PORTSMOUTH, NH – In a move intended to help monkfish fishermen get closer to harvesting their catch limits, the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils, which have joint jurisdiction over monkfish, have adopted 2014-2016 fishing year specifications that increase the number of allocated days-at-sea in both the northern and southern monkfish management areas.
Furthermore, northern area fishermen will be able to retain more monkfish as “incidental catch” while groundfish fishing, and Category H permit holders will be allowed to fish on a monkfish day-at-sea throughout the southern area instead of being restricted to the lower half.
The measures are part of Framework Adjustment 8 to the federal monkfish plan, which the New England council approved on Jan. 28 and the Mid-Atlantic council approved on Feb. 12.
“This framework is trying to give the industry the tools to at least reach the total allowable landing (TAL) limit,” said Mary Beth Tooley, a Maine member of the New England council, which has the administrative lead for monkfish.
In fishing year 2012, only 67% and 58% of the target TAL for monkfish was landed in the northern and southern areas respectively – a far cry from what industry members said was desirable given the high economic value of this resource and the fact that neither stock component is overfished and overfishing is not occurring.
In the northern area, most fishermen catch monkfish while groundfish fishing. Despite the advent of sectors, groundfish boats still are required to use a groundfish day-at-sea to retain monkfish and are restricted to an “incidental landing limit” of monkfish. If the monkfish catch is higher than the incidental limit, the vessel has to switch over to a monkfish day, under which it can land higher amounts of monkfish.
Read the rest and much, much more in the March issue of Commercial Fisheries News.
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