NOAA Fisheries Announces Final Rule on Boundary Change for Southern Scup Gear Restricted Area

On November 8, 2016, NOAA Fisheries announced a change to the southern and eastern boundaries of the Southern Scup Gear Restricted Area (in effect January 1-March 15), as recommended by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. This rule is intended to increase access to traditional squid fishing areas, while maintaining protection for juvenile scup. 

Mid-Atlantic Council to Hold Hearings on New Jersey Special Management Zones

The Council will hold public hearings November 15-17, 2016 to gather public comments on a request by the State of New Jersey to designate 13 artificial reef sites as Special Management Zones. Written comments will be accepted until Friday, November 25, 2016, 11:59 p.m. EST.

October 2016 Council Meeting Summary

The following summary highlights actions taken and issues considered at the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s October 2016 meeting in Galloway, New Jersey. Presentations, briefing materials, and audio recordings are available on the Council’s website at

Download October 2016 Council Meeting Report

Council Votes to Continue Collaborative Efforts on River Herring and Shad

Based on a comprehensive review of existing and planned conservation and management efforts, last week the Council determined that management of river herring and shad (RH/S) through a Council fishery management plan (FMP) is not warranted.

NOAA Fisheries Announces Public Hearing and Comment Period for Industry-Funded Monitoring Amendment

NOAA Fisheries has announced public hearings and the opportunity to comment on the various amendment alternatives for future industry-funded monitoring programs. Public hearings will be held October 4 through November 1. Comments may be submitted by mail or online until November 7.

NOAA Fisheries Publishes Notice of Availability for Proposed Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish Fishery Management Plan Amendment to Protect Deep-Sea Corals

NOAA Fisheries has published a notice of availability for Amendment 16 to the Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish Fishery Management Plan which would establish a deep-sea coral protection area in Mid-Atlantic waters.

Mid-Atlantic Council and ASMFC Maintain Multi-Year Specifications for Black Sea Bass, Bluefish, and Scup and Modify Summer Flounder Specifications

Virginia Beach, VA – Last week the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) reviewed previously implemented specifications for scup, black sea bass and bluefish fisheries and modified specifications for summer flounder. 

Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partners Initiate Black Sea Bass Habitat Research Project in the Mid-Atlantic

The Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership (ACFHP) has established a new collaborative project with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council), and National Fish Habitat Fund (Fund) to study black sea bass habitat characteristics, fish abundance, and fish diets in the Mid-Atlantic. The project, led by Dr. Brad Stevens of UMES, is titled ‘Hab in the MAB: Characterizing black sea bass habitat in the Mid-Atlantic Bight.’ The new study will combine SCUBA, photography, videography, controlled angling, and stable isotope analysis techniques to better understand the importance of habitat and prey community structure on black sea bass feeding ecology.

“ACFHP and our collaborative partners are excited about the unique opportunity to work together over the next few years to collect data that will inform both science and management, and support healthy fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic region,” stated Kent Smith, ACFHP Steering Committee Chair.

In the summer of 2015, ACFHP applied for and received funding from the Council to manage a short-term research project focusing on Mid-Atlantic habitat (natural and/or artificial reef) and fisheries productivity. Black sea bass was chosen as a focal species because it is managed by both the Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), and because the species is structure oriented. ACFHP formed a subcommittee of representatives from the ACFHP Steering Committee, Council, and ASMFC Artificial Reef Committee to develop a request for proposals dedicated to black sea bass habitat research and/or restoration in the Mid-Atlantic region.  

After careful review of several strong proposals, the ACFHP subcommittee chose to provide a $216,000 award to Dr. Stevens and his PhD student, Cara Schweitzer. Their study will determine if there are differences resulting in the use of artificial vs. natural habitats.

In particular, study objectives include:

  1. Determining the preference of black sea bass for particular habitats by assessing their abundance, size structure, and feeding ecology within natural and artificial reefs;
  2. Improving the understanding of benthic habitat structure by quantitatively assessing biodiversity, rugosity (e.g., surface roughness measurements routinely used by reef biologists), and other habitat characteristics of natural and artificial reefs; and
  3. Determining if increased connectivity of habitat type increases fish recruitment, by experimentally manipulating connecting areas between isolated habitat patches.

“I’m glad that the Mid-Atlantic Council was able to work with the NFHP Board to support this important research,” said Chris Moore, Executive Director of the Council. “The outcomes of this project will significantly improve our understanding of black sea bass habitat and productivity.”

ACFHP is the first of the 19 Fish Habitat Partnerships (FHPs) throughout the U.S. to support a habitat research project using the NFHP Beyond the Pond Fund. The Fund is a 501(c)3 entity created in 2015 to provide the FHPs an opportunity to connect with the private sector and maximize funding and collaboration opportunities. It supports the leveraging of resources and grassroots actions to achieve maximum impact in protecting and restoring fish habitat from the local to national levels.

Since 2006, NFHP has been a partner in 599 projects in 50 states benefiting fish habitat. The National Fish Habitat Partnership works to conserve fish habitat nationwide, leveraging federal, state, tribal, and private funding resources to achieve the greatest impact on fish populations through priority conservation projects. NFHP implements the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and supports 20 regional grassroots partner organizations. For more information visit:

Please send your general questions or comments to

To view the press release as a PDF, please click here.