How to Get Involved with Amendment 23
This page is a guide to help readers understand how to comment on the Amendment 23 Draft Environmental Impact Statement and participate in the management process.
The New England Fishery Management Council released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan on March 13, 2020. During the comment period, the New England Fishery Management Council will hold public hearings to solicit comments regarding the range of alternatives under consideration.
What is the goal of Amendment 23?
Amendment 23 would maintain the current goals and objectives of the groundfish monitoring program. Consistent with Goal #1 of the monitoring program, the goal of Amendment 23 is to improve documentation of catch (catch accounting). The objectives are to: 1) determine total catch and effort, for each sector and common pool, of target or regulated species; and 2) achieve monitoring coverage sufficient to minimize the effects of potential monitoring bias to the extent possible. The alternatives address adjustments to the groundfish monitoring program to improve the reliability and accountability of catch reporting in the commercial groundfish fishery, and to ensure the monitoring program is providing accurate catch information. Amendment 23 has multiple monitoring alternatives, including:
- Increasing sector at-sea monitoring coverage (up to 100 percent).
- Two options for electronic monitoring.
- A dockside monitoring program for all groundfish vessels (sectors and common pool).
- Options for either dealers or vessels to pay for dockside monitoring.
- Options for exemptions from monitoring requirements.
- An alternative to remove the management uncertainty buffer from sector quotas if 100-percent monitoring is implemented.
What is a preferred alternative?
A preferred alternative is an option the Council has preliminarily identified as likely to be implemented. The Council is not bound to select these preferred alternatives when it takes final action. For Amendment 23, the Council selected its preferred alternatives to solicit the broadest range of public comment possible and get a sense from industry of the maximum costs associated with the options in Amendment 23. The draft Amendment 23 document contains all the alternatives the Council is considering, not only the preferred alternatives, and analysis of the potential impacts of each alternative.
Where are we in the process?
Amendment 23 is open for public comment through June 30, 2020. The Council is seeking feedback from the public on which alternatives should be selected and why. Members of the public may submit oral and/or written comments at any public hearings or submit written comments directly to the Council.
The Council voted at its Meeting on January 29, 2020, to send Amendment 23 out for public comment. At that meeting, the Council selected several “preferred alternatives” to help guide the public in supplying feedback. On April 14, 2020, the Council voted to delay a final decision on Amendment 23 until after its June 2020 meeting. The Council held the first public hearings by webinar on April 15, May 12, and May 21, 2020. Additional public hearings, including in-person hearings, will be announced when information becomes available. A complete timeline is available on our Amendment 23 website.
How do I participate in the comment period?
You may provide oral comments at a public hearing or submit written comments. You may comment as many times as you like. Comments provided at the hearings, and written comments received on or before June 30, 2020, will be reviewed and discussed by the Council’s Groundfish Committee and the full Council before the Council makes its final decision.
Providing Oral Comments
Oral comments may be submitted during any of the Council’s public hearings. At the beginning of each public hearing, Council staff will provide the public with a brief overview of the alternatives under consideration in Amendment 23. Following this introduction, the Council will provide the public with an opportunity to ask questions followed by an opportunity to provide comments. For more information on how to participate in a public hearing, please see the Council’s Public Hearing Document.
Providing Written Comments
You may deliver written comments to Council staff at a public hearing, or you may mail, fax or email written comments to the Council office.
Mail written comments to:
Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director
New England Fishery Management Council
50 Water Street, Mill 2
Newburyport, MA 01950
Fax: (978) 465–3116
Email: email@example.com with “Draft Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies FMP” in the subject line.
For More Information
- To stay up to date on the development of Amendment 23, please see our Amendment 23 web page.
- To learn more about the strategic communications plan we developed for Amendment 23, please see our web story.
- To learn more about how to read the economic analyses that were completed for Amendment 23, please see our Amendment 23 economic analysis guide.