The Council, in response to a 2015 petition from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, is considering the designation of 13 artificial reef sites as Special Management Zones (SMZs) in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off of New Jersey.
The purpose of this action is to require for-hire vessels with Federal permits for species managed by the Council to submit currently-required VTRs to NOAA through electronic means beginning January 1, 2017.
There has been recent, growing interest in developing the Mid-Atlantic regions energy resources. The region possesses substantial amounts of energy in the form of oil and gas, wind power, liquefied natural gas, hydropower, among others. Development of these energy resources falls under the purview of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). However, the Council periodically provides input on energy activities that may impact the marine environment and the Council’s managed resources and fisheries.
This page provides information related to the Council's involvement in, and comments on, energy development activities. For up-to-date information about specific projects in the Mid-Atlantic, please visit BOEM's Atlantic Fishing Industry Communication and Engagement webpage as well as FERC’s website.
Council Comment Letters
- 2012 MAFMC Comment Letter on Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PElS) to Evaluate Geologic and Geophysical (G&G) Activities in the Mid- and South Atlantic OCS Planning Areas
- 2014 MAFMC Comment Letter on Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PElS) to Evaluate Geologic and Geophysical (G&G) Activities in the Mid- and South Atlantic OCS Planning Areas
- 2016 MAFMC Comment Letter on the Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider the impacts of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Offshore New York Wind Energy Area (WEA)
- 2016 MAFMC Comment Letter on Federal Consistency Determinations for the Spectrum Geo Inc. and GX Technology Corporation proposals to conduct two dimensional (2D) geophysical seismic surveys
Council Habitat Policies - Offshore Energy
The Council has developed a series of policies that articulate its positions on a range of issues that impact fish habitat. Listed below are policies pertaining to offshore energy development. Additional information and a comprehensive list of policies are available at http://www.mafmc.org/habitat/.
Offshore Wind Workshop
In February 2014, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council hosted a workshop focusing on best management practices (BMPs) and mitigation measures for offshore wind development in the Mid-Atlantic region. The workshop provided a forum for fishermen, fishery managers, decision-makers, and offshore wind experts to discuss and provide input on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) Draft Report on Fishing Best Management Practices and Mitigation Measures.
This Amendment considers mechanisms to facilitate industry funding of observer coverage, as well as specific coverage targets and related measures for the Atlantic mackerel and Atlantic herring fisheries.
The Council is involved in a range of initiatives to address river herring and shad conservation. This page summarizes information pertaining to Amendments 14 and 15, Framework 9, and the River Herring Technical Expert Working Group (TEWG).
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has initiated development of management measures for blueline tilefish off the Mid-Atlantic coast.
The Council is considering management actions that would potentially prohibit the development of new, or expansion of existing, directed fisheries on unmanaged forage species until adequate scientific information is available to promote ecosystem sustainability.
The Council is considering development of a “Squid Capacity Amendment” to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish (MSB) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This amendment would review the performance of the longfin squid and Illex squid fisheries and consider options for controlling or limiting capacity of the fleets.
The Deep Sea Corals Amendment to the Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) considers management measures to protect areas that are known or highly likely to contain deep sea corals.
This Amendment includes proposed measures to (1) collect fees and recover costs associated with the management of the surfclam and ocean quahog individual transferable quota (ITQ) fisheries, (2) facilitate incorporation of revised stock status determination criteria (i.e., biological reference points) into the FMP, and (3) modify or eliminate the optimum yield (OY) ranges currently in the FMP.
This amendment will involve a comprehensive review and update of the FMP’s goals and objectives and will consider changes to summer flounder management in both state and federal waters.
This purpose of this action is to eliminate certain baseline restrictions and reduce some costs while maintaining the conservation and fleet diversity benefits that baseline measures provide. The amendment is being developed by the Mid-Atlantic and New England Councils, with the assistance of NOAA Fisheries,
In June 2011, Delaware's Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) petitioned the Council to designate five ocean artificial reef sites as Special Management Zones (SMZs). The request noted that the DFW has received complaints from hook-and-line anglers regarding fouling of their fishing gear in commercial pots and lines on ocean reef sites for more than 10 years. It also noted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Sportfish Restoration Program (SRP) had notified DFW that these gear conflicts are not consistent with the objectives of the SRP program, which provides funding for the building and maintenance of the artificial reefs. In order to comply with the goals of the SRP, the FWS is requiring that state artificial reef programs be able to limit gear conflicts by state regulations in state waters or by SMZs for sites in the EEZ.
The Council voted in February 2013 to recommend that all five of Delaware's permitted artificial reef sites be designated as SMZs year-round. The SMZ designation would restrict fishing to hook and line and spear fishing gear only (take by hand would also be permitted) within the area of each reef site. The Council also recommended that each SMZ include a buffer of 500 yards surrounding each reef site to facilitate enforcement. In June 2014, NMFS published a proposed rule and request for comments on SMZ designation for the five artificial reef sites. At the August 2014 meeting the Council voted to eliminate the proposed 500 yard buffers and remove the proposed SMZ around reef site 14.
On June 9, NMFS published a final rule to implement Special Management Zones around four Delaware artificial reefs, as recommended by the Council. The new regulations will go into effect on July 9, 2015.
- Final Rule, June 2015
- Proposed Rule, June 2014
- Council Recommends SMZ Designation for five Delaware reef sites, June 2013
- SMZ Alternatives and Advisory Panel Report, December 2012
- SMZ Monitoring Team report, October 2012
- DFW requests SMZ Status for 5 Delaware Reefs, June 2011
The purpose of this action is to consider options for modifying the Northern and Southern scup gear-restricted areas (GRAs) in order to optimize their effectiveness at minimizing scup mortality.
This framework adjustment includes provisions to discourage slippage events. This framework adjustment to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan implements measures to enhance catch monitoring and address slippage (catch that is discarded before it has been sampled by observers) in the Atlantic mackerel fishery.
This action considered adding river herrings/shads as stocks in the Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish fishery. At its October 2013 meeting, the Council voted to address additional conservation of river herring and shad through an interagency working group.
In December 2012 the Council initiated an omnibus amendment to consider alternative accountability measures (AMs) for the recreational Atlantic mackerel, bluefish, summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. AMs for the Council’s recreational fisheries include a pound-for-pound reduction from a subsequent year ACT when the recreational catch estimate exceeds the ACL.
Amendment 14 considered incidental catch and general management of blueback herring, alewife, American shad, and hickory shad. Specifically, the Amendment addressed monitoring of river herring and shad, bycatch of river herring and shad in the Council's managed fisheries, and the overall management framework for the species in state and federal waters. A final rule for Amendment 14 was published in February 2014.