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Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Vessels; Southern Windowpane Accountability Measures Implementation Delay

Contact:
Sustainable  Fisheries Division
(978) 281 –9315
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 27, 2017

For the 2015 groundfish fishing year, the total annual catch limit for Southern windowpane flounder was exceeded by more than 20 percent, and the catch limit for non-groundfish fisheries was exceeded.  As a result, accountability measures (AMs) have been triggered.  For non-groundfish fisheries, the AM will require any trawl vessel fishing with a codend mesh size of 5 inches or greater to use approved selective trawl gear when fishing in the Southern windowpane AM areas (see page 2 for map, and for more information, including coordinates, see the windowpane flounder accountability measures information sheet at https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/regs/infodocs/windowpaneaminfosheet.pdf).  The approved selective gears are:  1) Haddock separator trawl; 2) Ruhle trawl; or 3) rope separator trawl.

Normally, any AMs required for groundfish stocks are implemented at the start of the groundfish fishing year on May 1, after notice is published in the Federal Register with the action that puts in place management measures for that fishing year.  However, implementation of Framework Adjustment 56 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan and associated 2017 fishing year measures is delayed.  As a result, the Southern windowpane AMs are delayed and will not go into effect on May 1, 2017.  At this time, trawl vessels participating in non-groundfish fisheries and fishing with a codend mesh size of 5 inches or greater may use standard trawl gear when fishing in the Southern windowpane AM areas.

We will provide additional information on the implementation of these AMs when the Framework 56 proposed rule publishes in the Federal Register.  When we announce this proposed rule, detailed information can be found at:  http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/sustainable/species/multispecies/.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was the AM triggered?

In 2015, the total annual catch limit for Southern windowpane flounder was exceeded by more than 20 percent.  The groundfish, scallop, and non-groundfish fisheries are each allocated a portion of the catch limit, and each fishery exceeded their respective allocation in 2015.  Therefore, we are required by the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan to implement AMs for all three fisheries.

Why do the non-groundfish fisheries have an AM for windowpane flounder?

Groundfish, scallop, and non-groundfish trawl vessels all catch windowpane flounder as bycatch.  Prior to 2013, only the groundfish fishery had AMs following an overage, despite the groundfish vessels only accounting for a portion of windowpane catch.  Since 2013, Southern windowpane flounder has been allocated to the scallop fishery and the other sub-components, i.e., the non-groundfish fisheries, and therefore these fisheries now also have AMs, developed by the New England Fishery Management Council.  The intent of extending AMs to the scallop and non-groundfish fisheries was to control catches in those fisheries and help prevent overfishing.

Does this only apply to the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries?

When implemented, the AM for non-groundfish vessels will apply to vessels fishing with trawl gear with a codend mesh size 5 inches or greater in the Southern windowpane AM areas.  Fluke, scup, and black sea bass vessels typically use this gear.  Scallop vessels, some of which use trawl gear, are subject to a different AM.

What if I also have a groundfish permit?

The windowpane AMs for groundfish vessels will not be implemented on May 1.  A bulletin was sent to all groundfish permit holders explaining this, and more information will be provided in the Framework 56 proposed rule.

 Northern and Southern Windowpane Accountability Measure Areas

Northern and Southern Windowpane Accountability Measure Areas
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.