ASMFC Releases Black Sea Bass Draft Addendum XXI for Public Comment

Virginia has scheduled its hearing to gather public comment on Draft Addendum XXI to the Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. The date, time, and location of the scheduled Virginia meeting follows:

Virginia Marine Resources Commission
March 7, 2011; 6 PM
2600 Washington Avenue, 4th Floor
Newport News, Virginia
Contact: Jack Travelstead at (757) 247-2247

Draft Addendum XXI proposes to establish a program wherein the Commission’s Black Sea Bass Management Board could sub-divide the recreational black sea bass coastwide allocations into regional or state-by-state management for 2011 only. Since 1996, a uniform coastwide size, season, and bag limit has been set by the Commission and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to constrain the recreational fishery to the annual harvest target.

The harvest target was exceeded five times over the last 15 years, most recently in 2009 and 2010 when the harvest target was the lowest in the time series. It is estimated that 2009 and 2010 harvest targets were exceeded by 1.18 and 1.15 million pounds, respectively.

The current management plan only allows for the implementation of measures to be applied coastwide and not on a regional or state-specific basis.  In 2010 all states, with the exception of Massachusetts, adopted coastwide regulations of 25 fish, 12.5 inches TL minimum fish size, and an open season from May 22 to October 11 and November 1 to December 31 in 2010.

Massachusetts opted for a more restrictive 20 fish possession limit, and adopted all other coastwide regulations in 2010. The 2010 regulations resulted in a preliminary estimated harvest of 2.98 million pounds, approximately 1.15 million pounds above the 2010 target.

Given that the 2010 regulations were not effective in staying within the target, harvest will need to be reduced by 40% to achieve, but not exceed, the 2011 target of 1.78 million pounds. In order to meet the required reduction using coastwide measures, the Board has proposed increasing the minimum size limit to 13 inches and contracting the season to July 1 to October 1 and November 1 to December 31.

However, analyses have shown that these proposed changes will impact states differently. The Board initiated the Draft Addendum to provide the necessary management flexibility to mitigate potential disproportionate impact on states that can result from coastwide measures.

Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the Draft Addendum, either by attending public hearings or providing written comments. The Draft Addendum can be obtained via the Commission’s website at under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at (703) 842-0740.

Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on March 18, 2011 and should be forwarded to Toni Kerns, FMP Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; (703) 842-0741 (FAX) or at (Subject line: Black Sea Bass). For more information, please contact Toni Kerns at (703) 842-0740 or