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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 20 Monkfish SSR 2012

Marine Fisheries

Monkfish

Monkfish - 2012

Stock Status – Recovering – Based on the 2010 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Northeast Fishery Science Center assessment (SARC 50), monkfish in both the northern and southern management regions are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. Estimates of total biomass in both regions are above the respective minimum biomass threshold and annual biomass target, indicating that both stocks are not overfished. The current estimated fishing mortality rate is below the respective fishing mortality threshold for both stocks, indicating that overfishing is not occurring. Monkfish is a data-poor species, and there are significant uncertainties associated with the assessment results due to cumulative effects of under-reported landings, unknown discards during the 1980’s, uncertainty in survey indices, and incomplete understanding of key biological parameters.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2002– 2011 – 170,401 lbs/$171,966

2011 Commercial Landings and Value – 38,892 lbs/$48,702 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings – Not available

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – In North Carolina, monkfish are currently included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to the New England Fishery Management Council/Mid– Atlantic Fishery Management Council FMP compliance requirements in federal waters (3– 200 miles). The monkfish FMP adopted in 1999 outlined a 10–year rebuilding plan for the stock. In 2003, the original FMP was modified and amended to include an annual measure of the status of the stocks and adjustment to management measures as needed to maintain a 10– year rebuilding schedule. Amendment 2, effective in 2005, established northern (NFMA) and southern (SFMA) fishery management areas with annual quotas for each area, limits entry along with different permit categories for the directed fishery, allocates days at sea, sets daily trip limits, and still allows the traditional incidental catch to occur. By 2006, biomass indices for both stocks had returned to levels below the minimum biomass thresholds and annual biomass targets. In response to continued concern over the status of the monkfish stock, NMFS implemented interim management measures in April of 2007 prohibiting the use of carryover days-at-sea (DAS), limiting DAS, and reducing the allowable incidental catch and target total allowable catch (TTAC). NMFS deferred implementing the management measures until a 2007 stock assessment was completed. The assessment revised the biological reference points and both monkfish stocks were considered rebuilt and overfishing was not occurring. NMFS approved the interim management measures as a result of the assessment effective October 2007. In 2008, NMFS adopted the new biological reference definitions, reduced the number of carryover DAS and removed a backstop provision that could potentially close the fishery if landings exceeded the TTAC. Effective May 25, 2011, NMFS approved measures to bring the monkfish FMP into compliance with the annual catch limit and accountability measure requirements of the Magnuson– Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Research and Data Needs – Continued research into key biological parameters and stock structure including growth, age, longevity, natural mortality, fishing mortality, determination of timing and location of spawning, bycatch and discard.

Current Regulations – 17 inches total length (TL) and 11 inches tail length in the NFMA and SFMA.

Harvest Season – In North Carolina, large mesh gill net restrictions implemented by NMFS to protect sea turtles and harbor porpoises significantly limit the directed gill net fishery for monkfish. A directed commercial fishery occurs from March 16th through April 14th. During this time, fishermen harvesting monkfish in the Atlantic Ocean using gill nets greater than seven inches stretched mesh, must hold a valid N.C. Monkfish Large Mesh Gill Net Permit and limit fishing activity to a one mile wide area extending from two miles seaward of the coastline to three miles seaward of the coastline from the North Carolina/Virginia state line southward to Wimble Shoals (Latitude 35°30’N).

Size and Age at Maturity – Males: 14 inches/3 years; Females: 17 inches/4 years

Historical and Current Maximum Age – Males: 9 years; Females: 14 years

Juvenile Abundance Index – Not available

Habits and Habitats – Monkfish, also called goosefish or anglerfish, are a benthic species occurring in the Northwest Atlantic from the Grand Banks and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence south to Cape Hatteras. Monkfish may be found from inshore areas to depths of 900 meters. Seasonal onshore– offshore migrations of monkfish occur and are assumed to be related to spawning and food availability. Spawning occurs offshore in spring from Cape Hatteras to Southern New England and is suggested to progress north until early autumn. Females expel large buoyant gelatinous egg veils that drift until hatching. Monkfish rest partially buried on the soft bottom and attracts prey using a modified first dorsal fin ray that resembles a fishing pole and lure. Monkfish commonly eat prey as large as themselves including spiny dogfish, conger eel, winter and Gulf Stream flounder, Atlantic herring, northern sea robin, Atlantic mackerel, skate, northern stargazer, and other monkfish.

For more information, email Holly White at Holly.White@ncdenr.gov or call 252-473-5734.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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