The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) met jointly last week in New York, NY to establish specifications for the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, and bluefish fisheries. The Council’s recommendations apply to federal waters (3 – 200 miles from shore) and will be forwarded to NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Administrator for approval. The Commission’s actions are final and apply to state waters (0-3 miles from shore).
The table below summarizes the recommended commercial quotas and recreational harvest limits for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass (2015 values are provided for comparison purposes). Please note that specifications may be adjusted based on changes in the fishery or new scientific information. Click the table to enlarge.
For summer flounder, the Council and Commission approved an Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) limit of 16.26 million pounds for the 2016 fishing year. This represents an approximate 29% decrease relative to the 2015 ABC. After accounting for projected discards in the commercial and recreational fisheries, this ABC is divided into a commercial quota of 8.12 million pounds and a recreational harvest limit of 5.42 million pounds for the 2016 fishing year.
These reductions in summer flounder catch and landings limits were recommended based on the findings of the 2015 stock assessment update, which indicates that the summer flounder stock was experiencing overfishing in 2014. The fishing mortality rate in 2014 was estimated to be 16% above the fishing mortality threshold reference point. For more information on the assessment update and its impacts on harvest limits for 2016, please see the Council’s Summer Flounder Catch and Landings Limit Fact Sheet.
For scup, the Council and Commission approved an ABC of 31.11 million pounds for the 2016 fishing year. After accounting for projected discards in the commercial and recreational fisheries, this ABC is divided into a commercial quota of 20.47 million pounds and a recreational harvest limit of 6.09 million pounds. This represents a decrease from 2015 levels due to a slight decrease in spawning stock biomass (SSB) as projected by the 2015 benchmark stock assessment.
Black Sea Bass
For black sea bass, the Council and Commission approved an ABC of 5.50 million pounds for the 2016 and 2017 fishing years. After accounting for projected discards in the commercial and recreational fisheries, this ABC is divided into a commercial quota of 2.24 million pounds and a recreational harvest limit of 2.33 million pounds for each year. These catch levels are unchanged relative to 2015 levels. Both the commercial quota and recreational harvest limit may be changed pending further review by the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee in September 2015. The next benchmark stock assessment is scheduled be peer-reviewed through the Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop/Stock Assessment Review Committee in late fall 2016.
For the bluefish fishery, the Commission and Council approved an ABC of 19.45 million pounds for the 2016 fishing year, an approximate 10% decrease from 2015 levels. The reduction responds to the findings of the 2015 benchmark stock assessment which lowered both the SSB target level (223 million pounds) and the SSB estimate (191 million pounds in 2014). The 2016 commercial quota and recreational harvest limit will be set once the 2015 recreational harvest estimates are available.
For more information about these fisheries, please contact one of the following staff members: