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Atlantic Sea Scallop Default Management Measures for Fishing Year 2017

Contact:
Sustainable  Fisheries Division
(978) 281 –9315
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 14, 2017

Effective Date: March 1, 2017

The following information is important for planning your scallop fishing operations for the upcoming fishing year.  Please read through each section carefully, and distribute this letter to your vessel operators.  This summary is not a substitute for the actual regulations, and we encourage you to review the full text of the regulations, available at our website.                                                                                                                

IMPORTANT:  The New England Fishery Management Council voted on final 2017 allocations in Framework Adjustment 28 on November 17, 2016, and, if we approve the action, we will likely adjust scallop allocations later in 2017.  We have noted the Framework 28 proposed allocations throughout this letter so you can consider these adjustments when planning your fishing activity between March 1 and the implementation of Framework 28. 

TABLE of CONTENTS

  • Section 1: Measures for limited access general category (LAGC) scallop vessels
  • Section 2: Measures for limited access scallop vessels
  • Section 3: Measures for limited access and LAGC scallop vessels
  • Attachment:  Observer notification requirements.

If you have a question about any of the measures, please call our Sustainable Fisheries Division staff at (978) 281-9315.  They will answer your questions or direct you to other Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office staff who can help you.

Section 1: Measures for LAGC Scallop Vessels

Fishing Year 2017 Allocations:  The table below includes the LAGC fleet allocations for individual fishing quota (IFQ) vessels that become effective March 1, 2017, along with the allocations proposed under Framework 28 that, if adopted, would replace the March 1, 2017, measures.  We will send you a separate letter that specifies your vessel’s 2017 IFQ, which we set based on the allocations listed below.  Your IFQ allocation letter will explain the details of setting your IFQ. 

LAGC Fleet Allocations

 

March 1, 2017

Proposed Framework 28 (if approved)

LAGC IFQ only

4,067,529 lb

2,261,943 lb

LAGC IFQ with limited access permit

405,650 lb

227,076 lb

 

Important IFQ Transfer Information:  We will accept and process leases and permanent transfers of 2017 IFQ, but we urge those of you planning to lease or transfer IFQ from another IFQ vessel owner to use caution.

Please read the “Important Allocation and Framework 28 Information” document included with your initial 2017 scallop IFQ letter for specific details on how Framework 28 will affect temporary (leases) and permanent IFQ transfers. 

IFQ Carryover and Payback (accountability measure):  After March 1, 2017, we will be mailing revised allocation letters to those LAGC IFQ permit holders receiving an IFQ adjustment due to carry-over pounds or overage deductions from fishing year 2016.  Vessel owners may carry over unused IFQ up to 15 percent of the vessel’s fishing year 2016 IFQ, including the original allocation and IFQ transferred from another vessel (leases or permanent allocation transfers).

Please remember that it is a violation to exceed your yearly IFQ allocation at any point during the year, and you may be subject to enforcement action as a result of any overage.  While you can balance an overage within a fishing year (submitted on or before February 28) through temporary IFQ leases and/or permanent allocation transfers, it is still a violation of the regulations to have had a negative balance. If, at the end of the fishing year, you have exceeded your yearly IFQ allocation, in addition to this being a violation, we will deduct any overages that remain at the end of the fishing year from the following year’s IFQ allocation on a pound-for-pound basis. 

Fishing Year 2017 Access Area Trip Allocations for the LAGC IFQ Scallop Fleet:

On March 1 2017, there will be no access area trips allocated to LAGC IFQ vessels.  However, on April 1, 2017, LAGC IFQ vessels will receive a default allocation of 602 fleet-wide trips into the Mid-Atlantic Access Area (MAAA).  

Framework 28 proposes fleet-wide trips in the MAAA, the Elephant Trunk Flex Access Area (ETFA), and the Nantucket Lightship Access Area (NLS).  However, vessel owners must wait for Framework 28’s approval and implementation to utilize these additional trips.

Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Management Area Scallop Total Allowable Catch (TAC):  Vessels issued an NGOM scallop permit are restricted to 200 lb shucked or 25 bu in-shell scallops per trip.  The default March 1, 2017, NGOM TAC for fishing year 2017 is 70,000 lb.  Framework 28 proposes a 95,000-lb annual NGOM TAC for fishing year 2017.  During the 2016 fishing year there was a 21,629-lb overage of the NGOM TAC.  This triggers a pound-for-pound deduction in 2017 to account for the overage.  Therefore, the 2017 NGOM TAC would be 73,371 lb to account for the overage. 

Unless a state has applied for and received an exemption to continue fishing in state waters, when the NGOM fleet harvests the TAC, we must close the NGOM to all scallop vessels for the remainder of the fishing year.  Maine is the only state that has received this state waters exemption for NGOM permitted vessels.

Incidental Scallop Target TAC:  The incidental scallop target TAC for fishing year 2017 is 50,000 lb.  Vessels issued an incidental scallop permit may land up to 40 lb shucked or 5 bu in-shell scallops per trip.

Section 2: Measures for Limited Access Scallop Vessels

Fishing Year 2017 Limited Access Scallop Access Area Allocations

  • Beginning March 1, 2017, and through the first 60 days of the fishing year, limited access vessels may fish their remaining unharvested 2016 MAAA scallop allocation.  These trips must begin no later than April 29, 2017.  After that date, any unused 2016 MAAA carryover expires.
  • Scallop possession limits are unchanged:  17,000 lb for full-time vessels and 10,200 lb for part-time vessels.
  • Access area crew limits remain in effect:  Eight individuals per limited access vessel, or six individuals for vessels participating in the small dredge program.
  • Beginning April 1, 2017, full-time vessels will receive 2017 default allocations of 17,000 lb pounds and part-time vessels will receive 10,200 lb, in the MAAA.
  • Framework 28, if approved, would allocate additional effort in the MAAA, ETFA, NLS, and Closed Area 2.  It would also maintain the current crew limits, but would increase the possession limit to 18,000 lb for full-time vessels and 14,400 lb for part-time vessels.  With the exception of 2016 carryover, any scallops landed after April 1, 2017, and before the implementation of Framework 28, will be deducted from the final 2017 allocations.

Limited Access Open Area Days-at-Sea (DAS) Allocations

 

Full-Time

Part-Time

Occasional

March 1, 2017

34.55

13.82

2.88

Proposed Framework 28 (if approved)

30.41

12.16

2.54

                        *Allocations exclude carryover DAS

WARNING: Default DAS allocations that will go into place on March 1, 2017, are higher than those that would be implemented under Framework 28, if approved.  Therefore, if you use all of you DAS allocation prior to the implementation of Framework 28, you would have a negative DAS balance once the framework is implemented.  If you use more DAS than you are ultimately allocated by Framework 28, the overage may be deducted from your vessel’s fishing year 2018 DAS allocation.

**We urge you to fish within the Framework 28 proposed DAS to avoid any consequences from exceeding Framework 28 allocations.**

Shell Stock Restrictions:

  • Vessels fishing in or transiting the area south of 42°20′ N. lat. at any time during a trip cannot possess or land more than 50 bu of in-shell scallops shoreward of the Vessel Monitoring System demarcation line.
  • A vessel declared into the Scallop Area Access Program may not possess or land more than 50 bu of in-shell scallops outside of the access area.

Section 3: Measure for Limited Access and LAGC Scallop Vessels

Turtle Deflector Dredge (TDD) and Turtle Chain Mat Requirements

All scallop vessels, except LAGC vessels using a dredge less than 10 feet 6 inches wide, must use a TDD in the Mid-Atlantic.  In addition, all scallop vessels must use turtle chain mats.  The season and area for both of these requirements is from May 1 through November 30 each year west of 71° W. long.

Industry-Funded Observer Set-Aside Compensation

The industry-funded observer program covers limited access vessels and LAGC IFQ vessels fishing in both open areas and in access areas.  We will provide the observer compensation rates for each of these at a later date.  The 2016 observer compensation rates apply until further notice.

We monitor the compensation rates and the observer set-aside use in each area very closely throughout the year.  If information suggests that a different rate is necessary to account for unexpected fishery conditions, we will change the compensation rate as appropriate and necessary. 

For details on how we’ve calculated these compensation rates in the past, and our expectation of how it will impact compensation and observer coverage rates, please go to our website.

You can track the observer set-aside for each scallop management area and its use on our website (see links to “Observer Set-Asides” by area)

Observer notification procedures

The owner or agent of a scallop vessel must comply with observer notification procedures detailed in the attachment.  All vessels must provide notification prior to all open area and access area trips.

Attachment

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.