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Atlantic CodAtlantic Cod (Gadus morhua)

Northeast Multispecies

Implementing regulations are found at  50 CFR Part 648 Subpart F

The Northeast multispecies fishery is managed by the New England Fishery Management Council using a variety of management tools, including days-at-sea, special management programs, and sectors.  The fishery involves numerous species of groundfish found throughout the Greater Atlantic region.  The fishery is executed using primarily trawl, gillnet, and hook gear. 

 

2015 Multispecies Federal Register Actions

05/01/2015
Final Rule; Request for Comments; Northeast Groundfish Fishery; Framework Adjustment 53
05/01/2015
Final Rule; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; 2015 and 2016 Sector Operations Plans and 2015 Contracts and Allocation of Northeast Multispecies Annual Catch Entitlements
05/01/2015
Interim Final Rule; Request for Comments; Northeast Groundfish Fishery; Fishing Year 2015; Recreational Management Measures
04/13/2015
Proposed Rule; Request For Comments; International Affairs; High Seas Fishing Compliance Act; Permitting and Monitoring of U.S. High Seas Fishing Vessels
04/08/2015
Notice; Request For Comments; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits; Exploratory Closed Area Fishing EFP
04/08/2015
Proposed Rule; Request For Comments; Small-Mesh Multispecies Specifications
03/19/2015
Final Rule; 2015 Annual Determination To Implement the Sea Turtle Observer Requirement
03/19/2015
Proposed Rule; Request For Comments; Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations; Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Regulations
03/17/2015
Proposed Rule; Request For Comments; Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery and Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 26; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Sea Turtle Conservation
03/10/2015
Notice; Determination of Overfishing or an Overfished Condition; Gulf of Maine Cod
03/09/2015
Notice; Final Grant Of Regulatory Exemptions; Application for Fishing Year 2014 Groundfish Sector Exemption
03/09/2015
Proposed Rule; Request for Comments; Northeast Groundfish Fishery; Framework Adjustment 53
03/09/2015
Proposed Rule; Request for Comments; 2015 and 2016 Sector Operations Plans and 2015 Contracts and Allocation of NE Multispecies Annual Catch Entitlements
03/03/2015
Temporary Rule, Correcting Amendment; Northeast Groundfish Fishery; Fishing Year 2014; Interim Gulf of Maine Cod Management Measures; Correction
02/19/2015
Notice; Request for Comment; Application for Fishing Year 2014 Sector Exemption; Gulf of Maine Cod Interim Management Measures
02/18/2015
Notice; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Approved Monitoring Service Providers
02/02/2015
Notification Of U.S. Fishing Opportunities; Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Regulatory Area
01/21/2015
Proposed Rule; Request For Comments; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology Omnibus Amendment
01/20/2015
Temporary Rule; Inseason Trip Limit Adjustment; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Trip Limit Adjustment for the Common Pool Fishery
01/15/2015
Proposed Revisions to National Standard Guidelines
01/15/2015
Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Framework Adjustment 52; Final Rule

 


Past Multispecies Federal Register Actions


Click Below for Past Federal Register Actions & Public Comments for All Species:

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000

Multispecies Feature Stories

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Definition: All vessels with a Federal limited access Northeast (NE) multispecies permit are eligible to join a groundfish sector.   A sector is defined as a group of three distinct persons holding limited access vessel permits under the fishery management plan through which the sector is being formed, who have voluntarily entered into a contract and agree to certain fishing restrictions for a specified period of time, and which has been granted a quota in order to achieve objectives consistent with the applicable FMP goals and objectives. Sectors in the NE multispecies fishery are intended to provide fishermen with more flexibility and more direct responsibility for managing the resource.

Liability: Several violations by sector members are specifically subject to joint and several liability, including:  Sector quota overages, illegally discarding of legal-sized fish, and the misreporting of landings and discards.  This means that each member of a sector could be jointly charged with one of these violations even if other sector members were responsible for that violation.

Operations Plan Requirements: Sectors are required to submit an operations plan and contract to NOAA Fisheries on September 1 prior to the fishing year in which it intends to operate and may span either a 1 or 2-year period.  The operations plan must include the following elements:

  • A list of all sector participants and a contract signed by all sector participants (due December 1 or later)
  • A list of all sector vessels, including an indication of whether the vessels would actively fish
  • Original distribution of catch history
  • A detailed plan for consolidation of quota or days-at-sea (DAS), if any is desired
  • A plan and analysis to show how the sector will avoid exceeding its quotas
  • Rule for entry and exit to the sector
  • Procedures for notifying NOAA Fisheries if a member is expelled from the sector
  • Information about overage penalties if a sector exceeds its quota for any stock
  • Information about the sector’s monitoring programs and service providers
  • A list of all Federal and state permits help by owners participating in the sector
  • A list of specific ports where sector members will land fish
  • Quota thresholds and catch reporting protocols once a threshold has been reached
  • Identification of potential redirection of effort as a result of sector operations and any efforts to limit the adverse effects of such redirection of effort
  • A description of how groundfish would be avoided when fishing in other fisheries that have a NE multispecies bycatch if the sector does not anticipate being allocated or acquiring a quota for such species from another sector.

Accountability Measures: Accountability measures (AMs) are triggered when a quota is exceeded, and are designed to correct problems that caused the quota to be exceeded, so future overages are prevented.  The following AMs apply to sectors:

  • If a sector exceeds its quota for any Northeast (NE) multispecies stock allocated to a sector (cod, haddock, yellowtail flounder, American plaice, witch flounder, winter flounder, redfish, white hake, and pollock), the sector will be prohibited from fishing in the stock area for that stock, until such time that it has acquired additional quota from another sector.  
  • Any overages at the end of the fishing year (FY) will be deducted from that sector’s quota of each stock for the following FY.  A sector can balance such an overage by acquiring quota from another sector.
  • If a sector disbands at the end of an FY following an overage, but does not have sufficient quota to cover the overage, an appropriate days-at-sea (DAS), sector share penalty, or fishing prohibition will apply to each permit during the following FY, depending on whether that permit enters the common pool, or another sector.
  • In addition to sector-specific AMs, a sector may be subject to AMs for non-allocated stocks (i.e., NE multispecies stocks for which the sector does not have any quota) resulting from an overage of the overall quota.   

For additional information on sectors, sector operations, and sector regulations, please review:

Seventeen sectors are operating in the 2014 fishing year (FY).  The following table lists the approved sectors, with links to each sector’s operations plan and contract, approved amendments, and the comprehensive FY 2014 environmental assessment, and similar information from previous FYs:

2014 Sector Operations Plans

Amendments

GB Cod Fixed Gear Sector        
Maine Coast Community Sector        
Northeast Coastal Communities Sector        
Northeast Fishery Sector I        
Northeast Fishery Sector II        
Northeast Fishery Sector III        
Northeast Fishery Sector IV        
Northeast Fishery Sector V        
Northeast Fishery Sector VI        
Northeast Fishery Sector VII        
Northeast Fishery Sector VIII        
Northeast Fishery Sector IX        
Northeast Fishery Sector X        
Northeast Fishery Sector XI        
Northeast Fishery Sector XIII        
Sustainable Harvest Sector 1        
Sustainable Harvest Sector 3        

Comprehensive FY 2014 Sector Environmental Assessment (EA)

2013 Sector Operations Plans

Amendments

GB Cod Fixed Gear Sector 1 2 3  
Maine Coast Community Sector        
Northeast Coastal Communities Sector        
Northeast Fishery Sector II        
Northeast Fishery Sector III 1      
Northeast Fishery Sector IV        
Northeast Fishery Sector V        
Northeast Fishery Sector VI        
Northeast Fishery Sector VII 1      
Northeast Fishery Sector VIII 1      
Northeast Fishery Sector IX 1      
Northeast Fishery Sector X        
Northeast Fishery Sector XI        
Northeast Fishery Sector XII        
Northeast Fishery Sector XIII 1      
Sustainable Harvest Sector 1        
Sustainable Harvest Sector 3        

Comprehensive FY 2013 Sector Environmental Assessment (EA)

2012 Sector Operations Plans

Amendments

GB Cod Fixed Gear Sector        
Maine Permit Bank Sector        
Northeast Coastal Communities Sector        
Northeast Fishery Sector II 1      
Northeast Fishery Sector III 1      
Northeast Fishery Sector IV        
Northeast Fishery Sector V        
Northeast Fishery Sector VI 1      
Northeast Fishery Sector VII        
Northeast Fishery Sector VIII        
Northeast Fishery Sector IX        
Northeast Fishery Sector X 1      
Northeast Fishery Sector XI        
Northeast Fishery Sector XII        
Northeast Fishery Sector XIII        
Port Clyde Community Groundfish Sector        
Sustainable Harvest Sector 1 1      
Sustainable Harvest Sector 3        
Tri-State Sector        

Comprehensive FY 2012 Sector Environmental Assessment (EA)

2011 Sector Operations Plans

Amendments

GB Cod Fixed Gear Sector 1 2 3  
Maine Permit Bank Sector 1   3  
Northeast Coastal Communities Sector 1 2 3  
Northeast Fishery Sector II 1 2 3  
Northeast Fishery Sector III 1 2 3 4
Northeast Fishery Sector IV 1   3  
Northeast Fishery Sector V 1 2 3 4
Northeast Fishery Sector VI 1 2 3 4
Northeast Fishery Sector VII 1 2 3 4
Northeast Fishery Sector VIII 1 2 3 4
Northeast Fishery Sector IX 1 2 3 4
Northeast Fishery Sector X 1 2 3 4
Northeast Fishery Sector XI 1 2 3  
Northeast Fishery Sector XII 1 2 3  
Northeast Fishery Sector XIII 1 2 3 4
Port Clyde Community Groundfish Sector 1 2 3  
Sustainable Harvest Sector 1 1 2 3  
Sustainable Harvest Sector 3 1 2 3  
Tri-State Sector 1 2 3  

Comprehensive FY 2011 Sector Environmental Assessment(EA)

2010 Sector Operations Plans

Amendments

EA

GB Cod Fixed Gear Sector 1 2 3 4 5 GBCFG EA
Northeast Coastal Communities Sector 1 2 3 4   NECC EA
Northeast Fishery Sector II 1 2 3     NEFS II EA & Errata
Northeast Fishery Sector III 1 2 3 4   NEFS III EA & Errata
Northeast Fishery Sector IV 1 2       NEFS IV EA & Errata
Northeast Fishery Sector V 1 2 3 4 5 NEFS V EA
Northeast Fishery Sector VI 1 2 3     NEFS VI  EA & Errata
Northeast Fishery Sector VII 1 2 3 4   NEFS VII EA
Northeast Fishery Sector VIII 1 2 3 4   NEFS VIII EA
Northeast Fishery Sector IX 1 2 3     NEFS IX EA
Northeast Fishery Sector X 1 2 3     NEFS X EA & Errata
Northeast Fishery Sector XI 1 2 3 4   NEFS XI EA & Errata
Northeast Fishery Sector XII 1 2 3     NEFS XII EA & Errata
Northeast Fishery Sector XIII 1 2 3     NEFS XIII EA
Port Clyde Community Groundfish Sector 1 2 3 4   PCC EA & Errata
Sustainable Harvest Sector 1 2 3 4   SHS EA & Errata
Tri-State Sector 1 2 3 4   TSS EA & Errata

 

Points of contact:

Universal exemptions: Sector vessels are exempt from certain regulations that apply to common pool vessels.  These “universal exemptions” only apply to Northeast (NE) multispecies regulations; they do not apply to requirements of other management plans (for example, the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan sector vessels fishing for monkfish must use a NE multispecies day-at-sea (DAS) when fishing under a monkfish DAS).

All sector vessels are exempt from the following Federal fishing regulations:

  • Trip limits on NE multispecies stocks for which a sector receives an quota
    • This does not include:  Atlantic halibut, ocean pout, windowpane flounder, and Atlantic wolffish
  • Portions of the Gulf of Maine (GOM) Rolling Closure Areas (see closed areas section) and the Georges Bank (GB) Seasonal Closed Area
  • NE multispecies DAS restrictions other than those required to comply with effort controls in other fisheries (dogfish, monkfish, and skate)
  • The minimum codend mesh size restrictions for trawl gear when using a haddock separator trawl or the Ruhle trawl within the GB Regulated Mesh Area, provided sector vessels use a codend with 6-inch (15.2-cm) minimum mesh

Prohibited Exemptions:  Sectors cannot request an exemption from the following management measures:

  • Closed Areas to protect Essential Fish Habitat areas
  • Permitting restrictions (vessel upgrades, etc.)
  • Gear restrictions designed to minimize habitat impacts (roller gear restrictions, etc.)
  • Reporting requirements (not including DAS reporting requirements)

Sector-specific Exemptions:  In addition to the universal exemptions listed above, a sector may request additional exemptions in its operations plan.  Approved exemptions, as well as additional instructions, are listed in a letter of authorization that must be kept on board by all sector vessels. The following table includes a summary of the approved exemptions for FY 2014.  Click on table to enlarge

Sector-specific Exemptions

*Exemption approved but not granted to the sector because it has not submitted an industry-funded monitoring program

At-Sea Monitoring: The regulations require sectors to develop, implement, and fund an adequate, independent, third-party at-sea monitoring program.  However, since FY 2010, NOAA Fisheries has fully funded the at-sea monitoring program.  This program will be used to verify area fished and catch (landings and discards), by species and gear type, for the purpose of monitoring sector quota.  Electronic monitoring could be used in lieu of actual at-sea monitors in the future, provided the technology is deemed sufficient by NOAA Fisheries for a specific gear type and area fished.  At-sea monitoring coverage levels are specified by NOAA Fisheries on an annual basis.  For more information on the required at-sea monitoring coverage rate, please visit: http://www.nero.noaa.gov/aps/monitoring/nemultispecies.html

Below is some additional information on the at-sea monitoring program for at-sea monitors and fishermen:

Annual Catch Entitlements: On an annual basis, approved sectors receive a quota for allocated groundfish stocks, in the form of an annual catch entitlement (ACE).  Because Atlantic halibut, Atlantic wolfish, ocean pout, and windowpane flounder are not allocated to sectors, they do not receive an ACE for these stocks.  Each sector’s ACE is based on the potential sector contribution (PSC), or fishing history, of its participating vessels.  Each year an updated PSC letter is issued to each permit.  For more information on PSC, please review:

All groundfish catch, including landings and discards, by a sector vessel on a sector trip counts against a sector’s ACE for that stock.  Sector vessels may not discard any legal-sized allocated stock, unless otherwise exempted.  At the start of a fishing year (FY), discards will be monitored through the use of a sector specific discard rate based upon observer data from the previous FY.  Once NOAA Fisheries deems that there are sufficient observer or at-sea monitor data available in-season, a sector-specific in-season discard rate will apply to all trips taken by a sector’s vessels for the remainder of the FY.  If a trip is observed, the discard rate recorded by the observer or at-sea monitor will be used to document discards for that particular trip instead of using the calculated or in-season discard rate.

Because a sector’s effort is restricted by its ACE, there are no trip limits for sector vessels with the exception of Atlantic halibut (1 fish per trip).

Sectors are allowed to carry over up to 10% of their unused ACE from one FY to the next for most allocated stocks.  Any carryover of a given stock used by a sector was not counted against the ACL in the year it was fished.   

In response to a court ruling in FY 2013, we revised our approach of counting ACE carried from FY 2012 into FY 2013.  For FY 2013, we will use a two-tiered approach of catch evaluation at the sector level before imposing accountability for carryover use.  For FY 2013, carried-over ACE, if used, will be subject to a pound for pound payback provision IF the sector caught more than 100 percent of its year 2 ACE, the ACL for that stock is fully caught in year 2, and the sector sub-ACL for that stock is fully caught in year 2.  A de minimis amount of carryover (1%) may not be subject to repayment even if the total ACL is exceeded.  

Beginning in FY 2014, carried-over ACE, if used, will be subject to a pound for pound payback provision IF the sector caught more than 100 percent of its year 2 ACE, AND the ACL for that stock is fully caught in year 2.  A de minimis amount of carryover (1%) may not be subject to repayment even if the total ACL is exceeded.  

At the start of each fishing year, NOAA Fisheries withholds 20 percent of a sector’s ACE for each stock, until the sector and NOAA Fisheries has reconciled catch information, and allows sufficient time to determine whether a sector’s catch during the previous FY resulted in an ACE overage that need to be deducted from the ACE allocated to a sector during the following FY.

ACE Transfer Program:  Any portion of a sectors ACE may be transferred to another sector at any time during the FY.  For two weeks following reconciliation, sectors with an ACE overage for a particular stock(s) may transfer-in ACE for the stock(s) up to the amount of the overage.  ACE transfer requests must be submitted to NOAA Fisheries.  Approval will be based upon the sector’s compliance with weekly reporting, and its member vessels compliance with vessel trip report requirements

ACE transfers may be completed online by sector managers through the Sector Information Management Module or in writing.  A paper request form is available: www.nero.noaa.gov/permits/forms/SectorACETransferForm.pdf

For a summary of completed ACE transfers, please visit:  www.nero.noaa.gov/acetransfer/

Sectors are required to report catch (landings and discards) to NOAA Fisheries, on a weekly or daily basis.  Below are the current and historical guidance documents to help sectors prepare all of the information that is required to be submitted.

General Guidance Documents:

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