Omnibus Recreational Accountability Amendment

Amendment 17 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squids, and Butterfish FMP 
Amendment 19 to the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP 

Amendment 4 to the Bluefish FMP 




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.

The original AMs for these recreational fisheries were established in the Council’s Omnibus Annual Catch Limit (ACL) and Accountability Measure Amendment (MAFMC 2011) which was implemented in order to ensure FMP compliance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006. Pound-for-pound paybacks were initially developed with an understanding that they would be a required component of fishery accountability under the MSRA. However, subsequent interpretation of the Guidelines indicated that paybacks were a more severe approach than necessary for the Council's managed stocks, which are neither overfished nor subject to overfishing. Given the significant uncertainty in recreational catch estimates, the Council initiated the Recreational Omnibus Accountability Measure Amendment to consider alternative accountability measures for all Council-managed recreational fisheries.

Amendment Summary

The final amendment proposed several major changes to the way the Council identifies and responds to estimated recreational overages.

First, the Council recommended changes to the accountability measure (AM) “trigger” for stocks that are not overfished and where overfishing is not occurring. Under the proposed amendment, a recreational Annual Catch Limit (ACL) would be evaluated by comparing the three year averages of the ACL for that fishery to the 3-year average of the lower confidence limits (defined as point estimate minus one standard error) for the catch estimates. A reactive AM would only be triggered when the entire average of the confidence interval was above the average recreational ACL.  

Second, the Council recommended that paybacks only be required in certain cases, such as when the stock is overfished or when both the overfishing limit has been exceeded and the stock has fallen below a certain level. If these conditions are not met, then accountability measures would consist of adjustments to the bag limit, size limit, and season to prevent future overages. When paybacks are required, the Council recommended replacing pound-for-pound paybacks with scaled paybacks that take the current condition of the stock in to account. This change would mean that the payback amount required for an overage in an overfished fishery would be greater than the payback amount for an equivalent overage in a non-overfished fishery.  

In addition, the Council voted to eliminate in-season closure authority. This alternative reflects the Council’s preference for addressing recreational overages in subsequent fishing years, so that necessary catch reductions can be addressed at the coastwide level rather than imposing an early closure which tends to disproportionately penalize states that fish in the EEZ later in the year. The Council also voted to maintain the current method for specifying Annual Catch Target (ACT) determination.


NOAA Fisheries Documents

Council Documents


After announcing that the Omnibus Recreational Accountability Amendment had been partially approved, NOAA Fisheries published a final rule for the implementation of the amendment on December 19, 2013. 

Timeline & Documents

December 19, 2013: 
A final rule is published for the approved portions of the amendment.

December 4, 2013:
NOAA Fisheries announces partial approval of the Omnibus Recreational AM amendment.

September 18, 2013: 
NOAA Fisheries publishes a proposed rule to implement revisions to three fishery management plans as recommended by the Council's Omnibus Recreational AM Amendment.

June 19, 2013:
The Final Omnibus Recreational AM Amendment is submitted to the Secretary of Commerce. 

June 12, 2013:
The Council votes on final measures to include in the amendment and approves it for submission to the Secretary of Commerce. 

April 29 - May 3, 2013:
Five public hearings are held to solicit public input on the amendment. Click here to read a summary of public comments.

April 10, 2013: 
The Council approves the Draft Omnibus Recreational Amendment with the addition of two additional alternatives.

December 2012: 
The Council initiates an Omnibus Recreational Accountability Measure (AM) amendment to consider modifications to existing accountability measures for MAFMC-managed recreational fisheries.


Jim Armstrong, Fishery Management Specialist - (302) 526-5250,