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MonkfishMonkfish (Lophius americanus)

Monkfish

Implementing regulations are found at 50 CFR part 648 subpart F

Commerical monkfishing is conducted from North Carolina to Maine primarily using trawl gear in northern waters and gillnet gear in southern waters.  Because it is common for monkfish to be caught in conjunction with groundfish, you will see a lot of the information on this site also relates to the Northeast multispecies (groundfish) fishery.  The fishery is managed using a days-at-sea and trip limit management system.  There is no known directed recreational fishery for monkfish.

 

2014 Monkfish Federal Register Actions

08/22/2014
Final Rule; Correction; Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations; Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Regulations
08/21/2014
Notice; Request for Comments; Omnibus Amendment to Simplify Vessel Baselines
08/14/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Commercial Fishing Vessel Cost and Earnings Data Collection Survey in the Northeast Region
08/12/2014
Notice; Request For Comments; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits; UNE and SMAST Monkfish RSA EFPs
08/08/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Fishermen's Contingency Fund
07/17/2014
Final Rule; Monkfish; Framework Adjustment 8
06/27/2014
Final rule; Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations: Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Regulations
05/29/2014
Proposed Rule; Request For Comments; Fisheries Of The Northeastern United States; Gear Stowage Requirements
05/27/2014
Proposed rule; request for comments; Monkfish; Framework Adjustment 8
05/05/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Greater Atlantic Region Vessel Identification Collection
05/05/2014
Notice, Process For Making GIS Files Available; Opportunity To Comment; Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office's Geographic Information Systems Program; Availability of Files
04/24/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Greater Atlantic Region Dealer Purchase Reports
04/15/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Greater Atlantic Region Observer Providers Requirements

 


 Click Below for Past Federal Register Actions & Public Comments:

20132012201120102009200820072006200520042003200220012000

What are other common names for monkfish?  Monkfish are also referred to as goosefish, monk, anglerfish, and monktails.  Less common names include allmouth, molligut, sea-devil, abbot, lotte, and fishing frog.  Monkfish is also the common and market name for other members of the genus Lophius (7 species), which are found in the northeastern, southeastern, and southwestern Atlantic, and in the western North Pacific Ocean.

What time of year are these fish most commonly found?  In the SFMA, landings peak in the late spring/early summer months when fish are migrating from deeper water.  In the NFMA, landings peak in Jan – Mar.

What is the geographic extent of monkfish?  Maine to North Carolina out to the continental margin.

At what depths are monkfish commonly found?  Monkfish are generally found at depths from 25-200 m.

What gear types are authorized and used in the monkfish fishery?  In the commercial fishery, trawl, gillnet, longline, dredge, and trap/pot gear are authorized.  Commercial takes of monkfish are primarily from trawl gear and gillnet gear.  In the NFMA, landings are primarily by trawl gear, with gillnet gear landings making up a small proportion during the winter months, but a much larger proportion in the summer.  In the SFMA, gillnet gear accounts for the majority of the landings, with a peak in the late spring/early summer months when fish are migrating from deeper water.  Although there is no known recreational fishery for monkfish, recreational fishing is authorized using a rod and reel or spears.

What other fish species are harvested with monkfish?  Northeast multispecies, skate, Atlantic sea scallop, and to a lesser extent, spiny dogfish are also harvested on monkfish trips.

How is the fishery managed?  The monkfish fishery is managed primarily with a days-at-sea (DAS – the number of days that can be fished per year) management system with corresponding trip limits per DAS.

Who manages this fishery?  The monkfish fishery is jointly managed by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils.  The National Marine Fisheries Service serves as the implementing body for fisheries rules and regulations. 

What is the fishing year for this fishery?  May 1 – April 30

What areas are managed for the monkfish fishery?   The range for the monkfish fishery is the EEZ north of the North Carolina/South Carolina border.  However, there are two separate management areas, the Northern (NFMA) and Southern (SFMA) Management Areas based on different fishing activity/operations between the two areas.  The boundary between the NFMA and the SFMA runs south along the 70° W longitude line from the south-facing shoreline of Cape Cod, MA, to 41° N latitude, then eastward to the U.S.-Canada maritime boundary.

monkfish management areas

Mid-1980s – Directed trawl and gillnet fisheries for monkfish grow rapidly.  

1989 – European and Mediterranean monkfish species overfished, spurring greater demand for U.S. monkfish.

Early 1990s – Fishing industry expresses concerns over dramatically increased fishing mortality rates, gear conflicts, growing directed trawl fishery, and a decline in size of landed monkfish.  

1997 – Landings peaked at 62 million pounds (28,123 metric tons), with revenues of $35 million.  

1997Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan was developed to reduce the likelihood of fishing gear entanglements of right, humpback, fin, and minke whales in the North Atlantic.  

1998Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan became effective and required gear modifications and area closures to reduce the likelihood of fishing gear entanglements of harbor porpoise.  

1999Monkfish FMP was implemented which included a limited access permit program, a DAS management system, trip limits, and minimum size limits.  

1999Amendment 1 (FR Notice) approved to ensure compliance with essential fish habitat requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

2002Framework Adjustment 1 (FR Notice) was disapproved by NMFS.  NMFS instead published an emergency rule that implemented measures based upon the best available science to temporarily suspend the restrictive Year 4 default management measures that would have become effective May 1, 2002.

2003Framework Adjustment 2 (FR Notice) modified the overfishing definition and implemented annual adjustments to the management measures.

2003 - Final rule implemented a series of seasonal closures that prohibited the use of large mesh gillnets in Federal waters off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina to reduce the impact of the monkfish fishery on endangered and threatened species of sea turtles.

2005 – Amendment 2 (FR Notice) addressed essential fish habitat, bycatch concerns, and issues raised by public comments.

2006Framework Adjustment 3 (FR Notice) implemented to prohibit targeting monkfish on Multispecies B-regular DAS.

2007 – Interim management measures Framework 4 (FR Notice) adopted in May to address overfishing while NMFS conducted a stock assessment.  Framework 4 was implemented in October to establish 3-year target total allowable catches (TACs), a target TAC backstop provision, and adjustments to DAS allocations and trip limits.

2007Amendment 3 (FR Notice) was implemented as an Omnibus Amendment to standardize bycatch reporting methodology for monkfish and other fisheries. 

2008 – NMFS implemented Framework 5 (FR Notice) to ensure the Monkfish FMP succeeds in keeping landings within the target total allowable catch levels.  Measures include reduction in carryover DAS, reduction in bycatch or incidental catch limits, and revision in the biological reference points used to determine if the stock is overfished.

2008Framework 6 (FR Notice) eliminated the backstop provision adopted in Framework Adjustment 4 to the FMP, October 2007.

2011Amendment 5 (FR Notice) implemented a suite of measures including annual catch limits and accountability measures, measures to promote efficiency and reduce waste, and bring the biological reference points into compliance. 

2011Framework Adjustment 7 (FR Notice) implemented measures that were disapproved in Amendment 5 due to newly available science.  Specifically, DAS allocations, trip limits, and an annual catch target for the Northern Area.   

2012 – Amendment 6 is still being developed in considering a catch shares management system for the fishery.  Information on Amendment 6 is located here.

2013 - NMFS implements an emergency action (FR Notice) to suspend the monkfish possession limits in the Northern Fishery Management Area for monkfish permit categories C and D under a monkfish DAS.  

What are the primary markets for the monkfish fishery?  Monkfish is retained primarily for human consumption and is retained in several different forms including fresh, frozen, liver, tails, heads and cheeks, and whole gutted.  Almost all the monkfish sold in the United States comes from U.S. fisheries. The United States is also a major exporter of monkfish, supplying foreign markets in South Korea and Europe with livers, tails, cheeks, and whole fish.

What are the recent landings and value of the commercial fishery?   In 2010, the average price was $1.19/lb.  However, this average is highly variable in the monkfish fishery because monkfish are sold in a number of different forms with a wide range of associated dollar values.  In 2010, the commercial fishery landed 16 million pounds worth $19 million nationally.

What are the top monkfish landing ports?  The six primary ports are listed in descending order of pounds landed are New Bedford, MA; Gloucester, MA; Boston, MA; Long Beach/Barnegat Light, NJ; Point Judith, RI; and Portland, ME.  

Northeast Fisheries Science Center Webpage Link – click here

Scientific Information - 2012

Stock

Overfishing?

Overfishing Definition

Overfished?

Overfished Definition

Rebuilding Program Progress

F/FMSY

Fishing Mortality Rate (F)

B/BMSY or B/BMSY Proxy

Biomass

Monkfish Northern

No

When F exceeds FTHRESHOLD, which is set equal to FMAX, which is currently estimated at F=0.43

No

When total stock biomass is less than 1/2 Bmax

None, declared rebuilt

.43

.10

1.29

66,062 mt

Monkfish Southern

No

When F exceeds FTHRESHOLD, which is set equal to FMAX, which is currently estimated at F=0.46

No

When total stock biomass is less than 1/2 Bmax

None, declared rebuilt

.46

.07

1.11

131,218 mt

 

Most Recent Environmental Impact Statement:  Amendment 2; 2005

Most Recent Biological Opinion:  October 29, 2010

Most Recent Stock Assessment:  2010 (SARC 50)

Next Stock Assessment:  None scheduled. 

Quota Monitoring – click here

2014 Monkfish Specifications (May 1 – April 30)

Stock

Overfishing Limit (OFL)

Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC)

Annual Catch Limit (ACL)

Annual Catch Target (ACT)

Total Allowable Landings (TAL)

Optimal Yield (OY)

Monkfish - Northern

19,557 metric tons

7,592 metric tons

7,592 metric tons

6,567 metric tons

5,854 metric tons

Equal to ACT

Monkfish - Southern

36,245 metric tons

12,316 metric tons

12,316 metric tons

11,513 metric tons

8,925 metric tons

Equal to ACT

How often do the quotas change for this fishery?  Every 3 years the DAS, trip limits, ACT, ABC, and ACL are adjusted

Research Set-Aside:  500 DAS per year

What if specifications are not in place at the start of the fishing year?  Existing specifications roll over

Are there in-season adjustments (changes mid-fishing year) in this fishery?  None

Accountability Measures:  ACT specification and overage adjustment on a pound for pound basis and associated adjustments to DAS and trip limits. 

Permit Categories

Permit Category

Description

Number of permits in the fishery (2012)

Number of Permits in Confirmation of Permit History* (2012)

Category A

Commercial limited access DAS permit that does not also have a Northeast Multispecies or scallop limited access permit

20

84

Category B

42

Category C

Commercial limited access DAS permit that has either a  Northeast Multispecies or scallop limited access permit

304

Category D

285

Category F (offshore)

Commercial limited access offshore fishery

6

Category G

Commercial limited access DAS for use south of 38o 40’ N. lat.

0

Category H

7

Category E

Commercial open-access incidental permit

1,798

Not Applicable

 

* A Confirmation of Permit History allows a vessel owner to retain permit eligibility in the event the vessel has been destroyed or sold but the owner retains the permit eligibility.  The permit in Confirmation of Permit History may then be placed on a vessel at a later date.

Control date:  The original capacity control date is 9/10/99.  There is also a control date of 5/9/12 that was established for consideration of catch shares in Amendment 6.  This Amendment is still under development, and the associated control date is not currently being used for a specific purpose.    

Commercial operator permit:  Operator cards are required for any operator of a charter/party boat or a commercial vessel (including carrier and processor vessels) issued a vessel permit from the Greater Atlantic Region and fishing for or in possession of fish.

Commercial dealer/processor permit:  Monkfish may be sold only to persons possessing a valid Federal monkfish dealer permit.  Monkfish caught in Federal waters must be purchased only from vessel owners possessing a valid monkfish vessel permit.

Category F permit information:  The Category F permit is a permit category that allows for a higher possession limit in exchange for a reduction in DAS allocation and a requirement to fish offshore.  Any monkfish limited access Category A-D permit holder can switch to this category.  This change can be requested within 45 days of a permit’s effective date.  The permit must also not have used any DAS for the fishing year and must meet the criteria below.  If you would like more information or would like to change categories, please contact our Permit Office or (978) 281-9370 visit the webpage located here.    

Category F monkfish possession limits and DAS allocations:

The monkfish possession limit is 1,600 lb of tail weight or 4,656 lb of whole weight.  Each permit holder’s DAS allocation will vary.  Please call the Sustainable Fisheries Division at (978) 281-9315 if you would like to know what your DAS allocation would be if you were to switch to a Category F permit.

Category F requirements:

  • You must have an operational VMS unit;
  • You must properly stow gear when transiting to or from the designated area (see below  for coordinates and a map);
  • When not fishing on a monkfish DAS, you will be held to the incidental monkfish possession limits; and
  • You must only use your monkfish DAS during the offshore season from Oct. 1–Apr. 30 in the area below (see below for coordinates and a map).

Monkfish Offshore Program Area

N Lat.

W Long.

41°18.6'

66°24.8'

40°55.5'

66°38.0'

40°45.5'

68°00.0'

40°37.0'

68°00.0'

40°30.0'

69°00.0'

40°22.7'

69°00.0'

40°18.7'

69°40.0'

40°21.0'

71°03.0'

39°41.0'

72°32.0'

38°47.0'

73°11.0'

38°04.0'

74°06.0'

  monkfish offshore program area

 

How to obtain a Federal fishing permit:  Anyone with a valid vessel operator’s permit can obtain a Federal incidental catch monkfish permit by submitting a permit application and supporting documentation to the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Permit Division. Commercial (limited access) permits have been managed under a limited entry system since 2000; no new limited access permits are being issued.  You can obtain a federal fishing permit by submitting a permit application and supporting documentation to the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Permit Division.  More information can be found here.

Possession Limits:  Monkfish possession limits vary by permit, area, gear, as well as DAS use.  The specifics of the catch limits for limited access permit holders and incidental catch limits are outlined in the tables below.  When viewing the tables, please be aware of the footnotes that are outlined in 1 – 7 below.

Landing Limits while on a Monkfish DAS 

Northern Fishery Management Area

Permit Category

A

B

C

D

Landing Limit1
(tail weight per DAS2)

1,250 lb
(3,638 lb

whole weight)

600 lb
(1,746 lb

whole weight)

1,250 lb

600 lb

 

Southern Fishery Management Area

Permit Category

A, C, or G

B, D, or H

F

Landing Limit1
(tail weight per DAS2)

550 lb
(1,601 lb

whole weight)

450 lb
(1,310 lb

whole weight)

1,600 lb
(4,656 lb

whole weight)

 

Incidental Landing Limits while on a NE Multispecies DAS

Permit Category

C, D, E, F, or, H

E or H

C, D, or F

C, D, or F

Area

NFMA

SFMA

Gear

All gear

Non-trawl

Trawl

Landing Limit1
(tail weight

per DAS2)

Up to 25% of the total weight of fish on board, not to exceed 300 lb

50 lb
(146 lb whole weight)

300 lb
(873 lb whole weight)

 

If you are under a NE multispecies DAS, you may have additional possession restrictions based on the fishery in which you are participating (e.g., Regular B-DAS Program, Closed Area I Hook-Gear Haddock Special Access Program, or the U.S./Canada Management Areas).  Please visit www.nero.noaa.gov/nero/regs/infodocs/USCABDASSAP.pdf for more information on these areas.

Incidental Landing Limits while on a Scallop DAS or in the Sea Scallop Access Area Program

 

Sea Scallop Access Area

DAS Program3

Scallop DAS Program

Area

NFMA & SFMA

Gear

All gear

Landing Limit1  
(tail weight per DAS2)

300 lb
(873 lb whole weight)

 

Incidental Monkfish Landing Limits for Vessels not under a DAS Program

DAS Program

Area

Gear

Landing Limit1

(per trip unless stated otherwise)

No DAS

 

Gulf of Maine (GOM) or Georges Bank (GB) Regulated Mesh Areas (RMAs)

Minimum mesh size or larger.
See next page.

 

Up to 5% (where all monkfish is converted to tail weight2) of the total weight of fish on board.

Southern New England RMA east of the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area boundary at 72° 30' W longitude

Up to 5% (where all monkfish is converted to tail weight2) of the total weight of fish on board, not to exceed 50 lb (146 lb whole weight) per day5,up to 150 lb (437 lb whole weight) per trip.

SNE RMA west of the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area boundary or Mid-Atlantic RMA.

Up to 5% (where all monkfish is converted to tail weight2) of the total weight of fish on board, not to exceed 450 lb (1,310 lb whole weight) per trip.

NFMA or SFMA

 

Mesh smaller than minimum.
See next page.

50 lb (146 lb whole weight) per day5, or partial day, not to exceed 150 lb (437 lb whole weight) per trip.

Rod and reel or handlines only

No DAS and fishing under a skate bait Letter of Authorization

SNE RMA

Minimum mesh size or larger.
See next page.

 

Up to 5% (where all monkfish is converted to tail weight2) of the total weight of fish on board, not to exceed 50 lb (146 lb whole weight) per day5, up to 150 lb (437 lb whole weight) per trip.

 

Incidental Monkfish Landing Limits for Vessels not under a DAS Program that also hold permits in other fisheries

Additional Permit

Area

Gear

Landing Limit1

(per trip unless stated otherwise)

And a NE Multispecies Small Vessel Permit6

NFMA or SFMA

All gear

50 lb (146 lb whole weight) per day5, or partial day, not to exceed 150 lb (437 lb whole weight) per trip.

And a surfclam or ocean quahog permit

Hydraulic clam dredge or mahogany quahog dredge

And a sea scallop permit

Scallop dredge only (except scallop dredge exemption areas)7

If in a scallop dredge exemption area, 50 lb (146 lb whole weight) per trip.  Otherwise, 50 lb per day5, or partial day, not to exceed 150 lb (437 lb whole weight) per trip.

1    Vessels may also land monkfish heads separate from tails, provided the total head weight does not exceed 1.91 times the total weight of tails onboard. 

  Or any prorated combination of tail weight and whole weight is based on the conversion factor for tail weight to whole weight of 2.91 (tail weight x 2.91 = whole weight; or whole weight/2.91 = tail weight).  NOTE: A vessel may possess or land monkfish livers up to 25% of the tail weight of monkfish, or up to 10% of the whole weight of monkfish, per trip.  If a vessel possesses or lands both monkfish tails and whole monkfish, the vessel may land up to 10% of the whole weight of monkfish per trip using the following weight ratio:  (0.10) x [(tail weight x 2.91) + (whole fish x 1)]. 

3    For vessels with limited access sea scallop permits fishing in an established Sea Scallop Access Area, the monkfish possession limit is per day fished inside the access area (as determined by VMS), not including steaming time. 

4   A day is the 24-hour period that begins when the vessel leaves port or, if the vessel has an operational VMS, when the vessel crosses the VMS demarcation line when leaving port and ends when the vessel returns to port or, if the vessel has an operational VMS, crosses the VMS demarcation line on its return to port.

5   These vessels are exempt from a NE multispecies DAS provided they meet the vessel size requirements applicable to the limited access NE multispecies small vessel permit category (vessels < 30 ft in length).

6   In order to possess monkfish in the scallop dredge exemption areas, small dredges must be used (combined width not to exceed 10.5 ft)

7   Tail weight is converted to whole weight by multiplying by 2.91

What are the different possession limits and mesh sizes associated with the Southern New England (SNE) and Mid-Atlantic (MA) Exemption Areas?
If you are using trawl gear, you need to be aware that your monkfish incidental trip limits depend upon whether you are fishing on either the east side or the west side of the NE multispecies MA exemption areas boundary.  The chart below depicts this area and the tables below display the different incidental trip limits. 

Southern New England (SNE) and Mid-Atlantic (MA) Exemption Areas

Your monkfish incidental catch limit is based upon the mesh size of the smallest mesh you used during the trip.  For example, if you are fishing for squid using a 1-7/8-inch diamond mesh and for summer flounder using a 5.5-inch diamond mesh on the same trip west of the 72˚ 30’ W boundary line, you are subject to the more restrictive possession limit of 50 lb tail weight per day, up to 150 lb tail weight per trip.

Minimum mesh size is defined by the summer flounder regulations when fishing west of the MA Exemption Area boundary, but is defined by the NE multispecies regulations when fishing east of this boundary, in the SNE Regulated Mesh Area.

Minimum Mesh Size

Side of MA
Exemption Area boundary ⇒

West

East

Smallest mesh
fished during the trip

5.5-inch diamond/6-inch square,or larger, in body, extensions, and cod end

Smaller than 5.5-inch diamond/ 6-inch square in body, extensions, and cod end

Smaller than 6-inch diamond/ 6.5-inch square in the body and extensions and 6.5-inch square or diamond in the cod end

6-inch diamond/ 6.5 inch square in the body and extensions and 6.5-inch square or diamond in the cod end, or larger.

Landing Limit1
(per trip unless
stated otherwise7)

5% of total weight of fish aboard, up to 450 lb per trip

50 lb per day4, up to 150 lb per trip

In SNE RMA: 5% of total
weight of fish aboard, not
to exceed 50 lb per day4,
up to 150 lb per trip.

 

Fish size Limits:
               Minimum fish size:  The minimum size for monkfish is 17 inches total length, or 11 inches tail length for both commercial and                          recreational anglers.

               Maximum fish size:  There is no maximum monkfish size

 

Gear Type

Minimum Mesh Size

Maximum number  of nets that can be set, hauled, fished, or possessed onboard

Other Requirements

Dredge

Dredge gear prohibited on a monkfish DAS

Trawl

10-inch square or 12-inch diamond mesh throughout the codend for at least 45 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net.  The minimum mesh size for the remainder of the trawl net is the regulated mesh size specified by the regulated mesh area being fished as outlined in the NE multispecies regulations.

 

Exception:  If you have a Category C, D, or H permit and are fishing with trawl gear under both a monkfish and NE multispecies DAS, you are subject to the minimum mesh size determined by the NE multispecies fishery.

-

The maximum roller size in the SFMA is 6 in. diameter.

 

Gillnet*

10–inch diamond mesh

 

Exception:  If you have a Category C, D, or H permit and a NE multispecies permit, and you are fishing under both a monkfish and NE multispecies DAS or switch from a NE multispecies VMS declaration to a monkfish VMS declaration by using the ‘monkfish option’ on your VMS unit you may continue to use gillnet gear with less than 10-inch diamond mesh.  However, you must go by the more restrictive mesh sizes as outlined in the NE multispecies regulations.

 

Category A or B permits - 160 gillnets at any time.

 

Each gillnet must be tagged, and cannot be longer than 300 ft.

 

Category C, D, F, or H permits that also hold a limited access NE multispecies permit – 150 gillnets

 

Note:  If you are also fishing on a NE multispecies DAS, you must go by the more restrictive net limits of the NE multispecies regulated mesh areas (§ 648.80).

* Gillnet and trap/pot fisheries also have requirements to protect marine mammals and other protected species.  Please contact the Protected Resources Division at 978-281-9328 for more information

There are two closed areas affecting commercial monkfish vessels:  Lydonia Canyon Closed Area and Oceanographer Canyon Closed Area.  A vessel fishing on a monkfish DAS is prohibited from fishing in these areas regardless of gear used.  These areas are not closed to recreational anglers or vessels with a monkfish permit that are not fishing on a monkfish DAS.  Please see the DAS section below for more DAS information.

A number of other NE multispecies closure areas may also apply, depending upon fishing activity.  A copy of the NE multispecies closed areas information sheet can be viewed here.   

 

 

 

monkfish offshore program area

Lyndonia Canyon Closed Area

N. Lat.

W. Long.

40°16'

67°34'

40°16'

67°42'

40°20'

67°43'

40°27'

67°40'

40° 27'

67°38'

40°16'

67°34'


Oceanographer Canyon Closed Area

N. Lat.

W. Long.

40°10'

68°12'

40°24'

68°09'

40°24'

68°08'

40°10'

67°59'

40°10'

68°12'

 

Northern Fishery Management Area Requirements: 

Requirement for vessels fishing exclusively in the NFMA without a vessel monitoring system (VMS) unit:

Because the regulations for the SFMA are more restrictive (lower possession limits) than the NFMA, a federally permitted monkfish vessel fishing exclusively in the NFMA must obtain a monkfish letter of authorization (LOA) from us.  This LOA is issued for a minimum of 7 days and may be obtained by calling our Permit Office at (978) 281-9370.  The vessel must also make the proper trip declaration through the interactive voice response (IVR) call-in system.  If a vessel has not obtained the LOA and makes a trip declaration through the IVR, it is presumed to have fished in the SFMA, and will be held to the more restrictive requirements of the SFMA.

This does not apply to vessels using a VMS unit.  Such vessels must declare the area to be fished using VMS. 

Requirement for vessels fishing exclusively in the NFMA and transiting through the SFMA:

A vessel that has declared into the NFMA (exemption certificate and IVR, or through VMS), may transit the SFMA, provided the vessel does not harvest or possess monkfish or any other fish from the SFMA, and all fishing gear is properly stowed and not available for immediate use.

2014 DAS allocations:
The 2014 DAS allocation for limited access monkfish permit holders is 39.3 DAS.  Of these, 28 can be used in the SFMA.  Four unused monkfish DAS may be carried over from the previous year.  Carryover DAS can be used in either area.  However, carryover DAS that are not usable because they are tied to a NE multispecies DAS cannot be carried over.  For example, if a vessel with 39.3 unused monkfish DAS and a NE multispecies DAS allocation of 44.3 DAS and the vessel leases out 10 NE multispecies DAS to another vessel, the vessel would forfeit 5 monkfish DAS (10 - (44.3 NE multispecies DAS – 39.3 monkfish DAS) = 5).  If the vessel then fished the remainder of its NE multispecies DAS and used all of its monkfish DAS except 5, the vessel could not carry over the 5 remaining monkfish DAS into the next fishing year.  

Monkfish Option:
To have the flexibility to land monkfish caught in excess of the incidental limit when fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip, a vessel must first declare the ‘monkfish option’ on the vessel’s VMS unit before leaving port, and can only fish in the NFMA.  Once the incidental limit is exceeded for that trip, a vessel can change from a NE multispecies A DAS declaration or sector trip to a monkfish DAS declaration before crossing the demarcation line on its return to port.  For assistance with your VMS codes, call our Office of Law Enforcement VMS team at (978) 281–9149.

Monkfish DAS charging rates:
All monkfish DAS trips using gillnet gear that are under 15 hours will be rounded up to 15 hours.  Trips over 15 hours will be charged actual-time.  Trips using trawl gear are charged actual time.  For example, a vessel that takes a trip using gillnet gear that lasts 10 hours will be charged 15 hours.   

DAS measures applicable to monkfish permit holders that also hold a NE multispecies permit:
The monkfish DAS and NE multispecies DAS interactions are very complicated and are summarized below.  Please call us if you have any questions.

  • A monkfish permitted vessel that also holds a NE multispecies or limited access scallop permit must use either a NE multispecies DAS or scallop DAS whenever using a monkfish DAS.
  • If a vessel’s initial allocation of NE multispecies DAS is less than its monkfish DAS allocation, the vessel will receive an allocation of monkfish-only DAS equal to the difference.  These monkfish-only DAS are treated separately, and can only be used after the initial allocation of NE multispecies DAS has been used.  Monkfish-only DAS can only be used in an exempted fishery.  Please see the Large Mesh Fishery Exemptions Information Sheet or the exempted fisheries tab for more information.  A copy of the information sheet is available by calling us or online at www.nero.noaa.gov/sfd/sfdmulti.html.
  • A vessel with monkfish-only DAS may choose to lease in NE multispecies Category A DAS, but these leased DAS will then be tied to the monkfish DAS will no longer be monkfish-only DAS.
  • If a vessel leases out NE multispecies Category A DAS, the vessel forfeits monkfish DAS equal to the difference between the number of remaining NE multispecies DAS and the number of unused monkfish DAS.
  • NE multispecies permit holders that are not in a sector (common pool vessels) will be charged NE multispecies DAS in 24 hour increments.  So if a vessel fishes for 15 hours, it will be charged 24 hours of NE multispecies DAS balance and 15 hours of monkfish DAS balance.  Because of this common pool vessels may run out of NE multispecies DAS faster than monkfish DAS.  These monkfish DAS do not become monkfish-only DAS and are unusable.  Such vessels must lease in NE multispecies DAS to use these unusable monkfish DAS. 

Information for monkfish permit holders that are also in a NE multispecies sector:
Although sector vessels are exempt from the requirement to use a NE multispecies DAS to land allocated groundfish stocks, sector vessels must still use a NE multispecies DAS when using a monkfish DAS.  NE multispecies DAS will be charged real time based on fishing time, regardless of monkfish DAS charge.  

  • Catch (landings and discards) of allocated NE multispecies stocks while on a monkfish and NE multispecies DAS can fish anywhere if on both DAS, and must be on both to land groundfish, even in sectors, and will count against sector ACE.  This means that sectors must have ACE available for all stocks in the area a sector vessel may be fishing on a monkfish DAS.
  • Sector vessels fishing on monkfish and NE multispecies DAS are required to participate in the at-sea monitoring program, because all catch of allocated groundfish stocks on that trip (including discards) counts against sector ACE.
  • Sector vessels fishing only in the NFMA can change declarations from a NE multispecies Category A DAS or sector trip declaration that does not charge a DAS, to the corresponding monkfish DAS declaration during the course of the trip.

Automatic DAS adjustment trip limit overage provision:
A limited access monkfish vessel may land up to 1 additional day’s worth of monkfish based on the vessel’s actual monkfish DAS usage for that trip.  The vessel must declare the extra fish via VMS prior to crossing the demarcation line upon returning to port, or via the IVR line 1 hour prior to landing to land the additional day’s worth of monkfish.  To account for the trip limit overage, the monkfish DAS charge will be rounded to the next 24-hr period plus 1 minute. 

Example:   If you have 2 days’ worth of monkfish on board and you have declared into the monkfish DAS program for 15 hours, you would be permitted to land 2 days’ worth of monkfish.  Your DAS charge for the trip would be adjusted from 15 hours to 24 hours and 1 minute.  Also, after using the DAS adjustment provision, you may go right back out, even if the additional time has not passed for which your previous trip was charged.  

Exempted fisheries allow fishing vessels to fish for specific species without being subject to certain NE multispecies regulations, including days-at-sea, provided the bycatch of regulated species is minimal. To be approved and implemented, exemption programs must have demonstrated that incidental catch of NE multispecies is less than 5 percent of the total catch, by weight, and that the exemption will not jeopardize fishing mortality objectives.

How to Request Fishery Exemptions
An exempted fishery may be added, deleted, or modified pursuant to the procedure described below:

  1. Applicants must submit a written request to the Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2298. The request should describe the area in which the fishery would operate, the period in which it would operate, the gear it would use, the approximate number of vessels likely to participate, and the species it would target, retain, and land.
  2. Those proposing that a fishery should be exempt should describe the fishery and present all information possible that helps determine that the fishery meets the bycatch standard. The Regional Administrator will investigate NMFS data sources, but proposals for exemptions should be complete and clear to facilitate the process. State agencies and universities, for example, may have additional data available and applicants may contact them for assistance.
  3. When a request for an exempted fishery is submitted, the request and any accompanying data are reviewed by the Regional Administrator to determine whether such a fishery would meet the exemption qualifying criteria.  The Regional Administrator will also consult with the New England Fishery Management Council on any exemptions requested. This process may take several months to complete.

Exempted Fisheries and the Monkfish Fishery:
To fish a monkfish DAS as monkfish-only DAS (not using scallop or NE multispecies DAS), you must fish exclusively in the Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area within the SFMA or in an exempted fishery.  Such exempted fisheries are explained below.  If you choose to fish outside of the exemption area or an exempted fishery, you are also required to use a NE multispecies or scallop DAS simultaneously.    

Please see the Northeast multispecies large mesh fishery exemptions information sheet for a comprehensive description of the exempted fisheries within our region.

There are currently no recreational possession restrictions for monkfish caught in Federal waters.  Recreational anglers must still comply with minimum fish size regulations.  Minimum size limits and general information on all recreational fisheries in our region can be found here.

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Requirements:  A vessel that meets any of the following criteria must use their VMS unit to declare a monkfish trip:

  • Vessel has a Monkfish Category C or D permit if in a sector, or will fish under a groundfish DAS during the year, or
  • Category F permit (can turn off VMS outside of the offshore fishery season), or
  • Vessel has another permit that requires the use of a VMS unit, or
  • Vessel has a NE multispecies or scallop permit and are fishing for monkfish outside of an exemption area or under a monkfish DAS

Please note that vessels that have an operational VMS unit that are declaring a trip that has the same declaration as the previous trip may also declare using the IVR system.  For trips declared using the IVR system, the vessel owner or operator must call into the IVR system again at the end of the trip.        

Automatic DAS adjustment trip limit overage provision:  A limited access monkfish vessel may land up to 1 additional day’s worth of monkfish based on the vessel’s actual monkfish DAS usage for that trip.  The vessel must declare the extra fish via VMS prior to crossing the demarcation line upon returning to port, or via the IVR line 1 hour prior to landing to land the additional day’s worth of monkfish.  To account for the trip limit overage, the monkfish DAS charge will be rounded to the next 24-hr period plus 1 minute. 

Example:   If you have 2 days’ worth of monkfish on board and you have declared into the monkfish DAS program for 15 hours, you would be permitted to land 2 days’ worth of monkfish.  Your DAS charge for the trip would be adjusted from 15 hours to 24 hours and 1 minute.  Also, after using the DAS adjustment provision, you may go right back out, even if the additional time has not passed for which your previous trip was charged.  

Requirement for vessels fishing exclusively in the NFMA and transiting through the SFMA:   A vessel that has declared into the NFMA (LOA and IVR, or through VMS), may transit the SFMA, provided the vessel does not harvest or possess monkfish or any other fish from the SFMA, and all fishing gear is properly stowed and not available for immediate use.

Monkfish Option:  To have the flexibility to land monkfish caught in excess of the incidental limit when fishing on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip, a vessel must first declare the ‘monkfish option’ on the vessel’s VMS unit before leaving port, and can only fish in the NFMA.  Once the incidental limit is exceeded for that trip, a vessel can change from a NE multispecies A DAS declaration or sector trip to a monkfish DAS declaration before crossing the demarcation line on its return to port.  For assistance with your VMS codes, call our Office of Law Enforcement VMS team at (978) 281–9149.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System Requirements:  A vessel that is not required to use a VMS unit, or has an operational VMS unit and will be fishing both inside and outside of the demarcation line on the same trip, must declare through calling the IVR system at (888) 284-4904 prior to leaving port.  Please note that vessels that have an operational VMS unit that are declaring a trip that has the same declaration as the previous trip may also declare using the IVR system.  For trips declared using the IVR system, the vessel owner or operator must call into the IVR system again at the end of the trip.         

Requirement for vessels fishing exclusively in the NFMA without a VMS unit:  Because the regulations for the SFMA are more restrictive (lower possession limits) than the NFMA, a federally permitted monkfish vessel fishing exclusively in the NFMA must obtain a monkfish letter of authorization (LOA) from us.  This LOA is issued for a minimum of 7 days and may be obtained by calling our Permit Office at (978) 281-9370.  The vessel must also make the proper trip declaration through the interactive voice response (IVR) call-in system.  If a vessel has not obtained the LOA and makes a trip declaration through the IVR, it is presumed to have fished in the SFMA, and will be held to the more restrictive requirements of the SFMA.

This does not apply to vessels using a VMS unit.  Such vessels must declare the area to be fished using VMS.

Observer Requirements:   All sector vessels fishing on a monkfish DAS are required to participate in the at-sea monitoring program, because all catch of allocated groundfish stocks on that trip (including discards) counts against sector ACE.

Vessel Trip Reports (VTR):  You must keep on board the vessel and submit to us vessel trip reports (VTRs) for all fishing trips, regardless of species retained.  These reports may be submitted electronically.  Instructions for completing the VTR can be found here.  VTRs must be received or postmarked within 15 days after the end of the reporting month.  For vessels that also hold a NE multispecies permit, VTRs must be submitted weekly by Tuesday of the week after the fishing trip ends.

Reporting is not required for the recreational fishery, but the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) is a system of voluntary coordinated data collection programs designed to estimate recreational catch and effort.