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Public Hearing Notice

Public Hearing Notice ASMFC Public Hearing on Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Address

239 Main Street, Room 2, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532
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Overview of ASMFC Public Hearing on Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is seeking public comment on Draft Addenda XXXI and XXXII to the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP).

The draft addenda are linked here (Draft Addendum XXXI & Draft Addendum XXXII) or can be accessed on the Commission website (www.asmfc.org) under Public Input.

 

Draft Addendum XXXI

Draft Addendum XXXI (and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s complementary framework) considers adding the following management options to the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP.

  1. Conservation equivalency for the recreational black sea bass fishery
  2. Conservation equivalency rollover for the recreational summer flounder fishery
  3. Transit provisions for Block Island Sound for recreational and/or commercial fisheries for all three species
  4. Slot limits for recreational fisheries for all three species (not currently a management option in the Council’s FMP)

 

The draft addendum aims to increase the suite of tools available for managing summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass, as well as reduce inconsistencies between state and federal regulations. This action does not consider implementing black sea bass conservation equivalency or slot limits for any of the three species in 2019. Rather, the options would update the FMPs to allow these management tools to be used in future years.

 

Draft Addendum XXXII

Draft Addendum XXXII was initiated to establish new recreational management programs for summer flounder and black sea bass, as the current addenda under which the two fisheries are currently managed (Addenda XXVIII and XXX, respectively) expire at the end of 2018. The draft addendum proposes two options for each recreational fishery: (1) coastwide management (the default program for both species under the FMP), or conservation equivalency for summer flounder; and (2) setting measures through a specifications process.

 

The draft addendum seeks to address several challenges with the recreational management of summer flounder and black sea bass. Since the adoption of the FMP, shifts in abundance, distribution, and behavior of these two species have created challenges in constraining harvest to the coastwide recreational harvest limit (RHL) while providing fair and equitable access to fishermen throughout the species’ ranges. In addition, the use of highly variable and inherently delayed annual harvest estimates to establish management measures for the subsequent year has led to regulatory instability, regulatory disparities, and frustration on the part of stakeholders.

 

Setting measures through specifications would be a procedural change, allowing regional management to reflect the current condition and distribution of the stocks and fisheries, and enabling measures to be established based on more complete harvest data rather than preliminary projections. This process would eliminate the need for measures to be established through addenda; instead, the Board would approve measures in the late winter or early spring each year, based on Technical Committee analysis of harvest estimates and other information on resource availability. Public input on specifications would be gathered by states through their individual public comment processes. For each species, the draft addendum also includes proposed standards and guiding principles to structure how measures are set in order to provide fair and equitable access to the resource and increase regulatory stability.

 

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on Draft Addenda XXXI and XXXII by attending a public hearing or providing written comment. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on November 29, 2018 and should be forwarded to Caitlin Starks, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, Virginia 22201; 703.842.0741 (fax) or at comments@asmfc.org (Subject line: Draft Addendum XXXI and XXXII Comment).

 

Final action on the draft addenda is scheduled to occur at a joint meeting of the ASMFC Management Board and MAFMC in December. For more information, please contact Caitlin Starks of the ASMFC, at cstarks@asmfc.org or 703.842.0740; or Nichola Meserve of MA DMF at nichola.meserve@state.ma.us or 617-626-1531.

 

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