Cape Cod Bay Critical Habitat Gear Rules
The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered large whales in the world. Cape Cod Bay (CCB) is federally-designated as Critical Habitat for the species. Right whales return to this area each winter and spring to feed on the abundant zooplankton in the bay. To reduce the risk of entanglement in fishing gear in this important habitat, MarineFisheries requires compliance with strict seasonal gear restrictions during the time the whales are present.
January 1 – May 15
During the period of January 1st to May 15th, the following restrictions apply to all gear in the CCB Critical Habitat Area.
- The use of single pots is prohibited. Fishermen may use either multiple pot trawls consisting of four pots or more or may set doubles or triples.
- Multiple pot trawls shall consist of four pots or more with vertical buoy lines on the first and last pot of the trawl.
- Double or triple pot trawls must have only 1 buoy line.
- It is unlawful to fish double or triple pot trawls with more than one vertical buoy line attached.
- All trawls must have twin orange markers or flags on each buoy. See definition above.
- All trawls must have 500 pound weak links on each buoy. See details above.
- All trawls must have a 4 inch red marker midway on each buoy line. See details above.
May 16 – December 31
The following restrictions apply to all gear in the CCB Critical Habitat Area on a year-round basis.
- All buoys must be outfitted with a 600-pound weak link. See details above.
- If fishing pot trawls, sinking groundline must be used between all traps.
- Vertical buoy lines must be made of sinking line, except the bottom 1⁄3 portion, which may be floating line if desired.
- All gear must have a 4 inch red marker midway on the buoy line. See details above.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.