At the request of Northeast groundfish sectors, NOAA Fisheries is implementing an exempted fishery for spiny dogfish, which would exempt vessels from using a groundfish fishing day-at-sea. This exempted fishery for vessels fishing with a Northeast Federal spiny dogfish permit will occur in two separate areas: When using gillnet and longline gear from June through December, and handgear from June through August, in an area east of Cape Cod, MA (Eastern Exemption Area); and when using longline gear and handgear from June through August in an area west of Cape Cod, MA (Western Exemption Area).
The Western Exemption Area was not included in the proposed rule for this action. We included it in response to an industry comment on the proposed rule. Therefore, we are accepting public comment on the Western Exemption Area. The deadline for public comment on this additional measure is June 6, 2013.
We believe this action will provide economic benefits to commercial fishermen without posing a risk to groundfish stocks because these vessels catch very little or no groundfish in these areas during these months.
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