Emergency Closure for Lobster and Jonah Crab Trap/Pot Fishery: Area Between Massachusetts Restricted Area and Massachusetts Restricted Area North for April 2022
NOAA Fisheries is implementing an emergency action to prohibit trap/pot fishery buoy lines between federal and state waters within the Massachusetts Restricted Area during the month of April to reduce the incidental mortality and serious injury to North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) in commercial lobster and Jonah crab trap/pot fisheries. This emergency rule is necessary to reduce the risk of right whale mortality and serious injury in buoy lines in an area with a high co-occurrence of whales and buoy lines. The Marine Mammal Protection Act establishes requirements to reduce the rate of mortality and serious injury of North Atlantic right whales in U.S. commercial fisheries to below the stock’s Potential Biological Removal level, which for right whales is 0.8 mortalities and serious injuries per year. Implementing an emergency restriction to fishing with buoy lines in this area will address a critical gap in an area with a particularly high chance of entanglement in 2022 that was not addressed in recent modifications to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan while long-term measures are being developed.