Groundfish Regulations

 NOAA Home Page for the Northeast Multispecies:

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July 18, 2017 
                                NOAA Fisheries Closes MA Summer Flounder Fishery in Federal Waters Effective

NOAA Fisheries announces the closure of the summer flounder fishery in Massachusetts at 0001 on July 20, 2017. The Massachusetts state summer flounder fishery closes at 0001 on July 19, 2017.

 

This closure is required by regulation because, as of July 12, 2017, Massachusetts has landed 323,670 pounds (84% of their quota), and is projected to reach or exceed its annual quota on July 19, 2017.

 

Federally permitted vessels fishing for summer flounder may not land summer flounder in Massachusetts through the end of the 2017 fishing year (Dec 31, 2017), unless additional quota becomes available through a transfer and is announced in the Federal Register.

 

For more information, read the notice published in the Federal Register and the permit holder letter on our website.

Questions? Contact Cynthia Hanson at 978-281-9180 or cynthia.hanson@noaa.gov
To help commercial fishermen who want to fish for groundfish and lobster on the same trip, our Sustainable Fisheries Division has put together a handy one-pager.
The basics:
You may fish for lobster and groundfish on a single trip if:
  1. You do not hold a federal groundfish permit and are fishing for groundfish exclusively in state waters.
  1. You are fishing under a federal groundfish permit and a federal non-trap lobster permit.
  1. You are hauling lobster traps on a declared groundfish trip on a federally permitted groundfish vessel (only federal permit categories A, C, and E), and are only using hook gear to target groundfish.
For more details and FAQs, please read the one-pager.
Questions? Contact Emily Keiley at 978-281-9116 or emily.keiley@noaa.gov
April 27, 2017 

NOAA Fisheries Announces Fishing Year 2017 Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Regulations and provides updates on Windowpane Flounder Accountability Measures for Groundfish, Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass

 

We are announcing groundfish management measures that will be effective on May 1, 2017, and providing updates on related management measures that will be coming soon.  Additional information summarizing the 2017 regulations is available in this

Northeast Multispecies Fishing Year 2017 Regulations bulletin.

Sector Measures/Sector Operations Plan

We have approved 19 sectors to operate in fishing years 2017 and 2018 (May 1, 2017, through April 30, 2019).

Common Pool Measures and Trip Limits

We are adjusting the common pool trip limits, effective at 0001 hours on May 1, 2017, to ensure that the common pool fishery is able to fully utilize its available quotas. The trip limits are summarized in Table 2 and 3 of the bulletin linked above.

Read the Sector Operations Plan interim final rule and the common pool trip limit notice as filed in the Federal Register for further details.

Initial Fishing Year 2017 Catch Limits

Last year, Framework 55 set specifications for all groundfish stocks for the 2017 fishing year.  These quotas will be in effect on May 1, 2017.

Note that Framework 56 will propose changes to catch limits for several groundfish stocks. Once we announce a proposed rule for Framework 56, detailed information will be available on the Northeast Multispecies webpage.

Windowpane Flounder Accountability Measures

The northern and southern windowpane flounder accountability measures will not be effective on May 1, 2017, for any trawl vessels, but will be put in place at a later date. Additional information on the 2015 windowpane overages, and the associated accountability measures, will be available in the Framework 56 proposed rule.

A summary of the windowpane flounder accountability measures for non-groundfish vessels can be found on this Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Vessels: Southern WIndowpane Accountability Measures Implementation Delay bulletin.

Recreational Groundfish Measures

The current recreational measures will remain in effect on May 1, 2017 (see Table below).

However, we are preparing a proposed rule to solicit comments on the New England Fishery Management Council’s recommended 2017 recreational management measures. The Council recommended that recreational possession of Gulf of Maine cod be prohibited in 2017.  The Council also recommended that 2017 Gulf of Maine haddock bag limit be reduced from 15 fish to 12 fish, and that a fall closed season be added to the existing spring closure. Once we publish the proposed rule detailed information about the 2017 recreational management measures will be available on the Northeast Multispecies webpage.

Table: May 1 ,2017′ Gulf of Maine Cod and Haddock Recreational Trip Limits

Species Gulf of Maine Outside Gulf of Maine
Bag

Limit

Size

Limit

Closed

Season

Open

Season

Bag

Limit

Size

Limit

Closed

Season

Open

Season

Cod 1 24 inches

(61.0 cm)

May 1 –

July 31

and

October 1 –

April 30

August 1

through

September 30

Private

Vessels

10

For-Hire

Vessels

Unlimited

22 inches

(55.9 cm)

Open

All

Year

May 1

through

April 30

Haddock 15 17 inches

(43.2 cm)

 

March 1 –

April 14

May 1 –

February 28

and

April 15 –

April 30

Unlimited 18 inches

(45.7 cm)

Open

All

Year

May 1

through

April 30

Anglers are reminded to check their state regulations to ensure they comply with all federal and state requirements.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel at 978-281-9175 or jennifer.goebel@noaa.gov

 

 April 20, 2017  
NOAA Fisheries Approves Amendment 18 to Address Fleet Consolidation in the Groundfish Fishery
NOAA Fisheries has approved Amendment 18 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. The Amendment establishes permit accumulation limits to minimize fleet consolidation in the groundfish fishery.
Amendment 18 limits the number of permits and annual groundfish allocation that an entity could hold. Also, to increase fishing opportunities and promote fleet diversity, Amendment 18 increases flexibility for fishermen on limited-access handgear vessels.
Read the final rule as published in the Federal Register, and the permit holder letter posted on our website.
Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel at 978-281-9175 or jennifer.goebel@noaa.gov
March 16, 2017
Groundfish Days-at-Sea Leasing Deadline
Extended to March 31
NOAA Fisheries announces an extension of the 2016 Days-at-Sea leasing deadline for the northeast multispecies fishery. If you hold a groundfish permit for 2016, you may submit DAS leases through March 31.
The Groundfish DAS leasing function has been re-opened in Fish Online. Paper DAS lease applications must be received in our office no later than March 31.
Questions? Please contact Mark Grant at mark.grant@noaa.gov.
March 16, 2017

NOAA Fisheries Announces 2017 At-Sea Monitoring Coverage Levels for Groundfish Sector Fishery

NOAA Fisheries announces that for fishing year 2017 the total target at-sea monitoring coverage level is 16 percent of all groundfish sector trips.
This target coverage level is a 2 percentage point increase from the 2016 coverage level (14 percent). As the target coverage level is set based on an average of at-sea monitoring data from the past 3 full groundfish fishing years, this level is set based on data from the 2013-2015 fishing years.
Federally funded observer coverage provided by the Northeast Fishery Observer Program to meet the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) requirements will partially satisfy the 16 percent coverage requirement. Sectors will therefore actually pay for at-sea monitoring coverage on less than 16 percent of their groundfish trips, but the total will depend on the SBRM coverage rates, which are not yet out.
We expect to be able to reimburse sectors for some portion of their ASM costs. We do not yet have the information we need to determine the reimbursement rate. We were able to reimburse 85 percent of at-sea monitoring costs in 2016, but expect the 2017 reimbursement rate to be lower.
Certain sector groundfish trips, those using gillnets with 10-inch or greater mesh in Southern New England and Inshore Georges Bank, are also excluded from the ASM requirement due to their low catch of groundfish species. This further reduces the portion of sector trips subject to industry-funded monitoring and better focuses monitoring resources.
Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel at 978-281-9175 or jennifer.goebel@noaa.gov
March 9, 2017
NOAA Fisheries Announces Increased Trip Possession Limits for Skate Wing and Bait Fisheries
NOAA Fisheries announces that we will increase the commercial per-trip possession limits for the skate wing and skate bait fisheries from March 15 through April 30, 2017, the end of the 2016 fishing year.
New per trip possession limits effective March 15:
Skate wings: 4,100 pounds (9,307 pounds whole weight)
Skate bait: 9,307 pounds (whole weight)
We are adjusting the commercial possession limit for the skate wing and skate bait fisheries to ensure fishermen are able to harvest the total quotas for these fisheries.

On May 1, 2017 (the start of fishing year 2017), the commercial skate wing possession limit will revert to the skate wing Season 1 possession limit of 2,600 lb of skate wings (5,902 lb whole weight) per trip, and the commercial skate bait possession limit will increase to 25,000 lb per trip.

Please note that barndoor and thorny skates are still prohibited species.

 

 

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