The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has initiated an amendment to consider adding Atlantic chub mackerel (Scomber colias) to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squids, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The amendment will consider potential catch limits, accountability measures, and other conservation and management measures required for stocks to be considered “in the fishery.” This action is needed to achieve optimum yield for, and prevent overfishing of, Atlantic chub mackerel in United States Exclusive Economic Zone.
A targeted commercial chub mackerel fishery developed in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England in recent years, averaging 2.86 million pounds of landings over 2013-2015. In August 2016, the Council approved an annual landings limit and a possession limit for chub mackerel as part of the Unmanaged Forage Omnibus Amendment. Once implemented (expected in mid-2017), these will be the first regulations on chub mackerel fisheries off the east coast. These measures are temporary and will expire three years after implementation. The Chub Mackerel Amendment aims to develop alternatives for longer-term management of chub mackerel fisheries to ensure sustainability.
Atlantic chub mackerel are considered a forage species due to their schooling behavior, relatively small size, and role as prey for a variety of predators. The Council’s Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) Guidance Document states: “it shall be the policy of the Council to support the maintenance of an adequate forage base in the Mid-Atlantic to ensure ecosystem productivity, structure and function and to support sustainable fishing communities.” The EAFM Guidance Document suggests that the Council may consider using more restrictive catch limits for forage species than otherwise required for non-forage species.
Julia Beaty, (302) 526-5250, email@example.com
This amendment is in the early stages of development. The Council plans to hold scoping hearings to solicit public input on all aspects of this amendment in late spring 2017. The Council is seeking proposals for contract work on analysis of chub mackerel stock status.”