DMF 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
Volume 17 Fourth Quarter October - December 1997
for Reliable Fisheries Statistics
Fishery Data Collection Program Nearing Final Phase
Opportunity - for the 1998 Saltwater Sportfish Guide
Recreational Fisheries Catch
Oversees New Phytoplankton Monitoring Program
Flounder Quota % Shares Unchanged
Changes for Striped Bass 1998 Regulations
Ladders for Mashpee & Three Mile Rivers
of Contents for Rules Update including Public
Hearings, Regulatory and Legislative Updates
with state and federal partners, DMF Assists Development of Atlantic
Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program
DATA, GOOD DECISIONS. These are the expectations of those who
have worked for the last few years to develop the Atlantic Coastal
Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP). Highlighted in the just-released
brochure describing the Program is the following statement: "The ACCSP
is a cooperative effort among federal and state fisheries managers
and commercial and recreational fishermen to coordinate and improve
data collection activities on the Atlantic coast." Considering the
importance of this program, we've assembled details provided by the
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).
DMF's own Information Systems and Fisheries Statistics Project has
played an important role in developing the ACCSP, and for good reason.
The project already has been on the firing line for collection of
good quality and timely fisheries statistics. Project personnel
are Charlie Anderson (Operations Committee and several standing
and ad hoc Committees), Thomas Hoopes (Computer System Steering
Committee), and David McCarron (Commercial Fisheries Technical Committee
and Committee on Economics and Social Science). DMF’s Sportfisheries
Program Director, Paul Diodati, was a member of the original Steering
Committee that led to the formation of ACCSP; he chaired ASMFC's
Recreational Statistics Committee.
An important responsibility of DMF's Statistics Project is the gathering
of records of dealers' purchases of species for which there is a
state/federal quota, such as summer flounder, scup, black sea bass,
striped bass, and bluefish. Consequently, our Statistics Project
is especially aware of the need for all states to develop the means
and willingness to support ACCSP with its many benefits such as
"decreasing the reporting burden on fishermen by requiring submission
of data to only one reporting agency."
The Commonwealth has commercial fisheries that are not well represented
in the National Marine Fisheries Service record of Massachusetts
landings. Scup is an excellent example. Massachusetts' May through
October percent share of the Mid-Atlantic Council/ASMFC scup commercial
quota is based on grossly inaccurate and incomplete records of scup
landings in Massachusetts. As a result, the Commonwealth sued the
Secretary of Commerce. Our last newsletter described the on-going
The federal record of black sea bass landings in Massachusetts could
be just as deficient as scup, especially for landings taken by rod
and reel and sold to dealers who have not reported their purchases
to NMFS. Reporting has been voluntary. Sea bass will be managed
by quarterly quotas in 1998. Is the second quarter quota less than
it should be because the record of April through June landings in
Massachusetts is incomplete? If ACCSP had been in place over the
last decade or so, this question would not be asked.
DATA, BAD DECISIONS. This is DMF's position on scup - a position
that might apply to sea bass. For this and many other reasons, DMF
supports ACCSP and encourages fishermen, dealers, and other interested
parties to comment on the Program's design.
If we've learned nothing else over the years, we've learned that
our efforts to assess fish abundance, develop and adopt sensible
fisheries management plans and regulations, and monitor the effectiveness
of our plans, are seriously handicapped by poor data. The ACCSP
cooperative effort and increased credibility in the data will lead
to more confidence in fisheries management decision-making for all
Addition information about ACCSP can be obtained from Charlie Anderson
at DMF's new Gloucester facility (978) 282-0308 or from the ACCSP
Program manager (202) 289-6400.
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The Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) is a cooperative
state-federal marine and coastal fisheries data collection program.
The goal of the program is to cooperatively collect, manage, and disseminate
fishery statistical data and information for the conservation and
management of fishery resources of the Atlantic Coast and to support
the development and operation of a national data collection program.
It's a well-known fact that Americans love to eat seafood, whether
caught by themselves or purchased in a local seafood market. Who
wouldn't? Fish are nutritious and tasty, but the amount and selection
of fish available to commercial and recreational fishermen vary
considerably from year to year.
As worldwide demand for commercially-produced seafood increases,
and with the growing numbers of recreational fishermen, many fish
stocks are in jeopardy of becoming overfished. The good news about
fish is that it is a sustainable resource if managed correctly.
We, as resource users, must be careful not to overharvest species
to a level where they can't replenish themselves.
Federal, state and regional agencies are charged with the task of
preventing overfishing by managing the resource so that we may all
continue to enjoy eating seafood and fishing in coastal waters for
recreation. To achieve this, fisheries managers need to answer the
following questions: How many fish are in the ocean? How many of
them can be caught by fishermen and still allow for the continuation
of the resource for future generations? The answers to these questions
are dependent upon good fisheries data, provided by those people
harvesting the fish. Without good data, fisheries managers cannot
adequately manage the resource.
In response to this need, the ACCSP is moving forward in the design
of a cooperative fisheries data collection system for fishermen
and fisheries managers along the Atlantic Coast. So far, the 23
program participants have decided a comprehensive, trip-based reporting
system for commercial fishermen and dealers is necessary. They have
recognized the importance of improving recreational data by expanding
existing telephone and dockside surveys. Also being proposed is
a system for collecting social and economic data from commercial
and recreational harvesters, dealers, processors, wholesalers, and
fishing communities. This data will be used to gain a better understanding
of how fishermen and their communities are impacted by fisheries
proposes the following:
improving biological data - the program will collect biological
data such as length frequencies, age samples, and other parameters
to support reliable stock assessment work.
of commercial and recreational quota monitoring programs. This
could include a coastwide call-in system for commercial dealers
or recreational fishermen to report their total landings; bycatch
monitoring - the ACCSP has adopted at-sea observers and fishery-independent
programs as the preferred methods for collecting bycatch data.
confidentiality of data - some fisheries statistics are confidential
and cannot be disclosed to the public. Nevertheless, effort will
be made to provide timely landings summaries and survey information
to the industry.
of reporting requirements to ensure valid and timely reporting.
mission of those working on the ACCSP is to simplify reporting fishing
data, while at the same time, to improve the types and amounts of
data collected so that fair and reasonable management decisions
can be made. Where possible, the ACCSP will eliminate duplication
in collecting information. The program will set standards for data
collection and management so that resource managers, fishermen,
and seafood markets can make better decisions.
will the ACCSP do for you?
Under current data collection programs fishermen are often required
to provide the same information to a number of agencies by filling
out separate data sheets or logbooks. One goal is to have marine
resource users provide information to one system. With the cooperation
of all involved, the data from recreational and commercial fishermen
will be consistent, accurate and timely. All users of the resource
will have timely access to the same source of information that is
used in the fishery management process . The ACCSP is committed
to protecting corporate and individual privacy and is currently
developing standard protocols to insure confidentiality. With better
information, fisheries managers can make better decisions. And better
decisions will mean better resource conditions for commercial and
A team of scientists, resource managers, fishermen, dealers, economists,
and sociologists are working on the project. Development teams for
the ACCSP were selected from state, regional, and federal agencies
and from fishing industry groups. As work continues, recommendations
regarding the design of the ACCSP are being distributed to the public
for comment. All ideas are being considered so that the plan meets
the needs of fisheries managers and all users of marine resources.
fishermen and dealers
The commercial team has designed a system of reporting that includes
comprehensive logbook reporting of all marine species harvested
by commercial license holders. Other essential data elements will
be collected from dealers through weighout sheets or computerized
reporting. Very few elements will be duplicated, and the reporting
burden will be shared equally by dealers and fishermen. Duplicate
reporting to numerous state and federal agencies will be eliminated.
Linking fishermen's and dealers' data will be accomplished using
a unique ID number to identify every trip in the system. The unique
trip identifier is a simple combination of an individual's commercial
ID number and the start date of the trip. Other verification methods
could include: consistent and simplified law enforcement; independent
surveys; and methods designed specifically for self-reported and
anecdotal data from industry.
ahead for recreational anglers?
No one knows the true number of marine recreational anglers on a
fishery by fishery basis. Sampling of recreational anglers could
be made more efficient with the establishment of a database of all
marine anglers. While a marine recreational fishing license would
quickly establish this database, current political realities suggest
this to be an unlikely scenario. Even without such a database, improvements
in the collection of recreational marine resource data can be realized.
Several specific technical committee recommendations should result
in greater and more detailed sampling among coastal and non-coastal
residents. Approaches to improving catch data from intercept (dockside)
and telephone surveys may include increased sample size, increase
stratification by sites and evaluating differences in species composition
and catch rates between private and public access sites. Approaches
to improving fishing effort data may include increased sample size,
establishing a long-term survey panel that resamples active fishermen
and, expanding the survey to non-coastal and out-of-state areas.
For charter/headboat fisheries, an evaluation of three data collection
methods will be conducted to determine which method is the most
accurate and reliable: comprehensive logbook reporting to collect
both catch and effort data; a telephone survey using all identified
for-hire coastal vessels to collect effort data; or the Marine Recreational
Fishery Statistics Survey effort estimates.
Wise allocation of resources requires collection of socioeconomic
data. Aspects of the program are proposed to gather economic data
(i.e., operating costs, revenues) and sociocultural data (i.e.,
education, ethnicity, gender) from commercial harvesters, dealers,
processors, and wholesalers. Recommendations also have been made
to collect expenditure and sociocultural data from recreational
fishermen and to characterize fishing communities. Simple surveys
are being designed and would be completed only occasionally by all
members of industry and fishing communities. Where licenses or permits
are required, some data can be obtained at the time of application
or renewal. Other surveys could be conducted by phone or dockside.
Socioeconomic data are necessary to accurately analyze the impacts
of proposed management measures on recreational anglers, the commercial
seafood industry and fishing communities.
Are the Next Steps?
Work on developing the details of the data collection system will
continue in conjunction with efforts to design the data management
system. These activities include development of standards for quality
control, timeliness, and data collection forms. In addition, work
is being conducted on developing a bycatch monitoring program for
all marine species. Priorities are being identified due to the need
for phased-in implementation.
The ACCSP will be implemented by the Atlantic state, regional, and
federal fisheries management agencies who have agreed to work together
on this data collection and data management system. The 23 ACCSP
participating agencies are in the process of modifying existing
data collection systems to meet the ACCSP model. Representatives
from all segments of the fishing industry are directly involved
in designing and implementing this program. The ACCSP Implementation
Plan will be completed by mid-1998. Full implementation will begin
upon completion of the Plan.
Can You Do to Help Develop the ACCSP?
It is important that the ACCSP be designed not only to meet the
needs of fisheries scientists and managers, but also the fishermen
and fishing industry who provide the needed information. To make
the ACCSP successful and effective, it is important that as much
input as possible be given prior to final design. Public input will
be gathered on all aspects of the ACCSP.
If you are interested in speaking personally with the fishing industry
representative from your state who is participating in the design
of this program or would like to learn more about the program, call
ACCSP Program Manager, Connie Young-Dubovsky, (202) 289-6400. Written
inquiries may be sent to ACCSP Program Manager, 1444 Eye St. N.W.,
Sixth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005. Email: Connie_Youngdvbovsky@fws.gov.
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The Sportfisheries Program is compiling the 1998 Massachusetts Saltwater
Fishing Guide that describes where and how you can enjoy fishing for
a wide variety of fish along our shores. The guide contains illustrations
and descriptions of each species including the recreational fishing
regulations and state derby records.
We invite you to donate one or more photos of your fishing experiences.
These may be headers for the Guide's sections listing access sites,
bait & tackle shops, and party/charter boats sections within the
guide. There are also the front and back cover photographs to consider.
Photos should be 4x6" or 5x7" prints in black & white or color.
Prints chosen for the Guide will not be returned. However, you will
be recognized with your name printed alongside your photo. If interested,
please send your photographs to:
Karen Rypka, Sportfisheries Program
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
50A Portside Drive
Pocasset, MA 02559
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Have you ever wondered how recreational fisheries catch estimates
for species like striped bass and bluefish are obtained? These estimates,
important to fisheries managers and stock assessment scientists, are
from the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey (MRFSS). MRFSS
is a nation-wide program implemented in 1979 by the National Marine
Fisheries Service (NMFS) for reliable data to estimate impacts of
recreational fishing on marine resources. Results are used by NMFS,
states, Interstate Fisheries Commissions, and Regional Fisheries Management
MRFSS is conducted by a NMFS Virginia-based contractor called QuanTech.
It consists of two separate but complimentary surveys: a telephone
survey of households in coastal counties to estimate trips, and
a field intercept survey of anglers at access sites to estimate
catch rates and species composition.
MRFSS is used to estimate total number of fish caught, released,
and harvested; weight of harvest; total number of trips; and number
of people participating in marine recreational fishing. In Massachusetts,
NMFS has a target of about 10,000 telephone interviews each year
and about 2,000 interviews of anglers completing their fishing trips.
DMF pays additional money to QuanTech to triple the Massachusetts
number of interviews thereby bringing the total to 6,000. Increasing
the sample size serves to improve precision of state-level estimates
for many species.
The MRFSS survey is divided into regions: North Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic,
South Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico. The North Atlantic includes
Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
MRFSS surveys three separate modes of marine recreational fishing:
shore, party and charter boats, and private and rental boats. Intercept
interviews and telephone interviews are conducted in six bimonthly
"waves" from January/February to November/December.
The Massachusetts recreational fishery dominates landings in the
North Atlantic region by a large margin. Over 40% of the average
annual total of all recreationally caught fish in this region from
1992-1996 were caught in Massachusetts. While the Massachusetts
catch has consisted of over 30 different types of fish, most interest
in recent years has focused on catches of striped bass. Preliminary
estimates of the 1997 Massachusetts recreational striped bass catch
suggest that total catch (including catch-and-release) increased
from 1996 levels by as much as 150%, and 1997 harvest (fish kept)
of striped bass increased by as much as 267%.
The NMFS MRFSS home page can be found in the world wide web at http://remora.ssp.nmfs.gov/.
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All along the Massachusetts coast volunteers who are primarily municipal
shellfish Department personnel, are closely monitoring phytoplankton
populations. This "volunteer" program provides an inexpensive means
to obtain useful long-term scientific data.
DMF's Shellfish Project oversees the Massachusetts Phytoplankton
Monitoring Program. This program is funded through a federal grant
from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Office of Seafood,
as part of a regional effort to look for potentially harmful marine
phytoplankton (microscopic algae) blooms before they become a threat
to human health and affect our fisheries.
The grant was made to the Massachusetts Health Research Institute,
Inc. (MHRI) on behalf of and in collaboration with the Massachusetts
Department of Public Health's Division of Food & Drugs (DPH/DFD).
MHRI is responsible for fiscal management, and DPH/DFD has programmatic
responsibilities. DMF is responsible for all field aspects of the
program including site selection, training of volunteer personnel
and reporting. DMF and DFD work together to evaluate the efficacy
of the program and to make recommendations to FDA.
The program has been established as a network for collecting environmental
information using field plankton sampling and observations to detect
early warning signals of marine toxins which have the potential
to contaminate our seafood.
DMF has a long established biotoxin monitoring program which tests
shellfish for the toxin causing Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, or
PSP. This toxin is produced by a microscopic marine phytoplankton
called Alexandrium tamarense. When environmental conditions
are favorable for this organism, the population may experience a
"bloom", causing the "Red Tide" shellfish bed closures.The addition
of field monitoring for the presence of toxin-producing phytoplankton
enables DMF to increase both the geographic range of monitoring
for PSP organisms and to look for other potentially toxic organisms
that have not been routinely monitored.
Eighteen sites along the Massachusetts coastline, including Nantucket
Island and Martha's Vineyard, are being sampled weekly. Most sites
coincide with the primary shellfish collection locations for our
biotoxin (PSP) monitoring program. Additional sites were selected
to represent other major water bodies which traditionally do not
have a PSP history.
Participants in the program have received specialized training by
Sherwood Hall of the Office of Seafood, in conjunction with DMF.
Training, which is continual, involves use and care of sampling
equipment, an understanding of program goals and objectives, and
identification of phytoplankton species known to produce biotoxins.
Participants are responsible for submitting weekly data to DMF.
DMF submits a monthly summary report to participants and involved
Plankton samples are analyzed on-site using optical field microscopes.
Environmental information is also gathered and recorded. Recognition
and reporting of unusual environmental conditions or events is another
important aspect of this type of "signal" monitoring.
On-site field monitoring provides an immediate reporting mechanism
by the volunteers to our agency. This allows DMF to respond rapidly
to a potential toxin situation and to proceed with further samples
and tests when deemed appropriate.
The Massachusetts Phytoplankton Monitoring Program is also part
of a larger cooperative effort in the Northeast that includes Maine
and Rhode Island. The West Coast has been involved in this type
of monitoring for about five years.
This program has great potential beyond just the obvious goals of
an additional layer of protection to public health and the fishing
industry. Participants are identifying and reporting many species
of phytoplankton and other marine micro-organisms. Data from these
observations will provide basic biological and ecological information
on the primary producers of the marine ecosystem.
Since most participants collecting data are directly involved with
shellfisheries, their interests in the phytoplankton community reaches
beyond the primary toxin-producing species. Understanding local
phytoplankton populations will aid more efficient management of
shellfish propagation and enhancement. Monitoring also will help
detection of biological "events" such as shellfish spawns, and in
general, will encourage a better understanding of the Commonwealth's
complex marine ecosystem.
This program is in its infancy. DMF and DPH/DFD will evaluate the
program's effectiveness over the next year or so. DMF hopes the
program will help focus toxicity testing on the times and locations
of immediate concern.
Lynn Sherwood, Monitoring Program Coordinator
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At the ASMFC annual meeting held in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the Summer
Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board did not adopt
Amendment 11 brought to public hearing in Massachusetts on October
The purpose of the Amendment was to reallocate state commercial
quota shares to address inequities in state landings caused by different
state size limits during the 1980-1989 baseline years used to calculate
the percent shares. The original plan was enacted back in 1982 but
the 14" minimum size and mesh restrictions, adopted by Massachusetts
in 1983, were not mandatory requirements. As a consequence some
states didn't change their minimum size until fairly recently. North
Carolina kept its 11" limit until 1989 when it went to 13". Virginia
kept its 12" limit. New Jersey stayed at 12" until 1986 when it
went to 13". On the other hand, Connecticut and New York already
were at 14". Rhode Island adopted 14" in 1984.
Amendment 11, therefore, was viewed by some states as a means to
address inequity caused by different size limits. It was argued
that states with no size limit or smaller size limits benefitted
unfairly from landings of fish that could not be legally landed
in states with more restrictive size limits.
The Amendment's preferred alternative (as presented to the public
at recent hearings) was to reallocate shares based on all landings
from 1980-1982 and size-limit-adjusted landings from 1983-1989.
However this re-allocation would only occur if the national fluke
quota could be increased by at least 1 million pounds attributable
to stock growth. This would have increased Massachusetts' share
from the current 6.82% share to 7.70%. (Two other alternatives could
have increased our share even higher to either 8.82% or 9.63%.)
At the Board meeting, those in support of the preferred alternative
felt that by adopting this alternative, ASMFC would recognize the
actions of those states that immediately implemented the provisions
of the 1982 ASMFC Plan. It would send a message to states that being
proactive, by acting sooner and not later, would not create risks
of future penalties such as reduced quota shares caused by lower
landings brought about by past conservation measures. This message
would be heard by other ASMFC management boards as well.
On the other hand, opponents of the alternative argued that Amendment
11 was a poor substitute for dealing with the bigger issue of how
to improve management summer flounder, especially to reduce discards
and waste. These states also argued that Amendment 11 would only
be triggered after the quota increases by 1 million lbs. since the
quota for next year is to be the same as 1997; therefore, even if
the amendment was adopted, no shift in shares would occur.
The motion to adopt the alternative failed, primarily because the
million pound increase in the national quota could not be accommodated.
Recent stock assessment data show a weaker than anticipated 1996
year class. The plan called for a further reducion in fishing mortality
The current percent shares will continue. Now, working with the
Mid-Atlantic Council, the Board will develop a new amendment with
one possible option being no quota east of some boundary. Instead
there might be a larger minimum size (such as 16" or 18"), trip
limits, and even larger mesh size, perhaps 7".
Fishermen are encouraged to offer their own ideas that can serve
as a better substitute for a fluke management system that has cause
tremendous waste of fluke off New England, that is, large amounts
of discards caused by very small trip limits or a closed fishery
tied to very low percent shares.
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In late August, the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board approved a
Draft Addendum II to Amendment 5 to the Striped Bass Plan. The Addendum
listed several options for allocating a total allowable catch (TAC)
for the next two years. States with major ocean fisheries were concerned
with reducing mortality on older striped bass caught in their recreational
and commercial fisheries. Public hearings on this Draft began in early
Halfway through the public hearing process, however, striped bass
stock assessment specialists discovered that 1996 fishing mortality
rates (F) might have been overestimated; therefore, proposed harvest
reductions for 1998 might have been too high. Faced with this new
information, the Management Board decided to suspend the remaining
public hearings until it could assess the situation.
The Striped Bass Technical Committee then met on October 16 and
17 to scrutinize assessment data before a final "run" of the virtual
population analyses (VPA). At the October 22 Board meeting, the
Committee reported that updated F-estimates from 1996 were below
the target for that year for all age classes. This conclusion confirmed
that the Commission Plan successfully kept fishing mortality below
target levels, and the recovered stocks could continue to grow at
healthy rates. The Technical Committee also concluded that current
striped bass regulations would perpetuate this low F and excellent
stock growth through 1998.
Consequently, on October 22 the Striped Bass Board, with the support
of its Advisory Panel, approved Addendum II to its Striped Bass
Management Plan. This Addendum maintains 1997 ocean fishing regulations
for sport and commercial fisheries for 1998. Producer areas will
start their 1998 estuarine fisheries at 1997 capped levels, but
may submit new proposals to achieve the target fishing mortality
after a final stock assessment peer review is complete in January
1998. Likewise, ocean fishing regulations may be revised after peer
review if needed to achieve the target harvest rate of 25%.
States with regulations exceeding the minimum requirements (e.g.
28-inch minimum size), may apply immediately to come down to management
plan standards. Two states took this opportunity to propose changes
in their 1998 striped bass regulations. Virginia proposed a three
point plan in which it would:
other states choose to submit proposals after the January review of
the Commission's stock assessment results, a public hearing will be
held again in any state that requests one. The Management Board and
Advisory Panel felt the public should be able to comment on these
proposals differing from the status quo and not available in the first
round of hearings.
modify its spring recreational season to match that in the Potomac
institute Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) for commercial
reopen spawning grounds (which have been closed since 1983) to
commercial and recreational harvest. New Hampshire proposed to
liberalize its recreational regulations from 32-inch minimum size/one
fish per day to 28-inch minimum size/two fish per day (which is
the Commission standard). Both the Technical Committee and the
Management Board approved all these changes except the Virginia
spawning ground fishery.
For more information, contact ASMFC's John Field, Anadromous Species
Coordinator, at (202)289-6400, ext. 301.
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To help rebuild the Mashpee River herring population, in September
DMF's Anadromous Fish Project completed a new fishway on the River
at Route 130 in Mashpee. The river's herring population has declined
over the last decade due, in part, to low water conditions in Mashpee-Wakeby
Pond and to shoaling at the Pond outlet. Up until now, juvenile herring
frequently were trapped in the Pond through the winter and, in at
least one year, adults were unable to reach the spawning area. Our
effort follows the Town of Mashpee's 1995 installation of an outlet
stabilization system and its commitment to maintain adequate water
levels for fish passage.
The existing fishway was badly deteriorated and essentially non-functional.
In addition, the newer section downstream of the road was poorly
designed and caused a delay in fish movement.
Funding for materials was provided by the Town with additional monies
for modification of the lower section supplied through a grant secured
by Barnstable County Natural Resource Conservation Services.
Some of the features of the new ladder, which should dramatically
improve access to the spawning area, are deepened pools for larger
numbers of fish, lower floor elevation allowing passage under low
water conditions, and baffles of adjustable planks for adequate
flow when water levels are low. Also, a 20-foot extension was added
to the lower section to reduce the difference in elevation between
In addition to completing the Mashpee ladder, DMF's fishway construction
crew installed a prefab, wooden Denil ladder on the Three Mile River
in Dighton. The fishway was constructed by volunteers from the Town
of Dighton. DMF provided the design, and MCZM provided funding for
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EDITORS: Dan McKiernan & David Pierce
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, Commissioner DFWELE
Trudy Coxe, Secretary, EOEA
Argeo Paul Cellucci, 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.
Publication #17020-12-7000 11/97-$2250
Division of Marine Fisheries
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02202
Hearings / Regulations / Legislation
Volume 7 Number 4
of Contents for Rules Update....
of Public Hearings
for November 24 and 25, 1997
NOTE THE RE-SCHEDULED HEARING DATES & TIMES
Under the provisions of G.L. C. 30A and pursuant to the authority
found in G.L. c 130 ss. 17A, 80, 100A, and 104 the Massachusetts
Division of Marine Fisheries and the Marine Fisheries Commission
have scheduled hearings on the following:
DMF proposals for managing the Massachusetts commercial summer flounder
(fluke) quota for 1998;
DMF proposals for establishing sea bass and scup landing limits
for 1998 consistent with the ASMFC and Mid-Atlantic Council
DMF proposal to regulate the landing and processing (at-sea) of
sea herring consistent with recent ASMFC initiatives;
on landing of sea herring by vessels greater than 165' overall
length and 3,000 horsepower, and
Prohibition of direct mealing of herring
DMF seeks comments on a recent emergency action to close the Massachusetts
inshore scup fishery on October 13, 1997.
Five proposals for minor changes to the state's Conservation Plan
for Northern Right Whales:
Adoption of certain breaking strength standards for any buoy lines
on lobster gear deployed in Cape Cod Bay Critical Habitat within
state waters during January 1 - May 15: 322 CMR 12.03 (Break-Away
Amendment of the 4-pot trawl minimum to allow the use of "doubles"
- where one buoy line is attached to a two-pot string.
Proposal to exempt certain areas from the fixed gear restrictions
where whales are not likely to occur. Some of the so-called inshore
net areas (322 CMR 4.02) would include Barnstable Harbor, Wellfleet
Harbor, and parts of Provincetown Harbor.
Establish a mechanism whereby the Director could suspend the fixed
gear rules if whales depart the Bay early. "After April 1
when at least three full surveys of the bay yield no sightings
the Director may suspend the fixed gear restrictions."
Create a new gear marking scheme to designate "modified" lobster
gear in Critical Habitat consistent with the regulations. This
proposal would allow the surveillance teams to identify the abandoned
and/or un-modified gear for removal.
For more details contact DMF at 100 Cambridge St. Boston, MA 02202
Two hearings have been scheduled:
Monday November 24, 7:00 p.m. at the Mass. Maritime Academy, Buzzards
Tuesday November 25, at 7:00 p.m. at` the Fuller School in Gloucester.
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the period September through October the following decisions were
made by DMF and the Marine Fisheries Commission.
Sea Herring Spawning Closure amended to increase spawning protection.
The three-week closure was modified to September 17 with the potential
for extending it based on biological monitoring when more than 25%
of large females (larger than 28 cm) have not yet spawned. The annual
sea herring closure is a prohibition on the targeting or landing
of sea herring designed to prevent vessels from catching vulnerable
sea herring spawning aggregations. This regulation dates back to
the early 1980s as a cooperative measure with the states of Maine
and New Hampshire under the auspices of the ASMFC. Last year the
closure was begun a week early on September 24. Now the regulations
close the fishery beginning on September 17 with the potential to
extend the closure beyond the three week period based on herring
spawning status. DMF used biological sampling to extend the closure
an additional week (October 10-17) this past month.
Flounder: DMF clarified the summer flounder possession limits
to make them on a per-vessel limit basis instead of a per-permit
limit. Also, DMF established a process to authorize vessels not
engaging in fishing activities to transport summer flounder under
the authority of a valid dealer's permit.
pots for taking sea bass and scup must now be equipped with escape
vents and biodegradable escape panels to allow fish to escape
from pots that are lost over time. These rules are required by the
interstate fishery management plan. The following apply:
vents: Scup pot or trap escape vents 2.25" square, 3.1" diameter
circular, or the equivalent. Sea bass pots require a vent or opening
at least 2.0" in diameter; 1.5" square; or 1 1/8" by 5 3/4".
panels: Hinges and fasteners of one panel or door in pots or
traps must be one of the following degradable materials: untreated
hemp, jute or cotton string of 3/16" (4.8mm) or smaller; magnesium
alloy, timed float releases (pop-up devices) or similar magnesium
alloy fasteners; or ungalvanized or uncoated iron wire of 0.094"
(2.4 mm) diameter or smaller.
netting: DMF and the MFC decided not to eliminate the limited
circle-net fishery for bluefish (322 CMR 4.05 ) that is permitted
in southeastern Cape Cod Bay and south of Cape Cod. However, the
MFC voted to require that only the holders of the permit be allowed
to fish them and the permits be non-transferable. Recently this
fishery has been inactive since catches of bluefish have declined
over the past decade.
scup commercial fishery closed on Monday, October 13 and re-opened
on November 1 with a landing/ possession limit of 12,000 lbs. through
December 31. November 1 is the beginning of the Council/ASMFC
Scup Plan's second winter period when all states' fishermen compete
for a coastwide November through December quota (956,400 lbs. in
1997) but with a landing limit of 12,000 pounds. Massachusetts'
scup commercial fishery is primarily in state waters and from May
This 3-week closure, implemented by emergency action, occurred about
three months after NMFS prohibited landings (July 2) in Massachusetts
by all holders of scup federal permits regardless of where they
fished. NMFS had projected the Commonwealth's 362,000 lbs. share
of the Council/Commission summer quota (May through October) would
be taken at that time.
By October 13, landings since May 1 reported to DMF by all scup
dealers in Massachusetts reached about 1.5 million pounds. This
total and overage of the state's federally-imposed summer quota,
was expected by DMF, as well as by Massachusetts fishermen and dealers.
The federal record of Massachusetts scup landings, used to establish
quota shares, is seriously incomplete and inaccurate. Dealers and
fishermen have never had to report their purchases or landings to
NMFS or DMF, with some exceptions. Now with mandatory reporting
and licensing, landings that otherwise would have been unrecorded
are now being tallied.
If the Commonwealth had agreed to accept the 362,000 lbs. summer
quota, our inshore scup commercial fishery would have lasted about
one month. More important, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council/
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Scup Management Plan's
seven-year recovery schedule would drive Massachusetts' quota downwards
in years to come and eventually allow a fishery of only a week,
if at all. This is one reason why the Commonwealth was forced to
seek relief in the Court. Massachusetts' initial 1998 quota (before
subtracting 1997 overage) is only 219,000 lbs.- an amount that would
have allowed a fishery of about two weeks in 1997.
We continue to insist that the 362,000 lbs. "summer" allocation
is an unfair and inequitable amount allocated to Massachusetts and
is based on grossly incomplete and inaccurate federal records of
Massachusetts scup landings. This is just one of the Commonwealth's
arguments in its lawsuit against the Secretary of Commerce and the
Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service. That complaint
was filed in the U.S. District Court on June 19 shortly after the
Council/ASMFC Scup Plan Regulatory Amendment, establishing May through
October quota shares, was implemented by NMFS.
We decided to prohibit the landing and possession of scup by commercial
fishermen as of October 13 to avoid ASMFC attempting to rule Massachusetts
out of compliance with the Scup Plan because we had not closed our
commercial fishery. ASMFC met in Hershey, Pennsylvania from October
20-24. If the Commonwealth had been ruled out of compliance, the
Secretary of Commerce would have declared a moratorium on fishing
for scup in Massachusetts waters. A moratorium would have shut down
the Commonwealth's commercial and recreational fisheries. An unwarranted
closure of the recreational fishery caused by a moratorium had to
This closure in no way diminished our argument that the Commonwealth's
15.5% share of the May through October quota is far too low. Furthermore,
we still insist that the Council and NMFS have not effectively addressed
offshore trawlers' discard of scup, especially during the winter.
For example, in 1995 discard (assumed 100% mortality) was estimated
to be about 4,534,000 lbs (about 52.5 million fish - mostly juveniles).
Landings were about 6,376,000 lbs. (about 14.6 million fish). The
Commonwealth has been unfairly penalized for this discard because
the Scup Plan deducts an estimate of what discards will be in the
coming year (based on past years' discards) from a total allowable
catch to determine the commercial quota that is then allocated to
the states. Discarding/mortality of scup in Massachusetts commercial
inshore fisheries with fish pots, weirs, and handlines is minuscule
compared to discarding/mortality elsewhere.
For further information, contact David Pierce in DMF's Boston office.
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reported bills update: DMF was successful in getting H. 90
(increases fines for the possession or sale of female lobsters from
which eggs have been removed) and H. 91 (allows DMF to promulgate
regulations regarding the transfer of limited entry permits) out of
House Ways and Means. Both bills are scheduled for a third reading
in the House. Once enacted by the House, the bills will be sent to
the Senate ... Senator Edward "Chip" Clancy's bill S. 1013
(allows DMF to promulgate regulations permitting possession and on-shore
processing of shell-on frozen lobster tails by wholesale dealers)
was enacted by the House and Senate and was sent to Governor Cellucci's
desk on October 29 where it awaits his signature before becoming law.
S. 1074 (bans sale of live fishing bait in plastic containers)
remains in Senate Third Reading where it is undergoing a redraft...
bill: On October 29, DMF Assistant Director Jim Fair and Major
Phil McMann and Sergeant Tim Carroll of the Division of Law Enforcement
(DLE) testified against H. 5053 (shifts regulatory control
of contaminated shellfish areas from state to local cities and towns)
which was filed to counteract DMF's decision not to reissue bait
permits. DMF and DLE presented evidence which showed persons selling
contaminated shellfish, taken under the authority of a bait permit,
to restaurants and dealers for human consumption.
Concern for public health outweighed the inconvenience which may
be caused to persons who legitimately used these contaminated clams
for bait. The Committee placed the bill in a study.
more information about these or other marine related bills, please
contact Deputy General Counsel, Priscilla Geigis at 617-727-1614,
ext. 388 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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is published quarterly to publicize regulatory matters affecting marine
Director: Philip G. Coates, DMF
Commissioner: John C. Phillips, DFWELE
Secretary: Trudy Coxe, EOEA
Governor: Argeo Paul Cellucci
Editor: Daniel J. McKiernan, DMF / Art Dir.: David G. Gabriel, DFWELE