NOAA Fisheries is proposing rules for lobstering in federal waters from Maine
to North Carolina
. The rules are intended to complement lobster management measures developed by the interstate commission that manages lobster fishing in state waters. Lobsters are overfished and at significant risk of sharp decline because of very high fishing pressure.
The rules propose federal managers adopt the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
's approach to management, and NOAA Fisheries implement in federal waters complementary measures to end overfishing and rebuild the lobster resource. The federal managers will utilize the industry management teams set up by the state commission to develop the necessary conservation measures.
The federal proposal links future management measures to rebuilding goals of both the commission's plan and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. In addition to the measures already in effect under federal and interstate rules, the proposed rules require the approximately 2,700 federal lobster trap permit holders to declare exclusively into near-shore areas or the offshore area, to abide by caps on the number of lobster traps, and to use trap tags. Federal permit holders will be limited to the more restrictive measures operative in state waters if they fish there. NOAA Fisheries would work closely with the commission to develop additional measures needed to meet the interstate plan's goals for ending overfishing and increasing egg production.