Mid-Atlantic Council to Hold Scoping Hearings for Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish Amendment

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold four scoping hearings from February 4 to February 7, 2019 to solicit public input on an amendment to review and consider modifications to both the permitting system for Illex squid and the goals and objectives of the entire Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish Fishery Management Plan.

Federal Shutdown Impacts on MAFMC Meetings

As a result of the ongoing partial government shutdown, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has cancelled or postponed a number of meetings. Below is a list of the meetings that have been affected by the shutdown. Please check back frequently for updates, as the information below may change and rescheduled meeting dates may be cancelled depending on the duration of the shutdown.

  • Council staff is currently evaluating options for the February 2019 Council Meeting. Additional details are available here.

  • The Scientific and Statistical Committee Meeting scheduled for January 28, 2019 has been RESCHEDULED for a webinar-based meeting on February 4, 2019. Additional details are available here.

  • The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Monitoring Committee Meeting scheduled for January 29, 2019 has been RESCHEDULED for a webinar-based meeting on February 6, 2019. Additional details are available here.

  • The Joint Meeting of the MAFMC and ASMFC Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Advisory Panels scheduled for February 1, 2019 has been POSTPONED. A new meeting date will be posted on this page and at http://www.mafmc.org/council-events/ once the meeting has been rescheduled.

  • The Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Advisory Panel Meeting originally scheduled for January 22 has been RESCHEDULED for February 6, 2019. Additional details are available here.

  • The Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Committee Meeting originally scheduled for January 22 has been RESCHEDULED for February 6, 2019. Additional details are available here.

February Council Meeting Update

January 15, 2019 – Council staff is currently evaluating options for the February Council Meeting in light of the ongoing partial government shutdown. In order for the Council to take final action on any issues at the February meeting, the Council must have a Federal Register notice published no later than Monday, January 28th. The Office of the Federal Register is not accepting any meeting notices at this point.

If the government reopens in time for us to notice the February Council meeting, it may be difficult to schedule and have meetings (AP, Committee, SSC) and complete the necessary background documents to support Council recommendations.  For example, the Council cannot develop recommendations on the 2019-2021 specifications for summer flounder without the final assessment documents and updated stock projections from the Center. The Council was originally scheduled to take final action on a number of topics, including summer flounder specifications, 2019 summer flounder recreational measures, the Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment, and the Chub Mackerel Amendment. The Council was also scheduled to approve the public hearing document for the Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Excessive Shares Amendment.

As of January 15, several options are being considered, including cancelling or shortening the February meeting, rescheduling some agenda items for a meeting in March, or waiting until the regularly scheduled April meeting. Without federal notice, the Council could still meet in February to discuss several of the originally-scheduled agenda items, but it could not take final action on amendments or specifications. Council Leadership will meet early next week to make a decision on the February Council meeting. This information will be posted on this page and emailed to our general email distribution list no later than Tuesday, January 22nd. To ensure that you receive these email updates, go to http://www.mafmc.org/email-list and check the box for “General Council News.”

Rutgers Cooperative Extension to Host Introductory Fisheries Science for Stakeholders (IFISSH) Course

Rutgers Cooperative Extension is offering an introductory fisheries science course to educate New Jersey’s commercial and recreational fishing industries’ stakeholders on science and management processes impacting their industries.

The Introductory Fisheries Science for Stakeholders (IFISSH) course  is open to all who are interested (commercial and recreational fishermen, general public, current students or professionals, etc.)

This course will meet during the evening (6:30 - 8:30 p.m.) every Tuesday from January 29 through April 2 with a new weekly topic of interest like fisheries biology, oceanography, stock assessment, and fisheries management, with invited speakers from multiple local and regional agencies.

This will be a "HyFlex" course to provide students with the option to participate live in-class or remotely via webinar. The in-class meeting location is Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County, 1623 Whitesville Road, Toms River, NJ 08755. The program fee is $60 per person.

The cost for the course is $60.00 per person.

Please register by January 22, 2019 by contacting Kelly Jurgensen (Administrative Assistant, Marine Extension Program), Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County at kjurgensen@co.ocean.nj.us or by calling 732-349-1152.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Douglas Zemeckis (County Agent III - Assistant Professor), Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Rutgers University at zemeckis@njaes.rutgers.edu or 732-349-1152.

Download the course flyer with additional details.

Final Action on Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment Postponed Until February 2019

During a joint meeting last week in Annapolis, Maryland, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Board (Board) voted to postpone final action on the Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment until their next joint meeting in February 2019.

The amendment considers several potential changes to the management of the commercial summer flounder fishery and proposes modifications to the fishery management plan goals and objectives for summer flounder.

Discussion during the meeting focused predominantly on options in the amendment that could modify allocations of the commercial summer flounder quota to the states. The current commercial allocations were last modified in 1993 and are perceived by some as outdated given their basis in 1980-1989 landings data. The amendment proposes three sets of alternatives for modifying the current state-by-state allocations. After reviewing public comments on these options, the administrative Commissioner from New York introduced a motion that would have allowed states to submit additional commercial quota allocation options for discussion in February 2019. While some Council and Board members offered support for the motion, others felt that it was too late in the process to introduce new alternatives and that the existing options adequately address the purpose of the amendment. After a lengthy discussion, the motion was defeated due to lack of majority from the Council.

Given the limited time available to discuss the remaining issues addressed in the amendment, the Council and Board voted to postpone final action until their next joint meeting, to be held February 11-14, 2019 in Virginia Beach, VA. Additional information about this action is available at: http://www.mafmc.org/actions/summer-flounder-amendment.

Questions? Contact Kiley Dancy, Fishery Management Specialist, kdancy@mafmc.org, (302) 526-5257.

PDF Version

NOAA Fisheries Sets 2019 Specifications for Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass

Effective January 1, 2019

NOAA Fisheries sets 2019 catch limits for the summer flounder and black sea bass fisheries and maintains the 2019 scup specifications that were established in 2017.

The summer flounder specifications will result in a 16-percent increase in the recreational harvest limit. Due to commercial overages that occurred in 2017, an accountability measure will be applied to the commercial quota that will result in a commercial quota that is similar to that in place for 2018.

For black sea bass, we are implementing the same specifications that were in place for 2018. We are also reopening the February black sea bass recreational fishery.

The scup specifications for 2019 are identical to those in place for 2018. We are also increasing the incidental possession limit for scup moratorium permit holders using small mesh from April 15-June 15.

A new assessment for summer flounder will be finalized in early 2019; any adjustment to the summer flounder specifications as a result will be taken up by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Additional information will be sent outlining any changes being implemented mid-year. 

Read the final rule as filed in the Federal Register and the permit holder bulletin posted on our website.

Questions?

Fishermen: Emily Gilbert, (978) 281-9244

Media: Jennifer Goebel, 978-281-9175

Council Meeting in Annapolis, MD: December 10-13, 2018

The public is invited to attend the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's meeting to be held December 10-13 in Annapolis, MD. The meeting will be held at Westin Annapolis (100 Westgate Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401, Telephone 410-972-4300).

Meeting Materials: Briefing documents will be posted at http://ww.mafmc.org/briefing/december-2018 as they become available.

Public Comments: Written comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on November 28 to be included in the Council meeting briefing book. Comments received after this deadline but before 5:00 p.m. on December 6 will be posted as “supplemental materials” on the Council meeting web page. After that date, all comments must be submitted using an online comment form available at available at http://www.mafmc.org/public-comment.

Webinar: For online access to the meeting, enter as a guest at: http://mafmc.adobeconnect.com/december2018.

Agenda

Monday, December 10th  

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Executive Committee Meeting (CLOSED)

  • Ricks E Savage Award

1:30 p.m. Council Convenes

1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Council Photo

1:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Risk Policy Framework

  • Final results of Summer Flounder Economic Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE), Doug Lipton - NMFS

  • Discuss next steps

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Law Enforcement Workshop Report

  • Report on Law Enforcement/For-Hire Workshop (November 13-14, 2018)

  • Review workshop summary and develop recommendations on further actions

Tuesday, December 11th

9:00 a.m. Council Meeting with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Boards

9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Discussion of Potential 2019 Mid-Year Revisions for Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass

  • Discuss timeline for revising 2019 summer flounder specifications

  • Discuss potential for mid-year revisions to 2019 black sea bass and scup specifications, including timing of 2019 operational assessment

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Black Sea Bass 2019 Recreational Specifications

  • Review recent fishery performance, Monitoring Committee and Advisory Panel recommendations

  • Adopt recommendations for 2019 federal waters recreational management measures

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Scup 2019 Recreational Specifications

  • Review recent fishery performance, Monitoring Committee and Advisory Panel recommendations

  • Adopt recommendations for 2019 federal waters recreational management measures

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Summer Flounder 2019 Recreational Specifications

  • Review recent fishery performance, Monitoring Committee recommendations and Advisory Panel recommendations

  • Discuss timeline for developing 2019 recreational measures in early 2019 based on benchmark assessment results

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Framework and Addendum XXXI on Conservation Equivalency, Block Island Sound Transit, and Slot Limits

  • Take final action

4:00 p.m. End of Joint Meeting for the Day

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Board-Only Meeting on Addendum XXXII for Summer Flounder and Black Sea Bass Recreational Management

  • Take final action

Wednesday, December 12th

9:00 a.m. Council Meeting with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Boards

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Summer Flounder Commercial Issues and Goals and Objectives Amendment

  • Take final action

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Revised Stock Assessment Process, NEFSC

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m. Presentation on Summer Flounder F-Based Management MSE

  • Review preliminary results of MSE to explore F-based recreational management, G. Fay and J. McNamee

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Black Sea Bass Amendment and Review of Progress on Commission’s Strategic Plan for Black Sea Bass

  • Discuss initiation of an amendment including identification of issues to consider

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Research Steering Committee Report

  • Report on Research Steering Committee Webinar (November 27, 2018)

  • Discuss recommendations from the meeting

5:00 p.m. End of Joint Meeting

Thursday, December 13th

9:00 a.m. Council Convenes

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team Report, Michael Asaro - NMFS

9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. 2019 Implementation Plan

  • Review and approve 2019 Implementation Plan

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Business Session

  • Committee Reports

    • Scientific and Statistical Committee Report

    • Executive Committee

  • Executive Director's Report, Chris Moore

  • Organization Reports

    • NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Office

    • NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

    • NOAA Office of General Counsel

    • NOAA Office of Law Enforcement

    • US Coast Guard

    • Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

  • Liaison Reports

    • New England Council

    • South Atlantic Council

  • Continuing and New Business

View PDF Version

Mid-Atlantic Council Solicits Public Input on Chub Mackerel Amendment

The Mid-Atlantic Council is soliciting public input on a draft amendment to address management and conservation of chub mackerel off the U.S. east coast. Five public hearings will be held between December 3, 2018 and January 14, 2019. Written comments will be accepted through January 18, 2019.

NOAA Fisheries Announces Commercial Harvest Quotas for Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog

November 6, 2018 - The following was released by NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Office:

For fishing year 2019 (January 1–December 31, 2019), the quota will remain 3.4 million bushels for surfclams, 5.33 million bushels for ocean quahogs, and 100,000 Maine bushels for Maine ocean quahogs.

These quotas are unchanged from fishing year 2018. In addition, as was the case for the last 14 years, the minimum size limit for surfclams is being suspended for the 2019 fishing year. 

These measures become effective on January 1, 2019.

To get all the details, read the final rule as filed in the Federal Register today and the permit holder bulletin posted on our website.

Questions?

Fishermen: Contact Douglas Potts at 978-281-9341 

Media: Contact Jennifer Goebel at 978-281-9175

MAFMC to Host Workshop Addressing Law Enforcement Issues in For-Hire Fisheries

Tuesday, November 13, 12:00 p.m. – Wednesday, November 14, 4:00 p.m.

Embassy Suites by Hilton Philadelphia Airport
9000 Bartram Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19153
Phone: 215-796-6001 
Room Block: Online reservations, Group Name: Mid-Atlantic Fishery, Group Code: MAF (October 16 cutoff)

Details and Registration: http://www.mafmc.org/workshop/law-enforcement-for-hire-workshop


The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will host a workshop November 13-14 (Law Enforcement/ For-Hire Workshop) to identify issues related to law enforcement in for-hire fisheries and sale by recreational anglers of tilefish and tuna and to develop potential solutions. Specifically, the workshop will address:

  1. Operator versus angler (client) responsibility for fisheries violations that occur on for-hire vessels and law enforcement options for addressing these.

  2. Issues related to the sale of fish by private recreational anglers (particularly golden tilefish and tunas) focusing on the need for vessels selling fish to comply with U.S. Coast Guard requirements and/or Federal permits that allow for the sale of fish.

Recommendations coming from this workshop will be presented during the Council’s December meeting for formal discussion. State and federal fisheries law enforcement, as well as operators of for-hire vessels and private vessels fishing for tuna or tilefish along the Atlantic who may have encountered these issues, may want to participate.

The workshop is open to the public and free to attend but pre-registration is requested to ensure adequate meeting facilities. For more information and to register, visit http://www.mafmc.org/workshop/law-enforcement-for-hire-workshop.

Request for Proposals For a Study to Document the Distribution of Surfclams in the US Northwest Atlantic

The Council is seeking a highly-qualified contractor to document the distributions of Spisula solidissima similis and Spisula solidissima solidissima in the nearshore waters of the US Northwest Atlantic.