Atlantic Mackerel (Photo credits: NOAA)



On March 1, 2012, a new vessel permit program will go into effect for Atlantic mackerel. This program was developed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council in Amendment 11 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan. The program is designed to reduce fishing capacity of the mackerel fleet while allowing qualified vessels to continue fishing for mackerel at their historic or recent level of participation in the fishery. You can access the permit holder letter that fully describes the limited access program (including the eligibility requirements).

New Permits and Possession Limits

In order to fish for, possess or land mackerel after March 1, 2012, a vessel must be issued one of three different limited access mackerel permits, or a new open access mackerel permit. Each permit type has different eligibility requirements and different restrictions.

For vessels with...
Possession limit when fishery is open
Possession limit when 90% of quota is taken
Possession limit when 100% of quota is taken
Tier 1 limited access
The highest level of historic participation
No possession limit
20,000 lb
Possession prohibited
Tier 2 limited access
A moderate level of historic participation
135,000 lb
20,000 lb
Possession prohibited
Tier 3 limited access
A low level of historic participation
100,000 lb
20,000 lb
Possession prohibited
Open access
Any vessel that does not qualify for above, as well as new participants
20,000 lb
20,000 lb
Possession prohibited

Vessels issued Tier 3 permits will be limited to no more than 7% of the annual commercial quota. When 90% of the Tier 3 allocation has been attained, the possession limit would be reduced from 100,000 lb to 20,000 lb. 

When and How to Apply

For a limited access permits:

Vessel owners that would like to be issued one of the new limited access mackerel permits by March 1, 2012, will need to submit an application by January 31, 2012. If we receive an application by then, there will be enough time for us to review the application and issue a limited access permit if the vessel qualifies.

If a vessel currently has a mackerel permit, and we do not receive an application by January 31, 2012, the vessel will be automatically issued an open access mackerel permit. We will replace the open access permit with a limited access permit if the vessel qualifies at a later date.

Those that decide not to apply for a limited access mackerel permit right away must submit an application for a limited access mackerel permit by February 28, 2013. This provides just over one year to apply for the permit. We will not consider applications for a limited access mackerel permit that are postmarked after that date, so those interested in this permit, should be sure that their application is received or postmarked no later than February 28, 2013.

For an open access permit:

Permit Denials

After we have reviewed an application, we will either issue or deny the requested permit. If a denial letter is issued, applicants can appeal the decision; the denial letter will provide detailed instructions for the appeal options.

Where to Get More Information

This is a new program with many new requirements. For questions about the restrictions or for help with an application, please do not hesitate to call us.

If you have questions: