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Environment and Outdoors

Whale Entanglement Rules Finalized, Take Affect in One Year

North Atlantic right whale breaching in Cape Cod Bay, May 2009.
Regina Asmutis-Silvia/WDC

A new rule designed to reduce whale deaths from fishing gear entanglement has been finalized and published in the Federal Register.

  The National Marine Fisheries Service rule seeks to limit the number of ropes connecting lobster traps with their marker buoys which float on the surface. Conservation groups say marine mammals, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale, can become entangled in these floating, vertical lines and drown.

"We're content width where the rules are set right now," said Belfast lobsterman Mike Dassatt.

The new rules will mean some changes. For example, lobstermen will need to set multiple traps per marker, rather than having a single trap per buoy. He says there will be some costs involved in implementing the new rules.

"But we felt that we can work with this for the time being," Dassatt said.

The finalized rule was a compromise between the industry and marine mammal advocates; fishermen were given some exemptions in certain areas and denied others.

The regulations go into effect June 1st of next year.