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New Hampshire

Saltwater Fishing

Joint Enforcement Agreement

Conserving and Protecting Marine Resources

A Joint Enforcement Agreement (JEA) between the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Law Enforcement Division and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement provides federal funding and resources for patrols, equipment, training and public outreach initiatives that help N.H. Conservation Officers enforce federal marine fisheries regulations.

The key is preventing and detecting marine violations. Through a combination of at-sea patrols, dockside inspections and public outreach, the JEA focuses on increasing voluntary compliance. It also encourages enforcement of state marine fisheries regulations in nearshore waters, including groundfish, lobster, striped bass and tuna patrols. This joint agreement improves our level of service to commercial harvesters and recreational anglers, as well as other coastal organizations and constituents. It significantly enhances Fish and Game’s ability to conserve, manage and protect our marine fisheries resources for future generations.

Fixed Gear Fishermen — Prevent Whale Entanglement

One of the priorities of the JEA is expanding awareness of state and federal regulations now in effect to minimize whale entanglements in buoy lines and other fixed gear. The two primary laws in place that affect fixed gear fishermen are as follows:

  • Weak links: To protect migrating whales, weak links with a breaking strength of 600 pounds shall be used at the buoys of fixed gear set seaward of harbor entrances. For gillnet gear, 1,100-pound weak links must be used. The intent of this requirement is to allow the release of the buoy, flotation or weighted device from the line in a way that the remaining line is knot free, thereby helping to minimize the possibility of whale entanglement. An eye left on the line made by splicing or tucking attached to a weak link or hog rings is acceptable. Note: Weak links must be placed as close as operationally feasible to each individual buoy, flotation or weighted device.
  • Groundlines: Groundlines between traps or gillnet panels shall be sinking for all gear set seaward of harbor entrances.
Examples of weak link configurations; they can be purchased over the counter or made from traditional fixed gear hardware. For more information, including specific examples of the weak link techniques, gear marking requirements and the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan regulations, visit