Fisheries Management & Legislative Report

by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association June 2019 Newsletter)

Contents:

Bluefin Tuna

There are two notices below that were sent out about the upcoming hearings on new management measures for bluefin tuna. The first notice is the update on the meeting in Toms River. The original press release had an earlier meeting date but contained more information about what is going on. Please read both notices. In the original notice the comment period ends on July 31 but the meeting in Toms River has been changed to July 30. If you are coming to the July 30 meeting you can hand in your comments then. I will be asking for an extension to the comment period. At this time JCAA does not have a Highly Migratory Species Chairman or committee. If you are at all interested in sharks, tuna, swordfish or other highly migratory species, let me know if you want to volunteer as a member or a chair. If some of the clubs want to have a meeting on this proposal, let me or Mark Taylor know.

Striped Bass Update

I do not have any new information since I wrote the article for the June newspaper so I have included it below. New information for the August 6th -8th ASMFC Summer Meeting will be posted at the ASMFC web page on July 27. The supplemental materials should be posted by August 1. I will try to send an alert when they are posted. The meeting will be on August 8 beginning at 8:30. There will be public hearings after the August meeting. JCAA does not have a position at this time and no general meeting is scheduled until September 24th. I am asking for 3 public hearings in New Jersey. If these hearings are scheduled before September 24, JCAA might need a special striped bass meeting to determine our position. The comment period will probably last until October since the annual meeting is not until the last week in October. I will keep you posted.

Striped Bass Update

(Reprinted from June 2019 JCAA Newsletter)

As you can see in the press release below, there is a new striped bass benchmark stock assessment. There was much discussion about how to proceed and it was decided to do an addendum first. In August there will be further discussion about an amendment to the striped bass bill which will consider many of the states’ concerns.

The addendum will look at whether we do another reduction of the recreational striped bass catch. There will also be consideration of what should be done on the commercial side. Some states proposed doing nothing since they didn’t think they were the problem. They forgot to mention the millions of pounds of fish that are poached with many court cases to prove this is happening.

I will be waiting to see how the board will deal with recreational discards since that makes up 52% of recreational morality. The board cannot ignore this. I find it interesting that New York never discusses their poaching problem even though those of us who fish in Raritan Bay can attest to this problem. New Jersey and Maryland have pursued poachers but it is hard for us to do that for other states. New York needs to get its house in order.

I found it extremely interesting that the 2018 preliminary information about the catch is not included in the information being disseminated. I recommended that we use the 2018 data since it is the most current and it should be finalized before the August meeting. The catch figure is a 25% reduction. It is more than the 17% reduction being considered for the addendum. The states that are looking to be the most conservative are opposed since they said it wasn’t included in the benchmark and want to ignore it. I asked them not to. If we have firm data for 2018, it should be included in any discussion about an addendum. I got little support for this approach and I will bring it up again in August and insist that it be included. Good fisheries management uses the best and the most current data for decisions.

Atlantic Striped Bass Benchmark Stock Assessment Finds Resource Overfished and Overfishing Occurring

Board Initiates Addendum to Reduce Total Fishing Mortality

ASMFC Press Release, May 1 2019

Arlington, VA – The 2018 Atlantic Striped Bass Benchmark Stock Assessment indicates the resource is overfished and experiencing overfishing relative to the updated reference points defined in the assessment. Female spawning stock biomass (SSB) was estimated at 151 million pounds, below the SSB threshold of 202 million pounds. Despite recent declines in SSB, the assessment indicated the stock is still significantly above the SSB levels observed during the moratorium in the mid-1980s. Total fishing mortality (F) was estimated at 0.31, above the F threshold of 0.24. The benchmark assessment and its single-stock statistical catch-at-age model was endorsed by the Peer Review Panel and accepted by the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board (Board) for management use.

Female Spawning Stock Biomass and Recruitment

Based on these findings and the tripping of Amendment 6’s reference point management triggers relating to F and SSB thresholds (e.g., F in 2017 is above the threshold level and SSB is below the threshold level), the Board initiated the development of a Draft Addendum to consider measures aimed to reduce F to the target level. The Technical Committee estimates it would require roughly a 17% reduction in total removals (commercial and recreational harvest, including dead releases) to reduce F to the target in 2020 relative to 2017 levels. The Draft Addendum will explore a range of management options, including minimum size and slot size limits for the recreational fishery in the Chesapeake Bay and along the coast, as well as a coastwide circle hook requirement when fishing with bait. The Board also provided guidance on how to apply the necessary reductions to both the commercial and recreational sectors. The Draft Addendum will be presented to the Board for its consideration and approval for public comment in August. If approved, it will be released for public comment, with the Board considering its final approval in October for implementation in 2020. Additionally, the Board postponed a motion to initiate the development of an Amendment until its next meeting in August.

Atlantic striped bass experienced a period of strong recruitment (estimated as number of age-1 fish) from 1994-2004, followed by a period of lower recruitment from 2005-2011 (although not as low as the early 1980s, when the stock was considered collapsed). This period of low recruitment contributed to the decline in SSB in recent years. Recruitment was high in 2012, 2015, and 2016 (corresponding to strong 2011, 2014, and 2015 year classes), but recruitment estimates were below the long-term average in 2013, 2014, and 2017. Recruitment in 2017 was estimated at 108.8 million age-1 fish, below the time series average of 140.9 million fish.

A more detailed description of the stock assessment results is available on the Commission’s website at this link. The 2018 Atlantic Striped Bass Benchmark Stock Assessment, Stock Assessment Summary and Peer Review Report can be obtained via the following links:

For more information, please contact Max Appelman, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at mappelman@asmfc.org.

ASMFC Summer Meeting August 6-8, 2019

Preliminary Agenda

The agenda is subject to change. Bulleted items represent the anticipated major issues to be discussed or acted upon at the meeting. The final agenda will include additional items and may revise the bulleted items provided below. The agenda reflects the current estimate of time required for scheduled Board meetings. The Commission may adjust this agenda in accordance with the actual duration of Board meetings. Interested parties should anticipate Boards starting earlier or later than indicated herein.

Tuesday, August 6 8 – 10 am:: Executive Committee (A portion of this meeting may be a closed session for Committee members and Commissioners only)
  • Consider Policy Addressing Non-Payment of State Assessments
  • Consider Proposed Revision to the Annual Report
  • Update on Transitioning the For-hire Telephone Survey to State/ACCSP Conduct
  • Discuss Commission Involvement in Biosecurity and Bait Sources
10:15 am – Noon: South Atlantic State/Federal Fisheries Management Board
  • Consider Approval of Atlantic Cobia Amendment 1
  • Progress Update on Draft Addenda for Atlantic Croaker and Spot Traffic Light Analyses
  • Review and Consider Approval of 2019 Fishery Management Plan Reviews and State Compliance Reports for Atlantic Cobia, Atlantic Croaker, and Red Drum
1 - 2 pm: American Eel Management Board
  • Review Board Working Group Recommendations on Addressing Coastwide Cap Overages
  • Review and Consider Approval of Aquaculture Proposals
2:15 - 3:15 pm: Horseshoe Crab Management Board
  • Consider Potential Management Response to the 2019 Benchmark Stock Assessment
  • Review and Consider Approval of 2019 Fishery Management Plan Review and State Compliance Reports
3:30 - 5 pm: Atlantic Menhaden Management Board
  • Progress Update on Menhaden Single Species and Ecological Reference Point Benchmark Stock Assessments
  • Review and Consider Approval of 2019 Fishery Management Plan Review and State Compliance Reports
  • Set 2020 Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Specifications
Wednesday, August 7 8:30 - 11:15 am: Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board
  • Review Potential Black Sea Bass Commercial Management Strategies and Consider Initiating Management Action to Address Commercial Allocation
  • Progress Update on the Recreational Management Reform Working Group
  • Update on Management Strategy Evaluation of Summer Flounder Recreational Fishery Project
  • Report from the ACFHP/MAFMC Project: Characterizing Black Sea Bass habitat in the Mid-Atlantic Bight
  • Discuss Discard Mortality
9 am - 4 pm: Committee on Economics and Social Sciences
  • Review Ongoing Committee Activities
  • Discuss Efforts to Increase the Availability and Use of Socioeconomic Information in Management
  • Review Committee Input on the Commission’s Draft Risk and Uncertainty Policy
11:30 am - 12:30 pm: Spiny Dogfish Management Board
  • Consider Approval of Draft Addendum VI for Public Comment
  • Review and Consider Approval of 2019 Fishery Management Plan Review and State Compliance Reports
1:15 - 3:15 pm: Interstate Fisheries Management Program Policy Board
  • Review 2019 Performance of the Stocks Report
  • Review and Consider Approval of Commission Guiding Documents
  • Update on American Lobster Enforcement Vessel
  • Committee Reports
  • Consider Noncompliance Recommendations (If Necessary)
3:15 - 3:30 pm: Business Session
  • Consider Approval of Atlantic Cobia Amendment 1
  • Consider Noncompliance Recommendations (If Necessary)
3:45 - 4:45 pm: Tautog Management Board
  • Review Implementation Guidelines for the Commercial Harvest Tagging Program
  • Review and Consider Approval of 2019 Fishery Management Plan Review and State Compliance Reports
Thursday, August 8 8:30 - 11:30 am: Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board
  • Consider Approval of Draft Addendum VI for Public Comment
  • Consider Postponed Motions from the April 2019 Meeting:

    Main Motion: Move to initiate an Amendment to the Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan to address the needed consideration for change on the issues of fishery goals and objectives, empirical/biological/spatial reference points, management triggers, rebuilding biomass, and area-specific management. Work on this Amendment will begin upon the completion of the previously discussed Addendum to the Management Plan. Motion made by Mr. Luisi and seconded by Mr. Clark.

    Motion to Amend: Move to amend to add reallocation of commercial quota between states. Motion made by Mr. Pugh and seconded by Mr. Reid.

  • Review and Consider Approval of 2019 Fishery Management Plan Review and State Compliance Reports
12:30 - 5 pm: NOAA Fisheries Wind Power Workshop for New England & Mid-Atlantic Commissioners
Update to Scoping Meeting Schedule for 3 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Actions
Second notice with a date Change

Toms River, NJ meeting to take place July 30, 2019 at the Ocean County Library 101 Washington Street, Toms River NJ 08753 at 5-8PM.

NOAA Fisheries has updated the scoping meetings schedule for actions evaluating possible revisions to measures implemented under the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fisheries Management Plan.

The meeting in Toms River, NJ, which will feature a discussion of bluefin tuna management measures, will now take place on July 30, 2019 at 5–8 p.m.

The public process for the actions listed below begins with scoping to determine the range of issues for each action. Notices announcing our intent to prepare an environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act and the availability of an issues and options paper for each action were announced separately.

*The July 30, 2019 meeting in Toms River, NJ may be scheduled along with a public hearing for a proposed rule to modify pelagic longline bluefin tuna area-based and weak hook management measures. For further information, watch for an upcoming Federal Register notice announcing the proposed rule public hearing schedule.

Learn more about the measures and the meeting schedule at this link.

Amendment 13 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan: Bluefin Management Measures
Notice by NOAA, 05/21/2019

AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact analysis; notice of availability of issues and options paper; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

NMFS announces its intent to prepare an environmental impact analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the availability of the Issues and Options Paper for Amendment 13 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) (Issues and Options Paper). This notice announces the start of a public process for determining the scope of significant issues related to the management of Atlantic bluefin tuna (bluefin), and addressing issues identified by considering modification of bluefin regulations. The catalysts for beginning this regulatory process are the release of the Draft Three-Year Review of the IBQ Program (Three-Year Review), recent changes in the bluefin fishery, and advice and input from the HMS Advisory Panel and the public.

The environmental impact analysis will include an assessment of the potential effects of alternative measures for management of bluefin under the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP). The subjects in the Issues and Options Paper include refining the Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) Program, reassessing allocation of the bluefin quota and subquota, including the potential elimination or phasing out of the Purse Seine category, and other regulatory provisions regarding directed fisheries and incidental pelagic longline fisheries. The scoping process and environmental impact analysis would determine whether existing management measures are the best means of achieving current management objectives and providing flexibility to adapt to variability in the future, consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA), and other relevant Federal laws. NMFS will use the scoping process and the draft environmental impact analysis to consider development of Amendment 13 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, if warranted.

NMFS is requesting comments on this NOI and the management options described in the Issues and Options Paper, and other potential regulatory provisions regarding the bluefin directed fisheries and incidental pelagic longline fishery that would meet the purpose and need for this action. NMFS will hold public scoping meetings and a webinar to gather comment on these measures and potential management options. The time and location details of the scoping meetings and webinar will be announced in a separate Federal Register notice. NMFS will also present the Issues and Options Paper at the HMS Advisory Panel Meeting on May 22, 2019 (link).

DATES:

Written comments on this NOI and the scoping document must be received on or before July 31, 2019.

ADDRESSES:

The presentation at the HMS Advisory Panel will be held at the Sheraton Silver Spring Hotel, 8777 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910. You may submit comments, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2019-0042,” by either of the following methods:

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