April 2014 Council Meeting Summary

The following summary highlights Council actions and issues considered at the Council's meeting on April 8 - 10, 2014 in Montauk, New York.  Please refer to the April 2014 Council Meeting page for additional information about any of the following topics or other agenda items addressed at the meeting. Presentations, audio files, and meeting minutes are posted on the meeting page and linked to in the relevant sections below. 

Download the meeting summary as a PDF.

Golden Tilefish Management Measures

2015 - 2017 Management Measures

After receiving an update on the recent golden tilefish stock assessment and reviewing recommendations from its Scientific and Statistical Committee, Tilefish Monitoring Committee, and Tilefish Advisory Panel, the Council adopted golden tilefish management measures for the 2015-2017 fishing years. For 2015, the Council recommended a 1.766 million pound annual catch limit (ACL). After accounting for discards, total allowable landings (TAL) would be set at 1.755 million pounds, resulting in allocations of 1.667 million pounds to the individual fishing quota (IFQ) fishery and 87,744 pounds to the incidental fishery. For 2016 and 2017, the Council recommended an ACL of 1.898 million pounds and a TAL of 1.887 million pounds, resulting in a 1.793 million pound TAL for the IFQ fishery and a 94,357 TAL for the incidental fishery.

Recreational Issues and Catch Accounting Framework

Although the Council considered adjustments to the current recreational possession limit of 8-fish per person per trip, no action was taken. However, the Council did initiate a framework that could result in new catch and discard accounting procedures for both the commercial and recreational fisheries. Specifically, the framework would consider deducting discards after the TAL has been divided between the IFQ and incidental fisheries to allow for more sector specific discard adjustments. The framework could also result in changes in the recreational possession limit accounting process to accommodate multiday trips for party/charter vessels.

Scup GRA Framework

Framework 8 Update

Figure 1: Proposed modification to the southern GRA (Click image to enlarge).

The Council received an update on the scup gear-restricted area (GRA) framework (Framework 8) and reviewed advisors' comments on proposed alternatives. The framework is being developed to assess whether modifications to the current GRAs are needed to improve their effectiveness at reducing scup discards. In recent years, relatively high discards have occurred outside the GRA areas and timeframes. The GRAs have been modified several times in the past in response to commercial fishing industry recommendations. Framework 8 considers a range of options that include modifying and/or eliminating the Southern and/or Northern GRA. After reviewing the proposed suite of alternatives and considering advisor input, the Council voted to add an additional alternative for analysis (Figure 1). The Council also voted to consider, as part of Framework 8, an increase in the incidental possession limit for scup in order to turn regulatory discards into landings.

River Herring & Shad

River Herring and Shad Committee Terms of Reference

The newly-formed river herring and shad committee met to develop terms of reference (TORs) and to define the committee's scope of work. The committee is part of the Council's proactive, coordinated effort to conserve river herring and shad (RH/S) stocks. In addition, Council members and staff are also participating on a river herring technical expert working group (TEWG), which is tasked with compiling data relevant to river herring conservation, identifying information gaps, identifying threats, and monitoring conservation progress. The River Herring and Shad Committee will play a key role in integrating the findings of the TEWG into the Council's conservation and management approaches.

The following terms of reference were recommended by the committee and approved by the Council:

  1. Develop approaches to recommending RH/S catch caps that are based on, and appropriate for, the abundance and/or population dynamics of RH/S rather than historic catch rates of RH/S.
  2. Consider additional ways to cooperate with the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) on RH/S efforts by recommending catch caps interdependently.
  3. Develop RH/S cap recommendations for the Council and regularly evaluate the overall operation of any Mid-Atlantic (or joint) RH/S catch caps.
  4. Evaluate additional ways to align MAFMC activities with NOAA Fisheries, the ASMFC, the TEWG, state, and non-governmental activities regarding RH/S.
  5. Develop “success criteria” to evaluate MAFMC efforts regarding RH/S given the Council’s commitment to regularly evaluate progress and to reconsider the overall decision whether or not to make RH/S “stocks in a fishery” under a MAFMC fishery management plan in October 2016.

Note: the text above is abbreviated. Please refer to Council meeting motions for the complete terms of reference.

Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization

Council Position on MSA Issues

The Executive Committee met to discuss the Council's position on Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization. The Committee reviewed the results of a Council member survey on MSA reauthorization and began to outline possible Council positions on the issues likely to be included in a reauthorization bill. Staff will use the Council's input to develop a draft position for review at the next meeting. Relevant documents, links, and information about MSA reauthorization are being updated on the Council's website at www.mafmc.org/legislative.

Deep Sea Corals

Amendment 16 Update

The Council received an informational update on the progress of the deep sea coral amendment (Amendment 16 to the Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP). Staff presented an overview of initial analyses, including records of deep sea coral in the mid-Atlantic, coral data from recent research cruises, products of a deep sea coral habitat suitability model for the Greater Atlantic region, and fishing effort relative to the proposed coral zones. No action was taken on Amendment 16 at this meeting.

Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM)

SBRM Omnibus Amendment Review and Approval

Doug Potts of the Greater Atlantic Regional Office gave a presentation on the final draft SBRM Amendment and summarized the public comments that were submitted on the Amendment. The SBRM Amendment is being developed to address the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to include a standardized bycatch reporting methodology in all fishery management plans (FMPs). The Council voted to adopt the amendment as presented with the same preferred alternatives as were selected when the amendment was initially developed in 2006, with several modifications (detailed in meeting motions).

58th SAW/SARC Presentation

Butterfish, Tilefish, and Northern Shrimp Stock Assessments

Jim Weinberg of NMFS’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) presented a summary of the 58th SAW/SARC, the process that develops and reviews stock assessments. Council members and other meeting attendees applauded improvements in the most recent butterfish assessment, which successfully passed peer review and identified biological reference points (BRPs) for the fishery. It also determined that no overfishing is occurring and that the stock size was above the biomass target. The previous butterfish assessment (SARC49, 2010) was not accepted by a peer review. The golden tilefish assessment also determined that the stock was not overfished and that overfishing was not occurring in 2012.

Other Business

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Offshore Wind Leasing Workshop

The Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) hosted a workshop on April 8 to discuss offshore wind development issues and solicit stakeholder input on best management practices (BMP) for offshore wind development. BOEM is currently in the process of finalizing a new set of BMPs for offshore wind development. Updates and additional information are available on the BOEM website at:



Listening Session: Offshore Wind in the United Kingdom

Tom Watson, UK Fishery Liaison Officer in the United Kingdom

Marine Recreational Information Program Presentation

Gordon Colvin, National Marine Fisheries Service

Costs Associated with Current Observer Program

Dr. Bill Karp, Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Who Fishes There? Establishing a baseline of spatial fishing revenue along the Atlantic coast

Justin Kirkpatrick, Northeast Fisheries Science Center