- Division of Marine Fisheries
Please note that the quotas described herein are subject to change. Check the Division’s quota monitoring webpage for updates on commercial quotas and landings.
Atlantic Herring: 27,401,222 pounds (coastwide quota)
The coastwide quota for herring is increasing for 2023 per the stock’s rebuilding plan. While still well below prior levels, the quota of 27.4 million pounds is roughly three-times that of 2022 (9.03 million pounds). The limit was derived from the 2021 stock assessment for herring, which indicated the stock is still overfished (21% of the biomass target) but not experiencing overfishing (very low F of 31% of the overfishing limit), and hampered by continued poor recruitment. The coastwide limit is allocated among four management areas: 28.9% to Area 1A (inshore Gulf of Maine), 4.3% to Area 1B (offshore Gulf of Maine), 27.8% to Area 2 (south of Cape Cod), and 39% to Area 3 (Georges Bank).
Atlantic Menhaden: 10,820,216 pounds (MA quota)
Massachusetts’ menhaden quota for 2023 is nearly double that of 2022, when it was roughly 5.4 million pounds (before transfers). This is a consequence of a 20% increase in the coastwide total allowable catch or TAC (from 194,400 metric tons to 233,550 metric tons) and an elevated state allocation for Massachusetts as a consequence of a recent interstate management action to update the allocation formula. The TAC increase was based on positive menhaden stock growth and with consideration of menhaden predators; it incorporates a conservative risk level of exceeding the ecological reference point target designed to support menhaden’s role as forage. Addendum I to the interstate management plan changes the historical landings basis for the state allocation from 2009–2011 to 2018/2019/2021 (2020 was excluded due to the impact of the covid pandemic on fisheries), and reduces the default minimum allocation for six states (not including MA) from 0.50% to either 0.01% or 0.25%. As a result, MA’s state allocation has moved from 1.27% to 2.12% due to the increased availability (and harvest) of menhaden in our waters in recent years. A 1% set-aside of the TAC remains available to the states of ME–NY for episodic events of menhaden availability (the “EESA”); however, purse seines will no longer be eligible to continue harvesting menhaden under the incidental catch and small-scale fishery provision after a state’s quota is taken on account of these landings having caused the TAC to be exceeded recently. Furthermore, should landings under this provision by other gears cause the TAC to be exceeded in the future, the Board must take action to further adjust gear eligibility of the trip limit. MA’s quota for 2023, while increased significantly, is not expected to change the fishery here drastically. By way of state quota transfers and use of the EESA, MA landings in recent years are on par with the quota for 2023. The revised quota will provide more certainty about the state’s access to the resource at the start of the season and allow for better management of the quota. Some changes to the regulations are likely for next year.
Black Sea Bass: 741,071 pounds (MA quota)
The 2023 coastwide quota and MA’s portion of it face a 26% reduction from 2022. The 2023 coastwide quota of 4.80 million pounds, down from 6.47 million pounds in 2022, was affected by a 12% reduction in the acceptable biological catch (ABC) plus the implementation of new commercial/recreational allocations adopted by the Mid-Atlantic Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission beginning in 2023. The 1983–1992 reference period for the sector allocations remains unchanged but the full fishery catch (landings and dead discards rather than landings alone) including recalibrated recreational estimates stemming from the revised effort survey methodology, determine the shares. Instead of a 49% share of the allowable landings, the commercial fishery now receives a 45% share of allowable catch, which brought the 2023 commercial quota down from what would have been 5.71 million pounds. Massachusetts’ share remains at 15.4%, up from 13% historically based on the incorporation of stock distribution into the allocation system; this share will be revised depending on future stock assessment results for regional biomass estimates. The outcome for MA is a 2023 quota that will represent a reduction from the 2022 fishery landings of roughly 910,000 pounds (91% of the 998,901-pound quota for 2022).
Bluefish: 329,578 pounds (MA quota)
Massachusetts’ 2023 commercial quota for bluefish is increased 29% from 2022, when it was 254,748 pounds. This increase is the product of a 21% increase in the coastwide commercial quota plus a higher share of the coastwide quota for Massachusetts. Under the ongoing seven-year stock rebuilding plan instituted in 2022, the coastwide quota is scheduled to gradually increase, and has been set at 4.29 million pounds for 2023, up from 3.53 million pounds in 2022. Revised state-by-state allocations that reflect more recent landings trends are being phased in over the seven years, which will bring Massachusetts share from its historical allocation of 6.72% up to 10.11% by 2028. For 2023, our state share is 7.69%. Landings in 2022 came in at 97% of the 2022 quota.
Horseshoe Crab: 165,000 crabs (MA quota)
Massachusetts’ commercial quota for horseshoe crabs remains unchanged. This quota is for crabs harvest for bait purposes (primarily used in the whelk and eel pot fisheries). Horseshoe crabs harvested for other purposes (primarily biomedical use) and released are not counted against this quota. Landings in 2022 amounted to roughly 80% of the quota.
Scup: 1,177,996 pounds (MA Summer Period quota)
At 14.01 million pounds, the 2023 coastwide commercial quota for scup is reduced over 31% from 2022 (20.38 million pounds), as are the seasonal and state-specific allocations of it. The reduction is caused in small part by declining biomass (albeit still about two-times the target), but is more a consequence of new commercial/recreational allocations. The catch data from 1988–1992 that form the basis of the sector allocations were updated with improved recreational catch and commercial discard estimates. Instead of a 78% share of the allowable catch, the commercial fishery now receives a 65% share, which brought the 2023 commercial quota down from what would have been 17.87 million pounds. The Winter I (January–April) and Winter II (October–December) Periods, which are open to all states at federally set trip limits, receive 45.11% and 15.94% of the quota, respectively; this equates to 6.32 and 2.23 million pounds for 2023. Given recent landings trends, the fishery may not be constrained by these lower quota levels but likely won’t have as large a trip limit in Winter II as recent years. The Summer Period fishery (May–September) receives 38.95% of the coastwide quota (5.46 million pounds for 2023), which is further distributed into state shares. The Massachusetts summer fishery is unlikely to be affected by its 21.6% share declining to 1.18 million pounds, given landings in 2022 that totaled less than 500,000 pounds.
Spiny Dogfish: 6,967,533 pounds (ME–CT regional quota)
The coastwide commercial quota for fishing year 2023 (May 1, 2023–April 30, 2024) is reduced roughly 60% from the prior fishing year, from 29.6 million pounds in FY22 to 12.01 million pounds in FY23. This reduction is the result of the Mid-Atlantic Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee’s recommendation to scale down the Acceptable Biological Catch based on declining indices of abundance and other concerning signals about the stock’s health, while awaiting the completion of the 2022 research track assessment and 2023 management track assessment. The northern region of Maine–Connecticut has a 58% share of the coastwide quota, meaning a quota reduction from 17.1 million pounds in FY22 to 7.0 million pounds in FY23. However, landings in FY21 (the most recent full year) were roughly 11 million pounds coastwide and XX million pounds in the Northern Region, and landings in FY22 are tracking similarly. While some states with individual quota shares may struggle with the allocation at the reduced quota, negative impacts to the Northern Region may be blunted by the recent landings trend.
Striped Bass: 701,904 pounds (MA quota)
Massachusetts’ 2023 commercial striped bass quota will be reduced roughly 4% on account of a quota overage in 2022. The underlying base quota of 735,240 pounds remains unchanged from that in 2020–2022, but an overage of roughly 33,000 pounds must be paid back pound-for-pound in 2023. All states’ commercial quotas were reduced 18% in 2020 with the goal of ending overfishing and achieving the target fishing mortality rate. The 2022 stock assessment confirmed that the combination of commercial and recreational fishery measures implemented in 2020 were successful in reducing fishing mortality as intended (F in 2021 = 0.14 compared to Fthreshold = 0.20 and Ftarget = 0.17), and the stock is projected to rebuild within the 10-year rebuilding period (i.e., 2029). As such, an additional reduction in catch was not warranted for 2023 and the 2022 management measures remain in place. Progress with the rebuilding plan will be monitored with periodic stock assessment and responded to as required.
Summer Flounder: 1,358,834 pounds (MA quota)
Massachusetts’ 2023 state quota for summer flounder (fluke) is nearly status quo with that of 2022 (reduced only ~33,000 pounds). The coastwide commercial quota of 15.27 million pounds represents a 1.7% decrease from 2022 (15.53 million pounds), which results in a 2.3% decrease for MA due to the manner in which the coastwide quota has been allocated since 2021. This approach allocates the first 9.55 million pounds of quota using the historical allocations, and anything beyond that in equal shares of 12.375% to all states (except ME, NH, and DE which split 1% of the additional quota). For 2023, this result is an effective 8.90% share of the commercial quota for MA, rather than the historic 6.82% share. State landings in 2022 were similar to 2021, totaling roughly 740,000 pounds or 53% of the 1.39-million-pound quota. A review of the fishery’s performance and industry scoping will take place this winter to consider additional rule changes.
Tautog: 57,178 pounds (MA quota)
Massachusetts’ 2023 tautog quota will be lower than its baseline amount of 64,753 pounds due to a 12% overage of the 2022 quota. The 2022 quota (60,986 pounds due to an overage in 2021) sustained the fishery from its opening on September 1 until early November, similar to recent years. Massachusetts’ baseline quota has been status quo since 2008. The next stock assessment for tautog is tentatively scheduled for 2024.