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Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Amendment 18 Approved

Contact:
Sustainable  Fisheries Division
(978) 281 –9315
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 20, 2017

Effective Date:  Fishing Year 2017

We have approved Amendment 18 to the groundfish plan.  Amendment 18 implements two types of groundfish permit holder caps and removes several restrictions for limited access handgear vessels.

Accumulation Limits

Amendment 18 implements restrictions on the number of limited access groundfish permits and the amount of potential sector contribution (PSC) that a permit holder can acquire.  Here are several general measures detailing how permit accumulation limits are applied:

  • Accumulation limits apply to individuals, permit banks, sectors, and other permit holders, at the individual permit and PSC level;
  • Accumulation limits do not apply to the amount of annual groundfish allocated to a sector, technically referred to as a sector’s annual catch entitlement, or ACE; and
  • There is no calculation of partial ownership when considering accumulation limits. Any entity that is a partial owner is assumed to have full-ownership when calculating permit and PSC accumulation limits. 

Permit Cap

  • No individual or entity can hold more than 5 percent of all limited access groundfish permits.
  • As of February 21, 2017, there were approximately 1,335 limited access permits; a 5-percent cap would limit an entity to 67 permits.
  • The most permits currently held by an individual or entity is 50.

PSC Limit

  • No individual or entity can hold more than an average of 15.5 PSC for all allocated groundfish stocks.
  • Because there are 15 groundfish stocks currently allocated to the fishery, the total PSC across all stocks used by a permit holder cannot exceed 232.5 PSC (an average PSC of 15.5 percent per stock multiplied by 15 groundfish stocks).
  • A permit holder can have a PSC for a single stock in excess of 15.5 percent, so long as the total holdings used do not exceed 232.5 PSC.
  • As of February 21, 2017, no individual or entity holds more than 141 PSC.

There are no permit holders currently at risk of hitting one of the permit caps.  Permit counts and PSC limits will be monitored by our Permits Office and permit holding information will be reviewed before a permit transfer is approved.  We intend to make individual information pertaining to PSC and permit limits available in the future and will notify all permit holders when and how the information can be accessed. 

Handgear A Measures

Amendment 18 includes several management measures for limited access handgear vessels (Handgear A permits).

  • The March 1-20 spawning-block closure is removed for all Handgear A
  • Handgear A vessels are no longer required to carry a standard fish tote on
  • A groundfish sector can request an exemption from requiring Handgear A vessels to use a vessel monitoring system. If this exemption is requested and approved, a Handgear A vessel fishing within an exempted sector would declare trips through our Interactive Voice Response system.    

Additional information on Amendment 18 can be found on our website.

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.