During last week's meeting in Montauk, New York, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council adopted golden tilefish management measures for the next three 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.
The Council's recommendations were based on the recent tilefish stock assessment, which found that the stock was not overfished and overfishing was not occurring. The Council also considered advice from its Scientific and Statistical Committee and recommendations from the Tilefish Monitoring Committee and the Tilefish Advisory Panel.
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 the party/charter vessel participants.
About the Golden Tilefish Fishery
The Mid-Atlantic Council has managed Golden Tilefish from Virginia to Maine since 2001 when the first Fishery Management Plan was established. The FMP included management and administrative measures to ensure effective management of the tilefish resource, including a stock rebuilding strategy and the use of total allowable landings (TAL) to control fishing mortality. In 2009, an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program was established. Participating fishermen are allocated a share of the annual harvest quota and can choose when to fish for their share of the catch. Fishermen who incidentally harvest tilefish while targeting other species may not harvest more than 500 pounds at one time without an IFQ Allocation.