NMFS News Release





Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930




Summer Flounder, Scup, & Black Sea Bass Final Specifications

Date: December 12, 1997

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. NMFS has recently issued final specifications for the 1998 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.

Summer Flounder (permit holders only) --

- No changes relative to the 1997 specifications for the following measures:

* Commercial quota of 11.11 million lb coastwide

* Commercial fish size is 14 inches

* Minimum mesh size of 5-inches diamond or 6-inch square applied to the codend portion of the net. Vessels owners are required to fish with this size mesh when they possess 100 or more pounds between May 1 and October 31, and 200 or more pounds between November 1 and April 30. Effective June 3, 1998, the minimum mesh size applies to the body, extension(s) and codend portions of the net.

The commercial quota is allocated to the states and will be reduced as required by the Fishery Management Plan for the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fisheries (FMP) if there are individual state overages in 1997. Additionally, each state is required to deduct 15 percent of its allocation to be used for a bycatch fishery, with a trip limit to keep the fishery open all year. Since each state is working independently on this provision, please contact the appropriate state fisheries agency for further details.

Because of overages in previous years, there is no quota for Delaware in 1998 and possibly for several years in the future. 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 I have determined no longer has commercial quota available. Therefore, effective January 1, 1998, landings of summer flounder in Delaware by vessels holding commercial Federal fisheries permits are prohibited for the remainder of the 1998 calendar year, unless additional quota becomes available through a transfer and is announced in the Federal Register.

Scup (permit holders only)

* Commercial quota of 4.572 million pounds

* Trip limits for the Winter I and Winter II periods

- No changes relative to the 1997 specifications for the following measures:

* Commercial fish size of 9 inches

* Otter trawl codend mesh size of 4.5 inches diamond mesh when possessing 4,000 lb or more from November 1 through April 30 or 1,000 lb or more from May 1 through October 31

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 1998. Your state fisheries agency will notify you of any closures or changes in the scup fishery.

Table 1.1998 Scup Quota Allocation

PERIOD POUNDS TRIP LIMIT
WINTER I (Jan-May) 2,062,429 20,000 (1,000 @ 85%)
SUMMER (May-Oct) 1,780,794 Set by states
WINTER II (Nov-Dec) 728,777 8,000
TOTAL 4,572,000

Since the Summer period commercial quotas allocated to the States of New Hampshire and Delaware are negligible (0 and 1 pounds, respectively), I have determined that no quota is available for landing scup in those States for the Summer period. The regulations at 648.4(b) provide that Federal permit holders agree, as a condition of their permit, not to land scup in any state that I have determined no longer has commercial quota available. Therefore, effective 0001 hours May 01, 1998, until 2400 hours, October 31, 1998, landings of scup in New Hampshire or Delaware by vessels holding commercial Federal fisheries permits are prohibited, unless quota becomes available through a transfer and is announced in the Federal Register.

Black Sea Bass (permit holders only)

* Commercial quota of 3.025 million pounds

* Minimum commercial fish size of 10 inches

* Possession limit to trigger minimum codend mesh size requirements of 4.0 inch diamond or 3.5 inch square is increased from 100 to 1,000 pounds

* Trip limits that apply to fishing, using any commercial gear type for each of the four quarters

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

Table 2. 1998 Black Sea Bass Quarterly Coastwide Quotas

and Quarterly Trip Limits

QUARTER POUNDS* TRIP LIMITS
1 (Jan-Mar) 1,168,860 11,000
2 (Apr-Jun) 885,115 7,000
3 (Jul-Sep) 372,983 3,000
4 (Oct-Dec) 598,043 4,000
TOTAL 3,025,000
* Pounds are corrected from the quarterly quotas presented in the letter mailed to permit holders.

Unless otherwise noted, these specifications will go into effect on January 1, 1998. 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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