Native lobstermen ought to know Friday whether or not any parts of the state’s inshore waters will reopen to industrial entice fishing on Might 15, with the ultimate dedication largely resting on Thursday’s aerial survey of endangered North Atlantic proper whales in Massachusetts waters.
The state Division of Marine Fisheries, together with different non-public analysis companions, has been monitoring the presence of the imperiled proper whales in state waters this yr because the late winter and the imposition of the three-and-a-half month closure on March 5.
The state-water closure, instituted to take away all fastened lobster and crab gear from nearly all state waters to mitigate the potential of gear entanglements with the whales, has put the industrial lobster trade on the sideline till the whales exit state waters on their annual northern migration.
DMF Director Dan McKiernan on Tuesday was requested if the Thursday aerial survey will embody state waters round Cape Ann and north to the New Hampshire border.
“We hope so,” McKiernan texted. “They begin within the southern a part of the bay and progress north. If there are a lot of whales, the flight takes longer than a flight with a couple of (whales).”
McKiernan mentioned his company will announce on Friday whether or not it should take any actions to raise the closure in all or parts of state waters, or whether or not the closure(s) must be prolonged round remaining aggregations of proper whales.
The proper whales’ presence has been dwindling just lately in Massachusetts coastal waters.
The April 28 survey flight with the Provincetown Middle for Coastal Research noticed 86 proper whales within the waters north of northern Cape Cod Bay, southern Massachusetts Bay and the Stellwagen Financial institution fishing grounds, which lie about 15 miles southeast of Gloucester. The New England Aquarium and Woods Gap Oceanographic Establishment even have participated within the surveys.
DMF mentioned aerial and acoustic surveillance from Might 3 to 10 nonetheless “detected reasonable densities” of proper whales in Massachusetts waters, primarily in Cape Cod and Massachusetts bays. Its Might 7 aerial surveillance crew detected 34 proper whales in Massachusetts coastal waters, together with six mom and calf pairs.
“Since DMF has overseen surveillance and monitoring or proper whales in 1998, aggregations of proper whales have left state waters by mid-Might in yearly,” DMF acknowledged. However the company additionally mentioned within the early phases of the 2021 survey that North Atlantic proper whales appear to be arriving right here earlier and staying longer.
The company additionally reminds mariners the 10-knot pace restrict in Cape Cod Bay, for vessels beneath 65 toes in size, additionally has been prolonged to Might 15 to assist mitigate the potential of ship strikes in opposition to the whales.
“In the course of the late winter and early spring, proper whales migrate into and mixture in Cape Cod Bay the place they feed on zooplankton,” DMF mentioned. “As we transfer into spring, these whales start to feed nearer to the floor and turn out to be extra inclined to ship strikes.”
The company mentioned the “lethality of the ship strike is tremendously diminished” on the decrease pace.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or email@example.com. Observe him on Twitter at @SeanGDT