NEW BEDFORD, MA – Scallopers are now completely prohibited from possessing yellowtail flounder, a move that industry leaders supported to encourage all vessels to steer clear of this species as much as possible.
The prohibition was included in a federal groundfish plan action known as Framework 51, which went into effect on May 1.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a letter to scallopers flagging the new rule and explaining, “Although you may no longer retain yellowtail flounder, any catch must be reported and will apply against the scallop fishery’s annual yellowtail allocation.”
The scallop fishery doesn’t have much yellowtail to work with this year – just 50.9 metric tons (mt) for Georges Bank yellowtail, equivalent to 112,215 pounds, and 66 mt for Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) yellowtail, equivalent to
“Because the yellowtail flounder catch allocated to the scallop fishery for fishing year 2014 is small, especially for Georges Bank yellowtail, it is very important to try to avoid areas with high yellowtail catch,” NMFS cautioned.
The agency further advised that the Yellowtail Bycatch Avoidance Program overseen by the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Dartmouth “can help vessel operators avoid these bycatch hot spots.”
Read the rest and much, much more in the June issue of Commercial Fisheries News.
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