At its April 15, 2020, meeting, the Council requested that NOAA Fisheries take emergency action to extend portions of the fishing year 2019 carryover provisions in the Atlantic Sea Scallop FMP.
- The Council requested that:
- All 2019 access area carryover pounds and unharvested RSA compensation pounds from fishing year 2019 will be available for harvest for 180 days in fishing year 2020.
- The NLS-West would remain an access area during fishing year 2020 for the extent of this emergency action.
- All LAGC IFQ vessels would be able to roll forward all fishing year 2019 unharvested quota for 180-days into fishing year 2020.
- After considering the Council’s request, NOAA Fisheries is recommending that it extend the carryover provisions as requested by the Council with minor changes.
NOAA Fisheries is announcing a temporary rule that extends portions of the fishing year 2019 carryover provisions in the Scallop FMP into the 2020 fishing year.
- The intent of this rule is to reduce economic harm to the scallop industry caused by COVID-19. This action:
- Allows limited access general category individual fishing quota vessels to carryover all fishing year 2019 unharvested quota into fishing year 2020.
- Allows any access area carryover pounds and unharvested research set-aside compensation pounds from fishing year 2019 to be available for harvest through August 31, 2020.
- Extends the time period vessels may utilize their 2019 access area allocation in the Nantucket Lightship-West through August 31, 2020, and then close the area on September 1, 2020, in order to minimize unwanted bycatch.
Although the FMP currently provides for some carryover of unused 2019 fishing allocations, the amount of IFQ carryover is limited and access area carryover is only authorized until May 30, 2020. Extending these carryover provisions further into fishing year 2020 would give vessels more flexibility to harvest some carryover that would otherwise be lost (~5.2 million lb fleet-wide), to land this allocation at the opportune time, and to avoid unnecessary adverse economic impacts. Extending these carryover provisions will not cause any annual catch limits to be exceeded in the scallop fishery.