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NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule: Framework 57 to the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery Management Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 22, 2018

We are seeking public comment on an action that would set catch limits for 20 groundfish stocks for the 2018-2020 fishing years (May 1, 2018-April 30, 2020), including the three stocks managed jointly with Canada.

Framework 57 would increase quotas for 11 stocks compared to 2017, including: Georges Bank cod (139%), Gulf of Maine cod (41%), and Gulf of Maine haddock (190%). Quotas will decrease for nine stocks, including Southern New England yellowtail flounder (-75%) and Gulf of Maine winter flounder (-45%).

We expect increases in the quotas for Gulf of Maine cod, Gulf of Maine haddock, and Georges Bank cod to provide additional economic revenue and flexibility to the groundfish industry. Overall, we expect the measures in Framework 57 to generate $9 million in additional gross revenues this fishing year compared to last year.

Framework 57 would also:

  • Revise the way common pool quotas are split between trimesters for six stocks. The intent is to prevent early closures during Trimester 1 and 2 in future years.
  • Modify the Atlantic halibut accountability measures. When triggered, the zero-possession accountability would apply to all vessels issued a federal permit to reduce catch of halibut when accountability measures are triggered. The gear restricted areas put in place when the accountability measure is triggered would also be revised to provide greater flexibility to groundfish vessels.
  • Change the trigger for the scallop fishery’s accountability measure for the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder stock to when total catch exceeds the overall catch limit. The adjustment is expected to provide flexibility for the scallop fishery to operate despite a 75-percent reduction in the overall quota for this stock.
  • Revise the southern windowpane flounder accountability measure for the summer flounder, scup, and skate fisheries. When triggered, smaller gear-restricted areas and shorter seasons would be implemented to allow additional flexibility for affected vessels while continuing to reduce impacts on the southern windowpane stock.
  • Set a Georges Bank cod catch target of 138 mt for the recreational fishery and add a provision to give the Regional Administrator authority to set recreational measures for 2018 and 2019 to prevent the catch target from being exceeded. A separate rule is also publishing today seeking comment on GB cod recreational measures.

Read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register, and submit your comments through the online portal. You may also submit comments through regular mail to: Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.

The comment period is open through April 6. 

Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175