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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 20 Monkfish SSR 2014

Marine Fisheries

Monkfish

Monkfish - 2014

Stock Status – Recovering –The Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) conducted a monkfish operational stock assessment in 2013 to update the 2010 assessment with additional data from 2010 and 2011. Results from the NEFSC 2013 operational stock assessment indicate that the North and South monkfish stocks are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. A number of key uncertainties in landings, discards, commercial length frequencies, aging methods, life history, growth and natural mortality remain unresolved since the 2010 stock assessment. Despite these uncertainties, the work of the NEFSC 2013 operational stock assessment is accepted as the best available scientific information for assessing the status of monkfish.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2004-2013 – 112,228 lbs./$120,668

2013 Commercial Landings and Value – 10,566 lbs./$9,053 (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. Framework Adjustment 3, effective in 2006, prohibited targeting monkfish on Multispecies B-regular days-at-sea (DAS). Framework Adjustment 4, effective 2007, prohibited the use of carryover 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 with Framework Adjustments 5 and 6, 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. Amendment 3, finalized in 2008, included the monkfish fishery management plan in the standardized bycatch reporting methodology omnibus amendment. Amendment 5, effective May 2011, 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. Framework Adjustment 7, effective October 2011, specifies a new DAS allocation and trip limits for the NFMA consistent with the new annual catch target, and establishes revised biomass reference points for the NFMA and SFMA.

Research and Data Needs – Continued research into age and growth, longevity, reproduction and natural mortality issues; migration patterns in relation to management areas; interactions of monkfish with other species and monkfish cannibalism; bycatch and discard mortality.

2013 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 16 through April 14. 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 rests partially buried on the soft bottom and attract 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, flounder, Atlantic herring, northern sea robin, Atlantic mackerel, skate, northern stargazer, and other monkfish.

For more information, contact Holly White at Holly.White@ncdenr.gov or 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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