Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua)
Implementing regulations are found at 50 CFR Part 648 Subpart F
The Northeast multispecies fishery is managed by the New England Fishery Management Council using a variety of management tools, including days-at-sea, special management programs, and sectors. The fishery involves numerous species of groundfish found throughout the Greater Atlantic region. The fishery is executed using primarily trawl, gillnet, and hook gear.
2017 Multispecies Bulletins
Click Below for Past Bulletins (Permit Holder Letters) for All Species:
2017 Multispecies Federal Register Actions
- Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement; Scoping Process; Request for Comments
- Notification of U.S. Fishing Opportunities; International Affairs: U.S. Fishing Opportunities in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Regulatory Area
- Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Georges Bank Cod Trimester Total Allowable Catch Area Closure and Possession Prohibition for the Common Pool Fishery
Click Below for Past Federal Register Actions & Public Comments for All Species:
Multispecies Feature Stories
General Fisheries Information Sheets
- Gear Stowage Requirements
- Letters of Authorization
- Small Mesh Fishery Exemptions
- Large Mesh Fishery Exemptions
- U.S./Canada Management and Special Access Programs for Sector Vessels
- Closed Area Regulations
- Charter/Party and Recreational Fishing
- Landing/Possession and Size Limits
- Days-At-Sea (DAS) Leasing Program
- Days-At-Sea (DAS) Transfer Program
- Handgear A Permit
- Handgear B Permit
- Small Vessel Category Permit
- Windowpane Flounder Accountability Measures Information Sheet
Northeast Multispecies Sector Management
Points of contact:
Universal exemptions: Sector vessels are exempt from certain regulations that apply to common pool vessels. These “universal exemptions” only apply to Northeast (NE) multispecies regulations; they do not apply to requirements of other management plans (for example, the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan sector vessels fishing for monkfish must use a NE multispecies day-at-sea (DAS) when fishing under a monkfish DAS).
All sector vessels are exempt from the following Federal fishing regulations:
- Trip limits on NE multispecies stocks for which a sector receives an quota
- This does not include: Atlantic halibut, ocean pout, windowpane flounder, and Atlantic wolffish
- Portions of the Gulf of Maine (GOM) Rolling Closure Areas (see closed areas section) and the Georges Bank (GB) Seasonal Closed Area
- NE multispecies DAS restrictions other than those required to comply with effort controls in other fisheries (dogfish, monkfish, and skate)
- The minimum codend mesh size restrictions for trawl gear when using a haddock separator trawl or the Ruhle trawl within the GB Regulated Mesh Area, provided sector vessels use a codend with 6-inch (15.2-cm) minimum mesh
Prohibited Exemptions: Sectors cannot request an exemption from the following management measures:
- Closed Areas to protect Essential Fish Habitat areas
- Permitting restrictions (vessel upgrades, etc.)
- Gear restrictions designed to minimize habitat impacts (roller gear restrictions, etc.)
- Reporting requirements (not including DAS reporting requirements)
Sector-specific Exemptions: In addition to the universal exemptions listed above, a sector may request additional exemptions in its operations plan. Approved exemptions, as well as additional instructions, are listed in a letter of authorization that must be kept on board by all sector vessels. The following table includes a summary of the approved exemptions for FY 2016. Click on table to enlarge.
At-Sea Monitoring: The regulations require sectors to develop, implement, and fund an adequate, independent, third-party at-sea monitoring program. However, since FY 2010, NOAA Fisheries has fully funded the at-sea monitoring program. This program will be used to verify area fished and catch (landings and discards), by species and gear type, for the purpose of monitoring sector quota. Electronic monitoring could be used in lieu of actual at-sea monitors in the future, provided the technology is deemed sufficient by NOAA Fisheries for a specific gear type and area fished. At-sea monitoring coverage levels are specified by NOAA Fisheries on an annual basis. For more information on the required at-sea monitoring coverage rate, please visit: https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/aps/monitoring/nemultispecies.html
Below is some additional information on the at-sea monitoring program for at-sea monitors and fishermen:
Annual Catch Entitlements: On an annual basis, approved sectors receive a quota for allocated groundfish stocks, in the form of an annual catch entitlement (ACE). Because Atlantic halibut, Atlantic wolfish, ocean pout, and windowpane flounder are not allocated to sectors, they do not receive an ACE for these stocks. Each sector’s ACE is based on the potential sector contribution (PSC), or fishing history, of its participating vessels. Each year an updated PSC letter is issued to each permit. For more information on PSC, please review:
All groundfish catch, including landings and discards, by a sector vessel on a sector trip counts against a sector’s ACE for that stock. Sector vessels may not discard any legal-sized allocated stock, unless otherwise exempted. At the start of a fishing year (FY), discards will be monitored through the use of a sector specific discard rate based upon observer data from the previous FY. Once NOAA Fisheries deems that there are sufficient observer or at-sea monitor data available in-season, a sector-specific in-season discard rate will apply to all trips taken by a sector’s vessels for the remainder of the FY. If a trip is observed, the discard rate recorded by the observer or at-sea monitor will be used to document discards for that particular trip instead of using the calculated or in-season discard rate.
Because a sector’s effort is restricted by its ACE, there are no trip limits for sector vessels with the exception of Atlantic halibut (1 fish per trip).
Sectors are allowed to carry over up to 10% of their unused ACE from one FY to the next for most allocated stocks. Any carryover of a given stock used by a sector was not counted against the ACL in the year it was fished.
In response to a court ruling in FY 2013, we revised our approach of counting ACE carried from FY 2012 into FY 2013. For FY 2013, we will use a two-tiered approach of catch evaluation at the sector level before imposing accountability for carryover use. For FY 2013, carried-over ACE, if used, will be subject to a pound for pound payback provision IF the sector caught more than 100 percent of its year 2 ACE, the ACL for that stock is fully caught in year 2, and the sector sub-ACL for that stock is fully caught in year 2. A de minimis amount of carryover (1%) may not be subject to repayment even if the total ACL is exceeded.
Beginning in FY 2014, carried-over ACE, if used, will be subject to a pound for pound payback provision IF the sector caught more than 100 percent of its year 2 ACE, AND the ACL for that stock is fully caught in year 2. A de minimis amount of carryover (1%) may not be subject to repayment even if the total ACL is exceeded.
At the start of each fishing year, NOAA Fisheries withholds 20 percent of a sector’s ACE for each stock, until the sector and NOAA Fisheries has reconciled catch information, and allows sufficient time to determine whether a sector’s catch during the previous FY resulted in an ACE overage that need to be deducted from the ACE allocated to a sector during the following FY.
ACE Transfer Program: Any portion of a sectors ACE may be transferred to another sector at any time during the FY. For two weeks following reconciliation, sectors with an ACE overage for a particular stock(s) may transfer-in ACE for the stock(s) up to the amount of the overage. ACE transfer requests must be submitted to NOAA Fisheries. Approval will be based upon the sector’s compliance with weekly reporting, and its member vessels compliance with vessel trip report requirements
ACE transfers may be completed online by sector managers through the Sector Information Management Module or in writing. A paper request form is available: www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/permits/forms/SectorACETransferForm.pdf
For a summary of completed ACE transfers, please visit: www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/acetransfer/
Sectors are required to report catch (landings and discards) to NOAA Fisheries, on a weekly or daily basis. Below are the current and historical guidance documents to help sectors prepare all of the information that is required to be submitted.
- FY 2017 Guidance Document Suite
- FY 2016 Guidance Document Suite
- FY 2015 Guidance Document Suite
- SIMM User Guide FY 2015 (Revision 6.0)
- Sector Report Guide FY 2015 (Revision 6.0)
- Sector Report Guide Addendum FY 2015 (Revision 6.0)
- Sector Operations Plan, Contract, and Environmental Assessment Requirements Fishing Year 2015
- Preparing the Northeast Multispecies Sector Annual Year-end Report Fishing Year 2015 (Rev. 6.0)
- FY 2014 Guidance Document Suite
- FY 2013 Guidance Document Suite
- Sector Operations Plan, Contract, and Environmental Assessment Requirements Fishing Year 2013
- Sector Incident Report Guide FY 2013
- Sector Information Management Module (SIMM) User Guide Fishing Year 2013 (Revision 4.2)
- Preparing the Northeast Multispecies Sector Annual Year-end Report Fishing Year 2013 (Revision 4.0.1)
- FY 2012 Guidance Document Suite
- Sector Operations Plan, Contract, and Environmental Assessment Requirements Fishing Year 2012
- Sector Incident Report Guide FY 2012
- Preparing the Sector Manager Report Fishing Year 2012 (Revision 3.1)
- Sector Information Management Module (SIMM) User Guide Fishing Year 2012 (Revision 3.0)
- Preparing the Northeast Multispecies Sector Annual Year-end Report Fishing Year 2012
- FY 2011 Guidance Document Suite
- Preparing the Sector Manager Report Fishing Year 2011 (Revision 2.2)
- Sector Information Management Module (SIMM) User Guide Fishing Year 2011 (Revision 2.1)
- Sector Manager Report: Standards Guide Fishing Year 2011 (Revision 2.0)
- Preparing the Northeast Multispecies Sector Annual Year-end Report Fishing Year 2011
- FY 2010 Guidance Document Suite
General Guidance Documents: