Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Commercial Accountability Measures Framework

Framework Adjustment 13 to the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan

Overview

The Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Commercial Accountability Measures Framework (Framework Adjustment 13) modifies the accountability measures required for overages not caused by directed landings (i.e., discards) in the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries. Accountability Measures (AMs) are management measures that are implemented to prevent ACLs from being exceeded or to correct for ACL overages and are intended to mitigate the negative biological impacts of such overages. The Council initiated this action in December 2016 following an overage of the 2015 commercial black sea bass Annual Catch Limit (ACL) due to commercial discards. This framework adjustment incorporates the status of the stocks into the accountability measures. This action is intended to provide additional flexibility in determining when accountability measures are appropriate, similar to the method already used in the recreational fisheries for these species.

Final Documents

Summary of Measures

This action incorporates stock status into non-landings AMs determinations, as described in the proposed rule. When discards cause the commercial ACL to be exceeded, the following system will now be used to determine AMs:

  1. If the current biomass is above the biomass target, no overage payback is required.

  2. If the current biomass is above the biomass threshold (i.e., the stock is not overfished), but below the biomass target, and the stock is not under a rebuilding plan, then one of the following non-landings paybacks are applied: (a.) If discards cause the commercial ACL, but not the acceptable biological catch (ABC), to be exceeded, no overage repayment is required; or (b) If discards cause both the commercial ACL and ABC to be exceeded, a scaled, single-year adjustment to the commercial ACT will be made. The adjustment would be scaled based on stock biomass, so that the adjustment is larger the closer the biomass is to the threshold.

  3. If the stock is overfished, under a rebuilding plan, or the biological reference points (i.e., stock status) are unknown, then a pound-for-pound payback is required for any non-landings overage.

The scaled payback required in scenario 2b above would be calculated as the product of the difference between the total catch and the ACL (i.e., the overage amount) and a payback coefficient. The payback coefficient is the difference between the most recent estimate of biomass target and the current biomass, divided by one half of the biomass target. This scaling is intended to minimize impacts of a payback for healthy stocks, while still accounting for the biological consequences of the overage. For more description of the scaled payback calculation, see the proposed rule for this action.

Staff Contact: Brandon Muffley, (302)526-5260, bmuffley@mafmc.org

Timeline

October 2017:  The Council met for the first framework meeting to consider modifying the commercial accountability measures (AMs) for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. The Council reviewed initial staff analyses and evaluations of the draft alternatives.

February 2018: The Council selected preferred alternatives and took final action on this framework at their meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina. Staff is currently drafting the framework Environmental Assessment for submission. If this action is approved by NOAA Fisheries, it is anticipated that these changes will be implemented later in 2018.

August 2018: NOAA Fisheries published a proposed rule for this action. Comments may be submitted through the online portal through September 10, 2018.

October 2018: NOAA Fisheries published a final rule for this action. The new measures become effective 11/26/18.

Documents