MAFMC Considers Black Sea Bass Overage and 2013 Management Measures

At its December meeting in Baltimore, MD, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council considered a number of issues related to the recreational black sea bass fishery.

The fishery closed on November 1 after preliminary landings estimates indicated that the harvest limit had been exceeded. The closure prompted concerns related to the black sea bass stock assessment and the current accountability measures that could result in a recreational fishery closure in 2014.

The early closure and the threat of an entire closed season in 2014 have intensified the pressure to address issues of scientific uncertainty so that future overages can be prevented.

Several steps were taken at the meeting, including:

The Council voted to request that the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) reconsider their recommendation for the 2013 allowable biological catch (ABC) limit in light of the most recent black sea bass landings and stock information.

The Council requested that the NEFSC conduct an operational assessment for black sea bass in the coming year. This assessment would follow a data workshop conducted with state scientist to review any available information on black sea bass.

The Council voted unanimously to initiate development of an omnibus amendment that would consider alternative accountability measures for black sea bass and other Mid-Atlantic fisheries.

The Council met jointly with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Board to consider 2013 recreational management measures.

The Board voted to develop an addendum to allow for state-specific or regional recreational approaches in 2013, and the Council recommended measures for federal waters.

If the addendum is adopted, federal management measures would be a 20 fish possession limit, a 12.5 inch minimum size limit, and an open season from January 1-February 28, May 19-October 14, and November 1-December 31.

source: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council