New Voluntary Pilot Program to Pre-Measure/Tag Codends Now Underway


The New England Fishery Management Council is pleased to announce the launch of a new Codend Compliance Assistance Program (CAP) that’s designed to help fishermen document the purchase of legalsize codends and contribute to the collection of data on codend shrinkage rates. The program is in the pilot phase and participation is voluntary. It was developed by the Council’s Enforcement Committee, which includes representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.

As fishermen well know, new nets tend to shrink or “harden” once exposed to routine fishing.

“It’s just the nature of the material we use to build twine,” said Terry Alexander, a commercial fisherman and New England Council member who chairs the Enforcement Committee.

The Enforcement Committee began working on the CAP roughly two years ago under the premise that fishermen who volunteered to have codends pre-measured and tagged would be recognized as program participants. Then, in the event that codend mesh inspected during subsequent Coast Guard boardings measured-out smaller than on the original purchase date, the fisherman’s involvement in the CAP would be noted and possibly result in a “fix it” opportunity or reduced penalty.

“This is not a free ticket to tow illegal mesh,” emphasized Alexander. “But if you’re participating in the program and the Coast Guard boards your boat, it sends a signal that you’re a responsible harvester and are trying to fish legally.”

• The pilot phase is limited to 5-1/2", 6", and 6-1/2" mesh codends while the Council, Coast Guard, and NOAA assess how the program is working.

• Manufacturers provide dealers with standardized mesh. Fishermen must purchase codend mesh from a participating dealer who has a tag imprinter on site. Measuring mesh.

Pilot Phase Provisions

• The dealer affixes two stainless steel, tamper-proof tags onto the codend. The first tag is stamped with:(a) the date of purchase; and (b) the certified mesh size at the time of sale. The second tag contains the invoice number on the bill of sale.

• The participating fisherman carries a paper invoice onboard the vessel with the same information – date of purchase and mesh size at the time of sale – to present to the Coast Guard during boardings.