December News and Updates

December Council Meeting Summary

December 10-13, 2012
Baltimore, Maryland

Black Sea Bass
Recreational Management Measures
The Board approved an addendum to allow for state-specific or regional management approaches in 2013.  The Board also voted to give states the option to have January and February open with12.5 inch minimum size and a 20 fish possession limit.  

If the addendum addresses the required reduction, 2013 management measures in federal waters will be: 

  • a 20 fish possession limit
  • a 12.5 inch minimum size limit
  • Open season from January 1 through February 28, May 19 through October 14, and November 1 through December 31, 2013.

Black Sea Bass Stock Data 

The Council also discussed issues related to this year's early closure of the recreational black sea bass fishery after preliminary estimates indicated that the catch limit had been exceeded. During the meeting the Council discussed concerns about the accuracy of the black sea bass stock data that was used to set the 2012 catch limit. The Council voted to request that the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) reconsider their recommendation for the 2013 allowable biological catch (ABC) limit.   The Council also requested that the Northeast Fisheries Science Center conduct an operational assessment for black sea bass in the coming year.  

Recreational Accountability Measure

The  Council voted to initiate development of an omnibus amendment that would consider alternative accountability measures for all Mid-Atlantic fisheries. 

The Council met jointly with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Board to develop recreational management measures for the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass recreational  fisheries in 2013.

Summer Flounder 

Recreational Management Measures

The Council and Board recommended the use of conservation equivalency for the summer flounder fishery in 2013.  This would allow individual states to develop recreational measures to achieve a state-specific harvest level to achieve the coastwide recreational harvest limit of 7.63 million pounds.  

As a non-preferred alternative, the Council and Board adopted the following coastwide management measures:

  • Two fish possession limit
  • 18 inch minimum size
  • Open season from May 1 through September 30, 2013.

As a precautionary default measure the Council and Board adopted the following management measurse: 

  • Two fish possession limit
  • 20 inch TL minimum fish size
  • Coastwide season from May 1 through September 30, 2013.


Recreational Management Measures

The Board voted to adopt conservation equivalency in state waters for the scup fishery 2013. The Council adpoted the following management measures for federal waters:

  • 30 fish possession limit
  • 10 inch TL minimum fish size
  • open season from January 1-December 31, 2013

The states will develop state-specific management measures for approval at the Commission’s February meeting.

Squid, Mackerel, Butterfish

Framework 8

The Council took action to institute butterfish cap closure authority in trimester 2, so as to ensure a trimester 3 fishery will be maintained.  The Council also voted to give NMFS the discretion to shift butterfish cap and landings back and forth at the end of the year to optimize fishing opportunities. 

Squid Workshop

Staff provided an update on the squid management workshop which is scheduled for January 15-17, 2013.  The purpose of the workshop is to connect Mid-Atlantic fishery managers, scientists, and industry participants in order to consider whether real-time management is a feasible strategy for optimizing yield and/or addressing challenges in the longfin and Illex squid fisheries.  

Amendment 15

Council staff presented the results of Amendment 15 scoping for river herring and shad.  Four scoping hearings were held between November 14 and 20 to gather public input on the range of issues and information that should be considered.  Amendment 15 will consider adding river herrings  and shads as Council-managed species.  After reviewing the comments, the Council approved moving forward with amendment development. 

Highly Migratory Species

Amendment 5

Peter Cooper of the National Marine Fisheries Service presented an overview of the Draft Amendment 5 to the Consolidated HMS Plan for Management of Atlantic Sharks. The amendment includes measures to prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks of several species, including Sandbar, dusky, Atlantic blacknose, and scalloped hammerhead sharks.

The amendment could affect fishermen who use pelagic or bottom longline gear, recreational fishermen who catch sharks of any species, and dealers who buy or sell sharks or shark products. Comments on the amendment are being accepted through February 5, 2013 and can be submitted in one of several ways:

  1., Keyword - “NOAA-NMFS-2012-0161”
  2. Fax:  301-713-1917, Attn:  Peter Cooper
  3. Mail:  NMFS SF1, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (Please identify comments with NOAA-NMFS-2012-0161)

For more information go to: or contact Peter Cooper at  or 301-427-8503.

Special Management Zones

The Council approved a list of alternatives for public hearings relative to the request by Delaware to have its five reef sites in the EEZ designated as Special Management Zones (SMZs) under provisions of Amendment 9 to the Summer flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass FMP.  

The Council will convene three public hearings (one each to be held in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland) in January 2013 to receive public comment on the proposed alternatives. The Council will review a public comments received on this issue at its February 2013 meeting.

2013 Council Priorities

The Executive Committee reviewed and approved a draft list of Council priorities for 2013.  In addition to the normal cycle of specifications and management measures, the 2013 priorities include 8 amendments, a 10-year strategic plan, an Ecosystem Based Fishery Management Plan, fishery performance reports, special management zones for Delaware reefs, a strategic communication plan, a comprehensive research priorities plan, among other items. A comprehensive list of priorities can be found in the Executive Committee meeting materials.

2013-2017 Research Priorities

The Council reviewed and approved a Five Year Research Plan for 2013 through 2017.  The plan, which outlines both general and fishery-specific research and information needs, was developed by the Council in consultation with its SSC. The plan is based on needs which have been identified in stock assessments, Council FMP/Amendments documents, and through the Council’s RSA program.

Hurricane Sandy Recovery

The  Council passed a resolution in support of the federal fisheries disaster declaration in the Mid-Atlantic region affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Additional information and resources for those affected by the storm will be available on the Council’s website in the days to come. 

Resolution of Support for the Federal Fisheries Disaster Declaration in the Mid-Atlantic Region Following Hurricane Sandy

WHEREAS, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the Mid-Atlantic region on October 28, 2012, causing catastrophic damages and loss of life; and,

WHEREAS, the region’s fishing communities suffered overwhelming impacts, including ongoing business losses, lost industry infrastructure in the commercial and recreational fisheries, lost fishing vessels, and dislocation; and,

WHEREAS, the governors of New Jersey and New York requested federal fisheries disaster declarations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Secretary of Commerce declared a federal fisheries disaster for New Jersey and New York on November 16, 2012; now,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council expresses its full and unequivocal support for the Secretary’s federal fisheries disaster declaration and associated funding for the benefit of the affected fishing industries and communities of the Mid-Atlantic.

Approved by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, December 13, 2012