The Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Commercial Accountability Measures Framework proposes changes to the commercial accountability measures for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. 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.
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. Commercial AMs for summer flounder, scup and black sea bass currently require pound-for-pound paybacks through quota deductions in following years, regardless of the circumstances of the overages. The Council initiated this framework action to consider adding flexibility to the commercial AMs for these species, similar to the AMs in place for the recreational sector.
Summary of Preferred Alternatives
At the February 2018 Council Meeting the Council selected preferred alternatives and approved the framework for Secretarial review. The Council recommended implementing a scaled system of AMs which would consider current stock conditions in the management responses to ACL overages caused by higher-than-projected discards (i.e. “non-landing overages”). The alternative selected by the Council would establish the following AMs to be implemented when non-landing ACL overages occur:
- When the stock is above the target biomass (B/Bmsy ≥ 1), non-landing overages would not require pound-for-pound paybacks.
- When current stock biomass is below the target biomass but the stock is not overfished (1 ≥ B/Bmsy ≥ ½) and not under a rebuilding plan, paybacks would only be required if both the commercial ACL and the ABC are exceeded, and the payback amount would be scaled relative to the current condition of the stock.
- When the stock is overfished, managed under a rebuilding plan, or reference points are unknown, pound-for-pound paybacks would be required for non-landing overages.
Note that these proposed changes would not affect the AMs associated with landings-overages, which require pound-for-pound paybacks.
The Council considered but did not recommend any changes to the existing ACL evaluation process, which utilizes a single year of commercial catch (both landings and discards) to evaluate the commercial sector ACL.
Staff Contact: Brandon Muffley, (302)526-5260, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.