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Golden TilefishGolden Tilefish
(Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps)

Golden Tilefish

Implementing regulations are found at 50 CFR part 648 subpart N

The tilefish fishery is managed from Virginia through Maine with the majority of fishing activity occurring in Southern New England and Mid-Atlantic waters.  The majority of tilefish are caught with bottom longline gear with only a small amount of tilefish being caught incidentally in otter trawl gear.  There is also a small recreational component to the tilefish fishery.      

The Tilefish Fishery Management Plan was initially developed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council  in 2001 and has operated under an individual fishing quota program since the implantation of Amendment 1 in 2009.  The stock is not overfished nor is overfishing occurring.    

 

 


Click Below for Past Bulletins (Permit Holder Letters):

Tilefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Cost Recovery Program

Fishery Information

What are other common names for tilefish?  Golden tilefish, tilefish, clown of the sea, golden bass, golden snapper, great northern tilefish, rainbow tilefish

What is the temporal extent of the fishery?  Year-round.  Typically, the fishery is most intense from October to June when market value and catch rates are highest.

What is the geographic extent of the fishery?  Tilefish are found along the outer continental shelf and slope from Nova Scotia, Canada to Surinam.  The majority of the fishery is concentrated between Hudson and Veatch Canyons.  In southern New England/mid-Atlantic, tilefish generally occur at temperatures from 48 °F to 62 °F (8.9 °C to 16.7 °C). 

At what depths are tilefish found?  In southern New England/mid-Atlantic, tilefish generally occur at depths of 250 to 1200 ft.

What other species caught when fishing for tilefish?  This is a very clean fishery as the overall pounds landed and/or discarded is low for directed tilefish trips.

What gear types are authorized and what gears are primarily used?  For commercial fishing, longline, handline, rod and reel, and trawl are authorized.  For recreational harvest, rod and reel and spear are authorized.  The fishery is primarily prosecuted Primarily prosecuted by bottom longline.  Based on VTR data from 2000-2004, 90 percent of tilefish landed on directed commercial trips used longline gear.  From 2000-2004, approximately 10 percent of tilefish landings were by bottom otter trawl.  In 2005, 100 all directed commercial trips used longline gear.  Trawl gear may be used but has limited utility due to habitat type.

Management Information

How is the fishery managed?  The golden tilefish fishery from Virginia through Maine has been managed under the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan since 2001.  The commercial fishery has operated under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program since 2009. 

Who manages this fishery?  The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is responsible for managing the golden tilefish fishery with NMFS as the implementing body.

What is the fishing year for this fishery?  November  1 – October 31

What are the different management areas for the tilefish fishery?   There are no specified management areas for the golden tilefish fishery.  The NMFS Northeast regional office manages golden tilefish in the Atlantic Ocean north of the VA/NC border.  Tilefish south of the VA/NC border are managed separately under the Snapper Grouper Complex FMP by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.  For information on the fishery south of Virginia, contact the NMFS Southeast Regional Office at (727) 824-5305.

Timeline

1998 – NOAA Fisheries Service declares golden tilefish overfished 

2001 – Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council implements the Golden Tilefish Fishery Management Plan (FR Notice); includes system for dividing total allowable landings among three fishing categories and establishes limited entry for the commercial fishery

2001Framework Adjustment 1 (FR Notice) implemented to create quota set aside for the purpose of conducting research

2007Amendment 2 (FR Notice) implemented to standardize bycatch reporting methodology 

2009 – Amendment 1 (FR Notice) implements an IFQ program for the commercial fishery, establishes new reporting requirements, addresses recreational fishing issues, and establishes a ban on the use of bottom-tending mobile gear (including the otter trawls) within four deep-water canyons 

2011Amendment 3 (FR Notice), an omnibus amendment, specified mechanisms to set acceptable biological catch, annual catch limits, and accountability measures for numerous Mid-Atlantic fisheries.

Market and Landings Information

What are the primary markets for the tilefish fishery? Sold fresh whole gutted or filleted for human consumption and is often used in sushi.   

What are the recent landings and value of the commercial fishery?   In 2009, the average price was $2.27/lb.  Also in 2009, the Mid-Atlantic golden tilefish commercial fishery landed 1.4 million pounds worth $3.2 million.

What are the top tilefish landing ports? During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Barnegat, NJ, was the principal golden tilefish port; more recently Pine Beach, NJ, and Montauk, NY, have accounted for most of the commercial landings.

Scientific Information

Northeast Fisheries Science Center Stock Assessment information - click here

Scientific information - 2013

Stock

Overfishing?

Overfishing Definition

Overfished?

Overfished Definition

Rebuilding Program Progress

F/FMSY

Fishing Mortality Rate (F)

B/BMSY or B/BMSY Proxy

Biomass

Golden Tilefish

No

Overfishing occurs when the catch associated with a threshold F of FMSY is exceeded

No

The stock is overfished when B < 2 Bmsy

 

The rebuilding plan was scheduled to end in 2011.  However, because there are still some uncertainties in the latest stock assessment, the stock has not yet been officially declared rebuilt.

.16

.06

1.05

11,910 mt

 

Most Recent Environmental Impact Statement:  Amendment 1; 2009 (Volume 1, Volume 2

Most Recent Biological Opinion:   2001

Most Recent Stock Assessment:  SARC 48 in 2009   

Next Stock Assessment:  Scheduled for 2013

Fishery Quotas

Quota Monitoring – click here

2013 Annual Tilefish Specifications (November 1 – October 31)

Stock

Overfishing Limit (OFL)

Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC)

Annual Catch Limit (ACL)

Annual Catch Target (ACT)

Total Allowable Landings (TAL)

Optimal Yield (OY)

Golden Tilefish

4.118

Pending

Pending

NA

1.995

1.995

* All figures expressed in millions of pounds

IFQ Catch (<95% of TAL):  1.895 million pounds

Incidental Catch (<5% of TAL):  .997 million pounds

Research Set-Aside:  Not applicable

How often do the quotas change for this fishery?  It can vary.  Measures may be in place for a single year or for a period of up to 3 years. 

What if specifications are not in place at the start of the fishing year?  The existing specifications roll over until superseded. 

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

Accountability Measures:  If the ACL is exceeded, the amount of the ACL overage that cannot be directly attributed to IFQ allocation holders having exceeded their IFQ allocation will be deducted from the ACL in the following fishing year.  All overages directly attributable to IFQ allocation holders will be deducted from the appropriate IFQ allocation(s) in the following fishing year.

Permits

Permit categories:

Permit CategoryDescriptionCatch LimitNumber of Permits (2013)Number of Permits in Confirmation of Permit History2
Category 1For commercial harvest and sale of tilefish<500 lb live weight (458 gutted) tilefish without a having a separate IFQ Allocation Permit1168Not applicable
Category 2Charter/Party permit that allows vessel operators to take passengers for hire to recreationally fish for tilefishEight fish per angler, per trip66Not applicable

1 – Commercial/Incidental permit holders wishing to exceed this possession limit most also hold an IFQ Allocation Permit which is issued to an individual.  An individual not initially issued an IFQ allocation, or that does not currently own an allocation, can possess more than 500 lb (458 lb) of tilefish only by completing an allocation transfer with an IFQ allocation owner.

2 - 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:  NA

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:  Tilefish may be sold only to persons possessing a valid Federal tilefish dealer permit. 

How to obtain a Federal fishing permit:  Anyone with a valid vessel operator’s permit can obtain a Federal commercial tilefish permit by submitting a permit application and supporting documentation to the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Permit Division.  More information can be found here.

Recreational anglers will need to get a general recreational fishing license either through your state or through us to fish recreationally for marine species.  More information can be found here.  General information on all recreational fishing in our region can be found here.

Administrative Information:

How to complete an IFQ allocation transfer:  IFQ allocations are fully transferable among persons or entities that are U.S. citizens or corporations eligible to own a U.S. Coast Guard documented vessel.  An IFQ Allocation Transfer Form may be submitted any time after the tilefish IFQ allocations have been issued for a given fishing year.  To be processed for the current fishing year, a transfer form must be received prior to September 1.  IFQ transfers can be either temporary or permanent.  A temporary IFQ transfer allows an IFQ allocation permit holder to lease out a temporary right to land a specified amount of tilefish to any other person or entity for the remainder of the fishing year.  Temporary transfers may not be sub-leased.  A permanent IFQ transfer allows an IFQ allocation permit holder to permanently sell some or all of his/her tilefish IFQ allocation.  Persons or entities receiving a permanent transfer of allocation in a given fishing year may not be able to fish all of that allocation if the prior owner had already landed tilefish under that year’s allocation.  The new owner would receive the full IFQ allocation in the following fishing year. 

The form to complete an IFQ transfer can be found here

How to complete the interest declaration form:  No person or entity may own, or have an interest in, more than 49 percent of the total tilefish IFQ allocation.  Temporary and permanent IFQ transfers are monitored by NMFS to ensure that this cap is not exceeded at any point during a fishing year.

All persons and entities must declare their interest in tilefish IFQ allocation.  Individuals who have an interest in a Tilefish IFQ Allocation Permit are defined as and include, but are not limited to, individuals who own allocation, persons who are shareholders or officers in a corporation that owns allocation, persons who have formed a partnership (general or limited) that owns allocation, immediate family members (spouses, parents, children, and siblings) of those who own allocation, and any other entities that have an interest in a Tilefish IFQ Allocation Permit. If a corporation, partnership, or LLC is listed, shareholders, officers, and/or partners must be identified.

Tilefish interest declaration form can be found here

Possession Limits and Fish Size Requirements

Possession Limits:  A vessel that holds a Commercial/Incidental Permit can possess up to 500 lb live weight (458 lb gutted) at one time without an IFQ Allocation Permit.  Any tilefish landed by a vessel fishing under an IFQ Allocation Permit, on a given fishing trip, count as landings under the IFQ Allocation Permit.  Commercial vessels are prohibited from discarding tilefish, unless fishing pursuant to the incidental catch limit.

Fish size Limits:  There is no minimum fish size in the tilefish fishery.  

               Minimum fish size:  Not applicable for this fishery.

               Maximum fish size:  Not applicable for this fishery.

Discarding:  Discarding tilefish is prohibited when fishing under an IFQ allocation. 

Gear Requirements

Trawl gear may not be used in specified areas.  See the regulated, closed, and access areas tab for more information.  

Regulated, Closed, and Access Areas

No vessel of the United States may fish with bottom-tending mobile gear (otter trawls, beam trawls, hydraulic dredges, non-hydraulic dredges, and seines) within the areas below.

Tilefish Gear Restricted Area Closures

Lydonia Canyon

Point

N Lat.

W Long.

1

40°31’55.2'’

67°43'1.2’’

2

40°28’52'’

67°38’43'’

3

40°21’39.6'’

67°37’4.8’’

4

40°21’39.6’’'

67°37’4.8’’

5

40°21’4’'

67°43’1’’

6

40°28'31’’

67°43’

Veatch Canyon

Point

N Lat.

W Long.

1

40°0’40’’

69°37'8’’

2

40°41’69'’

69°35’25'’

3

39°54’43'’

69°33’54’’

4

39°54’43’’'

69°40’52’’

Norfolk Canyon

Point

N Lat.

W Long.

1

37°5’50'’

74°45'34’’

2

37°6’58'’

74°40’48'’

3

37°4’31'’

74°37’46’’

4

37°4’1’'

74°33’50’’

5

36°58’37’'

74°36’58’’

6

37°4'26’’

74°41’2’’

Oceanographer Canyon

Point

N Lat.

W Long.

1

40°29’50'’

68°10'30’’

2

40°29’30'’

68°8’34.8'’

3

40°25’51.6'’

68°6’36’’

4

40°22’22.8’’

68°6’50.4’’

5

40°19’40.8’'

68°4’48’’

6

40°19'5’’

68°2’19’’

7

40°16’41’'

68°1’16’

8

40°14’28’’

68°11'28’’

Days-At-Sea (DAS) Requirements

The tilefish fishery is not managed by a DAS system.  Please see the ‘Fishery Quota’ and ‘Possession Limit’ section of this webpage for more information on effort control in the tilefish fishery. 

Exempted Fisheries

Exempted fisheries allow fishing vessels to fish for specific species without being subject to certain Northeast 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.

There are no exempted fisheries or areas in the tilefish fishery.

Possession Limits and Fish Size Requirements

Possession Limits:  Eight fish per angler, per trip

Fish size Limits:  There is no minimum fish size in the tilefish fishery. 

Minimum fish size:  Not applicable for this fishery.

Maximum fish size:  Not applicable for this fishery.

Gear Requirements

There are no gear requirements in the tilefish charter/party and recreational fisheries.    

Regulated, Closed, and Access Areas

There are no area restrictions in the tilefish charter/party and recreational fisheries.    

DAS Requirements

The tilefish charter/party and recreational fisheries are not managed by a DAS system.  Please see the ‘Fishery Quota’ and ‘Possession Limits’ section of this webpage for more information on effort control in the tilefish fishery. 

Exempted Fisheries

There are no exempted fisheries or areas for the charter/party and recreational component of the tilefish fishery.

Protected Resource and Marine Mammal Regulations

All Gear Types

It is illegal to harvest or possess protected species unless otherwise specified under the regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act or Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Please see links below for more information or contact NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Protected Resources Division at (978) 281-9328.

Protected Fish Species

Marine Mammals

Sea Turtles

Commercial/Incidental Permit Reporting Requirements

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Requirements:  There are no VMS requirements for this fishery. 

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System Requirements:  A vessel fishing under a Tilefish IFQ Allocation Permit must submit a tilefish catch report by using the interactive voice response (IVR) phone line system within 48 hours after returning to port and offloading. The IVR system will ask for the following information: Vessel permit number and PIN; vessel trip report (VTR) serial number; Federal dealer number; and pounds landed.  The IVR number is 1-888-284-4904.  To get your PIN or for IVR questions during business hours, call (978) 281-9133.

Observer Requirements:  The tilefish fishery does not have any specific observer requirements, however all federally permitted vessels are obligated to carry an observer if randomly selected by the National Observer Program.

Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports:  Tilefish IFQ Allocation Permit holders are required to submit catch reports through the IVR System as explained above in the IVR section.

In addition, VTRs must be maintained on board the vessel and submitted to NMFS for all fishing trips, for Commercial/Incidental permit regardless of species retained.  Instructions for completing the VTR can be found here.  VTRs must be received by NMFS or postmarked within 15 days after the end of the reporting month.  For vessels that also hold a Northeast multispecies permit, VTRs must be submitted weekly by Tuesday of the week after the fishing trip ends.  Copies of VTRs must be retained on board the vessel for 1 year after the date of the last entry on the log and otherwise retained for 3 years after the date of the last entry on the log.

If no fishing activity took place during a reporting period, then a VTR must be submitted stating that no fishing trips were taken (referred to as a ‘Did Not Fish’ (DNF) VTR).  DNF VTRs may be submitted electronically online in place of paper VTRs.  DNF VTRs can be submitted electronically up to 3 months in advance on the “Fish-On-Line” website located here

Charter/Party and Recreational Reporting Requirements

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Requirements:  There are no VMS requirements for the Charter/Party and recreational fishery. 

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System Requirements:  There are no IVR requirement for the charter/party and recreational fishery.

Observer Requirements:  The tilefish fishery does not have any specific observer requirements, however all federally permitted vessels are obligated to carry an observer if randomly selected by the National Observer Program.

Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports:  VTRs must be maintained on board the vessel and submitted to NMFS for all fishing trips, for charter/party permit holders regardless of species retained.  Instructions for completing the VTR can be found here.  VTRs must be received by NMFS or postmarked within 15 days after the end of the reporting month.  For vessels that also hold a Northeast multispecies permit, VTRs must be submitted weekly by Tuesday of the week after the fishing trip ends.  Copies of VTRs must be retained on board the vessel for 1 year after the date of the last entry on the log and otherwise retained for 3 years after the date of the last entry on the log.

If no fishing activity took place during a reporting period, then a VTR must be submitted stating that no fishing trips were taken (referred to as a ‘Did Not Fish’ (DNF) VTR).  DNF VTRs may be submitted electronically online in place of paper VTRs.  DNF VTRs can be submitted electronically up to 3 months in advance on the “Fish-On-Line” website located here.

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.