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Proposal To Increase Monkfish Catch

Chart of Monkfish Management Areas.  Northern Management Area denoted by red arrow.  

NOAA Fisheries today announced proposed measures to provide increased fishing opportunities for monkfish and groundfish fishermen to target monkfish in coastal waters from Maine to Massachusetts (i.e.,Monkfish Northern Management Area) in fishing year 2013. Monkfish are often landed while fishing for groundfish, particularly in this area. 

Potentially landings and revenue would increase as a result of this action. Projected landings in 2013 potentially could be up by nearly 542,000 lb generating about $661,000 more revenue than under existing trip limits. If fishermen catch the entire annual monkfish allocation in 2013, revenue would increase by about $1.9 million. This assumes that recently observed landing rates and average ex-vessel prices continue throughout fishing year 2013.   

Specifically, this emergency action proposes to suspend, for at least 180 days, existing monkfish possession limits for vessels issued a groundfish permit and certain monkfish permits (limited access Category C or D permit) that are fishing under a groundfish or a monkfish day-at-sea in the Northern Fishery Management Area.  This action can be extended for the rest of fishing year 2013, if necessary, or existing limits could be reinstated if monkfish catch exceeds annual quotas. 

Nearly 75 percent of vessels participating in groundfish sectors also have limited access monkfish permits. These vessels are limited to landing a smaller incidental amount of monkfish unless the vessel declares into the directed monkfish fishery and fishes under both a monkfish and groundfish day-at-sea on the same trip.  In recent years, the monkfish fishery has failed to fully harvest the total allowable landings for each year, particularly in this management area.  

This action was in response to a request by the New England Fishery Management Council ( a multi stakeholder group that develops management measures for all fish stocks caught in federal waters  - 3 to 200 miles off U.S. coast). NOAA Fisheries’ proposed action differs slightly from the New England Fishery Management Council request because the exemption would apply to both sectors and common pool fishing vessels in the groundfish fishery, rather than just sector vessels.

To read more about these proposed measures or learn how you can provide public comments click here.  The deadline for submitting public comments is Tuesday, March 12.