Offshore Energy

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

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.

Resources

Squid Capacity Amendment

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. 

Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Cost Recovery Amendment (Amendment 17)

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.

Omnibus Amendment to Simplify Vessel Baselines

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, 

Special Management Zones

Overview

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. 

Status

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. 

Documents

Related Links

Slippage Framework (Framework 9 to the Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish FMP)

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.

River Herring and Shad Management (Formerly Am. 15)

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.

Omnibus Recreational Accountability Amendment

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.  

River Herring and Shad Bycatch and Monitoring (Am. 14)

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.