Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Monitoring Committee

Strategic Planning Process

The Council developed its 2014-2018 strategic plan in coordination with, and with substantial input from, its stakeholders and management partners. To ensure that the plan accurately reflected the diverse interests affected by management of Mid-Atlantic fisheries, the Council engaged in a large-scale stakeholder outreach effort prior to the actual strategic planning process. The purpose of this outreach initiative, entitled the “Visioning Project,” was for the Council to gain a better understanding of stakeholders’ challenges and concerns as well as their visions for Mid-Atlantic fisheries.

This task was accomplished by collecting input from stakeholders through surveys, port meetings, and position letters. From September 2011 through February 2012 more than 1,500 stakeholders participated in the Visioning Project, offering a broad range of ideas and recommendations for improving management of Mid-Atlantic fisheries. This input was summarized in the Stakeholder Input Report which was presented to the Council and distributed to the public in June 2012.

In July 2012, the Council established a working group to spearhead the strategic planning process. The working group was made up of Council members, leaders of management partner organizations, and stakeholders representing commercial, recreational, environmental, and regional planning interests. From August through December 2012 the group met five times to develop the components of a draft strategic plan. During the first meeting, the working group reviewed the Stakeholder Input Report and agreed to a framework of 7 themes based on the top issues and concerns expressed by stakeholders. These themes—science, governance, regulatory process, communication, social and economic considerations, ecosystems, and management strategies—were used throughout the planning process to guide the development of goals, objectives, and strategies for the plan. These seven themes were eventually reduced to four strategic goals: (1) Communication, (2) Governance, (3) Science, and (4) Management.

The Visioning phase of the project was completed with assistance from S.R.I. International, and the strategic planning phase of the project was facilitated by RESOLVE Consulting.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 was enacted to maintain marine mammal stocks at their optimum sustainable population (OSP) level and to restore depleted stocks.  The law prohibits the take of  all 128 species of marine mammals, including whales, dolphins, sea otters, manatees, polar bears, seals, and walruses.  The term “take” is defined as “to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal.”

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals.  It also calls for protection of the habitats and ecosystems in which these species are found.  The law requires federal agencies, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and/or the NOAA Fisheries Service, to ensure that the actions they authorize are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or cause the destruction of the habitats those species depend on. 

Specifications: Bluefish 2013-2014

The NMFS has published a proposed rule based on the Council's recommended Recreational Harvest Limit (RHL) of 14.069 million pounds and commercial quota of 9.076 million pounds for 2013 and an RHL of 14.069 million pounds and commercial quota of 8.674 million pounds in 2014:

2013

AlternativesACLCommercial ACTRecreational ACTRSACommercial QuotaRecreational Harvest Limit
Alternative 1 (Preferred)27.4724.6722.8010.7169.076*14.069*
Alternative 2 (Non-Preferred: No Transfer)27.4724.6722.8010.7164.530*18.615*
Alternative 3 (Non-Preferred: Status quo)32.0445.44826.5970.492 †10.31717.457

2014:

AlternativesACLCommercial ACTRecreational ACTRSACommercial QuotaRecreational Harvest Limit
Alternative 1 (Preferred)27.0574.622.4580.7038.674*14.069*
Alternative 2 (Non-Preferred: No Transfer)27.0574.622.4580.7034.462*18.281*
Alternative 3 (Non-Preferred: Status quo)32.0445.44826.5970.492 †10.317 †17.457 †

Species Profile: Butterfish

Source: NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Distribution  and Biology

The butterfish, Peprilus triacanthus, is a small, bony fish weighing up to 0.5 kg, with a thin oval body. Butterfish are short-lived and grow rapidly. Few live to more than 3 years of age, and most are sexually mature at age 1. Butterfish range from Florida to Newfoundland, but are primarily found from Cape Hatteras to the Gulf of Maine.

Butterfish are sensitive to and migrate in response to seasonal changes in water temperature. During summer, butterfish move northward and inshore to feed and spawn. Spawning occurs during June to August, and peaks progressively later at higher latitudes. During winter, butterfish move southward and offshore to avoid cold waters. Butterfish are semi-pelagic, and form loose schools that feed upon small squid, and crustaceans. Butterfish have a high natural mortality rate and are preyed upon by many species of fish, marine mammals, and seabirds.

Species Profile: Illex Squid

Source: NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Distribution, Biology and Management

I. illecebrosus live for less than one year, experiences high natural mortality rates, and exhibit a protracted spawning season whereby overlapping “microcohorts” enter the population throughout the year over a wide geographic area and exhibit variable growth rates. Age estimation, accomplished by counting daily growth increments in the statoliths, has been validated for I. illecebrosus (Dawe et al. 1985; Hurley et al. 1985). Back-calculated hatch dates from statolith-based aging studies indicate that spawning occurs throughout most of the year (Dawe and Beck 1997; Hendrickson 2004). The only confirmed spawning area is located in the Mid-Atlantic Bight where the winter cohort spawns during late May (Hendrickson 2004). Spawning may also occur offshore in the Gulf Stream/Slope Water frontal zone, where Illex sp. paralarvae have been collected (O’Dor and Balch 1985; Rowell et al. 1985), and south of Cape Hatteras, during winter, where Illex sp. hatchlings have been collected (Dawe and Beck 1985). The lifespan of the winter cohort in U.S. waters ranges from 115 to 215 days (Hendrickson 2004). The species is semelparous and fishing mortality and spawning mortality occur simultaneously on the U.S. shelf (Hendrickson and Hart 2006). The species inhabits offshore shelf and slope waters primarily during spring through autumn (Hendrickson and Holmes 2004). Species distribution and abundance are strongly influenced by oceanographic factors (Dawe and Warren 1993; Dawe et al. In Press). Annual survey indices of relative abundance and biomass and average body size suggest that the stock has experienced low and high productivity periods (Hendrickson and Showell 2006; NEFSC 2006). The information provided herein reflects the results of the most recent peer-reviewed assessment of the U.S. component of the I. illecebrosus stock.