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Whale-Related Gear Rules

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Year Round:

Massachusetts state waters are important habitat for endangered large whale species, including the humpback whale and North Atlantic right whale. Entanglement in fishing gear is a major cause of injury and mortality for large whales. MarineFisheries requires the use of modified fishing gear in order to reduce the risk of whale entanglement and identify entangling gear.

The following restrictions apply to all recreational pots set on a year round basis.

  1. All buoys must be outfitted with a 600-pound weak link. See photo.
  2. If fishing pot trawls, sinking groundline must be used between all traps.
  3. Vertical buoy lines must be made of sinking line, except the bottom 13 portion, which may be floating line if desired.
  4. All gear must have a 4 inch red marker midway on the buoy line. See photo.

Definitions

Single: one pot with a single buoy line attached.

Double: two pot string of traps with a single buoy line attached.

Twin orange markers: a pair of identical orange flag-like strips of material that are clearly visible and attached to the buoy stick or high flyer.

Triple: three pot string of traps with a single buoy line attached.

Sinking line: a line that has a specific gravity greater than that of seawater, 1.03, and does not float up in the water column.

Weak Link: breakable section or device that will part when subjected to specified poundage of pull pressure and after parting, will result in a knot-less end, no thicker than the diameter of the line, the so-called “bitter end,” to prevent lodging in whale baleen.

Abandon or dispose of at sea: to leave fixed gear in the water without hauling it at least every 30 days or in prohibited areas during prohibited periods.

Buoy Line Marking

By marking the rope, that gear can be identified to a certain area and fishery, if it is taken off an entangled whale.

Weak Links

Weak links allow the buoy to part away from the buoy line in the event that a whale encounters your gear.

Swivel Weak Links

Hog Ring Weak Link

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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