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2018-2019 Specifications and Adjustments to the Skate Fishery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 27, 2018

Effective Date: September 28, 2018

We approved and implemented Framework Adjustment 5 to the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan and 2018-2019 Specifications. The Framework 5 provisions allow limited possession of barndoor skate in the directed skate wing fishery, and exempt vessels from some specific domestic skate regulations when fishing exclusively within the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Regulatory Area.

The final rule establishes the following measures that become effective on September 28, 2018 for the remainder of the 2018 fishing year and for fishing year 2019:

  • An annual catch limit (ACL) for the skate complex of 31,327 mt (a slight increase from 31,081 mt in 2017);
  • Overall total allowable landings (TAL) of 13,157 mt, with a TAL of 8,749 mt for the wing fishery (a slight increase from 8,372 mt in 2017), and a TAL of 4,408 mt (a slight increase from 4,218 mt) for the bait fishery;
  • Allows limited possession of barndoor skate in the directed skate wing fishery for vessels fishing under a Northeast multispecies, sea scallop, or monkfish days-at-sea;
  • Prohibits discards of any skate wings when barndoor skate is in possession (i.e., no high-grading allowed);
  • Requires that barndoor skate wings and carcasses on board a vessel must be separated from other species of fish and stored so as to be readily available for inspection;

A summary of the TALs and possession limits for the skate wing and skate bait fisheries is provided below in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1: Total Allowable Landings for Fishing Years 2018-2019

Total Allowable Landings (TAL)

Mt

Skate Wing Fishery

Season 1 (May 1 – August 31)

4,987

Season 2 (September 1 – April 30)

3,762

Skate Bait Fishery

Season 1 (May 1 – July 31)

1,358

Season 2 (August 1 – October 31)

1,635

Season 3 (November 1 – April 30)

1,415

*Note: Season 1 TALs are being retroactively increased. Unused wing TAL from season 1 will be rolled-over to season 2, and the unused bait TAL from seasons 1 and 2 will be rolled-over to season 3. We will provide notice of these TAL adjustments.

Table 2: Possession Limits for Fishing Years 2018-2019

Skate possession limits*

Trip Limits (lb)

Skate Wings

Whole Skates

Barndoor** Skate Wings

Whole Barndoor** Skates

NE Multispecies, Scallop, or Monkfish Day-At-Sea (DAS)

Season 1 (May 1 – August 31)

2,600

 

5,902

 

650

 

1,476

 

Season 2 (September 1 – April 30)

4,100

 

9,307

 

1,025

 

2,327

 

 

NE Multispecies B DAS

May 1 – April 30

220

 

500

 

0

0

Non-DAS

May 1 – April 30

500

 

1,135

0

0

Whole skate with bait Letter of Authorization

May 1 – October 31

0

25,000

0

0

November 1 – April 30

0

12,000

 

0

0

*Possession limits may be modified in-season in order to prevent catch from exceeding quotas.

**Barndoor skate trip limits are within the overall skate possession limit for each trip, not in addition to it.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the possession limit for barndoor skate?
The specific possession limits are outlined in Table 2 above. Only vessels under a NE multispecies, scallop, or monkfish DAS (i.e., the direct skate wing fishery) may possess barndoor skate, and their barndoor skate possession limit per trip is 650 lb wings in season 1, and 1,025 lb wings in season 2.

Is the barndoor possession limit in addition to the overall skate wing possession limit?
No. The possession limits for barndoor skate wings is included within the skate wing possession limit. Total pounds of skate wings on board per trip, including barndoor skate wings, are not allowed to exceed 2,600 lb in Season 1 and 4,100 lb in Season 2.

Does a vessel have to catch the full skate wing possession limit in order to land the full barndoor skate wing limit?
No. The full barndoor skate wing possession limit may be retained, even if the full wing possession limit is not caught. When possessing barndoor skate, however, no skate wings may be discarded. This is intended to prevent high-grading and minimize bycatch.

Why must vessels keep barndoor skates separate from other species of fish?
Because the barndoor skate wing possession limit is distinct from, and a subset of, the overall wing possession limit, this provision is necessary to aid in the identification of barndoor skate wings onboard and ensure compliance with the barndoor possession limits.

Why is possession of barndoor skate prohibited in fisheries other than the directed wing fishery?
Framework 5 only considered allowing barndoor skate possession for vessels operating in the skate wing fishery under NE multispecies, scallop, or monkfish DAS. It did not consider and review options for possession of barndoor skate for vessels operating under other fishing scenarios, such as: Vessels fishing for bait skate under a bait letter of authorization; vessels fishing under a Northeast multispecies Category B DAS; vessels fishing under the incidental skate possession limit for vessels not under a DAS; or vessels fishing in a an exempted fishery without a Northeast multispecies or monkfish DAS. Therefore, this action does not allow vessels operating under the above mentioned scenarios to possess barndoor skates.

Check out our Northeast Skate ID Guide (pdf).

Get more information on the skate fishery regulations.

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.