NEWS is published
quarterly by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to inform
and educate its constituents on matters relating to the conservation
and sustainable use of the Commonwealth's marine resources
16 First Quarter January - March 1996
Striped Bass Gamefish Petitition
Striped Bass on Winter Menus
Teacher Receives Belding Award
Council Nominees Sought
Species Brochures available
Rules Update, includes Public
Hearing notices and Regulatory & Legislative Updates
White Paper and Strategic Plan
Acceptance of a Massachusetts Aquaculture White Paper and Strategic
Plan by Governor William F. Weld in September represented the culmination
of an intensive planning effort by state and federal agencies, coastal
communities and the aquaculture industry. The White Paper is a status
report on aquaculture as it presently exists in Massachusetts. The
Strategic Plan is a blueprint for development of a more viable aquaculture
industry in the Commonwealth, primarily through streamlining the regulatory
process, increasing cooperation and communication between agencies,
and creating a more positive business climate.
The Weld/Cellucci administration is committed to aquaculture development
for several reasons. The growth of an environmentally friendly industry
in balance with competing uses of our heavily developed coastal
areas can create sustainable jobs at a time when the fishing industry
and related support industries are losing them. It can provide locally-produced
seafood to augment supplies of wild-harvest fisheries products inadequate
to satisfy increasing demand and can create additional support for
the maintenance of consistently high water quality.
Three main sections of the Strategic Plan _ regulatory reform, environmental
concerns and economic development _ were prepared by working groups
made up of experts from appropriate agencies and groups appointed
by Secretary of Environmental Affairs Trudy Coxe. A larger steering
committee, including representatives from the Governor's staff,
the Legislature, all affected agencies, coastal communities, academia
and the aquaculture and seafood industries, led by EOEA Undersecretary
Leo Roy, provided oversight of the working groups and made final
recommendations for action. The Office of Coastal Zone Management
provided coordination and staff support, including Susan Snow-Cotter,
who drafted the final manuscript.
of Aquaculture and Challenges
Aquaculture is the controlled cultivation and harvest of aquatic animals
and plants. It includes land-based pond culture and fresh or salt
water recirculating systems, coastal flow-through systems, bottom
culture, line culture, and ocean cage or net pen culture. At the present
time, although plans are being made to culture a variety of finfish,
algae, and invertebrates, operating marine aquaculture in the Commonwealth
is limited to shellfish _ primarily bottom culture of quahogs and
oysters in 22 cities and towns. These are the simplest type of marine
aquaculture projects and involves no input of feed or medication,
no discharge, and minimal or no structures in the water column.
Another type is suspended culture of shellfish or algae, which involves
lines or cages suspended in the water column from floating rafts
or buoys or transient bottom cages buoyed at the surface. Suspended
culture requires additional review because of potential interference
with navigation and other competing uses. One large project growing
bay scallops in suspended nets is operating now, and several projects
involving transient bottom cages to grow sea scallops are in the
developmental stages. All shellfish projects are licensed by cities
and towns and may require permits from DMF, DEP and the Corps of
The most complex projects are those involving both structure and
discharge, including all marine finfish culture and others requiring
feeding and medication or disinfection. Typically these projects
are situated in buildings on shore or utilize offshore cage systems
or net pens. The requirement for a joint discharge permit from DEP
and EPA adds greatly to the application process, and these projects
require much more environmental review and monitoring. Towns have
no authority to license exclusive use of an area for finfish projects,
and the only state program to lease public tidelands is under Chapter
91 (DEP). DMF may issue permits to possess or sell undersized regulated
species, but not to allow exclusive use of an area.
Massachusetts has many marine areas suitable for aquaculture, but
also some physical constraints to its development. Our coastline
is heavily developed and supports a wide variety of recreational
and commercial uses. Water temperatures are unsuitable for many
cultured species, and ice is a problem during cold winters. Many
of our coastal areas are also exposed requiring sophisticated mooring
systems to withstand coastal storms.
Another limiting factor for the development of a marine aquaculture
industry in Massachusetts is that the regulatory process is confusing
and time-consuming, with overlapping, often obscure jurisdiction,
no full time staff, and no single point of contact, even for information.
Agencies with few specially trained or equipped staff are hard pressed
to evaluate and monitor environmental impacts and user conflicts,
or advise industry on siting priorities. Considerations include
water quality, temperature, hydrography, habitat degradation, genetics,
diseases, parasites, aesthetics, pre-existing competing uses, and
jurisdiction (local, state and federal). Regulatory agencies have
been forced to fit aquaculture into their existing programs, none
of which are designed to address aquaculture. DMF has attempted
to address these concerns by adding to the duties of present staff.
We have provided technical assistance to aquaculturists and coastal
communities on an ad hoc basis, but we now realize that additional
staff support will be necessary to support a growing industry, especially
as it moves offshore. We have taken a conservative approach to prevent
the spread of diseases, parasites and genetic variations, allow
exotic species culture only under tightly controlled conditions
and limit sources of shellfish seed to certified hatcheries in the
Northeast. Some of these policies are unpopular, but are necessary
to protect both aquaculture and wild fisheries resources.
The economics of aquaculture is also a constraint. Venture capital
is difficult to attract in such a high-risk environment. The grower
must fund the capital costs of equipment and stock and survive for
several years before a profit is realized. During that period, of
course, a natural disaster or disease might wipe out the whole operation
- certainly not an investment for the faint-hearted. The availability
of federal grants has increased the number of projects in the planning/application/pilot
The Strategic Plan includes 68 separate actions recommended by the
working groups and Steering Committee to promote the development of
aquaculture in the Commonwealth. These include short and long-term
prioritized recommendations for change to be implemented over the
next five years, as funding allows.
The table on page 3 provides examples of high-priority actions that
directly affect DMF. These recommendations, if implemented in combination
with the rest concerning economic development, funding, education,
etc., will establish a more favorable climate for aquaculture development
Although aquaculture development will not, as some suggest, solve
the problems facing the fishing industry at present, it will create
some opportunities for employment, alternatives for some fishermen,
and increase the supply of domestic seafood products.
Any large scale expansion of aquaculture probably will involve more
offshore locations and high-tech systems than presently in use.
Pilot projects raising native species will be encouraged at first
and will be allowed to expand as we learn more about these operations.
For the right person _ part biologist, part engineer, and part businessman
with access to capital _ prospects are exciting. Successful operations
will be described in future DMF issues. Limited numbers of Plan
executive summaries are available from CZM or DMF, and sources of
funding for a second printing of the full plan are being explored.
Plan Recommendations that Affect DMF
Regulations & Project Reviews
Streamlining _ Develop a standardized application and coordinated
processing and review as soon
Regulatory Agency _ Establish DMF as the lead regulatory agency
for marine aquaculture and hatcheries and develop a "one-stop"
_ Provide towns with written guidance for issuance and administration
of shellfish licenses, and, without compromising home rule, standardize
shellfish licensing between towns to the extent possible.
Aquaculture Permit Review Group _ Establish this group of state
and federal agencies as a key to development of "one-stop" permitting
through interagency cooperation and joint review of applications.
Staff _ To meet expanding need for services, fund full-time state
agency staff including, at a minimum, an Aquaculture Specialist
in DMF to carry out survey and monitoring responsibilities and
an Aquaculture Coordinator in the Department of Agriculture to
serve as a single point of contact.
Coordination Team _ Establish an ACT, comprised of state agency
personnel, to be responsible for policy development, industry
support, oversight of regulatory streamlining and implementation
of the Strategic Plan.
Advisory Group _ Establish an advisory group, representing industry,
conservation groups, the financial sector, landowners, municipal
representatives, and academia, to advise the ACT.
Projects _ Agencies should allow pilot projects to facilitate
the development of joint monitoring and coordinated review.
and Marketing _ Establish the Department of Food and Agriculture
as the lead agency for promotion and marketing.
130, Section 17B _ Amend this section to authorize DMF's Director
to promulgate regulations concerning siting, operation, and monitoring
of marine finfish aquaculture projects. DMF should develop a coordinated
permit review process to incorporate concerns of other state and
federal agencies. DMF's Director should have the authority to
grant exclusive use of tidelands, provided the intent of Chapter
91 is incorporated in the review process.
policies _ Reassess policies on limited fisheries for elvers (juvenile
eels), culture of non-native species, and develop a written policy
on sources of shellfish seed for aquacultural purposes.
Management (Cities & Towns)
Monies _ Direct any state bond funds, appropriated for aquaculture
from the Open Space Bond Bill, the
Bond Bill and the Coastal Assessment Bill, toward Strategic Plan
fees _ At state and local level, increase fees to reflect the
value of licenses and help pay costs of administration and monitoring.
Use municipal fees for public propagation programs.
Resources _ Secure new funding to hire personnel dedicated to
technical assistance, computer mapping, and regulatory support
Jim Fair, Assistant Director
License Terms _ Improve license terms and standardize terms between
towns to provide more
Shellfish Propagation Program _ Reinstate as a matching grant
program, this popular state program reimbursing cities and towns
for shellfish propagation.
Tidelands _ Maintain and assert the state position that the boundary
between public and private tidelands is mean low water, and seek
an affirming decision by the Supreme Judicial Court.
Shellfish Aquaculture Licenses _ Issue licenses for an initial
term of five years and renewable for periods of 15 years, provided
performance criteria are met and no unacceptable adverse impacts
are noted. Licenses should be transferable unless performance
criteria are not met.
Zones _ Encourage municipalities to select large areas for pre-approval
as aquaculture areas to streamline the review process. May be
incorporated in harbor management plans.
areas _ Begin a program by DMF to authorize towns to lease restricted
areas as shellfish nursery areas.
reporting _ Improve statistical reporting of aquacultural production.
to Table of Contents...
A petition to ban the Massachusetts commercial striped bass fishery
and seafood buyers' access to wild striped bass has been submitted
to DMF by the New England Coast Conservation Association (NECCA).
NECCA's most visible petition supporter is the famous flyfishing
outfitter, Orvis Co. of Vermont. The petition asks for: (1) the
end of commercial fishing for wild striped bass in state waters
and (2) a ban on the sale of wild caught striped bass anywhere in
Calls for "gamefish" status like this one are not new. DMF has historically
opposed gamefish requests because: (1) the striped bass resource
is a renewable resource that can accommodate controlled fishing;
(2) there is a legitimate public interest in maintaining the market
access to bass and other species; and most recently (3) the mortality
of bass by commercial anglers is small compared to that in the recreational
In 1989, Stripers Unlimited requested an end to the Massachusetts
commercial fishery to enhance bass reproduction, reduce black market
opportunities, and emulate other states with sale bans. After May
1989 public hearings, the Marine Fisheries Commission agreed with
a DMF recommendation that those arguments were not supported by
the evidence and were an invalid basis for banning the sale of bass.
The Commission voted to accept DMF's recommendation not to ban the
The surprising aspect of the current petition is its timing. Previous
efforts to pursue gamefish status were fueled by concern for striped
bass reproduction and a feeling that improved spawning would result
from reduced harvest. But today, striped bass stocks are at near-record
levels and growing. There is widespread optimism about striped bass
management and with good reason. Recreational catches are at or
near historic highs. The resource is very robust. Refer to the March
1995 Special Issue of the DMF NEWS, "Striped bass: recovered but
still tightly regulated," for more details.
As a consequence of this rebuilding, and consistent with scientists'
advice, Massachusetts increased its 1995 commercial quota from 238,000
(about 10,000 fish) in 1994 to 750,000 lbs. (about 41,000 fish).
Commercial fishermen welcomed this increase in quota even though
the quota was less than the 1 million lbs. allowed Massachusetts
under the present Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission management
plan that has brought bass back from low abundance witnessed during
Rules for recreational fishermen were also relaxed this past year
but remained very conservative. Massachusetts recreational fishermen
generally opposed liberalizing size and bag limits to take advantage
of the plan-approved 28" size limit with a bag limit of two bass
per day. Instead the minimum size remains high at 34" and the bag
limit is just 1 fish per day.
The gamefish petition prompts discussion about the impact of both
fisheries on striped bass. The commercial fishery is responsible
for a relatively small portion of total bass mortality. DMF has
some estimates of bass mortality (# of fish) in Massachusetts for
the recreational and commercial fisheries. The accompanying table
provides preliminary estimates for 1995 with an assumed 8% mortality
rate of released fish by recreational and commercial fishermen.
In 1995, recreational angling accounted for 89% (461,743 out of
520,043 fish) of total harvesting mortality of striped bass.
It is acknowledged that the overall economic value generated by
striped bass recreational fishing will exceed that of commercial
fishing. Nevertheless, the debate shouldn't be limited to economics.
There is the issue of access to the resource. There is the legitimate
public interest of there being a market for bass. With such a large
stock, brought about by the most celebrated management plan in fisheries
management history, all citizens of the Commonwealth should be able
to enjoy striped bass bought in seafood markets or restaurants.
Moreover, under the tightly regulated management program currently
in place, we provide the non-fishing public this opportunity. The
prevailing management plan allows the public to have it both ways:
a robust recreational fishery providing food, enjoyment, jobs, and
tourism, and a traditional, hook-and-line commercial fishery providing
about 1 million striped bass meals for consumers.
Striped bass provide a critical economic supplement for many small-scale
fishermen. There were 3,300 commercial striped bass fishermen in
1995. Given the seasonal nature of the fishery (the 1995 season
lasted 71 days from July 1 through September 9) commercial anglers
range from part-time participants or full-time commercial fishermen
who also participate in other fisheries such as groundfishing, lobstering,
A ban on sale could lead to a challenge by seafood dealers that
the ban is unconstitutional. Striped bass are considered recovered
and well-managed. With a ban, DMF would likely be required to provide
solid rationale for restricting interstate trade. Of note, DMF and
the MFC already have relaxed striped bass sale rules to accommodate
bass caught from the waters of other states when bass are not abundant
here (see related article). Those supportive of banning the sale
of bass will be hard-pressed to convince the general public, and
DMF, of the need for the ban to increase conservation and improve
management, especially since 1995 provided some of the best recreational
and commercial bass fishing in almost two decades.
Preliminary 1995 estimated bass mortality (# of fish)
in Massachusetts for each sector.
Harvest Estimated mortality *
due to Catch & Release Totals
Recreational 166,000 295,743 461,743
Commercial 041,000 017,300 058,300
=========== ============= ======
Totals 207,000 313,043 520,043
* Based on estimated 8% mortality rate of released fish
by Phil Coates, Director
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Chefs all over Boston are raving about the return of striped bass
to their menus. Thanks to new regulations approved by the Massachusetts
Marine Fisheries Commission, striped bass lovers can now find bass
in markets and restaurants for over half the year.
The Commission approved new regulations to allow dealers to import
striped bass caught in other states into Massachusetts during winter
months when bass have migrated south - out of state waters. So for
four months, December - March, a steady supply of fresh striped
bass caught from Chesapeake Bay, as well as ocean fisheries in North
Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland is now available. In addition,
local striped bass markets received a real boost this past summer
with a tripling of the Massachusetts commercial quota (from 238,000
to 750,000 lbs.) that extended the season through most of the summer,
July through mid-September. During the summer, restaurants and retail
markets from Cape Cod to Cape Ann feature fresh local striped bass.
Striped bass marketability has suffered for years from inconsistent
supply caused by an array of states' open and closed seasons and
inconsistent states' rules regulating the sale and shipping of bass
across state lines. While not all problems have been solved, the
increased state quota and opening of winter markets have certainly
enhanced opportunities for restaurants and seafood dealers to increase
value and marketability.
During winter months, consumers may be surprised to see striped
bass smaller than the Massachusetts' current 34" minimum size because
the bass are caught in states where the legal minimum size is lower.
The minimum size in Chesapeake Bay commercial fisheries is 18" while
most states' ocean fisheries along the mid-Atlantic have 28" minimum
size. Most fish are expected to come from Maryland's commercial
fishery, the largest among all states.
To ensure these fish are legally caught, new regulations require
bass be imported whole into Massachusetts, marked with a state-issued
numbered tag, and accompanied by documents that verify state of
origin. These bass must meet or exceed the minimum size in place
for the state of origin. If fish are re-sold whole, tags must remain
attached to the fish. If fish are filleted after importation, all
containers of fillets must be documented describing fish origin,
name of the Massachusetts dealer that processed the fish, quantity,
and species. Original tags must be maintained on the dealer's premises
for 30 days after processing.
Striped bass fisheries are managed cooperatively by the states under
the auspices of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Commercial quotas have been increased only recently (1995) since
stocks were declared "restored."
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On February 6th, Marine Science Educator Jack Crowley was awarded
DMF's sixth annual David Belding Award, in recognition of his contributions
toward "conservation and sustainable use of the state's marine resources."
Teaching students at Hingham High School for 30 years, Mr. Crowley
is a dedicated leader in marine science education.
The Belding Award was named after Dr. David Belding, a physician
and biologist whose work in marine biology during the first half
of this century formed the cornerstone of today's Division of Marine
Fisheries. The award is funded in perpetuity by his descendants.
The previous five recipients were involved in fisheries management
at the state or regional level. This year's choice of Mr. Crowley
recognizes the importance of education, especially of young students
to build an appreciation for marine biology and become constituents
for marine conservation.
DMF will accept nominations for the 1996 award through next summer.
Submittals are open to citizens of the Commonwealth who may be sport
or commercial fishermen, fisheries professionals, or environmentalists
who contribute to conservation or sustainable use of marine resources.
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Publishes Proceedings of Sea Urchin Workshop
Biologists Arne Carr and Jessica Harris of DMF's Fisheries Technology
Program have published technical papers from a recent workshop convened
by DMF and Maine Department of Marine Resources. The work is titled
"1994 Workshop on the Management and Biology of the Green Sea Urchin."
The conference was attended by researchers, fishery managers, harvesters,
and law enforcement personnel, with representatives from Massachusetts,
Maine, New Hampshire, Florida, and Canadian proivinces of New Brunswick
and Nova Scotia.
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Governor Weld will soon submit qualified nominees for the New England
Fishery Management Council seats which are to become vacant. The
New England Council is one of eight regional councils established
by the Magnuson Act to develop fishery management plans and advise
the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Massachusetts recreational and commercial fishing organizations,
and the public at large, are invited to submit names of potential
candidates. In order to be considered for the position, nominees
must be "individuals who, by reason of their occupation or other
experience, scientific expertise, or training, are knowledgeable
regarding the conservation and management, or the commercial or
recreational harvest, of the fisheries resources of the geographic
Currents holders of the available seats are Joe Brancaleone, and
Barry Gibson from Massachusetts, and Arthur Odlin and Lewis Zglobicki
from Maine. Anyone interested in being considered for these seats
should send a short letter and resume to Commissioner John Phillips
at the Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife & Environmental Law Enforcement,
Attention: Diane Maguire, 100 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02202.
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Several years ago DMF contracted with the University of Massachusetts
Cooperative Extension Communications Center to publish a series
of brochures describing the locally important finfish species. Each
brochure is species specific and contains natural history, management,
angling and catch handling information. These informative pamphlets
have been favorably received by the public at area sportsman's shows.
For those who have not had the opportunity to receive them, or would
like to fill their collection with missing issues, contact your
nearest DMF office.
The following species brochures are still available :
American Eel Atlantic Mackerel Black Sea Bass
Bluefish Blue Shark Cod
Cunner Halibut Mako Shark
Monkfish River Herring Scup
Shad Pollock Smelt
Striped Bass Tautog Tomcod
Weakfish White Marlin White Perch
Regional offices and phone numbers:
Martha's Vineyard 508-693-4372
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Be on the Lookout for Tagged Winter Flounder (Blackback)
DMF's Power Plant Investigations project is conducting a multi-year
winter flounder tagging study in western Cape Cod Bay. Objectives
are to map seasonal movements to feeding and spawning grounds, define
the geographical distribution of the local population, estimate
population size, and determine the significance of power plant impact
- namely the entrainment of winter flounder larvae in the power
plant cooling water. This investigation is funded by Boston Edison
Company to assess impact of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (Plymouth)
on this important flounder. Waters adjacent to the plant, including
Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury Bays are important spawning areas for
DMF biologists are tagging flounder with a Petersen disc (oval tag)
attached close behind the head. In 1995, 2,900 flounder were tagged
in western Cape Cod Bay. Tag returns continue to come into our office;
most people call in the information.
If you catch one of our tagged flounder, please record the date,
length of the fish if possible, tag number and color, and location
of capture. Please call or send the information (fish under the
12 inch limit should be released with the tag in place) to Bob Lawton
at DMF, 18 Route 6A, Sandwich, MA 02563; Tel.# (508) 888-1155.
Individuals returning tag data to us will be entered into a monthly
drawing for fishing tackle. More information concerning this study
can be obtained by calling our Sandwich office.
Bob Lawton, Senior Biologist, Power Plant Investigations
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DMF will miss two talented and popular members of the biological
staff. Michael P. Armstrong, Ph.D. of DMF's Lobster Investigations
Project accepted a position as Research Scientist at the Florida
Marine Research Institute in St Petersburg. Also, Karen Greene,
North Shore Fishery Supervisor (sea sampler) resigned to relocate
to Virginia in February. We'll miss them both. Meanwhile we've welcomed
aboard Jeanne Haggerty to the Boston licensing staff. And at the
Cat Cove Lab in Salem, we picked up three new staff: statistician
Jonathan Pava, data entry specialist Kristen Kobialka, and lab technician
EDITORS: Dan McKiernan
GRAPHICS: David Gabriel
DMF receives state and federal funds to conduct research, management
and development of the Commonwealth's marine fishery resources.
Information in this publication in alternative formats is available.
Philip G. Coates, Director, DMF
John C. Phillips, Comm'nr DFWELE
Trudy Coxe, Secretary, EOEA
William F. Weld, Governor
Comments and suggestions for the newsletter are welcome. Please
contact the Editors at (617) 727-3193, or write to DMF, 100 Cambridge
St., Boston, MA 02202.
Division of Marine Fisheries
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02202
to Table of Contents...
Volume 6 Number 1
of Contents for Rules Update....
Notices of Public Hearings
New England Fisheries Management Council - Amendment
Return to Table of Contents...
Marine Fisheries Commission
Scheduled for February 26, 27, and 28
Public comment will be accepted on the following proposals:
regulations are available upon request from DMF.
petitions regarding striped bass management (322 6.07): a) petition
to prohibit gaffing of striped bass; and b) petition to allow
charterboats to fillet striped bass during trips for customers.
proposal to amend monkfish regulations (322 CMR 8.06) by a) defining
tail minimum size as either the distance from the foremost vertebra
to the end of the caudal fin, or the anterior portion of the fourth
cephalic dorsal spine to the end of the caudal fin; and b) regulating
the possession and landing of monkfish livers through the adoption
of minimum ratios of fish weight:liver weight and a requirement
that the number of livers landed matches the number of monkfish
(or monkfish tails).
proposal to amend sea scallop dredge restrictions (322 CMR 4.10)
to increase the minimum ring size from 3 1/4" to 3 1/2", consistent
with changes in the federal management plan.
Fisheries Commission seeks comments on the need for further regulation
of pollock catches by recreational fishermen through the adoption
of a minimum size and/or bag limits. Currently pollock minimum
size and bag limit are not regulated for recreational fishermen.
Three hearings have been scheduled:
Monday February 26, 1996 at 7:00 PM at the Sawyer Free Library,
Friend Room, Gloucester;
Tuesday, February 27 at 3:00 PM at the Martha's Vineyard Commission
Building, Oak Bluffs;
Wednesday, February 28 at 7:00 PM at the Mass Maritime Academy,
Fishery Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries
Sea Bass Management Plan Public Hearing
March 6, 7:00 p.m. at Mass. Maritime Academy, Buzzards Bay
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Black Sea Bass Fishery
Management Plan, prepared in cooperation with the Atlantic States
Marine Fisheries Commission, will be presented. If you are interested
in sea bass management, please attend this hearing to comment on
proposals that will affect fishing in state and federal waters.
For more information contact David Keifer, the Council's Executive
Director, at 302-674-2331 (FAX 302-674-5399), or David Pierce at
DMF's Boston office (617-727-3193).
to Rules Update Table of Contents...
Return to Table of Contents...
the period December - February, the following decisions were made
by DMF and the Marine Fisheries Commission.
for the 1996 summer flounder fishery approved. This year's national
fluke quota is 23% less than last year's because the Council/ASMFC
management plan requires a lower fishing removal rate in 1996 (34%
of stock removed by fishing). Therefore, Massachusetts 1996 quota
(6.8% of total) has been reduced to 757,630 lbs. The 1995 quota
was about 984,250 lbs.
This 1996 Massachusetts quota has been allocated 30% (227,290 lbs.)
to the winter fishery with the remaining 70% (530,342 lbs.) to the
summer fishery. This is the split used by DMF since quotas were
first established for fluke in 1993
For the winter fishery the MFC approved a lowering of the trip limit
from 5,000 lbs. to 3,000 lbs. Also, the opening of the winter fishery
was delayed until February 1, instead of a January 1 opening as
seen during the last three years, 1993 - 1995.
Beginning February 1 fluke landings were allowed for just seven
days _ until February 7. DMF will tally all landings during the
period and if sufficient quota remains, may re-open the fishery
for another short period this winter.
DMF intends to open the summer fishery on June 17 and maintain the
same possession limit that was adopted last year: 300 lbs. In previous
years, the fishery began on June 1. This postponement will help
extend the summer fishery through August. The summer fishery is
expected to last about ten weeks before the annual quota is filled.
is good news: DMF requested and received a transfer of 138,000
lbs. of unused fluke quota from the state of New Jersey in the final
days of 1995. As a result, Massachusetts will not be penalized in
1996 for the 1995 quota overage. Many thanks to New Jersey officials.
shrimp fishery rules set for 1995-1996. Northern Shrimp fishery
opened on December 1 with a "full" season allowed through May 31.
Biologists reported improved stock size this season so the ASFMC
Shrimp Section approved the full season with Sunday kept as a no-fishing
day. Off the Massachusetts coast, shrimp trawling occurs exclusively
in federal waters and vessels are required to obtain state shrimp
permits to land their product in Massachusetts ports. This fishery
continues to be monitored closely by federal and state sea samplers
observing both the target catch composition as well as by-catch
of other species. By-catch has been markedly reduced since the use
of the Nordmore grate _ a finfish exclusion device required since
and distribution of imported striped bass allowed during winter
months. Legally-caught bass from other states are now allowed
to be shipped and sold in Massachusetts during December through
March, months when striped bass are not abundant in our waters.
Fish must be imported whole and must bear tags identifying state
of origin. The request for this regulation change was made by dealers
back in 1993, and the Commission delayed approving the measure pending
completion of studies of other states' rules regarding the sale
and shipment of bass. See article in DMF News. Contact DMF for copies
of the complete regulations.
license transfer rules amended. New regulations have been adopted
that affect the transfer of lobster licenses. Changes clarify owner/operator
requirements, posthumous transfers, and other performance criteria.
Contact DMF for complete copies of new regulations.
Date" approved for urchin dive fishery. The Commission approved
a "control date" for the urchin dive fishery. Control dates are
formal notices to all currently participating fishermen and others
who seek to obtain a permit that limited entry rules eventually
may be used in the fishery _ rules that could limit participation
to only those fishermen who held a permit prior to the published
"control date" of 9/11/95. All fishermen purchasing a permit after
this date are being notified that they may be denied access to the
fishery in the future if DMF and MFC establish limited entry for
landing of lobster prohibited during February-April. Proposed
at the May 1995 public hearings and approved by the Commission in
July, this new regulation prohibits unloading of lobsters after
8:00 pm and before 6 a.m. during February-April. This restriction
is designed to facilitate officers' inspection of lobsters to check
for unlawful removal of eggs from female lobsters. The Commission
considered a year-round adoption of the measure but opted for the
three month period to coincide with the season of large offshore
lobster trips. Also Division of Law Enforcement staff were confident
that during these three months, officers could provide the most
to Rules Update Table of Contents...
Return to Table of Contents...
England Fishery Management Council Finishes Next Groundfish Amendment
The New England Council after over a year of discussion and many
meetings finally completed Amendment 7 to the Northeast Multispecies
Fishery Management Plan _ its purpose being to rebuild spawning
stock biomass of cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder and to prevent
pollock, redfish, white hake, American plaice (dab), witch flounder
(grey sole), winter flounder, and windowpane flounder from being
At January meetings, the Council decided to use the following approaches:
reduction: The major provision of the current management program
(Amendment 5) is being expanded by targeting a 50% reduction in
fishing effort over a 2-year period. Amendment 5 called for a 50%
reduction from recent levels over seven years.
There are currently two classifications of vessels fishing under
the days-at-sea provisions of Amendment 5: vessels with individual
allocations of days-at-sea, based on proven past performance (190
vessels) and vessels that fall within the fleet category (514 vessels)
that all get the same number of days. Vessels with individual allocations
will average 156 days in the first year and 120 days thereafter.
Vessels with fleet category allocations will receive 139 days in
year 1 and 88 days thereafter.
The Council also is eliminating exemptions for vessels currently
not in the days-at-sea program; the number of vessels in both individual
and fleet categories will increase significantly. Only vessels less
than 30 feet, handline/rod and reel open access vessels, party/charter
vessels, recreational vessels, and certain vessels fishing in the
Mid-Atlantic area will be exempted from the days-at-sea program.
closures: Existing area closures in southern New England and
Georges Bank will be continued and additional closures in the Gulf
of Maine will be implemented to protect key aggregations of groundfish,
Three large areas in Southern New England and Georges Bank that
were previously closed under Amendment 5 will continue. These areas
are closed year round to all gear capable of taking groundfish except
the Nantucket Lightship. The Lightship area will open to recreational
and party charter fishermen for taking cod and other groundfish
since this is primarily a yellowtail flounder protection area.
Additional seasonal closures have been approved in the Gulf of Maine.
They are areas previously closed to gillnetting to protect harbor
porpoise, and they will now be closed to all commercial groundfish
gear including trawls and hooks. Party/charter and recreational
vessels will be allowed to fish in these areas subject to recreational
exemptions: Amendment 5 contains several exemptions from either
days-at-sea effort reduction requirements or limited entry requirements.
The Council has determined that most of these exemptions are inappropriate,
given the current condition of the resource and has eliminated them
in Amendment 7. For example, under Amendment 5, vessels less than
45' long, gillnetters, and hook vessels were exempt from the days-at-sea
reduction schedules. The Council has eliminated or modified these
The vessel size exemption from 45' has been changed to 30' with
a possession limit of 300 lbs. of cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder.
Hook vessels are now under the days-at-sea provision. Gillnetters
will get fleet or individual days-at-sea measured as time nets are
in the water.
Previously, anyone could obtain a multispecies permit to possess
up to 500 lbs. of multispecies (groundfish) and fish up to 4500
hooks. These permits now have been essentially eliminated. Only
people that meet the original moratorium eligibility requirements
to obtain a limited access permit will be eligible to receive a
limited-access possession limit only permit. Only people that fished
with hooks and can document landings between June 1, 1994 and June
1 1995 will be eligible for a limited access hook permit. The only
remaining open access permits are for rod and reel/handline (with
a 300 lb limit of cod, haddock and yellowtail flounder) and a party/charter
provisions: There will be increased restrictions on vessels
fishing for other species that may impact groundfish while providing
some opportunity for fishermen to diversify without creating additional
Recreational fishermen and charter/party boat operators will be
limited by increased size limits (20" cod and haddock in year one
of plan and 21" thereafter), 2 hooks per line and one line per angler,
and no sale of fish caught on recreational, party, or charter vessels
when taking parties. Also, recreational fishermen fishing on private
vessels will be limited to 10 fish.
Details of Amendment 7 are too numerous and complex to list here.
Furthermore, because the Amendment must be approved by the Secretary
of Commerce, we await the final product before we provide the specifics.
Everything in the Council-approved plan is subject to approval by
the Secretary. The expected implementation date of Amendment 7 is
June 1, 1996 with days-at-sea and other provisions retroactive to
May 1, 1996.
An additional aspect of the Amendment is definitely worth mentioning
now _ monitoring plan performance. Target Allowable Catches (TACs)
for haddock, cod, and yellowtail flounder and for the aggregate
of the remaining seven species will be set prior to each fishing
year, and catches will be monitored. If TACs are exceeded, adjustments
will be made the next year to hit that year's targets. This approach
could lead to more restrictions such as larger area closures and
more reductions in days-at-sea. There won't be long delays in implementing
these changes since virtually every provision of Amendment 7 will
be adjustable through frameworking. A plan amendment takes upwards
of a year to conceive and implement. A framework measure can be
implemented in a few months.
The next issue of the DMF NEWS will be issued in mid-May, and by
then all the details should be known.
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for Senator Durand. Congratulations to Senator Bob Durand (D-Marlborough)
who was recently named the new Majority Whip. Senator Durand's five
year tenure as Natural Resources and Agriculture Chairman distinguished
him as a champion of environmental issues. While we will miss him
as Chairman, we look forward to working with him and his staff in
his new role.
Aboard! Senator Lois Pines (D-Newton) was named the new Senate
Chair for the Nature Resources and Agriculture Committee. Senator
Pines, a Senator since 1986, brings great interest and enthusiasm
to her new post and is especially interested in aquaculture and
public health issues related to fish.
Bill Isn't Dragging. Senate bill 1103, which originally prohibited
the landing of lobsters in the Commonwealth by draggers, was amended
by the Senate to allow draggers to land 50 lobsters per day for
a maximum of seven days. The bill was recommitted to the Natural
Space. The House and Senate recently passed a $399 million open
space bond bill and was signed by the Governor on February 12.
Bond Bill. Remains in Conference Committee.
Contact Priscilla Geigis, Department Deputy General Counsel,
for details (617-727-1614, ext. 388).
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UPDATE is published quarterly to publicize regulatory matters
affecting marine fisheries.
Director: Philip G. Coates, DMF
Commissioner: John C. Phillips, DFWELE
Secretary: Trudy Coxe, EOEA
Governor: William F. Weld
Editor: Daniel J. McKiernan , DMF
Art Dir.: David G. Gabriel, DFWELE