Part 2, Sec. 2C3
Human Activities
- Recreational Boating/Tourism

Recreational and tourism activities directly involving waters around Stellwagen Bank include privately-owned boats engaged primarily in fishing or whalewatching/birdwatching activities. While participation in these activities is high, there are no precisely comprehensive figures indicating levels of participation and revenues generated from these activities. However, some discussion of statewide data provides a general, if unspecified, picture of the extent of recreational activities in the Stellwagen Bank area. During 1985, tourists visiting Barnstable County (Cape Cod) spent over $1.1 billion, representing about 17.5% of all tourist expenditures in Massachusetts for that year. (Greenbaum and O'Donnell, 1987).

With regard to recreational fishing, a total of 790,000 saltwater anglers fished during 596,644 angler days in Massachusetts during 1987, spending approximately $803 million in related sales. (Hart, 1989; NMFS, 1988b). These figures include shore fishing (i.e., from beaches, banks, jetties, piers, docks, and bridges), and boat fishing (i.e., from private rental, charter, or party boats). Cape Cod generally is a primary tourist area during summer months, and many of its visitors, as well as residents, participate in both shore-based and boat-based recreational fishing.

Most recreational fishing within the North Atlantic (New England) area occurs in inland waters (e.g., sounds, inlets, tidal portions of rivers, bays, estuaries, and other areas of salt of brackish water), or within the territorial limit (i.e., within three miles of shore). Throughout the North Atlantic area generally, the majority of recreational fishing, regardless of the area fished, is conducted from private or rental boats. (Essig, et al., 1991).

In waters beyond the three-mile limit, which would include Stellwagen Bank, the total number of fish caught by the recreational fishery varies considerably from year to year, although generally the majority caught from year to year are from the same several species groups.

Table 6: Total Number of Fish Caught in North Atlantic Recreational Fishery Beyond Three-Mile Jurisdiction (In Thousands): 1987-1989

1987 1988 1989
9,161 7,430 3,397

The most prevalent species groups caught in the North Atlantic recreational fishery in waters beyond the three-mile jurisdictional limit for the same years are indicated as follows (compiled from Essig 1991):

Species Group / Total Fish Caught (x 1,000)
Scup 2,863
Bluefish 1,486
Atlantic Cod 1,461
Winter Flounder 1,057
Atlantic Mackerel 381
Pollock 371
Tautog 317

Species Groups / Total Fish Caught (x 1,000)
Atlantic Mackerel 2,325
Atlantic Cod 1,704
Bluefish 803
Scup 546
Dogfish Sharks 500
Winter Flounder 139
Summer Flounder 125

Species Groups Total Fish Caught (x 1,000)
Atlantic Cod 1,217
Bluefish 529
Pollock 370
Atlantic Mackerel 349
Scup 314
Dogfish Sharks 262

As previously discussed, it appears that existing NMFS whalewatch guidelines for the Gulf of Maine are generally followed by commercial whalewatch vessel operators. However, there are at least occasional, albeit largely unconfirmed reports of whale harassment and collisions with smaller, non-commercial vessels, such as those used for recreational fishing and/or whalewatching activities. Evidence of these incidents is in large part supported by photographs of cuts and scars on the backs, flukes, and fins of cetaceans, which have been identified as likely resulting from collisions with smaller (i.e., less than 50 feet) vessels. (Center for Coastal Studies, 1991).

NMFS is developing proposed national whalewatch regulations, which would be applicable to all vessels (regardless of their commercial or non-commercial status). It is anticipated that these proposed regulations will be published for public review and comment during 1992. Presently, however, the Gulf of Maine whalewatch guidelines issued by NMFS in 1985 remain in effect, but are not enforceable as law.

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