NMFS News Release





Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930




MONKFISH FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLAN QUESTION AND ANSWER FACT SHEET

Date: November 10, 1999

Dear Permit Holder:

The letter is a follow-up to an October 6, 1999, permit holder letter in which we described regulations implementing the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and encouraged people to phone in with questions regarding these regulations. The following questions are representative of the many calls that we have received thus far and are provided here with answers. Please retain this and the permit holder letter for reference.

Neither this attachment nor the permit holder letter has any legal force or effect. Please consult the monkfish regulations at 50 CFR 648 for the legal requirements applicable to fishing for monkfish.



MONKFISH DAYS-AT-SEA (DAS)


Q: I hold both a limited access multispecies and a limited access monkfish permit (Category C or D vessel). Can I fish for multispecies and monkfish on the same fishing trip?

A: Yes. However, to land more than the allowable incidental catch of monkfish when fishing in the Southern Fishery Management Area (SFMA), you must state that you are fishing under a monkfish DAS when calling into the DAS program. Category C and D vessels that call into the monkfish DAS program automatically have a multispecies DAS deducted from their multispecies DAS allocation. Vessels fishing in the Northern Fishery Management Area (NMFA) are not subject to a monkfish landing limit when fishing under a multispecies DAS, through April 30, 2002, and therefore, do not have to call into a monkfish DAS. (Please note that starting May 1, 2000, vessels must declare into the NFMA or it will be presumed that the vessel fished in the SFMA.)

Q: I hold both a limited access scallop and a limited access monkfish permit (Category C or D vessel). Can I fish for scallops and monkfish on the same fishing trip?

A: Yes. However, to land more than the allowable incidental catch of monkfish you must state that you are fishing under a monkfish DAS when calling into the DAS program, regardless of whether you are fishing in the NFMA or SFMA, and provided that you do not use or possess scallop dredge gear on board when fishing under a monkfish DAS. Category C and D vessels that call into the monkfish DAS program automatically have a scallop DAS deducted from their scallop DAS allocation.

Q: If I hold a Category C or D monkfish limited access permit and I've used up my 40 monkfish DAS and have multispecies DAS left, can I retain monkfish?

A: Yes. As noted above, when fishing in the NFMA (in fishing years 1999 through April 30, 2002), you may retain unlimited amounts of monkfish under a multispecies DAS. When fishing in the SFMA, the amount of monkfish that you are allowed to retain depends on many factors, including the year and area fished, the gear used, and whether or not you are fishing under a multispecies or scallop DAS (see the previous permit holder letter, "Monkfish Possession and Landing Limits," for further details).

Q: If I hold a Category C or D monkfish limited access permit and I've used up my 40 monkfish DAS and have scallop DAS left, can I retain monkfish?

A: Yes. When fishing in the NFMA and SFMA, in fishing years 1999 through April 30, 2002, you may retain 300 lb tail-weight or 996 lb whole weight of monkfish under a scallop DAS with a dredge on board, or under a net exemption provision. When fishing in the NFMA and SFMA, in fishing years 2002 and thereafter, you may retain 200 lb tail-weight or 664 lb whole weight of monkfish under a scallop DAS with a dredge on board, or under a net exemption provision.

Q: If I do not use all of my monkfish DAS in a fishing year can I carry-over DAS into the next year?

A: Yes. A vessel that has not used all of its monkfish DAS allocation may carry over DAS equal to the number of DAS not used, up to a maximum of 10 DAS, into the next fishing year. Any DAS sanctioned as a result of a violation would be deducted from the amount of useable DAS and the carryover would be based on that number.

Q: How many monkfish DAS can I fish starting with fishing year 2002?

A: Starting May 1, 2002, monkfish DAS will be set to zero, unless other action is taken by the Councils and implemented by NMFS.



MONKFISH POSSESSION AND LANDING LIMITS


Q: What are the possession and landing limits for monkfish?

A: The monkfish possession and landing limit regulations are complicated and depend on the following:

You should consult the table on monkfish trip limits provided at the end of this letter.

Q: Is everyone subject to a monkfish trip limit?

A: No. Prior to May 1, 2000, there is no monkfish trip limit for vessels fishing under a monkfish DAS, regardless of whether the vessel is fishing in the NFMA or the SFMA. Further, there is no monkfish trip limit for vessels fishing under a either a monkfish DAS or a multispecies DAS in the NFMA for the duration of the monkfish DAS program (fishing years 1999 through 2001).

Q: Can I exceed my monkfish trip limit and run my monkfish DAS clock when I come into port?

A: No. Unlike the multispecies FMP, the monkfish FMP does not allow you to exceed the monkfish trip limit once your vessel enters port.

Q: I hold both a limited access monkfish and a limited access multispecies permit. If I am fishing under a monkfish DAS and, therefore, also fishing under a multispecies DAS, and I exceed my Gulf of Maine codfish allowance for that trip and run my multispecies DAS clock upon entering port, do I also have to run my monkfish DAS clock?

A: Yes, your monkfish and multispecies DAS clock run simultaneously. However, as noted above, you may not exceed the monkfish trip limit upon entering port.

Q: If I have not been issued a limited access multispecies permit, can I possess regulated multispecies on a monkfish DAS?

A: No.

Q: How much monkfish can I retain when fishing with an open access monkfish Incidental Catch permit?

A: This permit also has several different trip limits depending on whether the vessel is fishing under a multispecies or scallop DAS, the area the vessel is fishing in, and the gear the vessel is fishing with (see previous permit holder letter for details).

Q: Is there a tolerance for the difference between my reported hail weight and my actual weight reported on the dealer's weighout slip?

A: No. You are responsible for ensuring that your hail weight of monkfish is at or below what the actual weight reported by the dealer amounts to.

Q: Can I possess or land monkfish livers?

A: Yes, but the livers possessed or landed can only be a percentage of the monkfish trip limit allowed, i.e., up to 25% of tail-weight or up to 10% of whole weight of monkfish per trip. There is no allowance to possess or land any parts of monkfish other than whole, tails or livers.

For more information on the monkfish trip limits please see the previous permit holder letter and the regulations implementing the monkfish FMP.



GILLNET MEASURES


The following table summarizes the requirements for vessels when fishing under a monkfish DAS with gillnet gear:



Gillnet gear may continue to fish between DAS trips (unless otherwise noted below).
Vessels may not fish more than 160 gillnets.*
All gillnet gear must be tagged (beginning May 1, 2000).
Any trip greater than 3 hours but less than or equal to 15 hours is counted as a 15-hour trip.
Trips 3 hours or less and trips greater than 15 hours will be counted as actual time.
Gillnet gear must be removed from water prior to fishing in an exempted fishery.

*A vessel may fish any combination of monkfish, roundfish or flatfish nets, provided that, if the vessel also holds a multispecies limited access permit, it abides by the multispecies gillnet limitations.

Q: As a monkfish gillnetter that does not have a limited access multispecies permit, do I need to declare my vessel into a monkfish Dayboat or Tripboat category as I do under the multispecies regulations?

A: No. The monkfish regulations do not distinguish different gillnet categories. However, when calling into the monkfish DAS program, you must inform the person recording your DAS information as to whether or not you will be fishing with gillnet gear for that particular monkfish trip.



Q: Do I have to remove my gillnet gear from the water before I call out of the DAS program and end my monkfish trip?

A: If your vessel has not been issued a limited access multispecies permit, or if your vessel has been issued a limited access multispecies permit AND you are enrolled in the multispecies Dayboat gillnet category, you may leave your gillnet gear in the water between monkfish DAS trips. However, if your vessel has been issued a limited access multispecies permit AND you are enrolled in the multispecies Tripboat gillnet category, you must remove your monkfish/multispecies gillnet gear from the water before calling-out of the monkfish DAS program.

Q: When do the gillnet tagging requirements start?

A: On May 1, 2000. A permit holder letter and tag order form will be sent to monkfish permit holders with directions on purchasing tags prior to the start of the May 1, 2000, fishing year.

GENERAL QUESTIONS


Q: What is the minimum mesh size for trawl vessels when fishing under a monkfish DAS?

A: For vessels that do not hold a limited access multispecies permit (that is, Category A and B vessels, and Category C and D vessels that hold a limited access scallop permit), trawl nets, including beam trawl nets, must have a minimum mesh of 10-inch square or 12-inch diamond throughout the codend for at least 45 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net. The remainder of the net must have mesh that is no smaller than the regulated mesh specified by the Northeast multispecies regulations, depending on the area fished. However, if the vessel holds a multispecies limited access permit, the minimum size mesh must be no smaller than the regulated mesh specified by the Northeast multispecies regulations, depending on the area being fished for trawl gear while fishing under a monkfish DAS.

Q: What is the minimum mesh size for gillnet vessels fishing under a monkfish DAS?

A: The minimum mesh size for gillnet gear is 10 inches diamond mesh, regardless of whether or not the vessel holds a limited access multispecies permit.

Q: If I am fishing under a monkfish DAS what are the net stowage requirements for mesh less than the minimum size?

A: A net must be shown to be not available for immediate use and stowed in one of the following ways:

Below Deck Stowage: Net is stored below the main working deck from which it is deployed and retrieved, towing wires, including the leg wires, are detached from the net, and it is fan-folded (flaked) and bound around its circumference.

On-Deck Stowage: Net is fan-folded (flaked) around its circumference, securely fastened to the deck or rail of the vessel and the tow wires, including the leg wires, are detached from the net.

On-reel Stowage: Net must be on a reel and it's entire surface covered with canvas or other similar material that is securely bound, towing wires must be detached from the net and the codend must be removed and stored below deck.

Q: Do the monkfish exempted fisheries established under the NE multispecies fishery still exist?

A: Yes. The monkfish exempted fisheries apply to vessels issued a monkfish limited access permit that do not have a limited access multispecies or scallop permit, i.e., Category A and B vessels. When fishing in the GOM/GB and SNE Regulated Mesh Areas, Category A and B vessels may only fish in the monkfish exempted areas, during the exempted time period allowed, provided the vessel fishes under a monkfish DAS. Vessels that have been issued a monkfish limited access permit and either a multispecies or scallop limited access permit (Category C and D vessels) are not restricted to the monkfish exempted areas when fishing under a monkfish DAS, a multispecies DAS or a scallop DAS. For a list of monkfish fishery exemptions under the multispecies FMP, please call 978-281-9278.



Q: Is there a minimum fish size for monkfish?

A: Yes. Starting with the effective date of these regulations, monkfish must be a minimum of 17 inches total length or 11 inches tail length, regardless of where the vessel fishes. Beginning May 1, 2000, and beyond, when fishing in the SFMA only, the minimum fish size will be 21 inches total length or 14 inches tail length, unless otherwise notified by NMFS. These measures do not supersede more restrictive state rules and regulations.

Q: How are monkfish tails measured?

A: Monkfish tails are measured from the anterior (front) portion of the fourth dorsal spine from the mouth of the fish to the end of the caudal fin (tail). Any tissue in front of the fourth dorsal spine should be ignored. If the fourth dorsal spine or the tail is not intact, the minimum size will be measured between the most anterior vertebra and the most posterior portion of the tail.

Q: Do vessels fishing on a monkfish DAS need to declare into the NFMA and SFMA trip limit areas?

A: Beginning May 1, 2000, should the minimum size possession limit in the SFMA increase, a vessel intending to fish monkfish under a monkfish DAS only in the NFMA must declare into that area for a period of no less than 30 days. A vessel that does not declare into the NFMA will be presumed to have fished in the SFMA and subject to the more restrictive requirements of that area. Please note, the permit holder letter stated that a vessel must declare into the NFMA by VMS notification or through the DAS call in process. The method of declaration has been changed to a letter of authorization (LOA). A permit holder letter will follow informing you of the procedure to obtain a LOA.

Q: If my vessel is declared into the NFMA, will I be allowed to transit the SFMA?

A: Yes. A vessel that has declared into the NFMA may transit the SFMA provided that the vessel's fishing gear is properly stowed and not available for immediate use and provided that it does not fish for or catch monkfish, or any other fish, in the SFMA.

Q: If I choose to appeal the denial of my monkfish limited access permit, may I fish with a different category monkfish permit instead of a letter of authorization (LOA) while I am awaiting the outcome of my appeal?

A: No. If you appeal the denial of your limited access monkfish permit, you may only fish under the monkfish DAS program using a LOA from the Regional Administrator.

This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service



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