New Measures for Tilefish: Catch Shares, Bag Limit and Habitat Protection

A catch share program for the Mid-Atlantic tilefish fishery has been approved by NOAA Fisheries Service. Each fisherman will be allocated a percentage of the tilefish quota that can be caught throughout the year. The program, which takes effect November 1, 2009, is designed to reduce overcapacity in the fishery and improve profitability and working conditions for commercial tilefish fishermen.

Other provisions in this final rule include a recreational bag limit and a charter/party vessel permit that will allow NOAA Fisheries Service to collect recreational catch information to help assess the health of the tilefish stock.

Four offshore canyons will be closed to bottom trawling to protect important tilefish habitat. Amendment 1 prohibits the use of bottom-tending mobile gear (such as the bottom otter trawl), within and adjacent to Norfolk, Veatch, Lydonia, and Oceanographer Canyons.

Golden tilefish are brilliantly colored blue, green, yellow and rose, and occur in the deep waters of the Atlantic from Nova Scotia south to Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico. They are also found in the Indian and Pacific Ocean. Mature tilefish weigh up to 50 pounds, though 20 to 30 pounds is more common. They feed on small fish, squid, shrimp, shelled mollusks, worms, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and sea anemones.

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source: NOAA Fish News