NMFS Solicits Proposals for MAFMC 2013 Research Set-Aside Program

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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced that it is accepting proposals under the Mid-Atlantic Council's Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program for research activities to be conducted in 2013.  Applications must be received by NMFS on or before 5 p.m. EST on April 2, 2012. 

The Council, in coordination with NMFS and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, may set aside up to 3 percent of the total allowable landings (TAL) in certain Mid-Atlantic fisheries to be used for research endeavors.  The RSA program provides a mechanism to fund research and compensate vessel owners through the sale of fish harvested under the research quota.  Vessels participating in an approved research project may be authorized by the NMFS Northeast Regional Administrator to harvest and land species in excess of any imposed trip limit or during fishery closures.  Landings from such trips are sold to generate funds that help defray the costs associated with the approved research projects. No Federal funds are provided for research under this notification.

NMFS is soliciting proposals for research activities concerning the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, Loligo squid, Illex squid, Atlantic mackerel, butterfish, river herring, bluefish, and tilefish fisheries.  NMFS and the Council will give priority to funding proposals addressing the research needs as follows:

2013 Research Priority List

Spanning Multiple Species

  • Conduct fishery independent surveys for all Mid-Atlantic species, especially in the near shore zone (as provided by the Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program-NEAMAP).

Interactions Between Loligo Squid, Butterfish, Atlantic Mackerel & River Herring (alosine)

  • Evaluate potential improvements to at-sea observer and port sampling procedures and investigate accuracy and precision of at-sea observer and port sampling based estimates of catches of butterfish and alosine species in the Loligo fishery and alosine species in the mackerel fishery.
  • Test gear modifications (in addition to mesh size) and/or alternative gear types (e.g., jigging) in the Loligo squid fishery to reduce bycatch of butterfish and other species.
  • Study mortality rates of Loligo squid that pass through trawl mesh to evaluate effects of mesh regulations on fishing mortality of Loligo by size/age.
  • Evaluate use of videography to document Loligo catches without any or minimal butterfish bycatch.
  • During the spring, conduct exploratory sampling for SMB species in deep water beyond the range of the current NEFSC spring survey.

Summer Flounder

  • Evaluate the length, weight, and age compositions of landed and discarded fish in the summer flounder fisheries (recreational and commercial) by sex.   Focus age sampling on summer flounder 24 inches or larger in total length.


  • Evaluate amount and length, weight, and age compositions of discards from the commercial and recreational fisheries.
  • Collect size and age composition of the fisheries by gear type and statistical area.
  • Develop a pilot program to determine the optimum sample size for a coastwide age-length key, and test the feasibility of state-level sampling combined with regional-level sampling consistent with the recommendations of the 2011 ASMFC Bluefish Ageing Workshop.  
  • Initiate fishery-dependent and independent sampling of offshore populations of bluefish during the winter months (consider migration, seasonal fisheries, and unique selectivity patterns resulting in a bimodal partial recruitment pattern; consider if the migratory pattern results in several recruitment events).
  • Develop bluefish index surveys (proof of concept); including abundance/biomass trend estimates for the offshore populations in winter.

Black Sea Bass

  • Validate methods used to age black sea bass (scales vs. otoliths).
  • Perform studies focused on life history and reproductive behaviors, such as changes in sex ratio as a function of age and size or the evaluation of the sizes of territories in relation to mating or reproduction.
  • Increase age sampling across all components of the commercial and recreational fisheries.
  • Increase sea sampling to verify information from commercial logbooks toward providing better estimates of discards.
  • Develop fishery independent indices.


  • Develop fishery independent indices for scup ages 2+.
  • Estimate the fishery components used to calculate scup mortality (commercial and recreational landings, and discards).
  • Expand age sampling of scup from commercial and recreational catches.  Focus age sampling on scup 10 inches or larger in total length.

Illex squid

  • Determine size, age-at-maturity, and growth parameters for Illex squid.


  • Investigate the effects of hook size and other fishing practices (e.g., bait type and soak time) on catchability of tilefish by size in the longline fishery.

Complete Details and to Apply

For complete details and information on how to apply, please visit the Grants.gov web site (http://www.grants.gov).  Click on the 'Grant Search' Quick Link on the upper right-hand corner of the page under FOR APPLICANTS and then search for Funding Opportunity Number  NOAA-NMFS-NEFSC-2013-2003258

After clicking on the '2013 Mid-Atlantic Research Set-Aside' link under Opportunity Title, click on the 'Full Announcement' link in the middle of the bar at the top of the page.  On the next page click on the 'Full Announcement'  next to the Description 'Federal Funding Opportunity' to open or save the full text of the Announcement (19 pages) to your hard drive.  

Council Announces Visioning Project Extension

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The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council announces an extension of the survey and comment deadline for its Visioning Initiative. The initiative is an opportunity for anyone interested in fisheries managed by the Council to weigh in on the future of fisheries management in the Mid-Atlantic. Survey responses can now be submitted until February 29, 2012.

“The Council has reached a pivotal moment in the management of our region’s fisheries. While we have effectively rebuilt most of our managed stocks, we need to develop a cohesive vision for the future of our fisheries, fishing communities, and ecosystems. With this vision we can develop a strategic plan that includes specific goals, timelines, and metrics for success,” said Council Chairman Rick Robins. 

The Council is asking the public to take one or more online surveys to provide their ideas and comments on fisheries management policies and processes. This is an opportunity for stakeholders to share their varied perspectives and opinions with the Council. In addition to the main survey, there are short species-specific surveys where anyone interested in a particular species can provide detailed input on the management of that fishery. Links to all surveys are posted on the Visioning website: http://www.mafmc.org/vision. 

Organizations also have the opportunity to submit position letters that will be included in the Visioning data package. Any organization, including non-governmental organizations, recreational fishing clubs, and commercial fishing associations, can submit a letter addressing areas of particular concern or providing recommendations to the Council. Position letter guidelines are available on the Visioning website. 

Although nearly 900 surveys have already been submitted, the Council decided to extend the deadline by a month so that everyone who wants to participate has an opportunity to do so. “We recognize that the Council’s stakeholders have a range of interests and priorities. We are really trying to make sure that the results of this project accurately represent these interests and that we get high levels of participation from all stakeholder groups,” said Executive Director Chris Moore. 

The deadline for submission of surveys and position letters is February 29, 2012. All input received will be presented at the April Council meeting, at which point the Council will begin crafting a vision and accompanying strategic plan designed to achieve that vision. For additional details about the project, or for survey links and position letter guidelines, visit http://www.mafmc.org/vision or contact Mary Clark at mclark@mafmc.org or (302) 526-5261.

Public Listening Session- Marine Recreational Information Program

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Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) Meeting
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Hilton Virginia Beach - 3001 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, VA
And Via the Internet at http://www.mafmc.org/

Fishery managers are designing and implementing improvements to recreational fishing data collection and estimation through the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) - http://www.countmyfish.noaa.gov/index.html.  Incorporating input and feedback from anglers is a critical component of MRIP.  With this in mind, the Council will host a Public Listening Session in which Gordon Colvin, the MRIP program manager, will provide an update and take questions and input from the audience and those online (see below for registration).  

The update will include information on how the new MRIP estimation methods have changed 2004-2011 catch estimates for MAFMC-managed species like summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass.  If you have questions, need answers, or just want to express your concerns regarding the MRIP program, you will be able to talk directly to Gordon and leaders from the Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service.  

You can attend in person in Virginia Beach or via the internet.  For online webinar access register at:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/695704801.   This is the same link for listening-in to the Council meeting - Agenda.

Contact Jason Didden at jdidden@mafmc.org or (302) 526-5254 if you have any other questions or if you would like to confirm that your computer is set-up to access the webinar.  The webinar works for most computers, but sometimes remote voice communication from online participants has problems.  In such cases, participants may still use a chat feature in the webinar to type submit their comments or questions.  You can also email questions before the meeting begins to jdidden@mafmc.org.  

Volunteer Angler Data workshop

January 26, 2012
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Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Four-Points Sheraton, BWI Airport
7032 Elm Road, Baltimore, MD 21240
And via the Internet at: http://www.mafmc.org/events/volunteerdata.htm

Anglers have told us that one way to increase overall trust in recreational catch numbers is to take advantage of their enthusiasm through hands-on participation in data collection. As a result, several states have implemented volunteer angler data collection programs to collect recreational data and a one-day workshop on February 2 will explore ways that these and future programs can be most effective.

This workshop, co-sponsored by the Council and the Marine Recreational Information Program (www.countmyfish.noaa.gov), will bring together the people who manage these state programs and other volunteer data collection programs to examine questions such as: "Which data needs are best filled by volunteer angler data?" and "How can programs establish and sustain angler enthusiasm and support?" 

The meeting is open to the public and will be webcast. There will be opportunities for public participation from those attending in person as well as via webinar - webcast registration and additional information is available via the above link.

Contact Jason Didden at jdidden@mafmc.org or (302) 526-5254 if you have any questions or if you would like to confirm that your computer is set-up to access the webinar.