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THE STATE OF MAINE'S BOATING NEWSPAPER Volume 28 Issue 6 June 2015 More Rulings Made for Commercial Fishermen


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NMFS Announces Approval of Three New England Groundfi sh Rules for Fishing Year 2015 (May 1, 2015-April 30, 2016)

Jonesport Shipyard launches APRIL & KRISTI. She is a 42-footer built by Willis Beal of Beals Island 25 years ago for William Smith of West Jonesport. Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel,

NOAA Fisheries announces three ac-

tions affecting the Northeast Multispecies fi shery. These are the fi nal rules implement- ing Framework Adjustment 53 to the North- east Multispecies Fishery Management Plan and the Sector Operations Plans for 2015- 2016, and the interim fi nal rule that imple- ments additional recreational measures for the Northeast Multispecies fi shery. With these three actions, NOAA Fish- eries is establishing annual catch limits for fi shing year 2015 (May 1, 2015 through April 30, 2016) based on the best available science, and making necessary adjustments to commercial and recreational management measures to help prevent overfi shing and rebuild overfi shed stocks.

The 2015 catch limits for most ground-

fi sh stocks are the same as in 2014. However, given the poor status of several stocks, in particular Gulf of Maine cod, there are large reductions in catch limits for Gulf of Maine cod (-75%), Georges Bank winter fl ounder (-44%), and Gulf of Maine winter fl ounder (-53%). The reduction for Gulf of Maine cod is in addition to the 75% catch limit reduc- tion we implemented for the 2013 fi shing year.

We are also modifying existing Gulf of Maine area closures for the commercial

groundfi sh fi shery to help protect Gulf of Maine cod. This action adds some closure areas, while removing other areas to pro- vide increased fishing opportunities on healthy groundfi sh stocks, like haddock. To improve catch monitoring of Gulf of Maine cod, vessels choosing to fi sh in the Gulf of Maine and another broad stock area on the same trip will be required to provide daily catch reports

New recreational measures that became

effective on May 1 include: Access to Gulf of Maine cod closure areas, but possession of Gulf of Maine cod remains prohibited; and reduction in haddock minimum size to 17 inches, but bag limit remains the same at 3 fi sh.

Seventeen sectors submitted operations plans and contracts for fi shing years 2015 and 2016, which include exemption requests from certain regulations to improve the effi ciency and economics of sector vessels. This year, we approved 19 of 22 requested sector exemptions. This is the fi rst time we have approved two-year plans. Read the “as fi led” versions of the two

fi nal rules: Framework Adjustment 53; Sec- tor Operations Plans Read the “as fi led” version of the inter-

im fi nal rule: Recreational Measures The bulletin with information on the three rules is available online, as is an in- formation sheet on recreational fishing measures.

Regional Offi ce, at 978-281-9175 or email

ASMFC Atlantic Herring Section Approves Draft Amendment 3 for Public Comment

ALEXANDRIA – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlan- tic Herring Section has approved Draft Amendment 3 to the Interstate Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for public comment. Draft Amendment 3 was initiated to strengthen spawning sea herring protections in Area 1A (inshore Gulf of Maine) and address concerns raised by the commercial Atlantic herring industry. The Draft Amendment proposes (1) changing the spawning monitoring program (default start dates, area boundaries, and length of the closure period); (2) removing the fi xed gear set-aside rollover provision, and (3) requiring a vessel’s fi sh hold to be emptied before leaving on a fi shing trip. The empty fi sh hold provision is also being addressed by the New England Fishery Management Council under Framework Adjustment 4 to the Federal Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Herring.

The Commission’s Plan Development

Team conducted a review of the current spawning monitoring program and rec- ommended new tools and adjustments to improve protection for spawning fi sh. The

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review revealed spawning events occur at different times each year and typically last six weeks. Therefore, a modifi cation to the spawning protection program would be appropriate to protect the herring resource. The suite of options include a new forecast system to allow fi sheries biologists to pool samples of herring from Maine and Massa- chusetts and project the date of peak spawn- ing. A range of options for adjusting the default closure start dates are based on anal- ysis of spawning data from the past decade, and provides fl exibility in the proportion of spawning fi sh protected. The Draft Amend- ment proposes merging the Western Maine (WM) and Massachusetts-New Hampshire (MA-NH) spawning areas because there have been no signifi cant differences in the starting dates of spawning events. Lastly, an option proposes to extend the closure period in MA-NH (or WM-MA-NH) to six weeks refl ecting the current characteristics of the rebuilt herring population, which is charac- terized by a broader age class structure and longer overall spawning season since the current spawning program was developed. At the request of the fi shing industry,

the Draft Amendment also includes options to remove the fi xed gear set-aside provision and establish a requirement for empty fi sh holds. Currently, 295 mt is set-aside for the fi xed gear fi shery in Area 1A until Novem-

Continued on Page 12.

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