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Final Rule Implementing Amendment 21 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan

August 03, 2020

This action implements measures required to formally integrate Atlantic chub mackerel as a stock in the fishery under the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan.

On May 4, 2020, we approved Amendment 21 to the Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and just published the final rule implementing final regulations for this action. Amendment 21 integrates Atlantic chub mackerel into the FMP and implements long-term conservation and management measures for this species from Maine through North Carolina. 

Management Unit

Measures implemented by this action apply to Atlantic chub mackerel caught by vessels fishing in the Atlantic Chub Mackerel Management Unit (federal waters from Maine through North Carolina).



Metric Tons


Overfishing Limit

ME-FL (east coast)



Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC)



Optimum Yield

Maximum Sustainable Yield

South Carolina – Florida (east coast) Catch Deduction

SC-FL (east coast)



Annual Catch Limit (ACL)




Management Uncertainty Deduction (4 percent)



Annual Catch Target (ACT)



Discard Estimate Deduction (6 percent)



Total Allowable Landing (TAL)




All Atlantic chub mackerel catch counts against one ACL; there is no separation of catch limits between the commercial and recreational fisheries. Specifications could be set up for 3 years at a time, and will be reviewed annually. The ABC, management uncertainty, discard estimate, and expected catch from South Carolina through Florida can be adjusted each year through the specifications process. 

Possession Limits and Accountability Measures

Amendment 21 implements the Atlantic chub mackerel possession limits outlined below.  Initially, possession will be unlimited. To prevent the ACT from being exceeded, we will implement a 40,000-lb possession limit when 90 percent of the TAL is landed and a 10,000-lb possession limit once 100 percent of the TAL is landed. 


Possession Limit

Metric Tons




When 90 percent of the TAL is Landed



When 100 percent of the TAL is Landed




If the ACL is exceeded based on total commercial and recreational catch within the Management Unit, we will reduce the ACT by the amount of the overage as soon as possible in a future fishing year.

Permit and Reporting Requirements

Vessels and dealers must be issued a federal permit for any species managed by the FMP (Atlantic mackerel, Illex squid, longfin squid, or butterfish) to fish for, possess, land, sell, or purchase Atlantic chub mackerel caught in the Management Unit. An operator of a commercial vessel must also obtain and retain on board a valid operator permit issued by the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO).  

Vessel operators must report the catch of Atlantic chub mackerel weekly on existing vessel trip reports (logbooks). This action does not change existing vessel monitoring system (VMS) declaration or daily reporting requirements. Vessel operators must continue to declare squid and mackerel trips via VMS and submit daily VMS catch reports when fishing for Atlantic mackerel, Illex squid, or longfin squid. Dealers purchasing Atlantic chub mackerel must report such purchases via existing weekly dealer reports.

Transit Measure

A vessel issued a federal commercial fishing permit from GARFO that possesses Atlantic chub mackerel in excess of the allowed possession limits may transit the Management Unit if:

  • Atlantic chub mackerel was caught outside of the Management Unit.
  • All gear is stowed and not available for immediate use. 

Exemption from Northeast Multispecies Mesh Requirements

A vessel may use small-mesh bottom trawl gear to catch Atlantic chub mackerel in the Southern New England and Mid-Atlantic Exemption Areas. Vessels must comply with the following measures when fishing in these areas:

  • Existing Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP gear restrictions and possession limits.
  • Allowable possession limits for alewife, American shad, Atlantic croaker, Atlantic herring, black sea bass, blowfish, blueback herring, bluefish, conger eels, cunner, dogfish (trawl only), fourspot flounder, hickory shad, John Dory, longhorn sculpin, mullet, ocean pout, offshore hake, red hake, scup, sea raven, sea robins, shrimp, silver hake, spot, summer flounder, swordfish, tautog (blackfish), tilefish, and weakfish.
  • Possession of monkfish and monkfish parts up to 10 percent, by weight of all other species on board up to 50 lb of tail-weight or 146 lb of whole weight per trip, whichever is less.
  • Possession of American lobster up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board or 200 lobsters, whichever is less.
  • Possession of skate and skate parts (except for prohibited skate species) up to 10 percent, by weight, of all other species on board.


Contact Douglas Christel, (978) 281-9141


This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.