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Stock decline will trigger phased-in gauge changes

MLMC photo.

In early May the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s American Lobster Management Board approved Addendum 27 to the Lobster Management Plan. The Addendum establishes a trigger which would cause certain management measures to go in place, specifically gauge and escape vent sizes in Lobster Conservation Management Areas (LCMAs) 1 and 3. The Addendum also changes management measures for the Outer Cape Cod LMA to improve the consistency of regulations.

If the lobster recruit abundance drops by 35% from the reference level, which is equal to the average of Maine and Massachusetts surveys from 2016-2018, a series of gradual changes to gauge and vent size will be implemented beginning in the following fishing year. These changes include two increases to the minimum gauge size in LCMA 1 (Gulf of Maine) and a single decrease to the maximum gauge size in LCMA 3 (offshore federal waters). Vent size changes will be implemented with the last gauge change. The gauge and escape vent size changes are intended to increase the proportion of the lobster population able to reproduce before being harvested, and to enhance stock resiliency by protecting larger lobsters of both sexes.

The Addendum also implements a standard v-notch definition of 1/8” with or without setal hairs and a maximum gauge size of 6 ¾” for federal permit holders in Outer Cape Cod to match the standards in place in Area 3. The Lobster Board established subcommittee to discuss gauge changes with Canada.

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