Mid-Atlantic council considers changes to summer flounder, scup, black sea bass AMs


RIVERHEAD, NY – In the first of two meetings on Framework Adjustment 5, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council moved forward on new commercial accountability measures (AMs) for the Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) at its Oct. 10-12 meeting.

FW5 will be before the council for final action at its February meeting.

The current AMs were approved in 2011 and include both pro-active and reactive measures.

Pro-active measures include closures once the landing quota has been met to avoid exceeding the annual catch limit (ACL), which includes both landings and discards.

Reactive measures require a pound-for-pound payback in landings if the ACL is exceeded.  If the ACL is exceeded in a given year, then the overage must be made up in the next year through a payback.

But using reactive AMs may reduce quota or require pound-for-pound payback in subsequent years when abundance is high, leading to additional discards, according to Mid-Atlantic council staffer Brandon Muffley.  This was the case with black sea bass.

In 2015, the ACL was exceeded by a nearly 800,000-lb discard overage.  The final data on landings and discards was not available until December 2016 and would have required a pound-for-pound payback this year, FY2017.

When black sea bass underwent a benchmark stock assessment in 2016, the current biomass (B) was twice the target biomass (Bsmy), Muffley said.

With this information, the council was able to forego the payback as the stock was in good condition.  However, there may be times when stock…

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