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Approval of Fishing Years 2023-2024 Sector Operations Plans and 2023 Annual Catch Entitlements

April 28, 2023

This final rule approves fishing years 2023-24 operations plans for 15 groundfish sectors, grants 18 regulatory exemptions, and allocates preliminary fishing year 2023 annual catch entitlements.

Approved Groundfish Sectors

We are approving 15 groundfish sectors to operate in fishing year 2023:

  • Georges Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector
  • Maine Coast Community Sector
  • Mooncusser Sector
  • Northeast Fishery Sector 2
  • Northeast Fishery Sector 4
  • Northeast Fishery Sector 5
  • Northeast Fishery Sector 6
  • Northeast Fishery Sector 8
  • Northeast Fishery Sector 10
  • Northeast Fishery Sector 11
  • Northeast Fishery Sector 12
  • Northeast Fishery Sector 13
  • Sustainable Harvest Sector 1
  • Sustainable Harvest Sector 2
  • Sustainable Harvest Sector 3

Preliminary Annual Catch Entitlements for Sectors

This rule allocates preliminary annual catch entitlements (ACE) to these 15 approved sectors based on 2023 catch limits in Framework Adjustments 61 and 63 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. Frameworks 61 and 63 did not specify 2023 catch limits for nine stocks: Georges Bank (GB) cod, GB haddock, Gulf of Maine (GOM) haddock, Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder, Cape Cod/GOM yellowtail flounder, American plaice, witch flounder, white hake, and pollock. Default specifications will be in place for these stocks from May 1 through October 31, or until Framework 65 is implemented, if approved. See the sector final rule for sector-specific ACE allocation information.

Regulatory Exemptions for Sectors

We are also approving 18 regulatory exemptions to provide increased operational flexibility for sector vessels. All 18 exemptions were previously approved for fishing year 2022:

(1) 120-day block out of the fishery required for Day gillnet vessels

(2) 20-day spawning block out of the fishery required for all vessels

(3) Limits on the number of gillnets for Day gillnet vessels outside the Gulf of Maine

(4) Prohibition on a vessel hauling another vessel’s gillnet gear

(5) Limitation on the number of gillnets that may be hauled on Georges Bank when fishing under a groundfish/monkfish Days-at-Sea (DAS)

(6) Limits on the number of hooks that may be fished

(7) DAS Leasing Program length and horsepower restrictions

(8) Prohibition on discarding (for unmarketable catch only)

(9) Gear requirements in the Eastern U.S./Canada Management Area

(10) Prohibition on a vessel hauling another vessel’s hook gear

(11) The requirement to declare intent to fish in the Eastern U.S./Canada Special Access Program and the Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/ Haddock SAP prior to leaving the dock

(12) Seasonal restrictions for the Eastern U.S./Canada Haddock SAP

(13) Seasonal restrictions for the Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock SAP

(14) Sampling exemption

(15) Prohibition on a vessel fishing in a small-mesh exempted fishery and in the large-mesh groundfish fishery on the same trip

(16) Extra-large mesh requirement to target dogfish on trips excluded from at-sea monitoring in Southern New England and Inshore Georges Bank

(17) Requirement that Handgear A vessels carry a Vessel Monitoring System unit when fishing in a single broad stock area

(18) Limits on the number of gillnets for Day gillnet vessels in the Gulf of Maine

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on April 28, 2023