Dear Scup Vessel and Dealer Permit Holder:
This letter is to inform you that on March 14, 1997, specifications for the 1997 commercial scup fishery were published in the Federal Register. Pursuant to 50 CFR 648.120 of the regulations, annual measures are implemented to ensure that the exploitation rate specified in the Fishery Management Plan for the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass fisheries will not be exceeded. A commercial quota of 6.00 million pounds (2.7 million kg) and a recreational harvest limit of 1.947 million pounds (0.88 million kg) to achieve the specified exploitation rate are effective immediately. The following measures will take effect on April 14, 1997:
(1) Minimum mesh size increases from 4.0 inches (10.2 cm) to 4.5 inches (11.43 cm) diamond. This mesh size must be applied throughout the codend for at least 75 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net, or for codends with less than 75 meshes, the minimum-mesh-size codend must be a minimum of one-third of the net, measured from the terminus of the codend to the center of the head rope, excluding any turtle excluder device extension.
(2) The level of catch that triggers the minimum mesh size requirement has been changed from 4,000 pounds (1,814 kg) year round to a seasonal threshold of 4,000 pounds from November through April and 1,000 pounds (453 kg) from May through October.
Please be aware that besides the above-mentioned changes, the minimum fish size of 9 inches (22.9 cm) total length (TL) for the commercial fishery, which went into effect on September 23, 1996 has not been changed.
In addition to the above changes, you are reminded that the deadline to apply for a commercial moratorium scup permit is September 23, 1997. Applications received after that date may not be processed. Since this letter contains only a summary of the measures and has no legal effect, you are encouraged to obtain further information or a copy of the regulations by calling the Northeast Fisheries Information Line at 508-281-9278 or by accessing the Federal Register's Web Site at: