Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish
Click on an image above to learn more about the biology and life history of that species.
The Council manages the Atlantic mackerel, longfin squid, Illex squid, and butterfish (MSB) fisheries under a single Fishery management Plan (FMP). The management unit includes all U.S. waters off the U.S. East Coast.
There is recreational fishing for Atlantic mackerel (for food and bait), but the majority of harvest is commercial for all four species, with bottom and mid-water trawling accounting for most landings. Commercial landings are used in a variety of food and bait markets, both domestically and for export.
There is substantial uncertainty regarding these species because their distribution and productivity are likely highly dependent on environmental variables. The Council uses annual quotas based on recommendations from the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee for all four species. These quotas account for both scientific and management uncertainty.
Ecosystem considerations have become a prominent issue for these fisheries. Please see the Council's Ecosystem Plan page for more details.
Note: longfin squid used to have the scientific name Loligo pealeii and are often still referred to as "Loligo."
Actions Under Development
The Council is developing a framework action to consider modifications to the Atlantic mackerel commercial fishery closure possession limits.
This framework action will present alternatives with the purposes of rebuilding the mackerel stock with associated management measures (including 2019-2021 specifications), as well as setting the river herring/shad (RH/S) cap for the mackerel fishery.
This Amendment considers mechanisms to facilitate industry funding of observer coverage, as well as specific coverage targets and related measures for the Atlantic mackerel and Atlantic herring fisheries.
The Council is considering development of a “Squid Capacity Amendment” to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish (MSB) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This amendment would review the performance of the longfin squid and Illex squid fisheries and consider options for controlling or limiting capacity of the fleets.
Fishery Management Plan and Amendments
Fishery Performance Reports and Information Documents
Fishery Performance Reports (FPRs) are developed every year by each fishery's advisory panel to provide the Council and SSC with a description of the factors that influenced fishing effort and catch within each of the Council’s fisheries. Fishery Information Documents (FIDs) are annual summaries of the most recent catch, landings, and effort data.
The Council has approved a 2,000 metric ton increase in the Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) for Illex squid in 2019 and 2020.
Beginning August 15, 2018, through December 31, 2018, federal Illex squid vessel permit holders are prohibited from fishing for, catching, possessing, transferring or landing more than 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) on Illex squid per trip per calendar day.
Beginning Monday, March 12, 2018, all charter and party vessel operators holding a federal permit for species managed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will be required to electronically submit Vessel Trip Reports for all trips carrying passengers for hire.
As of 00:01 local time on February 27, 2018, vessels issued Federal Atlantic mackerel permits may not fish for, possess, transfer, receive, land, or sell more than 20,000 lb of mackerel per trip or calendar day through December 31, 2018.
The Council has discontinued development of a framework action that would have considered establishing a squid fishery buffer zone in waters south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
NOAA Fisheries proposes squid and butterfish quotas for the 2018-2020 fishing years and will maintain the mackerel quotas previously set for 2018.Comments on this rule must be received by 5 pm on January 12, 2018.
NMFS has announced that the directed federal fishery for Illex squid will close on September 15 for the remainder of the fishing year.
The Council has approved the Squid Amendment to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan.
The Council will hold nine public hearings in April and May 2017 to solicit public input on the Squid Amendment to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan. Written comments may be submitted through May 18, 2017.