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Mid-Atlantic Unmanaged Forage Omnibus Amendment for Federally Permitted Commercial Fishing Vessels

August 25, 2017

This is the first rule in the Atlantic to list forage species as ecosystem component species, and set landing and possession limits for 17 forage species.

We have partially approved the Mid-Atlantic Unmanaged Forage Omnibus Amendment, regulations implementing this amendment is effective on September 27, 2017. This action maintains recent catch levels for certain forage species and species groups while collecting additional information on the catch of these species. 

Measures for Forage Species and Atlantic Chub Mackerel 
Measures Mid-Atlantic Forage Species Atlantic Chub Mackerel
Permit All commercial vessels and operators that catch and/or possess Mid-Atlantic forage species and/or Atlantic chub mackerel must be issued a commercial vessel and operator permit from our office.
Annual Landing Limit None 2.86 million lb, applicable to all chub mackerel landed in ports from North Carolina through Maine.
Possession Limit 1,700 lb per trip for all forage species combined. Unlimited initially, but reduced to 40,000 lb per trip once the annual landing limit is caught
Transiting Provision A commercial vessel may transit the Mid-Atlantic Forage Species Management Unit (chart and coordinates are listed below) with an amount of Mid-Atlantic forage species or Atlantic chub mackerel on board that exceeds the possession limits to land in a port in a state that is outside of the Mid-Atlantic Forage Species Management Unit, provided that the fish were harvested outside of the Mid-Atlantic Forage Species Management Unit and that all gear is stowed and not available for immediate use while transiting.


Reporting Requirements

Vessel operators must comply with existing vessel trip report (VTR or logbook) requirements for reporting the catch of Mid-Atlantic forage species and Atlantic chub mackerel. VTR codes for each of these species and species groups are listed in the table below. 

We have developed a forage species identification guide that will help you identify forage species and the species code to use on your VTR. The guide is available at your local port agent’s office, and on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s website.

Mid-Atlantic Forage Species Groups Subject to the 1,700 Trip Possession Limit and VTR Codes
Common Name VTR Code
Anchovies ANCH
Argentines/Smelt Herring ARGT
Atlantic Saury SAURY
Atlantic Thread Herring HRAT
Cusk-eels CSKEEL
Greeneyes GREN
Halfbeaks HALF
Lanternfishes LANT
Other Crustaceans/Shellfish CRUST
Pearlsides/Deepsea Hatchetfish HATCH
Round Herring HRRD
Sandlances SAND
Scaled Sardine SARSC
Silversides SILNS
Spanish Sardine SARSP
Unclassified Molluscs MOLL
Atlantic Chub Mackerel MACC


New or Expanded Fisheries

If you want to expand current or develop new fisheries for forage species and/or chub mackerel, you should first obtain an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) from our office to conduct an experimental fishery. The Council will review the results of any experimental fisheries before considering any changes to measures implemented in this action.






Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on May 10, 2021