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Marine Fisheries - News Release Archives Oct 2012

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Contact: Mary Clark
Phone: 302-674-2331 (ext. 261)
Release: Immediate
Date: Oct. 25, 2012

Recreational Black Sea Bass Closure Effective November 1, 2012

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced yesterday that the recreational black sea bass fishery will close on November 1, 2012. The fishery will remain closed to recreational fishermen in federal waters (3-200 miles from shore) through the end of the year.

The early closure was prompted last week by the release of recreational catch data that indicated the recreational harvest limit for black sea bass had been exceeded. In addition to a shortened season, the recreational fishery will face reduced catch limits in 2013 or 2014 to account for the overage. This is the first season in which the recreational black sea bass fishery will have to pay back a harvest overage.

Although the most recent assessment update for black sea bass indicated that the stock was not overfished and that overfishing was not occurring, the fishery continues to present substantial management challenges due to multiple issues with scientific uncertainty.
“The Council’s management of black sea bass has been constrained by scientific uncertainty in the assessment and quota-setting process. The apparent performance and health of the fishery raises important scientific and management issues that need to be resolved,” said Council Chairman Rick Robins. “We understand that the closure will have serious implications for the recreational fishing community and are committed to working closely with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the NMFS regional office, the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and the ASMFC to address the scientific and management issues in the black sea bass fishery as quickly as possible.”

The closure, which applies to both private anglers and party/charter vessels, prohibits fishing for or possessing black sea bass in Federal waters for the remainder of 2012. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is expected to discuss the harvest of black sea bass in state waters at its annual meeting this week.

 Read the full announcement from NOAA Fisheries here: http://www.nero.noaa.gov/nr/doc/12/12bsbclosurerecphl.pdf 

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) is one of eight regional councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Council has primary responsibility for twelve species of fish and shellfish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between 3 and 200 miles off the Mid-Atlantic coast. Member states include New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. For more information, visit our website: www.mafmc.org .

PR12-25


Contact: Mary Clark
Phone: 302-674-2331 (ext. 261)
Release: Immediate
Date: Oct. 24, 2012

Council Votes to Increase Commercial Quota
and Trip Limits for Spiny Dogfish

DOVER, Del. — Last week the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted to increase the commercial quota for spiny dogfish by 14% to 40.8 million pounds in 2013. If approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service, 2013 will be the fifth consecutive year with a higher commercial quota than the year before. At last week’s meeting, the Council also voted to increase the trip limit for the first time since 2009, adopting a 4,000 pound trip limit for 2013-2015.

The Council began managing spiny dogfish under a ten year rebuilding plan in 2000 after the stock was severely depleted. In 2009, the fishery was determined to be above the target population size — one year ahead of the 2010 rebuilding deadline. As of mid-September the commercial fishery was on track to under-harvest this year’s 35.7 million pound quota for the first time since the directed fishery was reopened. “When the rebuilding plan was implemented, it abruptly curtailed a 60 million pound fishery and resulted in significant impacts on the region’s fishing and processing sectors,” said Council Chairman Rick Robins. “It is encouraging to see a portion of the fishery recover to a 40 million pound level with strong scientific evidence that the dogfish population is above sustainable levels.” 

For some Council members and fishermen, the large number of trips with landings equal to the trip limit suggested that the current 3,000 pound trip limit was limiting the industry’s efficiency. Others urged the Council not to raise the trip limit on the basis of limited processing capacity. The Fishery Performance Report provided by the Council’s spiny dogfish advisory panel (AP) noted that underperformance of the fishery early this year was related to fish being pushed offshore by higher than normal water temperature. The Monitoring Committee noted that raising the trip limit would increase the likelihood of an early closure, but they determined that the decision was a question of policy rather than biology and chose not to make a specific recommendation.

Recent discussions of spiny dogfish management have attracted the interest of fishermen and stakeholders involved in other fisheries—many of whom have encouraged the Council to increase the spiny dogfish quotas and trip limits to keep pace with population growth. As top-level predators, spiny dogfish feed on other commercially and recreationally-targeted species in the region, and fishermen have become increasingly concerned about the impacts of dogfish on other species. In fact, the need for more effective consideration of predator-prey interactions was one of the most frequently cited ecological issues of the Council’s Visioning Project.

Some fishermen and processors opposed higher quotas and trip limits because the changes might exacerbate existing economic challenges that have developed during the transition to a larger-scale fishery. Although the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) recently certified the spiny dogfish fishery as sustainably managed, the industry has faced reduced demand in recent years for the species in Germany and other European countries that import spiny dogfish from the United States.

In the 2012 Fishery Performance Report, the spiny dogfish AP suggested that a slower transition to a large-scale directed fishery may allow time for the market and processers to adjust to a larger supply of dogfish. Sean McKeon, President of North Carolina Fisheries Association, pointed out during public comments that the fishing industry needs to see consistency and continuity of regulations before they get back in to the dogfish fishery. McKeon, who acknowledged that processing capacity is a constraint in North Carolina, supported a higher quota and trip limit, but he urged the Council adopt management measures designed for long-term consistency so that processors will begin to accept dogfish again.

Upon discussion of staff and advisory group recommendations and public comments, the Council voted to adopt the higher quotas and trip limits for 2013-2015. The Council will have opportunities to revisit management measures for the 2014 and 2015 fishing years if necessary. “The Council has been working to identify areas where we can make decisions that will promote stability within the fishing industry,” said Chairman Robins. “This year we are setting multi-year specifications for the first time in many of our fisheries, and we intend to continue exploring stability in the quota setting process whenever it is feasible and practical.”

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) is one of eight regional councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Council has primary responsibility for twelve species of fish and shellfish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between 3 and 200 miles off the Mid-Atlantic coast. Member states include New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. For more information, visit our website: www.mafmc.org.

PR12-24


Contact: Tina Berger
Phone: 703-842-0740
Release: Immediate
Date: Oct. 24, 2012
 

Robert E. Beal Named ASMFC Executive Director

Philadelphia, Pa. — Paul Diodati, Chair of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, has announced the selection of Robert E. Beal as the Commission’s new Executive Director. Mr. Beal has been with the Commission for more than 15 years and has served as the Director for the Interstate Fishery Management Program for the past 10 years. 

“After a thorough search and interview process, Bob clearly demonstrated he possesses the leadership skills, expertise and management qualities required to lead the Commission as it enters into a new phase of strategic planning and cooperative partnerships among the states, interstate commissions, and federal agencies,” stated Mr. Diodati. “Bob will be an outstanding representative of the states to the Congress and to the commercial, recreational and environmental stakeholders that depend on our effective stewardship of Atlantic coastal fishery resources.”

In accepting the position, Mr. Beal stated, “I am honored and privileged to serve as the Commission’s Executive Director and work for people I admire and for a cause I feel so strongly about. It’s been nearly 20 years since passage of the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act and the states, through the Commission, have achieved many impressive accomplishments from species rebuilding, improved data collection, to sound stock assessments for data poor species such as American eel and shad and river herring. I am excited about the opportunity to work with the states, in concert with our federal partners, to build upon these successes and address the challenges that are ahead.”

The Commission was formed over 70 years ago by the 15 Atlantic coast states to assist in managing and conserving their shared coastal fishery resources. With the recognition that fish do not adhere to political boundaries, the states formed an Interstate Compact, which was approved by the U.S. Congress in 1942. The states have found that their mutual interest in sustaining healthy coastal fishery resources is best promoted by working together cooperatively, in collaboration with the federal government. With this approach, the states uphold their collective fisheries management responsibilities in a cost-effective, timely, and responsive fashion.

pr52ASMFC

 

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