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Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
March 2004 Meeting Summary

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association April 2004 Newsletter)

WINTER FLOUNDER MANAGEMENT BOARD (March 8, 2004)

Meeting Summary

The Winter Flounder Management Board met to review the current draft of Amendment 1 to the Fishery Management Plan for Inshore Stocks of Winter Flounder.  The Board reviewed recent additions and changes to the draft amendment, including recent work by the Winter Flounder Technical Committee to clarify options and attempt to quantify measures that may be taken inshore to reduce fishing mortality on the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic winter flounder stock, which is currently overfished and on which overfishing is occurring.  The Board requested additional work by the Technical Committee and Plan Development Team to clarify measures that may be taken inshore to reduce fishing morality on the SNE/MA stock, as well as by the Habitat Committee to provide more specific information on recommendations regarding inshore winter flounder habitat. For more information, please contact Lydia Munger, FMP Coordinator, at (202)289-6400 or lmunger@asmfc.org.

AMERICAN EEL MANAGEMENT BOARD (March 9, 2004)

Press Release

ASMFC American Eel Board Calls for

Development of Amendment 1 to the Interstate Plan

Plan to Address Continued Stock Declines

Alexandria, VA – The Commission’s American Eel Management Board authorized development of Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Eel to address concerns regarding coastwide declines in abundance. Canadian and US data show 2003 commercial landings are the lowest on record since 1945 and there are indications of localized recruitment failure in the Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River system. The International Eel Symposium at the 2003 American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting reported a worldwide decline of eel populations, including the Atlantic coast stock of American eel. 

“In initiating the development of an amendment, the Board recognizes the necessity of taking additional action to protect the coastwide stock of American eel from further decline,” stated Board Chair, Jack Travelstead of Virginia.  “The amendment is just one approach. The Board is also committed to working with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to ensure coordinated management.”

Issues to be addressed by the amendment include changes in the management programs for recreational and commercial fisheries, an evaluation of non-fishing sources of mortality, and a review of the plan’s current monitoring requirements.  The American Eel Technical Committee recommended these items for consideration by the Board. The Board may move more quickly to address some of these issues through an addendum.

Additionally, the Board requested the Commission co-sponsor a workshop on American eel passage.  The Commission also recommended that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) consider American eel in the Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River/Lake Champlain/Richelieu River system as a candidate for listing as a Distinct Population Segment under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Board also recommended that the USFWS and the NMFS consider designating the entire coastwide stock as a candidate for listing under the ESA.

For more information, please contact Lydia Munger, American Eel Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at (202) 289-6400 or <lmunger@asmfc.org>.

ATLANTIC STRIPED BASS MANAGEMENT BOARD (March 9, 2004)

Meeting Summary

The Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board approved Delaware’s recreational fishery proposal for 1 fish 24-28 inches and a second fish 28 inches or larger with a 33% reduction in striped bass harvest.  The Board also adopted a motion for Maryland and Virginia to work together on determining the most appropriate method for estimating the Baywide F.  Gary Nelson presented the Technical Committee Report covering topics on the recreational fishery in North Carolina’s Oregon Inlet; increasing MRFSS coverage of the North Carolina’s winter ocean striped bass fishery; an upcoming workshop on survey indices used in the virtual population analysis (VPA) for striped bass; the implications of exceeding the target fishing mortality rate; an update on using otoliths, instead of scales, to age older striped bass; and a proposal to modify the state compliance report format and due date.  Copies of the Technical Committee Report (#2004-1) can be requested from the Commission.

The motion tabled during the December 2003 Board meeting on the development of a single biologically based reference point for a minimum size standard was withdrawn.  The Board addressed a second tabled motion on the development of an addendum to address the prohibition of fishing on the striped bass spawning ground. This motion failed.  New Jersey submitted a proposal for status quo in the recreational fishery giving consideration to closures on the spawning grounds and estuarine waters at specific times of the year as well as a reduction in the bonus fishery.  New Jersey’s proposal has been referred to the Technical Committee for a determination on conservation equivalency.

The National Marine Fisheries Service updated the Board on the rule-making process for considering the re-opening the EEZ to the harvest of striped bass. The draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on this action should be available in the summer of 2004.  For more information please contact, Megan Gamble, Fisheries Management Plan Coordinator, at (202) 289-6400 or <mgamble@asmfc.org>.

Motions

Move that the Delaware proposal be accepted.

Motion by Mr. Miller, second by Mr. Augustine.  Motion carries unanimously. 

Move that the Board approve the Maryland proposal to change the Spring Striped Bass Tagging Program with the condition that Maryland continue to work with Virginia on the four recommendations that the Technical Committee made followed by an evaluation of the need for a fall tagging program.

Motion by Mr. Jensen, second by Mr. Carpenter.  Motion fails (6 in favor, 7opposed). 

Move that Maryland and Virginia follow the Technical Committee recommendation in regards to direct enumeration of F and come back to the Board with the Technical Committee review of that information.

Motion by Mr. Palmer, second by Mr. Frillici. Motion carries.  

Move that the Striped Bass Management Board endorse that a working group of Board members, Technical Committee members and staff be formed to explore the issue of implementing a single standard egg production reference point for the entire striped bass fishery.  Specifically, this working group would report to the Management Board on the 1985, 1995, and current size class availability in the Chesapeake Bay and migration rates in and out of the Bay, prior to the next Addendum to the Striped Bass FMP.  The working group would also review the Commission’s records to determine if the Management Board intended for the differential egg production reference point to be a permanent management tool or a temporary one adopted mainly to protect the 1982 year class. 

Motion by Mr. Pope, second by Mr. Abbott.  Motion fails.

Move that the staff begin preparation of Addendum I to Amendment 6 of the Striped Bass FMP to address providing protection of spawning areas. 

Motion by Mr. Freeman, second by Mr. Miller. Motion fails. 

Move that the Striped Bass Management Board approve a daily bag limit of one fish from 24 to 28 inches and one fish from 28 inches and larger for the 2004 season in New Jersey.  During this same time, New Jersey will close its spawning areas during April and May, close all its estuarine waters for taking striped bass during January and February when juveniles are most vulnerable, and forgo using 180,000 lbs of its bonus fish program (equal to 30,000 striped bass).

Motion by Mr. Freeman. Issue referred to Technical Committee. 

ATLANTIC MENHADEN MANAGEMENT BOARD (March 11, 2004)

ASMFC Initiates Development of Addendum I to the Atlantic Menhaden Plan

Alexandria, VA – The Commission’s Atlantic Menhaden Management Board approved the development of an Addendum to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan. The addendum proposes modifications to the plan’s biological reference points and schedule for stock assessments, as well as revisions to the FMP’s habitat section.

This action is based in part on the recommendations of the Menhaden Technical Committee in its 2003 stock assessment, which found that menhaden are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring on a coastwide basis. Peer-reviewed this past October by the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review Panel, the assessment uses a new modeling approach (Forward Projection Model) and fecundity-based biological reference points to determine stock status. These reference points are more accurate and take into account the number of mature ova (eggs). This is a significant departure from the way assessments have been conducted in the past.

The addendum also proposes changes to the plan’s fishing mortality target and threshold levels as recommended by the Menhaden Technical Committee and supported by the peer review.  Rather than conducting a full-scale annual assessment, the addendum proposes a three-year assessment cycle to allow for the increased complexity and data requirements of the new model.  The Technical Committee will continue to meet annually to review the current year’s landings and indices. A new assessment may be initiated if there are indications of a significant change in stock status.

The Management Board will meet in May to approve the Draft Addendum for public comment. For more information, please contact Nancy Wallace, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at (202)289-6400 or nwallace@asmfc.org.

Motions

Move to approve the 2003 Atlantic Menhaden FMP review for publication.

Motion by Mr. Borden, second by Mr. Fote. Motion carries.

Move to approve the 2003 Atlantic Menhaden PRT Compliance Report.

Motion by Mr. Jensen, second by Mr. Carpenter. Motion carries.

Move to initiate an addendum to update the biological reference points, F target and threshold, and adjust the frequency of stock assessments.

Motion by Mr. Borden, second by Mr. Augustine. Motion carries.

Move to include in the addendum a suite of management options to assess and prevent the localized depletion of menhaden in Chesapeake Bay.

Motion by Mr. Goldsborough, second by Mr. Freeman. Motion postponed.

Move to postpone this motion to the May meeting.

Motion by Mr. Augustine, second by Mr. Freeman. Motion carries.

Move to nominate Mr. Carpenter to vice chair.

Motion by Mr. Adler, second by Mr. Augustine. Motion carries.

SUMMER FLOUNDER, SCUP AND BLACK SEA BASS MANAGEMENT BOARD (March 11, 2004)

Press Release

ASMFC Board Takes Action on Scup, Black Sea Bass and Summer Flounder Management Measures

Alexandria, VA – The Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board amended the state scup recreational reductions for the 2004 fishery, initiated an addendum for the 2005 and 2006 black sea bass commercial fishery, and considered a New York proposal on summer flounder recreational reductions.

The Board amended scup reductions required by Addendum XI to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP).  Addendum XI required states in the northern region (New York through Massachusetts) to reduce their landings by 53% through a regional management approach.  Based on 2003 landings, the following percent reductions are now required:  Massachusetts – 40%, Rhode Island – 25%, Connecticut– 57%, and New York – 58%.  This change was collectively brought forward by the northern states, who represent 97% of the scup recreational harvest.  The northern states will submit scup recreational management measures for technical review within two weeks.  The southern states management measures remain consistent.    New Jersey has a 10-inch minimum size, 50 fish bag limit and a season of July 1 – December 31, and Delaware through North Carolina maintain an 8-inch minimum size, 50 fish bag limit and open season. 

The Board also approved initiation of Addendum XII to the FMP.  The addendum intends to extend the current state-by-state black sea bass allocation system for the 2005 and 2006 fishing years. State-specific shares are as follows:  Maine – 0.5%, New York – 7%, New Hampshire – 0.5%, New Jersey – 20%, Massachusetts –13%, Delaware – 5%, Rhode Island – 11%, Maryland – 11%, Connecticut – 1%, Virginia – 20%, and North Carolina – 11%.   The Addendum outlining the black sea bass commercial fishery management will expire on January 1, 2004.  Public comment for the Addendum XII will be solicited after the May Commission Board meeting and final action on the addendum will be taken at the August meeting in Alexandria, Virginia.

The State of New York proposed to reduce its projected recreational summer flounder landings for 2004 by 20% if (1) the Technical Committee verifies that the final measures New York selects achieve a 20% reduction; and (2) New York maintains such measures in place for the 2004, 2005, and 2006 fishing years.  New York faces a 48.5% reduction of its summer flounder recreational fishery due to the highest recreational catch estimate of fluke in New York since the start of the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey in 1981.  This management approach would alleviate impact on New York anglers and recreational fishing businesses harvesting fluke.  After thoughtful deliberation, the Board decided to not approve the proposal but agreed to continue to explore alternate approaches to effectively managing the recreational summer flounder fishery coastwide.  For more information, please contact Toni Kerns at (202) 289-6400, ext. 330 or tkerns@asmfc.org.

Motions

Motion to amend the previous action of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board regarding scup recreational specifications to require that the following states reduce recreational landings, based on 2003 landings, by the following amount in 2004:

Massachusetts – 40%

Rhode Island – 25%

Connecticut – 57%

New York – 58%

Motion by Mr. Borden, second by Mr. Calomo. Motion carries (12 in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstentions, 0 null votes)

Move that each state must report the 2004 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass recreational measures to the ASMFC by May 9, 2004.

Motion by Mr. Pate, second by Mr. Augustine. Motion carries.

Move that the Board appoint a Plan Development Team to develop a Public Information Document that incorporates the various options in the staff’s March 2004 Management Options paper, and schedule hearings to receive public input on the options.  Commission staff would also notify the public of the Board’s intent to consider extension of the current allocation system through 2005 for action by this Board at its May meeting.

Motion by Mr. Colvin, second by Mr. Fote. Motion fails (4 in favor, 4 opposed, 4 abstentions, 0 null votes).

Move that staff prepare a draft Addendum to extend the current black sea bass allocation system for 2005 and 2006 for action at the May meeting.

Motion by Mr. Borden, second by Mr. Goldman. Motion carries (7 in favor, 2 opposed, 3 abstentions, 0 null votes).

Motion to amend to remove the words “and 2006.”

Motion by Dr. Pierce, second by Mr. Augustine. Motion fails (2 in favor, 6 opposed, 3 abstentions, 0 null votes).

Move that the Board approve the summer flounder proposals as presented in the staff memo.

Motion by Mr. Pate, second by Mr. Fote. Motion carries (12 in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstentions, 0 null votes).

Move that the Board approve New York’s proposal to reduce its projected recreational summer flounder landings for 2004 by 20%, on condition that: (1) the Technical Committee verifies that the final measures New York selects achieve a 20% reduction; and (2) New York maintains such measures in place for the 2004, 2005, and 2006 fishing years.

Motion by Mr. Colvin, second by Mr. Carpenter. Motion fails (4 in favor, 6 opposed, 0 abstentions, 1 null votes).

Move to amend to remove “2005 and 2006” from the previous motion.

Motion by Mr. Augustine, second by Mr. Smith. Motion fails (1 in favor, 8 opposed, 2 abstentions, 0 null votes)

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