DANVERS, MA – In the near future, limited-access scallopers may be prohibited from keeping any yellowtail flounder at all if a new measure in Framework 51 to the groundfish plan is approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
The New England Fishery Management Council adopted the yellowtail prohibition by a one-vote margin during its mid-December meeting here, clearly indicating it was divided about whether the measure would help or hurt the yellowtail resource.
Scallopers themselves first proposed the idea, and attorney Drew Minkiewicz of the Fisheries Survival Fund strongly defended it.
“At the end of the day, the scallop fishery is deeply committed to catching less yellowtail,” he said. “This is part of the way to do it – not keeping the status quo.”
General category individual fishing quota vessels already are prohibited from possessing yellowtail on a declared scallop trip. But at present, the regular limited-access scallop fleet of full-time, part-time, and occasional boats is required to land all legal-size yellowtail.
What makes this especially difficult is that the scallop fishery is allocated a sub-annual catch limit (sub-ACL) for each yellowtail stock and is subject to a complicated set of accountability measures (AMs) that involve seasonal closures under various ACL and sub-ACL overage levels.
Read the rest and much, much more in the February issue of Commercial Fisheries News.
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