FW 4 to allow operational discards on herring midwater boats in open areas

MYSTIC, CT – Atlantic herring fishermen who hold Category A and B permits may be forced to work under an additional layer of “slippage” restrictions if the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approves as adopted by the New England Fishery Management Council.

However, in what was viewed as a critical, nip-and-tuck victory by midwater trawlers, the fleet will be allowed to have “operational discards” outside of the year-round groundfish closed areas.

The council met here April 22-24 and finalized the framework, which was developed to address the disapproved measures from Amendment 5 involving dealer weighing and reporting requirements and net slippage (see CFN September 2013 for Amendment 5 details).

The framework contains several components, but by far the most controversial were those related to slippage and operational discards.

The council eased into these difficult decisions on the first day of its meeting by addressing proposals intended to enhance reporting and catch verification (see story page 42 for details).

It then took up the issue of operational discards, which extended late into the day and left everyone exhausted.  Consequently, council Chairman Terry Stockwell postponed the slippage debate to the following day (see story page 40 for slippage details).

Operational discards are defined as “fish that cannot be pumped and that remain in the net at the end of pumping operations.”  They have been prohibited inside all year-round closed areas since March 17 when Amendment 5 took effect.  So this debate was about expanding the requirement to apply everywhere, including open areas, on midwater trawl trips with an observer onboard.  Purse seine vessels, which also have fish that remain in the net at the end of pumping operations, were not included in the proposed prohibition.


CFN-6_14coverRead the rest and much, much more in the June issue of Commercial Fisheries News.

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