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Monkfish fishery management plan : secretarial emergency action to eliminate monkfish possession limits in the Northern Fishery Management Area during fishing year 2013, environmental assessment
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Filetype[PDF-3.01 MB]

  • Alternative Title:
    Secretarial emergency action to eliminate monkfish possession limits in the Northern Fishery Management Area during fishing year 2013, environmental assessment ; Final environmental assessment for a secretarial emergency action to eliminate monkfish posession limits in the Northern Fishery Management Area during fishing year 2013 ;
  • Description:
    "The monkfish fishery is jointly managed by the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC), with the NEFMC having the administrative lead. The fishery extends from Maine to North Carolina out to the continental margin. The Councils manage the fishery as two stocks, with the Northern Fishery Management Area (NFMA) covering the Gulf of Maine (GOM) and northern part of Georges Bank (GB), and the Southern Fishery Management Area (SFMA) extending from the southern flank of GB through the Mid-Atlantic Bight to North Carolina (see Figure 1). The monkfish fishery is primarily managed by possession limits in conjunction with a yearly allocation of days-at-sea (DAS) calculated to enable vessels participating in the fishery to catch, but not exceed, the target total allowable landings (TAL) and annual catch target (ACT) (landings plus discards) specified for the NFMA and SFMA for each fishing year (FY). Monkfish are often landed while fishing for species managed by the Northeast (NE) Multispecies (groundfish) Fishery Management Plan (FMP), particularly in the NFMA. During FY 2009, 73 percent of vessels issued limited access monkfish permits were also issued limited access groundfish permits. Such 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 DAS on the same trip. Monkfish are currently not subject to overfishing, and are considered rebuilt in both the NFMA and SFMA (NEFSC 2010). In recent years, the monkfish fishery has failed to fully harvest the ACT specified for each year, particularly in the NFMA. This suggests that monkfish landings could be increased with little risk of overfishing monkfish. In contrast, several groundfish stocks managed under the NE Multispecies FMP, including GOM cod, GOM haddock, GB cod, and GB yellowtail flounder, are overfished and subject to overfishing. Updated assessments for these stocks conducted in 2012 indicate that substantial reductions in the fishing mortality rate (F) for these stocks are necessary to prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks consistent with rebuilding plans required under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). At its January 2013 meeting, the NEFMC adopted Framework Adjustment (FW) 50 to the NE Multispecies FMP (NEFMC, 2013) to address the results of updated assessments for several groundfish stocks. Among other measures, that action would specify annual catch limits (ACLs) for these stocks for FYs 2013 through 2015 that are substantially reduced when compared to ACLs specified for previous fishing years. These reductions, if approved by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), would likely become effective May 1, 2013, and would result in substantial adverse economic impacts to vessels participating in the groundfish fishery. To help mitigate the adverse economic impacts of reduced fishing opportunities in the groundfish fishery during FY 2013, the NEFMC requested that NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) implement an emergency action to eliminate monkfish possession limits for sector vessels fishing under a groundfish DAS in the NFMA at its November 13-15, 2012, meeting. The Secretary finds that emergency action, under the authority of the MSA, is necessary to increase monkfish landings from the NFMA to help mitigate the substantial adverse economic and social impacts associated with substantial reductions to several groundfish ACLs during FY 2013. This is based on recent updates to groundfish stock assessments that would likely result in substantial adverse economic impacts to the groundfish fishery and associated communities that can be, at least in part, mitigated by increasing monkfish landings during FY 2013. This Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzes the environmental impacts of an emergency action that proposes to eliminate monkfish possession limits for vessels issued both a Federal limited access NE multispecies and monkfish permit (i.e., vessels issued a Federal limited access monkfish Category C or D permit) while fishing under a monkfish DAS in the NFMA during FY 2013. This EA compares alternatives, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to quickly implement measures that would help mitigate adverse economic impacts in the groundfish fishery"--Executive summary (pages 2-3).
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