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Fishing

Explore dozens of maps depicting the extent and locations of commercial and recreational fishing activities throughout the upper East Coast.

Commercial Fishing - VTR

Commercial Fishing - VTR (also referred to as Communities at Sea) maps link fishing communities to specific resource areas in the ocean. They are developed by linking Federal Vessel Trip Report (VTR) data to vessel permit data. VTRs include trip date, number of crew on board, species and quantities caught, and trip locations, while the permit data includes a vessel's "principal port" as well as other variables describing the vessel itself (e.g. length, horsepower, and age). By linking the two, fishing communities can be categorized based on port and fishing gear group combinations as a function of port of origin or major gear type used on the vessel. For example, fishermen from Newport News, VA and Montauk, NY who fish using dredge gear can be grouped and mapped as two separate communities.

This set of maps was created by using trip location point data as input to create density polygons representing visitation frequency ("fisherdays"). The VTR maps show total labor including crew time and the time spent in transit to and from fishing locations. They do not show other variables such as ex-vessel value or number of pounds landed. The results can be interpreted as maps of "community presence." All data were aggregated to the "community" level, none of the resultant maps represent a fishing area (i.e. "hot spot") of any individual fisherman or fishing vessel.

Draft maps were reviewed and refined in consultation with diverse fishermen in several ports in each Mid-Atlantic state. The following considerations and caveats guided and emerged from these conversations:
  • These maps represent the locations and intensity of fishing during recent years (2011-2014). If these maps are considered during planning or permitting decision making processes it’s critical to recognize that additional important fishing areas may not be represented as locations frequently shift due to several factors including market dynamics, regulatory changes and rotational fishing strategies.
  • These maps only show fishing conducted by vessels holding federal fishing permits. The maps do show a portion of state licensed activity because many state licensed vessels engaged in ocean fishing also hold federal permits and therefore submit VTRs. State licensed fishing activity includes whelks (“conch”), striped bass, black sea bass and lobster.
  • Maps showing areas for fixed gear (pots, traps, gillnets) fishing activity will tend to be more accurate than maps showing fishing using mobile (trawls, dredges) fishing gear, and maps showing single day trips will tend to be more accurate than maps showing multi-data trips. This is because of the nature of the fishing activity and record keeping regulations; fishermen are only required to report one geographic position (point location) per trip on VTRs unless switching to a new gear type or moving into a new statistical area.
  • These maps can be supplemented with maps based on Vessel Monitoring System data (available for select federally managed fisheries). Overlay comparison of these VTR based maps with VMS based maps reveals substantial agreement between the two and the VMS maps provide additional useful precision for some fisheries.
  • Fisheries and fisheries data are complex and there are many options for mapping fishing activity, each with strengths and weaknesses. These maps are intended as a starting to point to help target and guide direct engagement and consultation with specific affected fishing communities during diverse ocean planning, permitting and management decision making processes.
  • For some types of decision making (e.g. detailed construction plans for energy infrastructure) much finer scale information and data than can be obtained using either VTR or VMS data will be needed, ideally provided by fishermen.

Source: NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Notes:

Original VTR data were obtained from NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center, with methodology, data processing and cartography provided by staff at Rutgers University.

Bottom Trawl <65ft 2011 - 2013 / Commercial Fishing - VTR

Source: NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Notes:

Original VTR data were obtained from NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center, with methodology, data processing and cartography provided by staff at Rutgers University.

Bottom Trawl Over 65ft 2011 - 2013 / Commercial Fishing - VTR

Source: NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Notes:

Original VTR data were obtained from NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center, with methodology, data processing and cartography provided by staff at Rutgers University.

Dredge 2011 - 2013 / Commercial Fishing - VTR

Source: NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Notes:

Original VTR data were obtained from NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center, with methodology, data processing and cartography provided by staff at Rutgers University.

Gillnet 2011 - 2013 / Commercial Fishing - VTR

Source: NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Notes:

Original VTR data were obtained from NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center, with methodology, data processing and cartography provided by staff at Rutgers University.

Lobster 2011 - 2013 / Commercial Fishing - VTR

Source: NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Notes:

Original VTR data were obtained from NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center, with methodology, data processing and cartography provided by staff at Rutgers University.

Longline 2011 - 2013 / Commercial Fishing - VTR

Source: NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Notes:

Original VTR data were obtained from NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center, with methodology, data processing and cartography provided by staff at Rutgers University.

Pots and Traps 2011 - 2013 / Commercial Fishing - VTR

Source: NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Notes:

Original VTR data were obtained from NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center, with methodology, data processing and cartography provided by staff at Rutgers University.

Seine 2011 - 2013 / Commercial Fishing - VTR

Source: NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Notes:

Original VTR data were obtained from NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center, with methodology, data processing and cartography provided by staff at Rutgers University.

Artificial Reefs

These are polygon locations of Mid-Atlantic artificial reefs. These data usually represent general polygons within which artificial reef material has been deposited--the entirety of each polygon is not necessarily all artificial reef.

Source: Compiled by TNC from various sources

Notes:

These data were compiled from various state sources. In Delaware, digital data were received directly from a state agency. The Nature Conservancy compiled reef data from numerous sources in Maryland, including state agencies. For the remaining states, GIS data was created from lat/long coordinates of reef corners found on public web sites (i.e., New York DEC, New Jersey DEP, Virginia MRC).

Commercial Fishing - VMS

These data broadly characterize commercial fishing vessel activity in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic based on Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data from 2006 through 2014 (full calendar years). The relative amount of vessel activity is indicated qualitatively from high (red) to low (blue). The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) describes VMS as “a satellite surveillance system primarily used to monitor the location and movement of commercial fishing vessels in the U.S.” Where "<5 knots" or "<4 knots" is indicated, the data are intended to show fishing activity (excluding vessel transit at higher speeds) by showing VMS data records below 4 or 5 knots, a speed cutoff between fishing and transit suggested by industry members and managers during project meetings. The most accurate interpretation of these layers is that they indicate relative levels of vessel presence at speeds associated with fishing activity. Where a speed is not indicated, these layers do not distinguish between fishing activity, vessel transit, or other vessel activities. The most accurate interpretation in this case is that it indicates relative levels of vessel presence. The lack of historical data and relatively short timeframe of this map precludes consideration of historical fishing areas. It also does not illustrate more recent or future changes in fishing activity resulting from changing environmental and economic conditions, fisheries management, and other important factors.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

The data provided by NMFS contained the day/month/year, the geographic coordinates of the vessel at the time of transmission, speed over ground, and the vessel’s declaration code, which may signify fishery plan, program within that plan, and associated area identifier or gear-type information. These data then were aggregated by combining all program codes within each fishery plan. The limitations of the data used to produce these maps should be understood prior to interpretation of this map. These data are from vessels operating in certain fishery management plans and certain programs within those plans. This map displays data for vessels using VMS with a limited access multispecies permit fishing under a Category A or B Days-at-Sea or catch regulated species or ocean pout while on a sector trip, or those with a limited access NE multispecies small vessel category or Handgear A permit that fish in multiple NE Multispecies Broad Stock Areas (50 CFR 648.10). It is important to note that these data include all trips using a NE Multispecies VMS code by vessels with these permits, and as such, may include trips that target other fisheries but use a NE Multispecies VMS declaration for another fishery as a management and reporting mechanism. There are many New England fisheries not described through any VMS-derived maps. VMS data are subject to strict confidentiality restrictions. Therefore, the map shows the density of vessel locations following the removal of individually identifiable vessel positions. The process of removing sensitive vessel locations followed the “rule of three” mandated by NMFS Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) by using a screening grid to identify which grid cells contained three or more VMS records. VMS records within cells that contain fewer than three VMS records were not included in the analysis. A statistical method to normalize data was used on the subsequent density grids and data values represent standard deviations. While legends are consistent across products, values represent high or low areas of vessel activity specific to each dataset. Detailed information on processing techniques is outlined in the metadata.

Herring 2006-2010 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Herring 2011-2014 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Herring 2011-2014 (<4 knots) / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Mackerel 2014 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Mackerel 2014 (<4 knots) / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Monkfish 2006-2010 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Monkfish 2011-2014 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Monkfish 2011-2014 (<4 knots) / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Multispecies (Groundfish) 2006-2010 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Multispecies (Groundfish) 2011-2014 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Multispecies (Groundfish) 2011-2014 (<4 knots) / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Scallop 2006-2010 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Scallop 2011-2014 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Scallop 2011-2014 (<5 knots) / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Squid 2014 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Squid 2014 (<4 knots) / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Surfclam/Ocean Quahog 2006-2010 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Surfclam/Ocean Quahog 2012-2014 / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Surfclam/Ocean Quahog 2012-2014 (<4 knots) / Commercial Fishing - VMS

See Commercial Fishing - VMS description.

Source: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and NortheastOceanData.org

Notes:

Fathom Lines

Depth contours at 20, 50, and 100 fathoms provided primarily for general reference. The depths selected are those that may be familiar to fisherman and others who navigate offshore waters.

Source: NOAA; contours derived by TNC

Notes:

Management Areas

These layers reflect current fishery management areas published by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Greater Atlantic Regional Fishery Office (GARFO).

Source: Greater Atlantic Regional Fishery Office

Notes:

Separate metadata documents are available for each management area. See the notes under each management area group for links.

Surfclam/Ocean Quahog Management Areas / Management Areas

These layers show the following:

• Habitat Closures areas, or Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). These areas are closed year-round, regardless of fishery, to any fishing with bottom tending mobile gear. There are seven areas offshore in New England on Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine including Western Gulf of Maine, Cashes Ledge, Jeffrey's Bank, Closed Area I - North, Closed area I - South, Closed Area II, and Nantucket Lightship.
• The five Northeast Multispecies Closed Areas (Closed Area I, Closed Area II, the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area, the Cashes Ledge Closed Area, and the Western Gulf of Maine Closed Area), which are closed to fishing in order to protect groundfish stocks. However, there are special programs that allow some fisheries, including groundfish, herring, surfclam/ocean quahog, and scallop to access some parts of these closed areas under certain conditions. Vessels may transit the areas that are closed provided that their fishing gear is stowed according to regulations.
• Boundaries of the Atlantic Surf Clam and Ocean Quahog Environmental Degradation Closures for the NOAA Fisheries Service’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO). It includes five regulated areas which are off limits to surf clams and ocean quahogs due to the presence of harmful contaminants. The Georges Bank Closure was implemented in 1990 at the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after clams were found with high levels of the toxin that causes Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). However in 2012, NMFS opened a portion of the Georges Bank Closure east of Cape Cod after ongoing testing demonstrated the shellfish are safe for human consumption. Other closures in this layer depict waste disposal sites for metropolitan areas.
• Boundaries of the Maine Mahogany Quahog Zone in Maine's northeastern coastal waters, where the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has implemented regulations governing the harvest and landing of mahogany quahogs.

These datasets are from NMFS and represent areas and regulations mandated in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). These layers do not represent a legal definition of the Regulated Area. The description published in the CFR is the only legal definition.

Source: Greater Atlantic Regional Fishery Office

Notes:

Separate metadata documents are available for each area:
EFH Closure Areas
Closed Areas
Environmental Degradation Closures
Maine Mahogany Quahog Zone

Frank R. Lautenberg Deep-Sea Coral Protection Area / Management Areas

This dataset depicts the boundaries of the Frank R. Lautenberg Deep-Sea Coral Protection Area for the NOAA Fisheries Service’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO). These data include the boundaries for the following Regulated Areas: Broad Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Block Canyon Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Ryan and McMaster Canyons Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Emery and Uchupi Canyons Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Jones and Babylon Canyons Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Hudson Canyon Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Mey-Lindenkohl Slope Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Spencer Canyon Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Wilmington Canyon Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, North Heyes and South Canyons Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, South Vries Canyon Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Baltimore Canyon Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Warr and Phoenix Canyon Complex Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Accomac and Leonard Canyons Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Washington Canyon Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone, Norfolk Canyon Discrete Deep-Sea Coral Zone.

Source: NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office

Notes:

Because GIS projection and topology functions can change or generalize coordinates, these GIS files are considered to be approximate representations and are NOT an OFFICIAL record for the exact regulated area boundaries. For information on the official legal definition refer to the Use Constraints metadata section.

Groundfish Management Areas / Management Areas

These layers show the following:

• The boundary that demarcates the Northern and Southern Monkfish Management Areas, extending south from Cape Cod and Nantucket and then east toward the Exclusive Economic Zone, for the purpose of managing the monkfish fishery in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. This layer shows Habitat Closures areas, or Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). These areas are closed year-round, regardless of fishery, to any fishing with bottom tending mobile gear. There are seven areas offshore in New England on Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine including Western Gulf of Maine, Cashes Ledge, Jeffrey's Bank, Closed Area I - North, Closed area I - South, Closed Area II, and Nantucket Lightship.
• The five Northeast Multispecies Closed Areas (Closed Area I, Closed Area II, the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area, the Cashes Ledge Closed Area, and the Western Gulf of Maine Closed Area), which are closed to fishing in order to protect groundfish stocks. However, there are special programs that allow some fisheries, including groundfish, herring, surfclam/ocean quahog, and scallop to access some parts of these closed areas under certain conditions. Vessels may transit the areas that are closed provided that their fishing gear is stowed according to regulations.
• Regulated Mesh Areas in Southern New England for the Northeast Multispecies fishery. Each mesh area has certain requirements for minimum mesh size, gear, and methods, unless otherwise exempted or prohibited. There are four regulated mesh areas for the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, Southern New England, and the Mid-Atlantic.
• Regulated Mesh Areas in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank for the Northeast Multispecies fishery. Each mesh area has certain requirements for minimum mesh size, gear, and methods, unless otherwise exempted or prohibited. There are four regulated mesh areas for the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, Southern New England, and the Mid-Atlantic.
• Regulated Mesh Areas in the Mid-Atlantic for the Northeast Multispecies fishery. Each mesh area has certain requirements for minimum mesh size, gear, and methods, unless otherwise exempted or prohibited. There are four regulated mesh areas for the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, Southern New England, and the Mid-Atlantic.

These datasets are from NMFS and represent areas and regulations mandated in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). These layers do not represent a legal definition of the Regulated Area. The description published in the CFR is the only legal definition.

Source: Greater Atlantic Regional Fishery Office

Notes:

Scallop Management Areas / Management Areas

These layers show the following:

• Sea Scallop Access Areas. These are designated under the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP) as areas with management measures that are designed to control fishing effort and mortality. A Scallop Access Area may become a Scallop Rotational Closed Area or an open area when it is no longer suitable to control fishing effort in the area.
• Habitat Closure areas, or Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) areas for the Atlantic sea scallop fishery. EFH is defined as those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity. No vessel fishing for scallops, or person on a vessel fishing for scallops, may enter, fish in, or be in the EFH Closure Areas.
• Scallop Rotational Closed Areas. Scallop Rotational Closed Areas are designated by the Scallop FMP as an area in which the fishing, possession, and landing of sea scallops by vessels issued a scallop permit is prohibited. These areas are closed to protect small scallops and promote growth of the scallop resource and may become Scallop Access Areas when the condition of the scallop resource inside is more suitable for harvest.
• Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Management Area off the coast of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Fishing or possession of scallops in this area is limited to 200 lbs. per trip. This dataset is from NMFS and represents areas and regulations mandated in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This layer does not represent a legal definition of the Regulated Area. The description published in the CFR is the only legal definition.
• Area where chain-mat and the turtle deflector dredge gear are required for the fishing and harvesting of Atlantic sea scallops. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) requires the use of this type of gear to help reduce mortality of endangered and threatened sea turtles from May 1 through November 30. The final rule issued by NMFS clarifies where on the dredge the chain mat must be hung.

These datasets are from NMFS and represent areas and regulations mandated in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). These layers do not represent a legal definition of the Regulated Area. The description published in the CFR is the only legal definition.

Source: Greater Atlantic Regional Fishery Office

Notes:

Recreational Fishing

The Marine Planner’s recreational fishing data is currently limited to a regional scale map layer showing party boat (also known as head boat) and charter boat fishing. This product was created by the Nature Conservancy based on data provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The number of trips information is based on vessel trip report records that have been aggregated by ten minute square and have been screened for confidentiality. The records to produce this dataset are for federally permitted party boats and charter boats only. Vessel trip reports are submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service by federally permitted fishing vessels for all fishing trips. The screening process protects the identity of each individual permitted commercial fishing vessel. Approximately 70% to 80% of all recorded of trips between 2000 and 2009 are represented in this dataset at the ten-minute square resolution.

Source: National Marine Fisheries Service

Notes:

Party & Charter Boat / Recreational Fishing

This is an extract of Fishing Vessel Trip Report (FVTR) data for Recreational Party and Charter Boat Fishing that The Nature Conservancy compiled from data received from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The owner/operator of a vessel issued a federal fishery permit with FVTR requirements is required to submit FVTRs for each trip taken. The National Marine Fisheries Service requires this information for the conservation and management of marine fishery resources in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The data reported are used to develop, implement, and monitor fishery management strategies and for a variety of other uses. These data are sufficient for general planning purposes but errors in reporting or in transferring the paper reports to a digital format are not uncommon.

Source: National Marine Fisheries Service

Notes: