Get Email Updates

Get Text Alerts

Sign up for recreational and commercial text alerts

New Approach to Setting Recreational Accountability Measures for the Mid-Atlantic

Benefits fishermen while protecting vulnerable fish stocks

NOAA Fisheries has approved a change in the approach used to set recreational accountability measures (payback measures when annual catch limits are exceeded) in several Mid-Atlantic recreational fisheries through an omnibus amendment to these fishery management plans. This new approach, which was informed by measures suggested by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will avoid a 1 million pound reduction in the recreational black sea bass fishery for 2014.

The new measures maintain strong accountability in the recreational summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, bluefish, and mackerel fisheries, without compromising the health of these important stocks.  This is because managers take into account the status of the stock and biological consequences of catch overages when determining accountability measures for exceeding catch limits. The new accountability measures only require a full payback of overages when the stock is in an unhealthy condition or under a rebuilding plan. Otherwise, managers take the overage into account when setting management measures in future years.

In the case of black sea bass, the stock is believed to be in a healthy condition, so no payback for the recreational fishery overage is necessary in 2014.  However, the council and NOAA Fisheries are discussing further management measure modifications that may be necessary in the future. 

NOAA Fisheries also announced that to avoid disproportional impacts on some state recreational fisheries, there will no longer be in-season recreational closures for the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, bluefish, or mackerel fisheries. State fisheries vary by season. Delays in the availability of landings data can result in sudden fishery closures late in the fishing season, which impact states with late fall and winter fisheries (e.g., New Jersey, south). 

As a reminder, recreational management measures (bag limit, minimum size, and fishing season) for each of these fisheries are set independent of this action.  No recreational management measures currently in effect were modified through this action.  To view the final rule click here.