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Scup (Stenotomus chrysops)


Implementing regulations are found at 50 CFR part 648 subpart H

The scup fishery in the U.S. operates from Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Scup are a migratory, schooling species found on the continental shelf of the Northwest Atlantic.  Scup are mainly caught using otter trawls, but also taken by floating trap and hand lines, paired trawl, pound nets, and pots and traps.  Scup is an important recreational and commercial species along the Atlantic coast of the U.S.  The market for scup is for human consumption.




Current Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR)

What are other common names for scup fishery?  Porgy

What time of year are scup most commonly found?  Scup winter in offshore waters between New Jersey and North Carolina.  In spring, they migrate north and inshore to New Jersey, New York, and southern New England where they remain until fall.  The recreational fishery peaks during spring and fall.  Scup avoid water temperatures below 7° C and are found in greatest abundance at 13-16° C.

What is the geographic extent of scup?  Scup are distributed primarily between Cape Coad and Cape Hatteras.  They undergo an extensive migration between coastal waters in the summer and offshore waters (outer continental shelf) in winter.  Scup migrate north and inshore in spring.  Seven statistical areas (537, 539, 611, 613, 615, 616, 622) individually accounted for greater than 5% of the scup catch in 2009, collectively accounting for 93% of the catch.  Seven statistical areas (537, 538, 539, 611, 612, 613, 616) individually accounted for greater than 5% of the trips that caught scup in 2009.  Collectively, these seven areas accounted for 97% of the trips that caught scup and 81% of the scup catch.

At what depths are scup found?  Scup are found in inshore waters in summer.  They overwinter from south of Husdon Canyon to NC in depths of 250-610 ft.

Are other species caught when fishing for scup?  Summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries are mixed fisheries, where squid, Atlantic mackerel, silver hake, skate, and other species are also harvested.

What gear types are authorized and what gears are primarily used?  For the commercial fishery, trawl, longline, handline, pot, trap, gillnet, and dredge are all authorized gears.  For the recreational fishery, rod and reel, handline, pot, trap, and spear are all authorized gears.  In 2009, the majority of the trips and catch were made by bottom otter and beam trawls (70% of trips, 92.3% of catch), handline “other” (14.7% of trip, 1.3% of catch), pots and traps (8.4% of trips, 4.9% of catch), gillnets (6.7% of trips, 0.9% of catch), scallop dredges, and mid-water otter trawls.

Who manages this fishery?  Scup is jointly managed in state and Federal waters by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries in conjunction with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

How is the fishery managed?  Scup is managed using size, season, and bag limit for the recreational fishery, and a coastwide seasonal quota, size limit, seasonal possession limits, and gear restrictions for the commercial fishery.

What is the fishing year for this fishery?  January 1 – December 31

What are the different management areas for the scup fishery?  Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina (35° 15.3’ N latitude).

1995 – Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council establish a joint management program for scup

1996 – Scup incorporated into Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan (FMP) (Amendment 8, Federal Register (FR) Notice); several management measures established including commercial quotas, recreational harvest limits, size limits, gear restrictions, permits, and reporting requirements

1997Amendment 10 (FR Notice) modified commercial minimum mesh requirements, continued commercial vessel moratorium, and prohibited transfer of fish at sea

1998Amendment 11 (FR Notice) modified certain provisions related to vessel replacement and upgrading, permit history transfer, splitting, and permit renewal regulations

1999Amendment 12 (FR Notice) revised FMP to comply with the Sustainable Fisheries Act and established framework adjustment processes

2000 – Broad-scale Gear Restricted Areas are implemented to reduce discards of scup in small mesh fisheries for longfin squid and silver hake; size and boundaries of these areas were modified in late 2000 and again in 2005 in response to commercial fishing industry recommendations

2001Framework 1 (FR Notice) established quota set-aside for research

2003Framework 3 (FR Notice) allowed the rollover of winter scup quota, revised start date for summer quota period; Framework 4 (FR Notice) established system to transfer scup at sea; and Amendment 13 (Volume 1, Volume 2, FR Notice) addressed the disapproved sections of Amendment 12 (FR Notice)

2004Framework 5 (FR Notice) established multi-year specification setting of quota

2005 – NOAA Fisheries notifies Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council that scup is overfished

2007Amendment 14 (FR Notice) established a 7-year scup rebuilding plan; Framework 7 (FR Notice) built flexibility into process to define and update status determination criteria, GRAs made modifiable through framework adjustment process; and Amendment 16 (FR Notice) standardized bycatch reporting methodology

2008 – Rebuilding plan "clock" starts January 1 with deadline for scup to reach its target population level by December 31, 2014

2009 – Scup declared rebuilt ahead of schedule

2011Amendment 15 (FR Notice) established annual catch limits and accountability measures

2014Amendment 19 (FR Notice) changed recreational accountability measures

2015 – Amendment 17 (FR Notice) implemented Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology

2015 – Amendment 18 (FR Notice) eliminated the requirement for vessel owners to submit "did not fish" reports for months or weeks when their vessel was not fishing.  Removed some of the restrictions for upgrading vessels listed on Federal fishing permits

2016Framework 9 (FR Notice) modified the Scup Gear Restricted Areas (GRAs) to maintain low levels of scup discards in small-mesh fisheries while allowing those fisheries to access longfin squid

2017Amendment 20 (FR Notice) implemented management measures to prevent the development of new, and the expansion of existing, commercial fisheries on certain forage species in the Mid-Atlantic.

What are the primary markets for the scup fishery?  Human consumption

What are the recent landings and value of the fishery? 

Landings:  17.091 million lb (2015)

Ex-vessel landing value:  $11.551 million (2015)

Estimated average ex-vessel price per pound:  $0.68 (2015)

What are the top scup landing ports?  Point Judith, RI, Point Pleasant, NJ, and Montauk, NY

FishWatch Scup Information – click here
Stock Scup
Overfishing? No
Overfishing Definition Overfishing occurs when F>FMSY
Overfished? No
Overfished Definition The stock is overfished when B<1/2 BMSY Proxy
Rebuilding Program No, declared rebuilt in 2009
F/FMSY 0.177
Fishing Mortality Rate 0.127 (2014)
SSBMSY Proxy 192.467 million lb
Spawning Stock Biomass 403.258 million lb (2014)

Other Stock Status Information:  Not Applicable

Most Recent Environmental Impact Statement:  Amendment 13; 2003 (Volume 1, Volume 2)

Most Recent Biological Opinion:  2013

Most Recent Stock Assessment:  2015

Next Stock Assessment:  Unknown/not yet scheduled

Quota Monitoring – click here

2019 Annual Scup Specifications (January 1-December 31)

Overfishing Limit (OFL) 41.03 million lb
Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) 36.43 million lb
Commercial Annual Catch Limit (ACL) 28.42 million lb
Commercial Annual Catch Target (ACT) 28.42 million lb
Recreational ACL 8.01 million lb
Recreational ACT 8.01 million lb
Commercial Quota 23.98 million lb
Recreational Harvest Limit (RHL) 7.37 million lb

Quota Period Months Quota (lb)
Winter I January to April 10,820,000
Summer May to September 9,340,986
Winter II* October to December 3,822,816
Total January to December 23,983,802

*See inseason adjustments below.

Research Set-Aside:  0 lb

How often do the quotas change for this fishery?  Every year

What if specifications are not in place at the start of fishing year?  In 1997, Judge Robert Dumar ordered that specifications publish before the fishing year begins.

Are there inseason adjustments (changes mid-fishing year) in this fishery?  Yes, if the coastwide commercial scup quota is fully harvested in any one period, then the commercial scup fishery will be closed for that period until the next period quota becomes available.  Additionally, for years in which the full Winter I commercial scup quota is not harvested, unused quota from the Winter I period will be added to the quota for the Winter II period.  This will also allow adjustment of the commercial possession limit for the Winter II period based on the amount of quota rolled over from the Winter I period.

Accountability Measures:

Commercial – Landings in excess of the annual coastwide quota, for any given period, will be deducted from the quota allocation for that period the following year. 

Recreational – The recreational sector ACL will be evaluated based on a 3-year moving average comparison of total catch (landings and dead discards).  Both landings and dead discards will be evaluated in determining if the 3-year average recreational ACL has been exceeded.  If available data indicate that the recreational sector ACL has been exceeded, the total catch exceeds the ABC, or the total catch exceeds the OFL, then a system of accountability measures will be used that are based on a combination of how high the overage is and what condition the stock is in.  In other words, the status of the stock determines what type of management response would be implemented, including adjustment of management measures, scaled payback of overage, or pound-for-pound overage payback.  These adjustments will be made in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible, as a single year adjustment.

Other:  Not Applicable

Click Below for Past Quota Information:







Permit Categories

Permit Category Type Description Permits Issued in 2017 Number of Permits in Confirmation of Permit History*
Category 1 Commercial (Moratorium) Vessel that fishes for, catches, possesses, transports, lands, sells, or trades scup 598 180
Category 2 Recreational Charter/Party Vessel that carries passengers for hire 735 Not Applicable

*A Confirmation of Permit History allows a vessel owner to retain permit eligibility in the event the vessel has been destroyed or sold but the owner retains the permit eligibility.  The permit in Confirmation of Permit History may then be placed on a vessel at a later date.

Control Date:  Vessels with qualified landings of scup between January 26, 1988, and January 26, 1993

Other Permit Information:  Not Applicable

Commercial Operator Permit:  Operator cards are required for any operator of a charter/party boat or a commercial vessel (including carrier and processor vessels) issued a vessel permit from the Greater Atlantic Region and fishing for or in possession of fish.

Commercial Dealer/Processor Permit:  Scup may be sold only to persons possessing a valid Federal scup dealer permit. 

How to Obtain a Federal Fishing Permit:  Anyone with a valid vessel operator’s permit can obtain a Federal recreational scup permit by submitting a permit application and supporting documentation to the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Permit Division. 

Commercial (moratorium) permits have been managed under a limited entry system since 1996; no new moratorium permits are being issued.

More information can be found here.

Possession Limits and Fish Size Requirements

Seasonal Possession Limits

Quota Period Months Possession Limit (lb)
Winter I January to April 50,000
Summer May to September Not Applicable
Winter II October to December 12,000

Note:  The Winter I possession limit will be reduced to 1,000 lb when 80% of that period’s quota is reached.  The Winter II possession limit may be adjusted in association with a transfer of unused Winter I quota to the Winter II period.  Also, please check state regulations.

No more than 50 scup are allowed to be possessed by any person unless that person is the owner or operator of a vessel that has a scup moratorium permit. 

Scup harvested by a vessel with a moratorium or charter/party scup permit, or from the EEZ north of 35°15.3; N. lat., may not be landed with the skin removed.

Fish Size Limits:              

Minimum Fish Size:  9 in total length (check state regulations)              

Maximum Fish Size:  None

Check your state regulations for further details:


New Hampshire


Rhode Island


New York

New Jersey




North Carolina

Gear Requirements

Otter trawlers –Vessels fishing under a scup moratorium permit must have a minimum mesh size of 5-inch diamond mesh, applied throughout the codend for at least 75 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net, and all other nets are properly stowed.  For trawl nets with codends (including the extension) of fewer than 75 meshes, the entire trawl net must have a minimum mesh size of 5 inches throughout the net.

Vessels with a scup moratorium permit that are not fishing in compliance with the above mesh requirements, may retain no more than 1,000 lb of scup from October 1 to April 14, no more than 2,000 lb of scup from April 15 through June 15, and no more than 200 lb of scup from June 16 to September 30. Scup on board these vessels shall be stowed separately and kept readily available for inspection.

Roller gear – A fishing vessel shall not use roller rig trawl gear with rollers greater than 18 in in diameter.

Pots and traps – Scup pots and traps must have degradable hinges, escape vents, and identification, as follows:

  • Degradable hinges made with:
    • Untreated hemp, jute, or cotton string of 3/16 in diameter or less; or
    • Magnesium allow, pop-up devices or similar magnesium alloy fasteners; or
    • Ungalvanized or uncoated iron wire of 0.094 in diameter or less.
  • Escape vents
    • Circular escape vent with 3.1 in minimum diameter; or
    • Square escape vent with sides of 2.25 in minimum length; or
    • Rectangular escape vent or equivalent size.
  • Identification
    • Marked with state identification (home port state); and/or
    • Marked with number assigned by the Regional Administrator.

Regulated, Closed, and Access Areas

The regulations restrict certain gear types from being fished in two areas off the mid-Atlantic (see figure).  Vessels fishing for longfin squid, black sea bass, or whiting in the Northern Gear Restricted Area (GRA) from November 1 through December 31, or in the Southern GRA from January 1 through March 15, must have a minimum mesh size of 5 in diamond mesh as specified above.  Vessels may transit these areas provided that net codends of smaller mesh are properly stowed and not available for immediate use. 

Shoreward boundary for scup transfer at sea, as established under Coast Guard consultation
and GRAs.  All transfers will occur seaward of the boundary line.

Days-At-Sea (DAS) Requirements

The scup fishery is not managed by a DAS system.  Please see the ‘Quota’ and ‘Limits/Sizes’ section of this webpage for more information on effort control in the scup fishery. 

Exempted Fisheries

What is an Exempted Fishery?

Exempted fisheries allow fishing vessels to fish for specific species without being subject to certain Northeast multispecies regulations, including days-at-sea, provided the bycatch of regulated species is minimal. To be approved and implemented, exemption programs must have demonstrated that incidental catch of NE multispecies is less than 5 percent of the total catch, by weight, and that the exemption will not jeopardize fishing mortality objectives.

How to Request Fishery Exemptions

An exempted fishery may be added, deleted, or modified pursuant to the procedure described below:

  1. Applicants must submit a written request to the Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2298. The request should describe the area in which the fishery would operate, the period in which it would operate, the gear it would use, the approximate number of vessels likely to participate, and the species it would target, retain, and land.
  2. Those proposing that a fishery should be exempt should describe the fishery and present all information possible that helps determine that the fishery meets the bycatch standard. The Regional Administrator will investigate NMFS data sources, but proposals for exemptions should be complete and clear to facilitate the process. State agencies and universities, for example, may have additional data available and applicants may contact them for assistance.
  3. When a request for an exempted fishery is submitted, the request and any accompanying data are reviewed by the Regional Administrator to determine whether such a fishery would meet the exemption qualifying criteria. The Regional Administrator will also consult with the New England Fishery Management Council on any exemptions requested. This process may take several months to complete.

Scup Fishery Exemptions

There are no exempted fisheries for the scup fishery.

Protected Resource and Marine Mammal Regulations

It is illegal to harvest or possess protected species unless otherwise specified under the regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act or Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Please see links below for more information or contact NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Protected Resources Division at (978) 281-9328.

Protected Fish Species

Marine Mammals

Sea Turtles


Marine Mammals

Sea Turtles


Marine Mammals

Sea Turtles

Possession Limits and Fish Size Requirements

Possession Limits:  50 fish, open all year (check state regulations)

Fish Size Limits:

Minimum Fish Size:  9 in (check state regulations) 

Maximum Fish Size:  none


New Hampshire


Rhode Island


New York

New Jersey




North Carolina

Gear Requirements

Not Applicable

Regulated, Closed, and Access Areas

Not Applicable

Days-At-Sea (DAS) Requirements:

The scup fishery is not managed by a DAS system.  Please see the ‘Fishery Quota’ and ‘Trip Limit’ section of this webpage for more information on effort control in the scup fishery. 

Exempted Fisheries

Not Applicable

Protected Resource and Marine Mammal Regulations

Not Applicable

Commercial Reporting

Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports (VTR): VTRs must be submitted with record of all fishing activity for each month. The reports must be submitted to NMFS or postmarked within 15 days after the end of the reporting month.  Reports can also be submitted electronically here

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System Requirements: The scup fishery does not have any IVR requirements.  However, if you are participating in a research program such as research set-aside (RSA) or fishing with an exempted fishing permit (EFP), there are IVR requirements. Please refer to your RSA or EFP paperwork for instruction on using IVR.

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Requirements: The scup fishery does not have any VMS requirements.

Observer Requirements: The scup fishery does not have any specific observer requirements, however all federally permitted vessels are obligated to carry an observer if randomly selected by the National Observer Program.

Charter/Party and Recreational Reporting

Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports (VTR): VTRs must be maintained on board the vessel and submitted to NMFS for all fishing trips, for charter/party permit holders regardless of species retained. Instructions for completing the VTR can be found here.

Charter/Party vessel permit owners and operators with a Federal permit charter/party (for-hire) permit to fish for scup (and other Mid-Atlantic species) must submit the required Vessel Trip Report by electronic means through a software application approved by NMFS. These electronic log VTRs must be submitted within 48 hours after entering port at the conclusion of a trip. More information of the eVTR requirements and help with electronic reporting can be found here.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System Requirements: The scup fishery does not have any IVR requirements. However, if you are participating in a research program such as fishing with an exempted fishing permit (EFP), there are IVR requirements. Please refer to your EFP paperwork for instruction on using IVR

Additionally, the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) is a system of coordinated voluntary data collection programs designed to estimate recreational catch and effort.