Groundfish Regulations

 

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Fisheries News: March 23, 2018

NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments on Proposed Annual Catch Entitlements for Groundfish Sectors for Fishery Year 2018

NOAA Fisheries is proposing allocating 2018 quotas to groundfish sectors based on catch limits recommended by the New England Fishery Management Council.
We are also proposing to grant a new regulatory exemption that would allow Day gillnet sector vessels to fish up to 150 gillnets in the Gulf of Maine as long as at least 50 of those nets are 10-inch or larger mesh and fished east of 70 degrees West longitude. Sectors requested this exemption to allow sector vessels to better target monkfish while on sector trips.
Read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register, and submit your comments through the online portal. You may also submit comments through regular mail to: Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Please mark the outside of the envelope: “Comments on the Proposed Rule to Allocate 2018 Sector Quotas.”
The comment period is open through April 9.
Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175

 

 

 

 

Fisheries News : March 22, 2018

NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments on Proposed 2018 Groundfish Recreational Regulations in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank

NOAA Fisheries is seeking comments on proposed groundfish recreational measures for 2018. Under the proposed measures, recreational possession of Gulf of Maine cod would continue to be prohibited.
The Gulf of Maine haddock possession limit would be reduced from 12 to 10 fish for the charter/party (for-hire) fleet and a new closed season would be implemented in May for private anglers. The minimum size for Gulf of Maine haddock would be unchanged. Status quo measures may be sufficient, depending on recreational management measures adopted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
For Georges Bank cod, we are proposing an increase to the minimum size from 22 to 24 inches, and a possession limit for the for-hire fleet, set at 10 fish. Status quo measures may be sufficient depending on updated catch information.
Read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register, and submit your comments through the online portal. You may also submit comments through regular mail to: Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.
The comment period is open through April 6.
Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175

 

 

 

 

Fisheries News: March 22, 2018

NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule: Framework 57 to the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery Management Plan

We are seeking public comment on an action that would set catch limits for 20 groundfish stocks for the 2018-2020 fishing years (May 1, 2018-April 30, 2020), including the three stocks managed jointly with Canada.
Framework 57 would increase quotas for 11 stocks compared to 2017, including: Georges Bank cod (139%), Gulf of Maine cod (41%), and Gulf of Maine haddock (190%). Quotas will decrease for nine stocks, including Southern New England yellowtail flounder (-75%) and Gulf of Maine winter flounder (-45%).
We expect increases in the quotas for Gulf of Maine cod, Gulf of Maine haddock, and Georges Bank cod to provide additional economic revenue and flexibility to the groundfish industry. Overall, we expect the measures in Framework 57 to generate $9 million in additional gross revenues this fishing year compared to last year.
Framework 57 would also:
• Revise the way common pool quotas are split between trimesters for six stocks. The intent is to prevent early closures during Trimester 1 and 2 in future years.
• Modify the Atlantic halibut accountability measures. When triggered, the zero-possession accountability would apply to all vessels issued a federal permit to reduce catch of halibut when accountability measures are triggered. The gear restricted areas put in place when the accountability measure is triggered would also be revised to provide greater flexibility to groundfish vessels.
• Change the trigger for the scallop fishery’s accountability measure for the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder stock to when total catch exceeds the overall catch limit. The adjustment is expected to provide flexibility for the scallop fishery to operate despite a 75-percent reduction in the overall quota for this stock.
• Revise the southern windowpane flounder accountability measure for the summer flounder, scup, and skate fisheries. When triggered, smaller gear-restricted areas and shorter seasons would be implemented to allow additional flexibility for affected vessels while continuing to reduce impacts on the southern windowpane stock.
• Set a Georges Bank cod catch target of 138 mt for the recreational fishery and add a provision to give the Regional Administrator authority to set recreational measures for 2018 and 2019 to prevent the catch target from being exceeded. A separate rule is also publishing today seeking comment on GB cod recreational measures.
Read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register, and submit your comments through the online portal. You may also submit comments through regular mail to: Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.
The comment period is open through April 6.
Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175

 

 

 

 

Habitat Conservation: March 21, 2018

New Habitat Protections for Young Cod

A small cod shelters near a boulder on the seafloor. Credit: Long Island Sound Resource Center
By Alison Verkade, Habitat Conservation Division
For New Englanders, Atlantic cod is not just a fish. The nearly five-foot carved Sacred Cod that hangs in the Massachusetts State House is testament to the cod’s place in our culture and history. But, in recent years, Atlantic cod stocks in our region have declined dramatically. In order to bring them back, we have to protect not only the fish, but their habitats as well.
NOAA Fisheries works with regional fishery management councils to identify “Essential Fish Habitat” for all the species of fish that we manage. These areas are necessary for fish to breed, grow, feed, and develop and get special attention under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. As part of the Omnibus Habitat amendment developed by the New England Fishery Management Council, we recently designated a new Habitat Areas of Particular Concern for juvenile cod that went into effect January 3, 2018.
Protecting Important Habitat for the Sacred Cod
At first glance, the new “Habitat Areas of Particular Concern” (HAPC) for cod appears to cover all coastal waters from Maine to Rhode Island, out to 20 meters in depth. But, the juvenile cod Essential Fish Habitat text description limits the HAPC application to areas of rocky or vegetated habitats, and sandy areas for feeding next to these habitats.
While these habitats are not rare in the Gulf of Maine, they need special protection for three reasons:
• They provide young-of-the-year and year-old cod shelter from predators and important feeding habitat.
• They are particularly sensitive to human activities.
• They are also important habitats for many other fish.
Read the rest of the story on our website.
Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175

 

 

 

 

March 21, 2018

NOAA Fisheries Announces Transfer of Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic Yellowtail Flounder Quota from Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery to Groundfish Fishery

Effective immediately, NOAA Fisheries is transferring unused quota of Southern New England/Mid Atlantic yellowtail flounder from the Atlantic sea scallop fishery to the commercial groundfish fishery.
Each year, we evaluate the yellowtail flounder bycatch in the scallop fishery by January 15 and determine whether the scallop fishery is expected to catch less than 90 percent of its Georges Bank or Southern New England/Mid Atlantic yellowtail flounder quota. If so, we may reduce the scallop fishery quota for these stocks to the amount projected to be caught, and increase the groundfish fishery quota for these stocks up to the amount reduced from the scallop fishery. This adjustment helps achieve optimum yield for both fisheries, while not threatening an overage of the annual catch limits.
Based on the current projections, the scallop fishery is expected to catch 12 percent of its allocation of Southern New England/Mid Atlantic yellowtail flounder quota. We are therefore transferring 30 mt of Southern New England/Mid Atlantic yellowtail flounder from the scallop fishery to the groundfish fishery.
The scallop fishery is projected to catch its entire Georges Bank yellowtail flounder quota, and there is no quota available to transfer to the groundfish fishery.
For more information, read the rule as filed today in the Federal Register.
Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175

 

 

 

 

 

February 9, 2018

NOAA Upgrades Online Groundfish Trip Notification System

Easier to use, mobile friendly
Before leaving on a trip to catch groundfish, Northeast groundfish vessels first notify NOAA about the trip so a fishery monitor or observer can be assigned to the trip if needed. A technical team has been working for more than a year to upgrade the online notification system so it is easier to use, mobile friendly, and can be adapted to new management requirements as they come along.
These significant improvements will come online in late April, and NOAA Fisheries is doing some expanded outreach to get fishing businesses familiar with improvements ahead of the next fishing year, which begins May 1, 2018.
For more on training opportunities, including port-based workshops, visit us here.

 

Questions? Contact Teri Frady, NEFSC, at 508-495-2239

 

 

January 25, 2018

NOAA Fisheries Announces At-Sea Monitoring 2018 Coverage Levels for Groundfish Sector Fishery

NOAA Fisheries announces that for fishing year 2018 the total target at-sea monitoring coverage level is 15 percent of all groundfish sector trips.
This target coverage level is a one percentage point decrease from the 2016 coverage level, which was 16 percent. As the target coverage level is set based on an average of at-sea monitoring data from the past three full groundfish fishing years, this level is set based on data from the 2014-2016 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 15 percent coverage requirement. Sectors will therefore actually pay for at-sea monitoring coverage on less than 15 percent of their groundfish trips; however, the total will depend on the SBRM coverage rates, which are not yet out.
We were able to reimburse 85 percent of at-sea monitoring costs in 2016, and 60 percent in 2017. We await the enactment of a final Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill to determine what funding may be available for the upcoming fishing season.
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.
For more information, please read the Summary of Analysis Conducted to Determine At-Sea Monitoring Requirements for Multispecies Sectors 2018 that is available on our website.
Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175.

 

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