The Skate Bait Fishery
A description and explanation of the fishery for skates for use as bait within the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery.
The skate bait fishery (targeting and landing whole skates for use as bait) is managed under a letter of authorization (LOA) program that also exempts the owner from lower possession limits of the skate wing fishery. Any federal skate permit holder may request an LOA from our NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region Permits Office at 978-282-8438 or online at our permits page.
Vessels participating in the skate bait LOA program must meet the following requirements and conditions to qualify and remain eligible for the LOA:
- Valid LOA retained onboard the vessel at all times;
- Possession/landing of only whole skates less than 23 in total length (for use as bait);
- Must be fishing on a NE multispecies, monkfish, or scallop day-at-sea (DAS) unless fishing in one of the skate exemption areas;
- Compliance with bait fishery possession limits (see table below);
- Compliance with at-sea transfer provisions, if applicable (see below); and
- Enrollment in the program for a minimum of 7 days.
Skate bait may still be landed in the skate wing fishery (without the LOA), but vessels are held to the lower whole skate possession limits. The skate bait LOA exempts the vessel from the lower possession limits of the wing fishery. As noted above, the skate bait LOA does not exempt the participating vessel from DAS requirements of the NE multispecies, monkfish, or scallop fisheries. Therefore, unless a skate bait vessel is fishing in one of the skate exemption areas in Southern New England (SNE) or the Mid-Atlantic, it must still fish on a NE multispecies, monkfish, or scallop DAS.
The Skate Bait TAL is divided into three seasons to help maintain a supply of bait throughout the fishing year. The first two seasons have a possession limit of 25,000 lb, and the possession limit in Season 3 is 12,000 lb (See table below).
Skate Bait Fishery Seasons and Limits
|Season||Percentage of Skate Bait Quota||Possession Limit||Trigger for Inseason Adjustment||Incidental Possession Limit|
|1: May 1 - July 31||30.8||25,000 lb||90% of seasonal quota||8,000 lb|
|2: August 1 - October 31||37.1|
|3: November 1 - April 30||Remainder of Skate Bait Quota||12,000 lb||80% of annual quota|
When 90 percent of the seasonal quota is landed in either Season 1 or 2, or when 80 percent of the annual skate bait quota is landed, the skate bait possession limit will be reduced to the incidental limit of 8,000 lb. If 100 percent of the skate bait quota is landed, the skate bait fishery will be closed, and active LOAs will be voided.
Can I transfer skate bait at sea?
Yes. A vessel issued a federal skate permit may transfer skates at sea, provided:
- The transferring vessel has a skate bait LOA onboard (see above). Thus, transferring at sea is only allowed in the bait fishery;
- The transferring vessel complies with all other requirements of the skate bait fishery (also see above);
- The transferring vessel maintains a record of the quantity of skates transferred according to the current vessel trip report (VTR) reporting requirements;
- The transferring vessel provides the receiving vessel documentation showing the date and amount of skates transferred, regardless of monetary exchange; and
- The transferring vessel maintains onboard, for a least 1 year from the date of the transfer, a copy of the documentation.
SNE Skate Bait Trawl Exempted Fishery
Exempted fisheries allow vessels to fish for specific species without being subject to certain northeast (NE) multispecies regulations, including DAS requirements, provided the bycatch of regulated species is minimal. In this exempted fishery, a vessel may participate in the skate bait fishery, (and in the designated exemption area using trawl gear) and does not need to be declared on a NE multispecies DAS as long as it does not possess or land regulated NE multispecies (groundfish). The SNE Skate Bait Trawl Exemption Area is specific to the skate bait fishery (not available to the skate wing fishery), and requires the skate bait LOA to participate.
The SNE Skate Bait Trawl Exemption Area is defined by the straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated:
|N. Latitude||W. Longitude|
July 1 through October 31.
Legal NE multispecies trawl gear must be used (6.5-inch mesh codend or larger).
A vessel fishing in this exemption area may possess and land up to 25,000 lb of skates of less than 23 inches total length (in accordance with the skate bait fishery). Vessels fishing in the exemption area must have a federal skate permit and a valid Skate Bait LOA from the Regional Administrator.
Groundfish (NE Multispecies) may not be retained on these trips. If you would like to retain groundfish in addition to skate bait, you must declare into the groundfish fishery at the beginning of the trip and fish on a NE Multispecies DAS.