New Blueline Tilefish Regulations

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) recently approved measures to establish management of blueline tilefish in Federal waters off the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts. The Blueline Tilefish Amendment includes a suite of measures that will incorporate blueline tilefish as a managed species in the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan.

If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the amendment would establish a separate blueline tilefish management unit in Federal waters north of the North Carolina/Virginia border extending up to the boundary with Canada. The management objectives for blueline tilefish would be the same as for golden tilefish, with the addition that “management will reflect blueline tilefish’s susceptibility of overfishing and the need for an analytical stock assessment.”

Based on the recommendation of its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), the Council adopted an Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) of 87,031 pounds for 2017. The Council voted to allocate 73% of total allowable landings to the recreational fishery and 27% to the commercial sector.

For the recreational fishery, the Council recommended an open season from May 1 to October 31, when blueline tilefish are available to most anglers throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

Recreational bag limits would be set at 7 fish per person for inspected for-hire vessels, 5 fish per person for uninspected for-hire vessels, and 3 fish per person for private vessels.

In addition, the Council recommended mandatory permitting and reporting of golden and blueline tilefish for both for-hire and private recreational fishing in order to develop better information on recreational tilefish landings in the Mid-Atlantic.

The public will have an opportunity to comment on the measures recommended by the Council during the comment period associated with the NMFS proposed rule. Publication of the proposed rule is expected this summer.

source: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council