DEEP: Approval of Addendum XI to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Lobster

Approval of Addendum XI to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Lobster

May 11, 2007

The American Lobster Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission approved Addendum XI to Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for American Lobster. This addendum establishes a 15-year timeline and management measures to reduce fishing mortality and to restore population abundance of lobster in the depleted Southern New England stock. To accomplish this rebuilding, the addendum specifies a schedule of stock area specific minimum and maximum legal lengths, a uniform v-notch definition, and active trap reductions for offshore waters. The Connecticut members of the Lobster Management Board successfully made the point that states would be allowed to employ "conservation equivalent" alternative measures as a substitute for measures such as a gauge increase as long as they were reviewed by the Lobster Technical Committee and approved by the Board.

The addendum contains several measures relevant to fishermen fishing in lobster management area (LMA) 6 (Long Island Sound and Western Block Island Sound). They include: (1) an increase in the minimum gauge size from the current 3-5/16 inches to 3-3/8 inches (2) the institution of a 5-1/4 inch maximum gauge size and (3) change the definition of a v-notch to "any female lobster that bears a notch or indentation in the flipper at least 1/8 inch deep, with or without setal hairs or any female lobster that is mutilated in a manner which could hide, obscure or obliterate such a mark (this is consistent with the current definition of a v-notch in the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies). The FMP also allows states to consider measures of equivalent conservation value as substitutes for measures contained in the FMP, with the intent that states can mitigate some of the impact on fishermen associated with the addendum’s measures.

The Department is optimistic that the v-notch program currently in development by the Connecticut Lobster Restoration Advisory Committee will yield conservation value that can be substituted for some or all of the required FMP measures. The intent of this program is to join the lobster industry, the state VoAg and technical high schools with substantive marine "on-water" curriculums, and the Department of Environmental Protection in a program that will put two-person teams of qualified high school students on the vessels of cooperating lobstermen to notch and release female lobsters and to compensate lobstermen for the fair market value of the lobsters v-notched and released on that particular trip.

For further information, contact the DEP Marine Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 719, Old Lyme, CT 06371 or by telephone at 860.434.6043 between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday, or by emailing dep.marine.fisheries@po.state.ct.us.  (N07-14)