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Soundings Archive

NMFS Uses DAM Rules
The National Marine Fisheries Service has used its authority under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to promulgate rules implementing an Atlantic Large Whale Tale Reduction Plan. The Plan and rules are intended to reduce the incidental mortality and serious injury of three endangered whale species (right, fin and humpback) from net entanglement and other incidental interaction with commercial fishing.

In 2002, NMFS published final rules establishing the Dynamic Area Management ("DAM") component of the Service's Plan. In 2003, NMFS amended the DAM rules. As amended, the rules allow NMFS to:

    "NMFS to restrict temporarily on an expedited basis the use of lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishing gear in areas north of 40[deg] N. lat. to protect right whales. Under the DAM program, NMFS may: (1) require the removal of all lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishing gear for a 15-day period; (2) allow lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishing within a DAM zone with gear modifications determined by NMFS to sufficiently reduce the risk of entanglement; and/or (3) issue an alert to fishermen requesting the voluntary removal of all lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet gear for a 15-day period and asking fishermen not to set any additional gear in the DAM zone during the 15-day period. A DAM zone is triggered when NMFS receives a reliable report from a qualified individual of three or more right whales sighted within an area (75 nm\2\ (139 km\2\)) such that right whale density is equal to or greater than 0.04 right whales per nm\2\ (1.85 km\2\)."
On October 24, 2007, NMFS rescinded the DAM zone southeast of Machias, Maine.

On October 25, 2007, NMFS imposed a Dam zone south of Portland, Maine.
  • Click here to read Dam zone rescission
  • Click here to read Dam zone imposition

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