Comment Period Open on Proposed Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Commercial Accountability Measure Modifications

NOAA Fisheries proposes to revise the commercial accountability measures applicable to the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries when overages are caused by discards. The comment period is open through September 10, 2018.

MAFMC and ASMFC to Hold Public Hearings for Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment

The Council and ASMFC are soliciting public input on a draft amendment to address several potential changes to the management of the commercial summer flounder fishery, as well as modifications to the fishery management plan (FMP) goals and objectives for summer flounder. Ten public hearings will be held between September 10 and September 27. Written comments will be accepted through October 12, 2018.

South Atlantic Council to Hold Public Scoping Webinars

The following information is being posted on behalf of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council as it may be of interest to some Mid-Atlantic stakeholders.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has scheduled a series of public scoping webinars from August 6 through August 16 to provide an opportunity for public comment on the following issues: (1) Snapper Grouper Charter/Headboat (For-Hire) Federal Permit Modifications under Snapper Grouper Amendment 47; (2) Best Fishing Practices under Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 29; and (3) Yellowtail Snapper Accountability Measures under Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 32.  Copies of scoping documents, video presentations, links for webinar registration, public comment forms, and other information will be posted to the Council’s website at: http://safmc.net/safmc-meetings/public-hearings-scoping-meetings/ as it becomes available. Written comments will be accepted until August 17, 2018.

Questions? Contact Kim Iverson, Public Information Officer at kim.iverson@safmc.net or Cameron Rhodes, Outreach Specialist at cameron.rhodes@safmc.net

American Fisheries Society Stakeholder Engagement Day - Aug. 21, Atlantic City, NJ

The American Fisheries Society (AFS) will be hosting Stakeholder Engagement Day on Tuesday, August 21 as a part of this year's annual AFS meeting in Atlantic City, NJ. Additional details are available at the following link: https://afsannualmeeting.fisheries.org/stakeholder-engagement-day/

AFS is offering a reduced one-day registration cost of $50 (normally $330) for fishing and aquaculture industry stakeholders to attend and participate in the conference on Tuesday, August 21. The sessions of greatest interest to industry were aggregated together on this day and quite a few stakeholders will be speaking during symposia or industry panels. Additionally, there will be a networking event in the evening for industry stakeholders and members of the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists (AIFRB).

To apply for the reduced registration, please complete the following application by August 15: https://goo.gl/forms/F6uHHN8VmoouIq6I2

Please direct any questions to Dr. Douglas Zemeckis (Rutgers University): zemeckis@njaes.rutgers.edu, 732-349-1152.

MAFMC and NEFMC Launch Northeast Offshore Wind Webpage

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On July 11, 2018, the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils launched a new webpage that’s designed to serve as a repository for information relevant to offshore wind development activities in the Northeast Region.  The Councils worked closely with NOAA Fisheries on this collaborative effort.  The easy-to-navigate webpage provides one-stop-shopping for fishermen and other stakeholders who are searching for essential resources associated with offshore wind energy production.  The page provides direct links to government agencies, offshore wind developers, fishery liaisons, Council-developed comments, and more.

Take a look at Offshore Wind in the Northeast

Fishermen in the region are highly interested in better understanding the impacts of offshore wind development on both commercial and recreational fisheries.  The New England and Mid-Atlantic Councils want to ensure that any potential impacts on Council-managed species and the marine environment are fully considered.  In light of these factors, the Councils developed the offshore wind webpage as a tool to: (1) help facilitate the exchange of information; and (2) provide quick access to available resources.

Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Projects in New England and Mid-Atlantic waters. – BOEM graphic (click map to expand)

Here’s the Webpage Address:
http://www.mafmc.org/northeast-offshore-wind

Webpage Information Includes Links to:

  • The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), along with BOEM’s Fishing Industry Communication and Engagement page, BOEM’s State Activities page, and BOEM’s email updates registry;
  • Northeast offshore wind developers;
  • Mid-Atlantic and New England Council policies and comment letters on offshore wind issues;
  • Project-specific information on fisheries and the marine environment relative to wind activities and other ocean uses;
  • Mappers for Essential Fish Habitat and Endangered and Protected Resources, Regional Ocean Data Portals; and more.

Key Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries Contacts for More Information

  • Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council:  Jessica Coakley, jcoakley@mafmc.org, (302) 526-5252
  • New England Fishery Management Council:  Michelle Bachman, mbachman@nefmc.org, (978) 465-0492 ext. 120
  • NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office:  Sue Tuxbury,  susan.tuxbury@noaa.gov, (978) 281-9176
  • NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center: Andy Lipsky, andrew.lipsky@noaa.gov, (401) 829-8286

View PDF version of this announcement

June 2018 Council Meeting Summary

The following summary highlights actions taken and issues considered at the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s June 2018 meeting in Philadelphia, PA. Presentations, briefing materials, and webinar recordings are available on the Council website at www.mafmc.org/briefing/june-2018

View the June 2018 Council Meeting Summary >

MAFMC and ASMFC to Hold Scoping Hearings for Bluefish Allocation Amendment

The Mid-Atlantic Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have scheduled scoping hearings to gather public input on the range of issues and information to be considered in the Bluefish Allocation Amendment. Hearings will be held June 20 – July 16 in nine coastal states from Massachusetts to Florida. Written comments will be accepted until July 30, 2018.

NOAA Fisheries Announces 2018 Recreational Rules for Summer Flounder, Black Sea Bass, and Scup

May 31, 2018 – The following was released by NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office:

NOAA Fisheries announces management measures for the 2018 summer flounder, black sea bass, and scup recreational fisheries.

Summer Flounder 2018 Recreational Measures

We are continuing “conservation equivalency” for the summer flounder fishery. This means we have waived the federal recreational bag limit, minimum fish size, and fishing season, and fishermen are subject to regulations in the state where they land. Please contact your state for information on summer flounder rules.

Black Sea Bass 2018 Recreational Measures

We are implementing the following recreational black sea bass measures in federal waters:

  • 12.5-inch total length minimum fish size
  • Possession limit of 15 fish per person per trip
  • Open season from May 15-December 31 (please note: there is no longer a closure period from September 22-October 21).

Scup 2018 Recreational Measures

The scup recreational fishery measures are the same as 2017:

  • 9-inch total length minimum size
  • Possession limit of 50 fish per person per trip
  • Open all year

Please keep in mind that if the federal minimum size, possession limit, and/or season differ from the regulations for the state in which you will landing, you must follow the more restrictive regulations.

Read the final rule as filed in the Federal Register today, and the permit holder bulletin available on our website.

Questions? 

 

Click here to view the Environmental Assessment for this action

Recreational Black Sea Bass Fact Sheet: Management Challenges for an Abundant Stock

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Summary

The black sea bass stock from Maine through Cape Hatteras, North Carolina is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. Abundance has increased and is currently very high, particularly off southern New England. As a result, recreational catches have been relatively high, even under restrictive regulations.

Fishery managers are required to set catch and landings limits to prevent overfishing. Current stock assessment information and catch estimates indicate that catch can’t increase beyond recent levels without an increased risk of overfishing. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) are working to improve black sea bass management.

Stock Status

The most recent stock status information comes from the 2016 stock assessment. Spawning stock biomass (i.e. the abundance of mature females and males) was estimated to be 48.9 million pounds in 2015, which is 2.3 times the target spawning stock biomass level. A recent increase in spawning stock biomass was driven by the 2011 “year class” (i.e. the fish spawned in 2011), which was nearly three times the 1989-2015 average.

Recreational Management 

Figure 1. Recreational black sea bass harvest and recreational harvest limits, 2008 to 2018 (click image to expand)

The Council and the Commission cooperatively develop fishery regulations for black sea bass. Annual recreational harvest limits (RHLs) are set based on projections of abundance in future years and are intended to prevent overfishing. Recreational bag limits, fishing seasons, and minimum fish sizes are used to help ensure that recreational harvest does not exceed the RHL each year. Despite best efforts to set appropriate management measures, recreational harvest exceeded the RHL for much of the last decade (Figure 1).

The 2016 stock assessment allowed for a substantial increase in the 2017 and 2018 RHLs, compared to 2016, and brought the RHLs more in line with recent harvest levels (Figure 1). However, the 2018 RHL (3.66 million pounds) is about 15% lower than the 2017 RHL. Biomass projections based on the best available science indicated that spawning stock biomass would decline from 2017 to 2018 due to the declining influence of the large 2011 year class - over time many of those fish died of natural causes (e.g. predation) or were harvested by fishermen. Given this projected decline in abundance, catch and harvest limits must also decrease to prevent overfishing.

Managers use the prior year’s harvest to determine whether regulations should be changed. Recreational fishermen harvested 4.16 million pounds of black sea bass in 2017 – about 14% above the 2018 RHL of 3.66 million pounds. As a result, any increase in harvest in 2018 compared to 2017 would cause the 2018 RHL to be exceeded and would increase the risk of overfishing. Recreational bag limits, fishing seasons, and minimum fish sizes in state and federal waters were modified to allow coastwide recreational harvest to achieve, but not exceed, the 2018 RHL.

Next Steps

  • The Council and Commission are working on several ways to improve fishing opportunities for recreational fishermen while continuing to ensure that overfishing does not occur.
  • Stock Assessment Update: An update to the stock assessment is planned for early 2019. This new information will be used to set catch and landings limits for 2019-2021.
  • February Fishery: The Council and Commission provided states the opportunity to open their recreational black sea bass fisheries in February 2018 and will consider doing so for 2019.
  • Eliminating the Fall Closure: Starting in 2018, there will be no recreational black sea bass fall closure in federal waters for the first time since 2008.
  • Alternative Management Strategies: The Council and Commission are considering the use of conservation equivalency for black sea bass,2 the potential use of slot limits, and recreational transit provisions in Block Island Sound.
  • New Analysis Approaches: The Council and Commission’s Monitoring and Technical Committees continue to improve the way recreational harvest and fishery performance are analyzed and evaluated when developing management measures.

NOAA Fisheries Approves Monkfish Quota for 2018

May 3, 2018 - The following was released by NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Office:

NOAA Fisheries is implementing monkfish quotas for the 2018 fishing year that we announced on July 12, 2017. There have been no overages in 2017, and there is no new biological information, so we are now finalizing the 2018 quotas that were previously announced.  The quotas are the same relative to 2017. Read more...