NEWBURYPORT, MA – In March, the New England Fishery Management Council completed a series of scoping meetings for Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery Management Plan.
The council initiated the draft amendment last fall to address concerns with reliability and accountability of the groundfish monitoring program.
The action follows Framework 55, which clarified the goals of the at-sea monitoring (ASM) observer program begun in 2010 under Amendment 16 to the Groundfish FMP.
As sectors were developed to provide fishermen with flexibility in administering quota allocations, ASM was added to provide landing and discard data for compliance with annual catch limits.
FW55 identified a primary goal of ASM to “verify area fished, catch, and discards by species, (and) by gear type” and that it should be in the “most cost effective manner practicable.”
Secondary goals of the ASM program are to reduce costs and incentivize discard reductions, provide new data for stock assessments and improve catch documentation, improve observer safety, and evaluate program effectiveness.
Scoping of alternatives for the current action and preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) are required under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to address the impacts on affected human, biological, and physical systems.
“The council will convene in June and discuss those ideas (raised during scoping) and decide which ideas they want to go forward,” said Jamie Cournane, groundfish plan coordinator.
Cournane said ideas previously…
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