13-188 C.M.R. ch. 75, § 02 - Trap/Pot Fisheries Gear Restrictions

A. The following trap/pot fishing gear restrictions shall apply:
1. Universal requirements in coastal waters

All persons who fish lobster gear and trap/pot fisheries (including but not limited to all crab species, hagfish, finfish, whelk, and shrimp) within Maine's coastal waters shall comply with the following federal universal requirements for the ALWTRP:

(a) No floating line at the surface; and
(b) No wet storage of gear over 30 days.
2. Waters to the Exemption Line
1. All persons who fish lobster gear or other trap/pot gear in Maine's coastal waters from the head of tide to the Exemption Line shall comply with one of the following ALWTRP options:
(a) Option 1: All buoys must be attached to the buoy line with a weak link having a breaking strength no greater than 600 pounds (272.4 kg). Weak links may include swivels, plastic weak links, rope of the appropriate breaking strength, hog rings, rope stapled to a buoy stick, or devices approved in writing by the NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator (See contact information in 75.01 (A)(3)). In addition, the weak link must be designed so that the bitter end of the buoy line is clean and free of knots when the weak link breaks; or
(b) Option 2: All buoy lines must be made entirely of sinking line; or
(c) Option 3: All ground lines must be made entirely of sinking line.
2. All buoy lines must be marked with three (3) purple marks: one at the top of the buoy line, one midway along the buoy line, and one at the bottom of the buoy line. The mark at the top of the buoy line must be 36 inches and must be in the top two fathom of buoy line. The middle and bottom marks must be 12 inches. Each color code must be permanently affixed on or along the line and the color code must be clearly visible when the gear is hauled or removed from the water.

Exception: Vertical lines less than 100 ft. in length may be marked with only two (2) purple marks: one at the top of the buoy line and one at the bottom of the buoy line. The mark at the top of the buoy line must be 36 inches and must be in the top two fathom of the buoy line. The bottom mark must be 12 inches. Each color code must be permanently affixed on or along the line and the color code must be clearly visible when the gear is hauled or removed from the water.

3. It is unlawful to fish lobster gear within Maine's coastal waters inside the Exemption Line which has a buoy line marked with a green mark.
4. All buoy lines must have a 1700-pound weak insertion 50% of the way down the vertical line or approved 1700-pound breaking strength line in the top 50% of the vertical line. A manufactured weak link or weak rope may be attached in whatever manner a fisherman selects. A list of NOAA approved manufactured 1700-pound weak rope and 1700-pound weak insertions can be found at this website: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-england-mid-atlantic/marine-mammal-protection/approved-weak-inserts-and-line-atlantic-large. In addition, a weak insertion can include:
i. A buoy line comprised of 5/16th rope which includes an in-line overhand knot 50% of the way down the vertical line
ii. A buoy line comprised of 5/16th rope in the top 50% of the vertical line and is connected to the bottom 50% of the vertical line with a fisherman's knot or sheet bend knot
iii. A 3-foot section of 5/16th rope which is incorporated into the vertical line 50% of the way down, and is connected with a fisherman's knot or sheet bend knot
3. Sliver Area

All persons who fish lobster gear or other trap/pot fisheries in the Maine Sliver Area, shall comply with each the following ALWTRP requirements:

(a) All buoys, floatation and/or weighted devices may be attached to the buoy line with a weak link having a breaking strength no greater than 600 pounds (272.4 kg). Weak links may include swivels, plastic weak links, rope of the appropriate breaking strength, hog rings, rope stapled to a buoy stick, or devices approved in writing by the NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator (See contact information in Chapter 75.01(A) (3)). In addition, the weak link must be designed so that the bitter end of the buoy line is clean and free of knots when the weak link breaks plus each weak link must be installed as close to the buoys, floatation and/or weighted device as possible.
(b) All buoy lines must be marked with three (3) purple marks, one at the top of the buoy line, one midway along the buoy line, and one at the bottom of the buoy line. The mark at the top of buoy line must be 36 inches long and must be in the top two fathom of buoy line. The middle and bottom marks must be 12 inches in length. Each color code must be permanently affixed on or along the line and the color code must be clearly visible when the gear is hauled or removed from the water.
(c) It is unlawful to fish lobster gear within the Sliver Area which has a buoy line marked with a green mark.
(d) All buoy lines must have a 1700-pound weak insertion 50% of the way down the vertical line or approved 1700-pound breaking strength line in the top 50% of the vertical line. A list of NOAA approved manufactured 1700-pound weak rope and 1700-pound weak insertions can be found at this website: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-england-mid-atlantic/marine-mammal-protection/approved-weak-inserts-and-line-atlantic-large.
(e) Multiple traps only - no single traps allowed. See section 5 below for minimum number of traps per trawl; except as identified for Zones C, D, and E in section 5 below. Trawls with less than or equal to 5 traps may only possess 1 buoy line.
(f) The attachment of buoys, toggles or other floatation devices is prohibited on ground lines.
(g) Ground lines. All ground lines must be composed entirely of sinking line.
(h) Sink rope means, for both ground lines and buoy lines, line that has a specific gravity greater than or equal to 1.030, and, for ground lines only, does not float at any point in the water column.
(i) Fishermen are encouraged, but not required, to maintain knot-free buoy lines.
4. Federal waters

All persons who fish lobster gear or other trap/pot gear in Maine's coastal waters southerly of the Three Mile Limit, or as shown on NOAA, National Ocean Survey nautical charts, and within Area 1, must comply with each of the following ALWTRP requirements:

(a) All buoys, floatation and/or weighted devices may be attached to the buoy line with a weak link having a breaking strength no greater than 600 pounds (272.4 kg). Weak links may include swivels, plastic weak links, rope of the appropriate breaking strength, hog rings, rope stapled to a buoy stick, or devices approved in writing by the NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator (See contact information in Chapter 75.01(A) (3)). In addition, the weak link must be designed so that the bitter end of the buoy line is clean and free of knots when the weak link breaks plus each weak link must be installed as close to the buoys, floatation and/or weighted device as possible.
(b) All buoy lines must be marked with four (4) purple marks. There must be three 12-inch marks, one at the top of the buoy line, one midway along the buoy line, and one at the bottom of the buoy line. In addition, each buoy line must be marked with a 36-inch purple mark in the top two fathom of buoy line. Each color code must be permanently affixed on or along the line and the color code must be clearly visible when the gear is hauled or removed from the water.
(c) All buoy lines must be marked with four (4) 12 inch green marks. Each green mark must be placed adjacent to, and within 6 inches, of the four purple marks along the buoy line.
(d) All buoy lines must have 1700-pound weak insertion(s) or approved 1700-pound breaking strength line at the location and frequency specified by Zone and distance from shore below. A list of NOAA approved manufactured 1700-pound weak rope and 1700-pound weak insertions can be found at this website: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-england-mid-atlantic/marine-mammal-protection/approved-weak-inserts-and-line-atlantic-large.

The 1700-pound weak link insert requirements by location are as follows;

ME Zone A West*, B, C, D, E; Federal Waters 3-12 nm: 2 weak inserts at 25% and 50% down the line OR top 50% of buoy line weak rope ME Zone A East*, F, and G; Federal Waters 3-12 nm: 1 weak insert 33% down the line Beyond 12 nm: 1 weak insert 33% down the line

* Zone A East and Zone A West are defined in Chapter 75.01 (A) (10 and 11).

(e) Multiple traps only - no single traps allowed; See section 5 below for minimum number of traps per trawl; trawls of 5 or fewer traps must have only one buoy line.
(f) The attachment of buoys, toggles or other floatation devices is prohibited on ground lines.
(g) Ground lines. All ground lines must be composed entirely of sinking line.
(h) Sink rope means, for both ground lines and buoy lines, line that has a specific gravity greater than or equal to 1.030, and, for ground lines only, does not float at any point in the water column.
(i) Fishermen are encouraged, but not required, to maintain knot-free buoy lines.
5. Minimum Number of Traps per Trawl

In Maine, trap trawl requirements are based on the enforcement lines defined in Chapter 75.01 and the Maine lobster management zones defined in Chapter 25.94. Pocket waters* will follow the trawl minimums in their respective zones between the exemption line and the 3-mile line. State water trawl maximums can be found in Chapter 25.04. See each individual management area for details on the traps per trawl requirements:

ZONE

EXEMPTION LINE TO 3NM

3 TO 6* NM

6* TO 12 NM

BEYOND 12 NM

Zone A East*

3 for 1 line

10 for 1 line 20 for 2 lines

10 for 1 line 20 for 2 lines

25 for 2 lines

Zone A West*

3 for 1 line

4 for 1 line 8 for 2 lines

8 for 1 line 15 for 2 lines

25 for 2 lines

Zone B

3 for 1 line

5 for 1 line

5 for 1 line 10 for 2 lines

25 for 2 lines

Zone C

2 for 1 line 4 for 2 lines

5 for 1 line 10 for 2 lines

10 for 1 line 20 for 2 lines

25 for 2 lines

Zone D

2 for 1 line 4 for 2 lines

5 for 1 line 10 for 2 lines

5 for 1 line 10 for 2 lines

25 for 2 lines

Zone E

2 for 1 line 4 for 2 lines

5 for 1 line 10 for 2 lines

5 for 1 line 10 for 2 lines

25 for 2 lines

Zone F

3 for 1 line

5 for 1 line 10 for 2 lines

5 for 1 line 10 for 2 lines

25 for 2 lines

Zone G

3 for 1 line

5 for 1 line 10 for 2 lines

10 for 1 line 20 for 2 lines

25 for 2 lines

* The Six-Mile Line and Pocket Waters are defined in Chapter 75.01(A) (6 and 7). The three-mile and 12-mile lines are also established in Chapter 75.01(A) (8 and 9).

* Zone A East and Zone A West are defined in Chapter 75.01 (A) (10 and 11).

Exception: Those fishing in waters within ¼ mile of Monhegan Island, Matinicus Island Group, (Metinic Island, Little Green Island, Large Green Island, Seal Island, Wooden Ball Island, Matinicus Island and Ragged Island (Criehaven) and Isles of Shoals Island Group (Duck Island, Appledore Island, Cedar Island, and Smuttynose Island) are exempt from the minimum trap per trawl requirements. Single traps are permitted within ¼ mile from these islands.

B. The following restricted area will be closed to the use of persistent buoys lines.
1. The LMA1 Restricted Area* is closed to the use of buoy lines from October 1 to January 31 annually. Gear that does not use persistent buoy lines, such as "ropeless" gear that retrieves trap/pot trawls when the vessel is on-site, is allowed in these areas for research purposes with appropriate state and federal permits.

*LMA1 Restricted Area is defined in Chapter 75.01 (A) (12).

Notes

13-188 C.M.R. ch. 75, § 02

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