Throughout the year, the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement will be inspecting lobster gear in federal waters off New England and the mid-Atlantic using remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs). The purpose of these inspections is to check lobster gear for compliance with federal requirements related to trap tags, gear markings, weak links, sinking ground lines, escape vents, ghost panels, and other conservation measures.
Please ensure you are familiar with the regulations governing lobster gear: Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan regulations and American Lobster Fishery Management Plan regulations. For a summary of lobster gear requirements, go to NOAA’s American lobster webpage, and refer to the management and commercial fishing tabs. You should also explore the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan compliance guides and Maine Department of Marine Resources’ recent updates to gear marking requirements for Maine fishermen. These guides may assist you in understanding the current requirements, but are not a substitute for the regulations.
Federal lobster gear requirements ensure a sustainable lobster fishery and protect endangered whales from entanglements. When these requirements are ignored or willfully violated, it threatens important marine resources and puts law-abiding fishing businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is committed to protecting our shared marine resources and ensuring a level playing field. If you fail to comply with federal gear requirements, your gear may be seized and forfeited, your Federal fishing permits may be suspended or revoked, and monetary penalties may be imposed upon you. Please take this opportunity to ensure that your gear is in compliance.
For more information about NOAA’s ROV operations read their web story.