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Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery

May 03, 2021

Butterfish Regulation Summary - 2021

This page reviews current butterfish regulations for the butterfish fishery, which is managed by limited access, an annual quota, mesh requirements, trip limits in some circumstances, and area restrictions, as briefly described below. Read the full summary of the regulations.

How you can use your permit: Butterfish Possession Limits


Trip Limits (butterfish can only be landed once/day)

Butterfish Moratorium

When the fishery is open, unlimited when using greater than 3-inch codend mesh, or

5,000 lb when using less than 3-inch codend mesh

Butterfish Incidental

600 lb

Charter Party 

Unlimited while carrying passengers for hire, but fish may not be sold

These additional restrictions could go into place: Directed Fishery Closures 

We will implement the following closures (reduction in possession limits), as necessary:

  • Directed butterfish fishery: We will reduce butterfish possession limits for butterfish moratorium permits to 5,000 lb/trip when the directed fishery closure limit is caught and then to 600 lb/trip when the full commercial quota is caught.

Please see our quota monitoring page for more information on the directed butterfish fishery and the butterfish catch cap monitoring.

Area Management: Fishery Restricted Areas and Closure Areas



Gear restrictions

Transit restrictions

Oceanographer Canyon, Lydonia Canyon, Frank R. Lautenberg Deep-Sea Coral Protection Areas 

January 1 – December 31

Bottom trawl gear prohibited

Transit allowed if bottom trawl gear is stowed and not available for immediate use. While transiting the Deep-Sea Coral Protection Areas, gear must be out of the water, but does not have to be stowed.

Northern Scup Gear Restricted Area (GRA)

November 1 – December 31

Minimum mesh size of 5.0-inch diamond mesh

Transit allowed if codends less than 5.0 inches are stowed and not available for immediate use.

Southern Scup Gear Restricted Area (GRA)

January 1 – March 15

You can find the boundaries of these areas on our GARFO GIS website.

Butterfish Q & A

Why aren’t the weekly butterfish quota monitoring reports being made public?

Posting butterfish landings may reveal how much butterfish is landed or purchased by one entity, which would be inconsistent with our legal requirements to protect confidential information. We will post butterfish landings once the catch reaches 75% of the annual quota so you can plan operations.

Are there pending changes to quota levels?

Changes to annual quotas are published in the Federal Register and announced in a separate bulletin.           


For small entity compliance guides, this bulletin complies with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act of 1996.  This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Greater Atlantic Region

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on April 19, 2022