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Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass; 2017 Commercial Quotas and Recreational Harvest Limits

Contact:
Sustainable  Fisheries Division
(978) 281-9315
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 21, 2016

Effective Date:  January 1, 2017

We have published a final rule that implements the following measures:

  1. Revised 2017 and 2018 summer flounder (fluke) commercial and recreational catch limits;
  2. The 2017 commercial summer flounder state quotas;
  3. A continuation of the commercial summer flounder closure in Delaware in 2016; and
  4. A commercial black sea bass accountability measure that adjusts the 2017 annual catch target and quota because of a prior year overage.

The 2017 scup (porgy) allocations are unchanged from those implemented last year but are repeated here for ease of reference. 

Revised Summer Flounder Specifications

2017-2018 Summer Flounder Specifications, in millions of pounds.

 

2017

2018*

Commercial Annual Catch Limit and Annual Catch Target

6.57

7.70

Recreational Annual Catch Limit and Annual Catch Target

4.72

5.53

Commercial Quota

5.66

6.63

Recreational Harvest Limit

3.77

4.42

* Preliminary, final 2018 specifications incorporating any overages will be announced in late 2017.

Commercial Summer Flounder State Quotas

We are also announcing the 2017 commercial summer flounder state quotas (see page 2).  These state quotas have been adjusted for overages.

Delaware Commercial Summer Flounder Closure

The amount of overharvest from previous years is again greater than the amount of commercial quota allocated to Delaware for 2017.  As a result, there is no quota available for 2017 in Delaware and the commercial fishery is closed.  Effective January 1, 2017, landings of summer flounder in Delaware by vessels holding commercial Federal summer flounder permits are prohibited for the 2017 calendar year.  If a quota transfer occurs and the commercial fishery in Delaware is opened, we will announce the changes in the Federal Register and notify you in another fishery bulletin.

2017 State-By-State Commercial Summer Flounder Quotas, in pounds

 

FMP Percent Share

2017 Initial Quota

2016 Preliminary Overages1

Adjusted 2017 Quota, Less Overages2

Maine

0.04756

2,692

0

2,692

New Hampshire

0.00046

26

0

26

Massachusetts

6.82046

385,988

0

385,988

Rhode Island

15.68298

887,542

0

887,542

Connecticut

2.25708

127,734

0

127,734

New York

7.64699

432,764

0

432,764

New Jersey

16.72499

946,512

0

946,512

Delaware

0.01779

1,007

-49,365

-48,358

Maryland

2.0391

115,398

0

115,398

Virginia

21.31676

1,206,372

0

1,206,372

North Carolina

27.44584

1,553,233

0

1,553,233

Total

100

5,659,266

0

5,658,260

12016 quota overage is determined through comparison of landings for January through October 2016 plus any landings in 2015 in excess of the 2015 quota that were not previously addressed in the 2016 quota specifications.
2Total quota is the sum of all states having allocation.  A state with a negative number has an allocation of zero (0).

Black Sea Bass Specifications

2017 Black Sea Bass Specifications, in millions of pounds.

 

2017

Commercial Annual Catch Limit

3.15

Commercial Annual Catch Target1

2.30

Commercial Quota1

1.86

Recreational Annual Catch Limit and Annual Catch Target

3.52

Recreational Harvest Limit

2.82

 

Commercial Black Sea Bass Quota Adjustment

In 2015, landings exceeded the commercial quota by 3.8 percent and estimated discards were higher than expected, resulting in the annual catch limit being exceeded.  The commercial black sea bass accountability measure requires that the exact amount of the total commercial overage (i.e., discards and landings) be deducted from a subsequent year’s catch target.  As such, the 2017 annual catch target is reduced by 849,363 lb.  Using the projected discards for 2017, the final 2017 commercial black sea bass quota is 1,862,322 lb.

The results of a new black sea bass stock assessment will soon be available for review by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council later this winter.  Should the information provided by this assessment indicate a need to revise the 2017 black sea bass specifications, we will work with the Council to implement a mid-year adjustment.

Scup Specifications

The current 2017 scup specifications have not changed since they were implemented last December 2015.  A summary of those allocations and scup possession limits is provided below.

2017 Scup Specifications, in millions of pounds.

 

2017

Commercial Annual Catch Limit and Annual Catch Target

22.15

Recreational Annual Catch Limit and Annual Catch Target

6.25

Commercial Quota

18.38

Recreational Harvest Limit

5.50

 

Scup initial commercial quota allocations for 2017 and Initial Trip Limits, in pounds.

Season

Percent Share

Quota1

Possession Limits

(per trip)2

Winter I

45.11

8,291,190

50,000

Summer

38.95

7,158,986

--

Winter II

15.94

2,929,762

12,000

Total

100.0

18,379,939

 

1There were no applicable overages through 10/31/16.
2The Winter I possession limit will drop to 1,000 lb upon attainment of 80 percent of that period’s allocation.  The Winter II possession limit may be adjusted (in association with a transfer of unused Winter I quota to the Winter II period) via notification in the Federal Register.

Recreational Fishing Measures

The management measures for the recreational summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries will be finalized through a separate rulemaking in the spring of 2017.  We will notify you with another bulletin when they are complete.

For small entity compliance guides, this bulletin complies with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act of 1996.  This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Greater Atlantic Region.