Fisheries Management
& Legislative Report

by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association February 2021 Newsletter)

Contents:

Upcoming Meetings

The first week of February will be a busy week. The ASMFC will have its winter meeting week from February 2nd-4th and there will be a joint meeting of MAFMC & ASMFC on February 1st. The agendas are below. All the information and briefing materials will be on the ASMFC web page. The big thing at the joint meeting will be to the review and consider approval of Addendum XXXIII and MAFMC Black Sea Bass Commercial State Allocation Amendment. I anticipate these plans will be approved unless something comes up at the last minute.

As you can see from the agenda below several boards will be meeting. The Striped Bass Board will be considering approval of the draft Amendment 7 Public Information Document for public hearings. You can look ahead and see the information about the public hearing document. If you do not see questions you want asked, you should send in a public comment or attend the webinar and make your comments during the public comment period. As I have pointed out many times before, there has not been much participation from the recreational sector. After the document is released, you and your organizations should study the contents and participate at the hearings. It always concerns me because if there is no immediate action, people have a tendency not to attend. We are also trying to get a better handle on the mortality of striped bass and that will be part of the discussion. Hook and release mortality plays such a large role in the status of the stocks and we need actual data.

There has been a lot of talk about what the circle hook regulations for striped bass really means. Some states tried to get exemptions for certain lures and the way they are used with live bait. There were some consequences that we need to revisit to make sure the regulations work. I had no idea that the interpretation of the rules would not allow the use of a bucktail with pork rind. I fished this many times and you just do not gut hook a striped bass with this type of rig. I can understand that we do not want to leave loopholes but we need to review the impact.

Upcoming Public Hearings

Within the next two months there could be three public hearings on three different documents. We are moving ahead with many management measures without face to face meetings. I know how difficult it is to get your thoughts on paper to send written comments instead of making comments in public. But this also means you need to be computer literate and have access to the internet. You still can call into these meetings just using your phone and you can participate that way. I would hate to miss your opinions because of COVID and the way meetings are being held. If you belong to a club or organization, get together, form a committee, and put a position forward. These fisheries that are going to public hearings are especially important to the recreational sector. If you care about the outcomes, you need to get involved. Again, check the ASMFC and MAFMC websites for the meeting materials. If you have questions, you can call the staff or email one of the commissioners from the state. When you do come up with a position, let your commissioner know.

Agenda for ASMFC Winter Meeting & Joint Meeting with MAFMC

The agenda is subject to change. Bulleted items represent the anticipated major issues to be discussed or acted upon during the webinar. The final agenda will include additional items. 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.

As of the posting of this electronic newsletter, the most recent agenda can be found at this link on the ASMFC website. Full winter meeting details can be found at this link.

MAFMC and ASMFC to hold Public Hearings for Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Commercial/Recreational Allocation Amendment
MAFMC News, January 15, 2021

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) are seeking public comment on the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Commercial/Recreational Allocation Amendment. Comments may be submitted at any of five virtual public hearings to be held between February 17 and March 2, 2021 or via written comment until March 16, 2021.

The Council and Commission are developing this joint amendment to consider adjusting the allocations of catch or landings between the commercial and recreational fisheries for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. The commercial and recreational allocations for all three species are currently based on historical proportions of landings (for summer flounder and black sea bass) or catch (for scup) from each sector. Recent changes in how recreational catch is estimated have resulted in a discrepancy between the current levels of estimated recreational harvest and the allocations of summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass to the recreational sector. Some changes have also been made to commercial catch data since the allocations were established. This amendment considers whether modifications to the allocations are needed in light of these and other changes in the fisheries. The amendment also considers options that would allow a portion of the allowable landings to be transferred between the commercial and recreational sectors each year, in either direction, based on the needs of each sector.

We encourage you to visit the Council’s Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass Commercial/Recreational Allocation Amendment web page or the Commission’s Public Input web page, where you can read the Public Hearing Document, the Draft Amendment, and watch the public hearing presentation (to be posted by Friday, February 12, 2021). The Council’s Public Hearing Document is an abbreviated version of the amendment which summarizes proposed management options and impacts. The Commission’s Draft Amendment is a more comprehensive management document that will resemble the Commission’s final amendment once approved. Both documents contain identical options for public input, but each have been developed according to each management body’s differing requirements.

Written Comments

Written comments may be submitted through March 16, 2021 by any of the following methods:

  1. ONLINE: link here
  2. EMAIL: kdancy@mafmc.org
  3. MAIL or FAX:
    Dr. Christopher Moore, Executive Director Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council 800 North State Street, Suite 201 Dover, DE 19901 FAX: 302.674.5399

Please include “Fluke/Scup/Sea Bass Allocation Amendment” in the subject line if using email or fax, or on the outside of the envelope if submitting written comments. All comments, regardless of submission method, will be compiled into a single document for review and consideration by both the Council and Commission. Please do not send separate comments to the Council and Commission.

Virtual Hearing Schedule

You are encouraged to attend any of the following five virtual public hearings and to provide oral or written comments at these hearings. While we encourage you to attend the hearing that is targeted toward your regional groupings of states or an individual state, anyone is welcome to participate in any hearing.

Date Regional Grouping Contact(s)
Wednesday, February 17 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Massachusetts & Rhode Island Nichola Meserve (MA), 617-626-1531
Jason McNamee (RI), 401-222-4700
Thursday, February 18, 6-8 p.m. New Jersey Joseph Cimino (NJ), 609-748-2063
Wednesday, February 24, 6-8 p.m. Delaware and Maryland John Clark (DE), 302-739-9914
Sonny Gwinn (MD), 410-208-1149
Scott Lenox (MD), 410-430-1016
Monday, March 1, 6-8 p.m. Virginia and North Carolina Ellen Bolen (VA), 757-247-2269
Chris Batsavage (NC), 252-241-2995
Tuesday, March 2, 6-8 p.m. Connecticut and New York Justin Davis (CT), 860-434-6043
Maureen Davidson (NY), 631-444-0483

Webinar Connection Instructions

To register for a public hearing please click here: Public Hearing Registration and select the hearing(s) you plan to attend from the dropdown menu. Hearings will be held via GoToWebinar, which can be accessed using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. When connecting to audio, we strongly encourage participants to use computer voice over internet (VoIP) so you can ask questions and provide input. To attend the webinar in listen-only mode, dial 877-309-2074 and enter access code 128-060-916. Those joining by phone only will be limited to listening to the presentation and will not be able to provide input. For technical assistance setting up and logging into GoToWebinar, contact Savannah Lewis at 703-842-0715.

If you are connected only by phone in listen only mode, you will not show up as a webinar attendee. In the event that there are no webinar attendees, the public hearing will be cancelled unless state staff request that the hearing content is presented.

Tips for Providing Public Comment

We value your input. To be most effective, we request that your comment include specific details as to why you support or oppose a particular alternative. Specifically, please address the following:

Contacts

For additional information and updates, please visit this link. If you have any questions, please contact either:

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