Mid-Atlantic council adopts longfin squid latent capacity amendment

NORFOLK, VA – At its Jun. 6-8 meeting, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council selected alternatives and approved an amendment to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan to reduce latent capacity in the longfin squid fishery.

The council chose not to modify the Illex squid fishery in this amendment.

The amendment requalifies vessels based on historical catch, provides for an incidental permit for non-qualifying vessels, reduces open access permits substantially, and splits off butterfish permits from squid permits.

As the amendment was being developed, it also addressed trip limits for Trimester 2 closures.

Both longfin and Illex squid fisheries operate under limited access (moratorium) permits issued in 1996.

Vessels were requalified for longfin that caught 20,000 lbs in any consecutive 30-day period between 1981 and 1993.

For Illex, vessels that had five landings of at least 5,000 lbs in that same period requalified.

According to the Mid-Atlantic council environmental assessment, 383 vessels now remain actively fishing longfin, with 97 in confirmation of permit history (CPH), and 64 are active in the Illex squid fishery.

In 2007, the fisheries’ quota was divided into three trimesters to account for inshore/offshore migration of squid. A butterfish cap was added in 2010.

The Mid-Atlantic council set control dates amid concerns raised by the fishing industry that re-activation of latent permits would disrupt the fishery.  Most recently, a control date for longfin squid was set in 2013.

While Illex squid also had a control date set, few vessels target Illex and landings are low.

However, longfin squid landings have been steadily increasing in the last six years.

In 2016,  over 19 million pounds of longfin squid were landed in Trimester 2 (T2), and the fishery closed 58 days after it opened.

According to landing data, the T2 quota has been exceeded five times…

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