NMFS News Release

Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930

Final Specifications for the 2000 Fishing Year for Summer Flounder (Fluke), Scup (Porgy) & Black Sea Bass

Date: May 24, 2000

Dear Summer Flounder, Scup and/or

Black Sea Bass Permit Holder:

This letter contains important information that you may wish to keep at hand for future reference. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has recently issued final specifications for the 2000 fishing year for summer flounder (fluke), scup (porgy) and black sea bass. There are three (3) separate Federal vessel permits for these fisheries, all of which are issued under a moratorium (limited access). These moratoria permits are required to fish for, possess, or land and sell the respective species in or from the EEZ. There is no incidental catch allowed for vessels without the appropriate moratorium permit(s). Thus, this letter contains information that applies to you only if your vessel is issued the appropriate moratorium permit. This letter summarizes measures applicable to the commercial fisheries for these species.

Summer Flounder

On April 25, 2000, during the last stages of review of this final rule, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Court) issued an opinion on a challenge to the 1999 summer flounder specifications by a number of environmental groups. The Court noted that the 1999 quota, when adopted, had only an 18-percent likelihood of meeting the conservation goals of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The Court invalidated the 1999 quota and remanded the case to NMFS for further proceedings. The Court set a minimum standard for harvest quotas to comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, namely that quotas must have at least a 50-percent probability of achieving the target fishing mortality rate.

NMFS considers it a matter of the highest urgency to address the remand of the Court and will work with its partners in the Council and the Commission. NMFS intends to revise the 2000 summer flounder quota by August 1, 2000, to a level with at least a 50-percent chance of not exceeding the F target. State fisheries agencies and fishery participants are hereby notified that the specifications for the 2000 commercial and recreational summer flounder fisheries will be revised accordingly. Participants are also reminded that any quota overages in the 2000 commercial summer flounder fishery will be deducted from 2001 quotas, as provided under the FMP.

2000 Specifications:

Because of overages in previous years, there is no quota for Delaware in 2000. As a result, and to prevent landings in Delaware by Federal permit holders, the State is closed to the landing of summer flounder by Federal permit holders. The regulations at 648.4(b) provide that Federal permit holders agree, as a condition of their permit, not to land summer flounder in any state that NMFS has determined no longer has commercial quota available. Therefore, effective May 24, 2000, landings of summer flounder in Delaware by vessels holding commercial Federal fisheries permits are prohibited for the remainder of the 2000 calendar year, unless additional quota becomes available through a transfer and is announced in the Federal Register.


2000 Specifications:

The commercial quota for each of the periods, and the trip limits for those periods (if applicable), are shown in Table 1, below. This letter serves as your only Federal notice of trip limits for scup for 2000. Your state fisheries agency will notify you of any closures or changes in the scup fishery.

Table 1. 2000 Scup Quota Allocation

WINTER I (Jan-May) 1,037,986

10,000 (1,000 @ 85%)

SUMMER (May-Oct) 685,628 Set by states
WINTER II (Nov-Dec) 106,983 4,000
TOTAL 1,830,597

Southern and Northern gear restricted areas (see attached chart) have been implemented in which commercial vessels are prohibited from fishing with midwater trawl or other trawl gear with codend net of mesh size less than 4.5 inches diamond mesh. Vessels fishing in a gear restricted area are prohibited to fish for, or be in possession of, black sea bass, Loligo squid, Atlantic Mackerel and silver hake (whiting). The fishery for Atlantic herring has been determined to be exempt from both restricted areas and vessels may fish for, or be in possession of, Atlantic herring. The Southern Gear Restricted Area, defined as Federal waters off New Jersey and Delaware, restricts fishing with small mesh from January 1 through April 30. The Northern Gear Restricted Area, defined as Federal waters off Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York, restricts fishing with small mesh from November 1 through December 31.

Southern Gear Restricted Area
Point N. Lat. W. Long.
SGA1 3800' 7420'
SGA2 3840' 7400'
SGA3 4000' 7230'
SGA4 4000' 7120'
SGA5 3910' 7247'
SGA6 3800' 7355'
SGA7 3800' 7420'

Northern Gear Restricted Area
Point N. Lat. W. Long.
NGA1 4000' 7250'
NGA2 4110' 7140'
NGA3 4110' 7000'
NGA4 4100' 7000'
NGA5 4100' 7040'
NGA6 4000' 7130'
NGA7 4000' 7250'

Black Sea Bass

2000 Specifications:

The commercial quota, as allocated to each quarter, and the trip limits associated with each are shown in Table 2 below.

Table 2. 2000 Black Sea Bass Quarterly Coastwide Quotas

and Quarterly Trip Limits

1 (Jan-Mar) 1,168,760 9,000
2 (Apr-Jun) 738,837 3,000
3 (Jul-Sep) 273,155 2,000
4 (Oct-Dec) 540,170 3,000
TOTAL 2,720,922

Unless otherwise noted, these specifications are effective May 24, 2000. You are encouraged to obtain further information or a copy of the regulations by calling (978)281-9278. This letter does not contain all the regulatory provisions that pertain to these species, and consequently, has no legal force or effect. A copy of the regulations can also be obtained through the link to the Office of the Federal Register at the NMFS Northeast Regional Offices's Web Site: http://www.nero.nmfs.gov/ro/doc/nero.html.

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