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. Monkfish is a data-poor species, and there are significant uncertainties associated with the assessment results. Assessment results are based on assumptions regarding growth, longevity, and natural mortality. Estimates of total biomass in both regions are above the minimum biomass threshold and annual biomass target.
Average Commercial Landings and Value 2001– 2010 – 187,357 lbs./$190,304
2010 Commercial Landings and Value – 47,345 lbs./$60,387 (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 fishery is currently managed under Amendment 2 of the FMP which establishes 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 fishing for monkfish, sets daily trip limits, and still allows the traditional incidental catch to occur. 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. 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 state waters 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, 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 1-800-682-2632 |