Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishing Year 2019 Regulations (Sector Measures)

April 25, 2019

We are announcing groundfish management measures that will be effective May 1, 2019, and providing updates on other management measures.

Update on Framework Adjustment 58 to the Groundfish Fishery Management Plan

Due to the 35-day partial Federal government shutdown resulting from a lapse in appropriations, there was a delay in the rulemaking process for Framework 58.  On April 19, 2019, we published a proposed rule in the Federal Register seeking comment on the proposed Framework 58 measures.  The public comment period is open through May 6, 2019.  As explained in more detail below, if approved, Framework 58 would change several management measures for the 2019 fishing year, including catch limits for several stocks.

Initial Fishing Year 2019 Catch Limits

Last year, Framework 57 set catch limits for all groundfish stocks except Eastern Georges Bank (EGB) cod for fishing years 2018 – 2020.  These quotas will be in effect on May 1, 2019.  The U.S./Canada quotas are shown in Table 1 and the quotas for all groundfish stocks are shown in Table 2 below.  The EGB cod catch limit will be set at 35 percent of the 2018 catch limit from May 1 through July 31, unless replaced by the catch limit proposed in Framework 58.  If Framework 58 is approved, the 2019 catch limits for Georges Bank (GB) cod, Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod, GB haddock, GB yellowtail flounder, witch flounder, GB winter flounder, GOM winter flounder, and Atlantic halibut will change. The GOM cod ACL was exceeded in fishing year 2017 and Framework 58 implements the pound-for-pound reduction required for sectors and the common pool to pay back this overage. Catch limits for GB cod, GB haddock, witch flounder, and GB winter flounder will increase, and catch limits for GOM cod, GB yellowtail flounder, GOM winter flounder, and Atlantic halibut will decrease. There will be no changes for the remaining 12 stocks.    

Because vessels may drop from sector rosters and join the common pool through April 30, 2019, the sector and common pool allocations included in this bulletin may change.  Also, after we finalize fishing year 2018 catch information, we will subtract any sector or common pool overages.  Any necessary adjustments to the 2019 catch limits will be made in a future management action as close to May 1 as possible. 

Table 1.  Initial 2019 Fishing Year U.S./Canada Groundfish Total Allowable Catches (TACs)

 

Stock

TAC (mt)

Eastern GB Cod

90

Eastern GB Haddock

15,600

GB Yellowtail Flounder

291

 

Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock Special Access Program

The Closed Area II Yellowtail Flounder/Haddock Special Access Program (SAP) is closed to targeting yellowtail flounder in fishing year 2019.  Vessels are not allowed to fish in this SAP using flounder trawl nets.  Northeast multispecies vessels may fish in this SAP in 2019 to target haddock, but must fish with a haddock separator trawl, a Ruhle trawl, or hook gear.  For common pool vessels, this SAP is open from August 1, 2019, through January 31, 2020.  For sector vessels, this SAP is open from May 1, 2019, through January 31, 2020.

 

Table 2.  Fishing Year 2019 Catch Limits (mt, live weight)

Stock

Total ACL

Groundfish sub-ACL

Preliminary Sector
sub-ACL

Preliminary Common Pool sub-ACL

Recreational sub-ACL

Midwater Trawl Fishery

Scallop Fishery

Small-Mesh Fisheries

State Waters
sub-component

Other
sub-component

GB Cod

1,519

1,360

1,316

44

 

 

 

 

16

143

GOM Cod

666

610

379

11

220

 

 

 

47

9

GB Haddock

46,312

44,659

43,996

663

 

680

 

 

487

487

GOM Haddock

11,803

11,506

8,218

94

3,194

116

 

 

91

91

GB Yellowtail Flounder

291

239

232

7

 

 

47

6

0

0

SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder

66

32

26

6

 

 

15

 

2

17

CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder

490

398

378

20

 

 

 

 

51

41

American Plaice

1,532

1,467

1,437

31

 

 

 

 

32

32

Witch Flounder

948

849

831

18

 

 

 

 

40

60

GB Winter Flounder

787

731

701

30

 

 

 

 

0

57

GOM Winter Flounder

428

357

339

17

 

 

 

 

67

4

SNE/MA Winter Flounder

700

518

447

71

 

 

 

 

73

109

Redfish

11,208

10,972

10,918

53

 

 

 

 

118

118

White Hake

2,794

2,735

2,715

20

 

 

 

 

29

29

Pollock

38,204

37,400

37,159

242

 

 

 

 

402

402

N. Windowpane Flounder

86

63

 

63

 

 

18

 

2

3

S. Windowpane Flounder

457

53

 

53

 

 

158

 

28

218

Ocean Pout

120

94

 

94

 

 

 

 

3

23

Atlantic Halibut

100

77

 

77

 

 

 

 

21

2

Atlantic Wolffish

84

82

 

82

 

 

 

 

1

1

1Updated catch limits based on final sector rosters and 2018 catch information will be announced as soon as possible in the 2019 fishing year.

GB = Georges Bank, GOM = Gulf of Maine, SNE/MA = southern New England/mid-Atlantic, CC/GOM = Cape Cod/Gulf of Maine, N = northern, S = southern.

Seasonal Closed Areas

Commercial vessels remain subject to groundfish year-round and seasonal closed areas.  As a reminder, seasonal closed areas are shown in Figure 1, below.  The GOM Cod Protection Closures are shown in Figure 2 below.  More information on groundfish closed areas can be found in the Closed Area Regulations Northeast Multispecies Information Sheet

Figure 1. Seasonal Closed Areas

500x500_seasonal closed area_mults.jpg

 

GOM Cod Spawning Protection Area “Whaleback”

The GOM Cod Spawning Protection Area is closed from April 1 through June 30 to all fishing vessels with the following exceptions: charter and party or recreational vessels, provided that pelagic hook and line gear is used, and there is no retention of regulated Northeast multispecies or ocean pout; and vessels fishing with exempted gears (spears, rakes, diving gear, cast nets, tongs, harpoons, weirs, dip nets, stop nets, pound nets, pots and traps, purse seines, surf clam/quahog dredge gear, pelagic hook and line, pelagic longlines, single pelagic gillnets, shrimp trawls (with properly configured grates)).

Recreational and commercial vessels are allowed to transit the GOM Cod Spawning Protection Area, provided all gear is stowed in accordance with the regulations as described in 50 CFR 648.2.

Spring Massachusetts Bay Spawning Protection Area

The Spring Massachusetts Bay Spawning Protection Area depicted above is closed from April 15 through April 30 to all fishing vessels, with the exception of charter/party, private recreational vessels, and vessels fishing with exempted gear.  Additionally, vessels participating in the purse seine exempted fishery may fish in the Spring Massachusetts Bay Spawning Protection Area.

Charter and party vessels fishing in the Spring Massachusetts Bay Spawning Protection Area with gear capable of catching Northeast multispecies must have a Letter of Authorization (LOA) from the Regional Administrator to enter or fish in these areas (additional requirements also apply).  An LOA may be obtained by calling the Permit Office at 978-281-9370.

Winter Massachusetts Bay Spawning Protection Area

The Winter Massachusetts Bay Spawning Protection Area depicted above is closed from November 1 through January 31 to all fishing vessels, with the following exceptions: charter and party or recreational vessels, provided that pelagic hook and line gear is used, and there is no retention of regulated Northeast multispecies or ocean pout; and vessels fishing with exempted gears.

Closed Area I North Seasonal Closure

The Closed Area I North Seasonal Closure depicted above is closed from February 1 to April 15 to all fishing vessels, with the following exemptions:  vessels fishing with exempted gears; vessels participating in the mid-water trawl exempted fishery; and vessels using sea scallop dredge gear when under a scallop day-at-sea (DAS), or vessels lawfully in a scallop dredge exemption area.

Figure 2. Gulf of Maine Cod Protection Closures

750 x 500_ Figure 2 GOM Cod Protection Closures_Mults.jpg

 

GOM Cod Protection Closures

The GOM Cod Protection Closures depicted above are closed to all fishing vessels with the following exemptions:  charter and party vessels; private recreational vessels; vessels fishing on a sector trip or under a handgear A permit within GOM Cod Protection Closures during March and October; vessels fishing with exempted gears; vessels participating in the mid-water trawl exempted fishery; vessels using sea scallop dredge gear when under a scallop DAS, or vessels lawfully in a scallop dredge exemption area; and vessels participating in the Raised Footrope Trawl Exempted Whiting Fishery.

Charter and party vessels fishing in the GOM Cod Protection Closures must have a LOA from the Regional Administrator to enter or fish in these areas (additional requirements also apply).  An LOA may be obtained by calling the Permit Office at 978-281-9370.

Sector Measures

Approved Sectors

We have approved 16 sectors to operate in fishing years 2019 and 2020 (May 1, 2019, through April 30, 2021). 

  • Georges Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector
  • Maine Coast Community Sector
  • Mooncusser Sector
  • Northeast Fishery Sectors II, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, XI, XII, and XIII
  • Sustainable Harvest Sectors 1, 2 and 3.

All approved sectors receive “universal” exemptions from trip limits for allocated stocks, Northeast multispecies DAS restrictions; the requirement to use a 6.5-inch (16.5-cm) mesh codend when fishing with selective gear on GB; and portions of the GOM Cod Protection Closures.  Additionally, sector vessels fishing exclusively in the SNE and Inshore GB Broad Stock Areas with extra-large mesh gillnets (10-inch [25.4-cm] or greater) are excluded from the at-sea monitoring (ASM) coverage requirement.  We have approved 19 additional exemptions for fishing years 2019 and 2020, all of which were approved for fishing year 2018.  Further details on approved sector exemptions can be found on our website and in your sector operations plan.  Sector vessels are required to carry a copy of their sector operations plan and LOA on board at all times.

At-Sea Monitoring

The total target ASM coverage level for fishing year 2019 is 31 percent, a 16-percent increase from the ASM coverage level for fishing year 2018.  Any federally funded observer coverage provided by the Northeast Fishery Observer Program to meet Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology requirements would partially satisfy the coverage requirement.  We will reimburse 100 percent of industry’s ASM costs in fishing year 2019.

 

 

 

 

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on April 25, 2019