(i) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing under the SNE Dogfish Gillnet Exemption may only fish for, possess on board, or land dogfish and the bycatch species and amounts specified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, unless fishing under a monkfish DAS. A vessel fishing under this exemption while on a monkfish-only DAS may also fish for, possess on board, and land monkfish up to the amount specified in §648.94.

(B) All gillnets must have a minimum mesh size of 6-inch (15.2-cm) diamond mesh throughout the net. A vessel fishing under this exemption while on a monkfish-only DAS may not fish with, possess, haul, or deploy more than 50 roundfish gillnets, as defined in §648.2.

(C) Fishing is confined to May 1 through October 31.

(ii) [Reserved]

(8) SNE Mussel and Sea Urchin Dredge Exemption. A vessel may fish with a dredge in the SNE Exemption Area, as defined in paragraph (b)(10) of this section, provided that any dredge on board the vessel does not exceed 8 ft (2.4 m), measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge, and the vessel does not fish for, harvest, possess, or land any species of fish other than mussels and sea urchins.

(9) SNE Little Tunny Gillnet Exemption Area. A vessel may fish with gillnet gear in the SNE Little Tunny Gillnet Exemption Area when not operating under a NE multispecies DAS with mesh size smaller than the minimum required in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area, if the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (b)(9)(i) of this section. The SNE Little Tunny Gillnet Exemption Area is defined by a line running from the Rhode Island shoreline at 41°18.2 N. lat. and 71°51.5 W. long. (Watch Hill, RI), southwesterly through Fishers Island, NY, to Race Point, Fishers Island, NY; and from Race Point, Fishers Island, NY, southeasterly to 41°06.5 N. lat. and 71°50.2 W. long.; east-northeastly through Block Island, RI, to 41°15 N. lat. and 71°07 W. long.; then due north to the intersection of the RI-MA shoreline.

(i) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing under this exemption may fish only for, possess on board, or land little tunny and the allowable incidental species and amounts specified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section and, if applicable, paragraph (b)(9)(i)(B) of this section. Vessels fishing under this exemption may not possess regulated species.

(B) A vessel may possess bonito as an allowable incidental species.

(C) The vessel must have a letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator on board.

(D) All gillnets must have a minimum mesh size of 5.5-inch (14.0-cm) diamond mesh throughout the net.

(E) All nets with a mesh size smaller than the minimum mesh size specified in paragraph (b)(9)(i)(D) of this section must be stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2 while fishing under this exemption.

(F) Fishing is confined to September 1 through October 31.

(ii) The Regional Administrator shall conduct periodic sea sampling to evaluate the likelihood of gear interactions with protected resources.

(10) SNE Exemption Area—Area definition. The SNE Exemption Area (copies of a map depicting this area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request) is that area:

(i) Bounded on the east by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

Southern New England Exemption Area

Point N. lat.W. long.
G541°18.666°24.8
G640°55.566°38
G740°45.568°00
G840°3768°00
G940°30.569°00
NL340°22.769°00
NL240°18.769°40
NL140°5069°40
G1140°5070°00
G1270°001

1Northward to its intersection with the shoreline of mainland Massachusetts.

(ii) Bounded on the west by a line running from the Rhode Island shoreline at 41°18.2 N. lat. and 71°51.5 W. long. (Watch Hill, RI), southwesterly through Fishers Island, NY, to Race Point, Fishers Island, NY; and from Race Point, Fishers Island, NY; southeasterly to the intersection of the 3-nautical mile line east of Montauk Point; southwesterly along the 3-nautical mile line to the intersection of 72°30 W. long.; and south along that line to the intersection of the outer boundary of the EEZ.

(11) [Reserved]

(12) SNE Skate Bait Trawl Exemption Area. Vessels issued an open access skate permit and a skate bait Letter of Authorization as specified in §648.322(c) that have declared out of the DAS program as specified in §648.10, or that have used up their DAS allocations, may fish in the SNE Skate Bait Trawl Exemption Area as defined under paragraph (b)(12)(i) of this section, when not under a NE multispecies or scallop DAS, provided the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section.

(i) Area definition. The SNE Skate Bait Trawl Exemption Area is defined by the straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated (copies of a chart depicting the area are available from the Regional Administrator upon request):

SNE Skate Bait Trawl Exemption Area

[July 1 through October 31]

PointN. lat.W. long.
SBT 1Southeastern MA71°00
SBT 241°0071°00
SBT 341°0072°05
SBT 4Southern CT72°05

(ii) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing in the SNE Skate Bait Trawl Exemption Area specified in this paragraph (b)(12) may not fish for, possess on board, or land any NE regulated species.

(B) Vessels must use trawl gear, as specified in §648.80(b)(2)(i).

(C) Vessels must possess an active skate bait letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator, as specified in §648.322(c) and fish pursuant to the terms of authorization.

(D) Fishing may only occur from July 1 through October 31 of each fishing year.

(c) Mid-Atlantic (MA) Regulated Mesh Area—(1) Area definition. The MA Regulated Mesh Area is that area bounded on the east by the western boundary of the SNE Regulated Mesh Area, described under paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section.

(2) Gear restrictions—(i) Vessels using trawls. Except as provided in paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section, and §648.85(b)(6), the minimum mesh size for any trawl net not stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under the NE multispecies DAS program or on a sector trip in the MA Regulated Mesh Area, shall be that specified by §648.104(a), applied throughout the body and extension of the net, or any combination thereof, and 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) diamond or square mesh applied to the codend of the net, as defined in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(ii) Vessels using Scottish seine, midwater trawl, and purse seine. Except as provided in paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section, the minimum mesh size for any sink gillnet, Scottish seine, midwater trawl, or purse seine, not stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under a DAS in the NE multispecies DAS program in the MA Regulated Mesh Area, shall be that specified in §648.104(a). This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(iii) Large-mesh vessels. When fishing in the MA Regulated Mesh Area, the minimum mesh size for any trawl net vessel, or sink gillnet, not stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, on a vessel or used by a vessel fishing under a DAS in the Large-mesh DAS program, specified in §648.82(b)(4), is 7.5-inch (19.0-cm) diamond mesh or 8.0-inch (20.3-cm) square mesh, throughout the entire net. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) × 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(iv) Hook gear restrictions. Unless otherwise specified in this paragraph (c)(2)(iv), vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access permit and fishing under a NE multispecies DAS, and vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Small Vessel permit, in the MA Regulated Mesh Area, and persons on such vessels, are prohibited from using de-hookers (“crucifer”) with less than 6-inch (15.2-cm) spacing between the fairlead rollers. Vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Hook gear permit and fishing under a NE multispecies DAS in the MA Regulated Mesh Area, and persons on such vessels, are prohibited from possessing gear other than hook gear on board the vessel and are prohibited from fishing, setting, or hauling back, per day, or possessing on board the vessel, more than 4,500 rigged hooks. An unabated hook and gangions that has not been secured to the ground line of the trawl on board a vessel is deemed to be a replacement hook and is not counted toward the 4,500-hook limit. A “snap-on” hook is deemed to be a replacement hook if it is not rigged or baited. Vessels fishing with a valid NE multispecies limited access Handgear permit are prohibited from fishing, or possessing on board the vessel gears other than handgear. Vessels fishing with tub-trawl gear are prohibited from fishing, setting, or hauling back, per day, or possessing on board the vessel, more than 250 hooks.

(v) Gillnet vessels. For Day and Trip gillnet vessels, the minimum mesh size for any sink gillnet, not stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, when fishing under a DAS in the NE multispecies DAS program or on a sector trip in the MA Regulated Mesh Area, is 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) throughout the entire net. This restriction does not apply to nets or pieces of nets smaller than 3 ft (0.9 m) x 3 ft (0.9 m), (9 sq ft (0.81 sq m)), to vessels fishing with gillnet gear under a monkfish-only DAS in the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area in accordance with the provisions specified under paragraph (c)(5)(ii) of this section, or to vessels that have not been issued a NE multispecies permit and that are fishing exclusively in state waters.

(A) Trip gillnet vessels. A Trip gillnet vessel fishing under a NE multispecies DAS or on a sector trip and fishing in the MA Regulated Mesh Area may not fish with nets longer than 300 ft (91.4 m), or 50 fathoms (91.4 m) in length.

(B) Day gillnet vessels—(1) Number of nets. A Day gillnet vessel fishing under a NE multispecies DAS or on a sector trip and fishing in the MA Regulated Mesh Area, may not fish with, haul, possess, or deploy more than 75 nets, except as provided in §648.92(b)(8)(i). Such vessels may stow additional nets in accordance with the definition of not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2 not to exceed 150 nets, counting the deployed net.

(2) Net size requirement. Nets may not be longer than 300 ft (91.4 m), or 50 fathoms (91.4 m), in length.

(3) Tags. Roundfish or flatfish gillnets must be tagged with two tags per net, with one tag secured to each bridle of every net within a string of nets.

(C) Obtaining and replacing tags. See paragraph (a)(3)(iv)(C) of this section.

(3) Net stowage exemption. Vessels may possess regulated species while in possession of nets with mesh smaller than the minimum size specified in paragraph (c)(2)(i) of this section, provided that such nets are stowed and are not available for immediate use as defined in §648.2, and provided that regulated species were not harvested by nets of mesh size smaller than the minimum mesh size specified in paragraph (c)(2)(i) of this section.

(4) Addition or deletion of exemptions. See paragraph (a)(8)(ii) of this section.

(5) MA Exemption Area. (i) The MA Exemption Area is that area that lies west of the SNE Exemption Area defined in paragraph (b)(10) of this section.

(ii) Monkfish/Spiny Dogfish Exempted Gillnet Fishery. A vessel fishing on a monkfish-only DAS may fish with, use, or possess gillnets in the MA Exemption Area with a mesh size smaller than the minimum size specified in paragraph (b)(2)(iv) or (c)(2)(v) of this section, provided the vessel complies with the following requirements:

(A) Number of nets. Notwithstanding the provisions specified in paragraphs (c)(2)(v)(A) and (B) of this section and §648.92(b)(8), a vessel fishing on a monkfish-only DAS within the MA Exemption Area may not fish with, possess, haul, or deploy more than 50 roundfish gillnets, as defined in §648.2.

(B) Minimum mesh size. The minimum mesh size for any roundfish gillnet not stowed and available for immediate use by a vessel fishing on a monkfish-only DAS within the MA Exemption Area is 5 inches (12.7 cm) throughout the entire net.

(C) Possession limits. A vessel fishing on a monkfish-only DAS within the MA Exemption Area may fish for, possess on board, or land monkfish up to the amount specified in §648.94, spiny dogfish up to the amount specified in §648.235, and other incidentally caught species up to the amounts specified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(iii) Atlantic chub mackerel fishery exemption. Owners and operators of vessels subject to the minimum mesh size restrictions specified in paragraphs (b)(2) and (c)(2) of this section may fish for, harvest, possess, or land Atlantic chub mackerel with nets of a mesh size smaller than the minimum size specified in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area when fishing in the MA Exemption Area defined in paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this section, provided such vessels comply with the following requirements:

(A) Gear restrictions. A vessel fishing for Atlantic chub mackerel within the MA Exemption Area must comply with the gear restrictions specified in §648.23.

(B) Possession limits. A vessel fishing for Atlantic chub mackerel within the MA Exemption Area may fish for, possess on board, or land Atlantic chub mackerel, Atlantic mackerel, butterfish, Illex squid, and longfin squid up to the amount specified in §648.26, and other incidentally caught species up to the amounts specified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(d) Midwater trawl gear exempted fishery. Fishing may take place throughout the fishing year with midwater trawl gear of mesh size less than the applicable minimum size specified in this section, provided that:

(1) Midwater trawl gear is used exclusively;

(2) When fishing under this exemption in the GOM/GB Exemption Area, as defined in paragraph (a)(17) of this section, the vessel has on board a letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator, and complies with the following restrictions:

(i) The vessel only fishes for, possesses, or lands Atlantic herring, blueback herring, or mackerel in areas north of 42°20 N lat. and in the areas described in §648.81(c)(3) and (4); and Atlantic herring, blueback herring, mackerel, or squid in all other areas south of 42°20 N. lat.; and

(ii) The vessel is issued a letter of authorization for a minimum of 7 days. The vessel can be issued LOAs for the midwater trawl exempted fishery and the purse seine exempted fishery at the same time.

(3) The vessel carries a NMFS-certified observer, if requested by the Regional Administrator;

(4) The vessel does not fish for, possess or land NE. multispecies, except that a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit and fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section, may possess and land haddock and other regulated multispecies consistent with the catch caps and possession restrictions in §648.86(a)(3) and (k). Such haddock or other regulated NE multispecies may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred, or attempted to be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred for, or intended for, human consumption. Haddock or other regulated NE multispecies that are separated out from the herring catch pursuant to §648.15(d) may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred, or attempted to be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred for any purpose. A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, regardless of gear or area fished, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear pursuant to this paragraph (d), may not discard haddock that has been brought on the deck or pumped into the hold;

(5) To fish for herring under this exemption, a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip, or a vessel issued a Category C, D, or E Herring Permit fishing with midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined in §648.200(f)(1) and (3), must provide notice of the following information to NMFS at least 48 hr prior to beginning any trip into these areas for the purposes of observer deployment: Vessel name; contact name for coordination of observer deployment; telephone number for contact; the date, time, and port of departure; and

(6) A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip with midwater trawl gear, or a vessel issued a Category C or E Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined at §648.200(f)(1) and (3), must notify NMFS Office of Law Enforcement through VMS of the time and place of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, if fishing ends less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel stops catching fish. The Regional Administrator may adjust the prior notification minimum time through publication of a document in the Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.

(6) A vessel issued an All Areas Limited Access Herring Permit and/or an Areas 2 and 3 Limited Access Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip with midwater trawl gear, or a vessel issued a Limited Access Incidental Catch Herring Permit and fishing with midwater trawl gear in Management Areas 1A, 1B, and/or 3, as defined at §648.200(f)(1) and (3), must notify NMFS Office of Law Enforcement through VMS of the time and place of offloading at least 6 hr prior to crossing the VMS demarcation line on their return trip to port, or, for a vessel that has not fished seaward of the VMS demarcation line, at least 6 hr prior to landing. The Regional Administrator may adjust the prior notification minimum time through publication of a notice in the Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.

(7) [Reserved]

(e) Purse seine gear exempted fishery. Fishing may take place throughout the fishing year with purse seine gear of mesh size smaller than the applicable minimum size specified in this section, provided that:

(1) The vessel uses purse seine gear exclusively;

(2) When fishing under this exemption in the GOM/GB Exemption Area, as defined in paragraph (a)(17) of this section, the vessel has on board a letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator and complies with the following:

(i) The vessel only fishes for, possesses, or lands Atlantic herring, blueback herring, mackerel, or menhaden; and

(ii) The vessel must carry a NMFS-certified observer, if requested to do so by the Regional Administrator;

(3) The vessel is issued a letter of authorization for a minimum of 7 days, and cancels it only as instructed by the Regional Administrator. The vessel can be issued LOAs for the midwater trawl exempted fishery and the purse seine exempted fishery at the same time; and

(4) The vessel does not fish for, possess, or land NE multispecies, except that vessels that have a Category A or B Herring Permit fishing on a declared herring trip may possess and land haddock or other regulated species consistent with possession restrictions in §648.86(a)(3) and (k), respectively. Such haddock or other regulated multispecies may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred, or attempted to be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred for, or intended for, human consumption. Haddock or other regulated species that are separated out from the herring catch pursuant to §648.15(d) may not be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred, or attempted to be sold, purchased, received, traded, bartered, or transferred for any purpose. A vessel issued a Category A or B Herring Permit may not discard haddock that has been brought on the deck or pumped into the hold;

(5) To fish for herring under this exemption, vessels that have a Category A or B Herring Permit must provide notice to NMFS of the vessel name; contact name for coordination of observer deployment; telephone number for contact; and the date, time, and port of departure, at least 48 hr prior to beginning any trip into these areas for the purposes of observer deployment; and

(6) All vessels that have a Category A or B Herring Permit must notify NMFS Office of Law Enforcement through VMS of the time and place of offloading at least 6 hours prior to landing or, if fishing ends less than 6 hours before landing, as soon as the vessel stops catching fish. The Regional Administrator may adjust the prior notification minimum time through publication of a document in the Federal Register consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.

(f) Mesh measurements—(1) Gillnets. Mesh size of gillnet gear shall be measured by lining up 5 consecutive knots perpendicular to the float line and, with a ruler or tape measure, measuring 10 consecutive measures on the diamond, inside knot to inside knot. The mesh shall be the average of the measurements of 10 consecutive measures.

(2) All other nets. With the exception of gillnets, mesh size is measured by a wedge-shaped gauge having a taper of 2 cm (0.79 inches) in 8 cm (3.15 inches), and a thickness of 2.3 mm (0.09 inches), inserted into the meshes under a pressure or pull of 5 kg (11.02 lb) for mesh size less than 120 mm (4.72 inches) and under a pressure or pull of 8 kg (17.64 lb) for mesh size at, or greater, than 120 mm (4.72 inches).

(i) Square-mesh measurement. Square mesh in the regulated portion of the net is measured by placing the net gauge along the diagonal line that connects the largest opening between opposite corners of the square. The square-mesh size is the average of the measurements of 20 consecutive adjacent meshes from the terminus forward along the long axis of the net. The square mesh is measured at least five meshes away from the lacings of the net.

(ii) Diamond-mesh measurement. Diamond mesh in the regulated portion of the net is measured running parallel to the long axis of the net. The diamond-mesh size is the average of the measurements of any series of 20 consecutive meshes. The mesh is measured at least five meshes away from the lacings of the net.

(g) Restrictions on gear and methods of fishing—(1) Net obstruction or constriction. Except as provided in paragraph (g)(5) of this section, a fishing vessel subject to minimum mesh size restrictions shall not use, or attach any device or material, including, but not limited to, nets, net strengtheners, ropes, lines, or chafing gear, on the top of a trawl net, except that one splitting strap and one bull rope (if present), consisting of line and rope no more than 3 in (7.6 cm) in diameter, may be used if such splitting strap and/or bull rope does not constrict, in any manner, the top of the trawl net. “The top of the trawl net” means the 50 percent of the net that (in a hypothetical situation) would not be in contact with the ocean bottom during a tow if the net were laid flat on the ocean floor. For the purpose of this paragraph, head ropes are not considered part of the top of the trawl net.

(2) Net obstruction or constriction. (i) Except as provided in paragraph (g)(5) of this section, a fishing vessel may not use, or attach, any mesh configuration, mesh construction, or other means on or in the top of the net, as defined in paragraph (g)(1), subject to minimum mesh size restrictions, as defined in paragraph (g)(1) of this section, if it obstructs the meshes of the net in any manner.

(ii) A fishing vessel may not use a net capable of catching NE multispecies if the bars entering or exiting the knots twist around each other.

(3) Pair trawl prohibition. No vessel may fish for NE multispecies while pair trawling, or possess or land NE multispecies that have been harvested by means of pair trawling, except as authorized under paragraph (d) of this section.

(4) Brush-sweep trawl prohibition. No vessel may fish for, possess, or land NE multispecies while fishing with, or while in possession of, brush-sweep trawl gear.

(5) Net strengthener restrictions when fishing for or possessing small-mesh multispecies—(i) Nets of mesh size less than 2.5 inches (6.4 cm). A vessel lawfully fishing for small-mesh multispecies in the GOM/GB, SNE, or MA Regulated Mesh Areas, as defined in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this section, with nets of mesh size smaller than 2.5 inches (6.4 cm), as measured by methods specified in paragraph (f) of this section, may use net strengtheners (covers, as described at §648.23(a)(3)), provided that the net strengthener for nets of mesh size smaller than 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) complies with the provisions specified under §648.23(a)(3)(iii).

(ii) Nets of mesh size equal to or greater than 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) but less than 3 inches (7.6 cm). A vessel lawfully fishing for small-mesh multispecies in the GOM/GB, SNE, or MA Regulated Mesh Areas, as defined in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this section, with nets with mesh size equal to or greater than 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) but less than 3 inches (7.6 cm) (as measured by methods specified in paragraph (f) of this section, and as applied to the part of the net specified in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section) may use a net strengthener (i.e., outside net), provided the net strengthener does not have an effective mesh opening of less than 6 inches (15.2 cm), diamond or square mesh, as measured by methods specified in paragraph (f) of this section. The inside net (as applied to the part of the net specified in paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section) must not be more than 2 ft (61 cm) longer than the outside net, must be the same circumference or smaller than the smallest circumference of the outside net, and must be the same mesh configuration (i.e., both square or both diamond mesh) as the outside net.

(6) Gillnet requirements to reduce or prevent marine mammal takes—(i) Requirements for gillnet gear capable of catching NE multispecies to reduce harbor porpoise takes. In addition to the requirements for gillnet fishing identified in this section, all persons owning or operating vessels in the EEZ that fish with sink gillnet gear and other gillnet gear capable of catching NE multispecies, with the exception of single pelagic gillnets (as described in §648.81(b)(2)(ii) and (d)(5)(ii)), must comply with the applicable provisions of the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan found in §229.33 of this title.

(ii) Requirements for gillnet gear capable of catching NE multispecies to prevent large whale takes. In addition to the requirements for gillnet fishing identified in this section, all persons owning or operating vessels in the EEZ that fish with sink gillnet gear and other gillnet gear capable of catching NE multispecies, with the exception of single pelagic gillnets (as described in §648.81(b)(2)(ii) and (d)(5)(ii)), must comply with the applicable provisions of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan found in §229.32 of this title.

(h) Scallop vessels—(1) Scallop DAS. Except as provided in paragraphs (h)(2) and (3) of this section, a scallop vessel that possesses a limited access scallop permit and either a NE multispecies Combination vessel permit or a scallop/multispecies possession limit permit, and that is fishing under a scallop DAS allocated under §648.53, may possess and land up to 300 lb (136.1 kg) of regulated species per trip, provided that the amount of regulated species on board the vessel does not exceed the trip limits specified in §648.86, and provided the vessel has at least one standard tote on board, unless otherwise restricted by §648.86(a)(2).

(2) NE Multispecies DAS. Limited access scallop vessels issued a limited access NE multispecies permit and fishing under a NE multispecies DAS are subject to the gear restrictions specified in this section and may possess and land unlimited amounts of regulated species or ocean pout, unless otherwise restricted by §648.86. Such vessels may simultaneously fish under a scallop DAS, but are prohibited from using scallop dredge gear on such trips.

(3) Scallop dredge exemption areas for general category scallop permits—(i) GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area. Unless otherwise prohibited in §648.81, §648.370, or §648.371, vessels with a limited access scallop permit that have declared out of the DAS program as specified in §648.10, or that have used up their DAS allocations, and vessels issued a General Category scallop permit, may fish in the GOM Regulated Mesh Area specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, when not under a NE multispecies DAS, providing the vessel fishes in the GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area and complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (h)(3)(iii) of this section. The GOM Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Area is bounded on the west and north by the coastlines of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, bounded on the east by the U.S.-Canada Maritime Boundary, and bounded on the south by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:

GOM Scallop Dredge Exemption Area

PointN lat.W long.
GOM143°58(1)
GOM243°5867°22
GOM343°4168°00
GOM443°1269°00
GOM542°49.569°40
GOM642°2069°40
GOM742°20(2)

1 The intersection of 43°58 N lat. and the U.S.-Canada Maritime boundary.

2 The intersection of 42°20 N lat. and the coastline of Massachusetts.

(ii) Georges Bank/Southern New England Scallop Dredge Exemption Area. Unless otherwise prohibited in §648.81, §648.370, or §648.371, vessels issued a LAGC scallop permit, including limited access scallop permits that have used up their DAS allocations, may fish in the Georges Bank/Southern New England Scallop Dredge Exemption Area, as defined under paragraph (h)(3)(ii)(A) of this section, when not under a NE multispecies or scallop DAS or on a sector trip, provided the vessel complies with the requirements specified in paragraph (h)(3)(iii) of this section and applicable scallop regulations in subpart D of this part.

(A) Area definition. The Georges Bank/Southern New England dredge exemption area is bounded on the north by 42°20 N lat.; bounded on the east by the U.S.-Canada Maritime boundary and the outer limit of the US EEZ; bounded on the west by 72°30 W long. from the outer limit of the US EEZ to the south-facing coastline of Long Island; and bounded on the northwest by the following points, connected as noted in the order listed:

GB/SNE Scallop Dredge Exemption Area

PointN lat.W long.Note
1The south-facing coastline of Long Island72°30 WFrom Point 1 to Point 2 following the coastline of Long Island.
241°00 NThe southeast-facing coast of Long IslandFrom Point 2 to Point 3 following a straight line.
341°00 NThe 3 nautical mile line, approximately 71°51.841 W longFrom Point 3 to Point 4 following the Submerged Lands Act (3 nautical mile) line.
441°4.25 NThe 3 nautical mile line, approximately 71°47.384 W longFrom Point 4 to Point 5 following a straight line.
541°15 N72°2.25 WPoint 5 represents Race Point, Fishers Island, NY. From Point 5 to Point 6 following a straight line northeasterly through Fishers Island, NY.
641°18.2 N71°51.5 WPoint 6 represents Watch Hill, RI. From Point 6 to Point 7 following the coastlines of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
742°20 NThe coastline of Massachusetts

(B) [Reserved]

(iii) Requirements. (A) A vessel fishing in the Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Areas specified in paragraphs (h)(3)(i) and (ii) of this section may not fish for, possess on board, or land any species of fish other than Atlantic sea scallops and up to 50 lb (23 kg) tail weight or 146 lb (66 kg) whole weight of monkfish per trip.

(B) The combined dredge width in use by, or in possession on board, vessels fishing in the Scallop Dredge Fishery Exemption Areas may not exceed 10.5 ft (3.2 m), measured at the widest point in the bail of the dredge.

(C) The exemption does not apply to the Cashes Ledge Closure Area or the Western GOM Area Closure specified in §648.81(a)(3) and (4), respectively.

(i) State waters winter flounder exemption. Any vessel issued a NE multispecies permit may fish for, possess, or land winter flounder while fishing with nets of mesh smaller than the minimum size specified in paragraphs (a)(2), (b)(2), and (c)(2) of this section, provided that:

(1) The vessel has on board a certificate approved by the Regional Administrator and issued by the state agency authorizing the vessel's participation in the state's winter flounder fishing program and is in compliance with the applicable state laws pertaining to minimum mesh size for winter flounder.

(2) Fishing is conducted exclusively in the waters of the state from which the certificate was obtained.

(3) The state's winter flounder plan has been approved by the Commission as being in compliance with the Commission's winter flounder fishery management plan.

(4) The state elects, by a letter to the Regional Administrator, to participate in the exemption program described by this section (for a particular fishing year).

(5) The vessel does not enter or transit the EEZ.

(6) The vessel does not enter or transit the waters of another state, unless such other state is participating in the exemption program described by this section and the vessel is enrolled in that state's program.

(7) The vessel, when not fishing under the DAS program, does not fish for, possess, or land more than 500 lb (226.8 kg) of winter flounder, and has at least one standard tote on board.

(8) The vessel does not fish for, possess, or land any species of fish other than winter flounder and the exempted small-mesh species specified under paragraphs (a)(5)(i), (a)(9)(i), (b)(3), and (c)(4) of this section when fishing in the areas specified under paragraphs (a)(5), (a)(9), (b)(10), and (c)(5) of this section, respectively. Vessels fishing under this exemption in New York and Connecticut state waters and permitted to fish for skates may also possess and land skates in amounts not to exceed 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board.

[69 FR 22951, Apr. 27, 2004]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §648.80, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

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