New Bluefish Regs?

Roccus7

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Dec 22, 2018
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I've been hearing a lot of noise about bluefish regs. Not sure if they're a proposal or a done deal. I'm looking for source material so if you have it, post away. The one thing I really hate is the For Hire/Private separation...

Here's what the drum lines say:

Last week, fishery managers approved new regulations for the 2020 recreational bluefish fishery. These measures, which include a 3-fish bag limit for private anglers and a 5-fish bag limit for for-hire fishermen, represent a substantial reduction compared to the federal 15-fish bag limit that has been in place since 2000.
 

Capt13

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Dec 28, 2018
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I've been hearing a lot of noise about bluefish regs. Not sure if they're a proposal or a done deal. I'm looking for source material so if you have it, post away. The one thing I really hate is the For Hire/Private separation...

Here's what the drum lines say:

Last week, fishery managers approved new regulations for the 2020 recreational bluefish fishery. These measures, which include a 3-fish bag limit for private anglers and a 5-fish bag limit for for-hire fishermen, represent a substantial reduction compared to the federal 15-fish bag limit that has been in place since 2000.
Commercial quotas have been very high ......1000 lb trip limits? Is there going to be tightening there too ?
 

Roccus7

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Dec 22, 2018
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OK, finally landed some source materials...

December 17, 2019 — The following was released by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council:

Last week, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) recommended and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) approved new recreational fishing regulations for the 2020 Atlantic bluefish fishery from Florida to Maine. These measures, which include a 3-fish bag limit for private anglers and shore-based fishermen and a 5-fish bag limit for for-hire fishermen, represent a substantial reduction compared to the federal 15-fish bag limit that has been in place since 2000. The Commission’s actions are final and apply to state waters (0-3 miles from shore), while the Council will forward its recommendation for federal waters (3 – 200 miles from shore) to the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Administrator for final approval.

The most recent operational assessment of the Atlantic bluefish stock concluded that the stock is overfished but not experiencing overfishing. During their joint meeting in October, the Council and Commission adopted a recreational harvest limit (RHL) of 9.48 million pounds for 2020 and 2021, which is an 18% decrease compared to the 2019 RHL. Using the current regulations, the recreational sector is projected to land 13.27 million pounds, which will exceed the RHL by 28.56%. Therefore, the Council and Commission met last week to approve new recreational management measures to constrain harvest to the reduced RHL.

The Council and Commission considered several combinations of bag limits and minimum size limits, including options to set a single set of regulations for all fishing modes or different regulations for shore/private modes and the for-hire mode. Although the Council’s Bluefish Monitoring Committee recommended a coastwide 3-fish bag limit, the majority of comments from the public and Bluefish Advisory Panel (AP) members expressed opposition to this option, noting that it would have severe economic consequences for the for-hire sector, which was only responsible for 3.6% of coastwide landings from 2016 to 2018. Additionally, AP members and the public emphasized that these proposed reductions come at a challenging time for for-hire stakeholders as they are also facing new restrictions on striped bass, black sea bass, summer flounder, and scup.

After an extensive discussion and thorough consideration of public comments, the Council recommended and Commission approved a 3-fish bag limit for private and shore modes and a 5-fish bag limit for the for-hire mode. No restrictions were made to minimum fish size or seasons.

“For many years, bluefish has been one of our most abundant recreational fisheries,” said Council Chairman and ASMFC Board member Mike Luisi. “The Council and Commission are fully committed to the effective conservation and management of this stock, but we also recognize that a sudden change in regulations could have severe socioeconomic consequences for some stakeholders. After evaluating a wide range of options and considering numerous comments from the public, we feel that this approach is the most fair and effective way to achieve the necessary reduction in harvest next year.”

The Council and Commission are continuing to work on development of a rebuilding plan as part of the Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment. Additional information and updates on this action are available at http://www.mafmc.org/actions/bluefish-allocation-amendment.


Mid-Atlantic States October Meeting Bluefish Minutes:

Bluefish 2020-2021 Specifications

The 2019 bluefish operational assessment concluded that the bluefish stock was overfished and overfishing was not occurring in 2018 relative to the updated biological reference points. Based on the SSC’s recommendation, the Council and Bluefish Board adopted an ABC of 16.28 million pounds for both years. After accounting for expected discards, this ABC translates to a commercial quota of 2.77 million pounds and an RHL of 9.48 million pounds for 2020 and 2021. Compared to 2019, this represents a 64% decrease in the commercial quota and an 18% decrease in the RHL. In recent years, a portion of the total allowable landings above the expected recreational harvest have been transferred from the recreational fishery to the commercial fishery. However, because the recreational fishery is anticipated to fully harvest the RHL, the Council did not authorize a quota transfer from the recreational to the commercial sectors for 2020-2021.

Bluefish Allocation Amendment and Bluefish Rebuilding
The Council and Bluefish Board received an update on the Bluefish Allocation Amendment and revisited the list of issues previously identified for consideration in the amendment. As background, the Council and Board initiated the amendment in December 2017 with the goal of reviewing and possibly revising the allocation between the commercial and recreational fisheries and the commercial allocations to the states. In August 2018, the Council and Bluefish Board agreed to postpone finalization of the public hearing document until after the results of the bluefish operational assessment were available. These results, which were released in August 2019, indicate that the stock is overfished with overfishing not occurring in 2018 relative to the updated biological reference points. Once the Council receives official notification from NOAA Fisheries regarding the overfished status of the bluefish stock, the Council will be required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to initiate a rebuilding plan to be implemented within two years that rebuilds the stock to the biomass target within ten years.

During their joint meeting, the Council and Bluefish Board affirmed the list of five issues previously identified for consideration in the amendment. These include: (1) FMP Goals and Objectives, (2) Commercial and Recreational Allocations, (3) Commercial Allocations to the States, (4) Quota Transfers, and (5) Other Issues. The Council and Board also provided specific recommendations for further analysis by the Fishery Management Action Team (FMAT). Specifically, the Council and Board recommended that the FMAT consider the dynamics between seasonality and region when analyzing state allocations. The Council and Board also requested that the FMAT explore addressing management uncertainty by sector. Lastly, the Council and Board agreed to incorporate rebuilding into the amendment in order to streamline the development and implementation of a rebuilding plan. Because this additional issue modifies the scope of the amendment, the Council and Board will need to provide additional hearings and opportunities for public comment. Additional information and updates will be posted on the Council website at Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council — Bluefish Allocation Amendment.
 
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rabiatou

New Angler
Sep 16, 2019
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sounds like a done deal fuzzy math 15 fish minus 18% is not 3 fish. if sites like this do not fight back we can find another hobby. already less bait stores less marine fuel soon no recreational fishery. ny angler speak up or the guys in suits totally destroy our beloved sport THIS IS A DISGRACE
 

george

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Dec 19, 2018
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Soooo, is it a firm three fish limit for next year ?
Nothing is ever definite when it comes to fisheries management. I've mentioned this was coming on a few occasions. I'll need a little time before I make any judgment. I too dislike separate quotas in the rec arena but it looks like that's where we're going. I'm starting to wonder if it makes sense. Many of the leaders in the rec sector are so anti-for hire that they really have no choice.

The Bluefish FMP coordinator is away until after new year, but I will have more from the fishes mouth.
 
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george

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"In recent years, a portion of the total allowable landings above the expected recreational harvest have been transferred from the recreational fishery to the commercial fishery. "

I was there when this transfer happened Tom Fote and I predicted this would happen. In essence, what this says is that each and every bluefish that a recreational angler caught, and decided to release, was killed anyhow in the transfer to the commercial fishery.

I hated it then, and I hate it now. It has lead us to where we are today.
 

george

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OK, finally landed some source materials...

December 17, 2019 — The following was released by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council:

Last week, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) recommended and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) approved new recreational fishing regulations for the 2020 Atlantic bluefish fishery from Florida to Maine. These measures, which include a 3-fish bag limit for private anglers and shore-based fishermen and a 5-fish bag limit for for-hire fishermen, represent a substantial reduction compared to the federal 15-fish bag limit that has been in place since 2000. The Commission’s actions are final and apply to state waters (0-3 miles from shore), while the Council will forward its recommendation for federal waters (3 – 200 miles from shore) to the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Administrator for final approval.

The most recent operational assessment of the Atlantic bluefish stock concluded that the stock is overfished but not experiencing overfishing. During their joint meeting in October, the Council and Commission adopted a recreational harvest limit (RHL) of 9.48 million pounds for 2020 and 2021, which is an 18% decrease compared to the 2019 RHL. Using the current regulations, the recreational sector is projected to land 13.27 million pounds, which will exceed the RHL by 28.56%. Therefore, the Council and Commission met last week to approve new recreational management measures to constrain harvest to the reduced RHL.

The Council and Commission considered several combinations of bag limits and minimum size limits, including options to set a single set of regulations for all fishing modes or different regulations for shore/private modes and the for-hire mode. Although the Council’s Bluefish Monitoring Committee recommended a coastwide 3-fish bag limit, the majority of comments from the public and Bluefish Advisory Panel (AP) members expressed opposition to this option, noting that it would have severe economic consequences for the for-hire sector, which was only responsible for 3.6% of coastwide landings from 2016 to 2018. Additionally, AP members and the public emphasized that these proposed reductions come at a challenging time for for-hire stakeholders as they are also facing new restrictions on striped bass, black sea bass, summer flounder, and scup.

After an extensive discussion and thorough consideration of public comments, the Council recommended and Commission approved a 3-fish bag limit for private and shore modes and a 5-fish bag limit for the for-hire mode. No restrictions were made to minimum fish size or seasons.

“For many years, bluefish has been one of our most abundant recreational fisheries,” said Council Chairman and ASMFC Board member Mike Luisi. “The Council and Commission are fully committed to the effective conservation and management of this stock, but we also recognize that a sudden change in regulations could have severe socioeconomic consequences for some stakeholders. After evaluating a wide range of options and considering numerous comments from the public, we feel that this approach is the most fair and effective way to achieve the necessary reduction in harvest next year.”


The Council and Commission are continuing to work on development of a rebuilding plan as part of the Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment. Additional information and updates on this action are available at http://www.mafmc.org/actions/bluefish-allocation-amendment.


Mid-Atlantic States October Meeting Bluefish Minutes:

Bluefish 2020-2021 Specifications

The 2019 bluefish operational assessment concluded that the bluefish stock was overfished and overfishing was not occurring in 2018 relative to the updated biological reference points. Based on the SSC’s recommendation, the Council and Bluefish Board adopted an ABC of 16.28 million pounds for both years. After accounting for expected discards, this ABC translates to a commercial quota of 2.77 million pounds and an RHL of 9.48 million pounds for 2020 and 2021. Compared to 2019, this represents a 64% decrease in the commercial quota and an 18% decrease in the RHL. In recent years, a portion of the total allowable landings above the expected recreational harvest have been transferred from the recreational fishery to the commercial fishery. However, because the recreational fishery is anticipated to fully harvest the RHL, the Council did not authorize a quota transfer from the recreational to the commercial sectors for 2020-2021.

Bluefish Allocation Amendment and Bluefish Rebuilding
The Council and Bluefish Board received an update on the Bluefish Allocation Amendment and revisited the list of issues previously identified for consideration in the amendment. As background, the Council and Board initiated the amendment in December 2017 with the goal of reviewing and possibly revising the allocation between the commercial and recreational fisheries and the commercial allocations to the states. In August 2018, the Council and Bluefish Board agreed to postpone finalization of the public hearing document until after the results of the bluefish operational assessment were available. These results, which were released in August 2019, indicate that the stock is overfished with overfishing not occurring in 2018 relative to the updated biological reference points. Once the Council receives official notification from NOAA Fisheries regarding the overfished status of the bluefish stock, the Council will be required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to initiate a rebuilding plan to be implemented within two years that rebuilds the stock to the biomass target within ten years.


During their joint meeting, the Council and Bluefish Board affirmed the list of five issues previously identified for consideration in the amendment. These include: (1) FMP Goals and Objectives, (2) Commercial and Recreational Allocations, (3) Commercial Allocations to the States, (4) Quota Transfers, and (5) Other Issues. The Council and Board also provided specific recommendations for further analysis by the Fishery Management Action Team (FMAT). Specifically, the Council and Board recommended that the FMAT consider the dynamics between seasonality and region when analyzing state allocations. The Council and Board also requested that the FMAT explore addressing management uncertainty by sector. Lastly, the Council and Board agreed to incorporate rebuilding into the amendment in order to streamline the development and implementation of a rebuilding plan. Because this additional issue modifies the scope of the amendment, the Council and Board will need to provide additional hearings and opportunities for public comment. Additional information and updates will be posted on the Council website at Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council — Bluefish Allocation Amendment.
Hey @Roccus7 can you explain this one to me?

"Based on the 2019 operational stock assessment and peer review conducted by the Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop, bluefish are overfished, but are not experiencing overfishing"
 
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Matts

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Feb 11, 2019
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Hey @Roccus7 can you explain this one to me?

"Based on the 2019 operational stock assessment and peer review conducted by the Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop, bluefish are overfished, but are not experiencing overfishing"
It would seem "overfished" means stocks are low, but that "no overfishing" means low stocks do not result from current fishing practices.
It seems to me that this is an admission that the current regulations (15 per day) are having no adverse effect on stocks; but since stocks are way down and they don't know why, they have to do something, even if they know it will have no positive effect on stocks.
But what do I know! I can't remember the last time I've kept more than 3 blues pp on my boat. Plus, when blues are fluke or seabass by-catch, mostly I've seen them thrown back.
 
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pequa1

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Hey @Roccus7 can you explain this one to me?

"Based on the 2019 operational stock assessment and peer review conducted by the Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop, bluefish are overfished, but are not experiencing overfishing"
As a retired federal employee this sort of nonsense embarrasses me. all I know is the better half and I will definitely miss snappers on the barbie.
 
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Capt13

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Yup, I was just going to post that pequa ......

January 2020 Commercial Trip Limits
On Wednesday, January 1, 2020, the following daily trip limits are effective in New York State. All trip limits will remain in effect until further notice.

  • Black sea bass – The daily trip limit is set at 150 pounds.
  • Scup – The possession limit is 50,000 pounds per trip pursuant to NOAA Fisheries regulations.
  • Bluefish - The daily trip limit is set at 5,000 pounds.
 
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Roccus7

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Dec 22, 2018
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Yup, I was just going to post that pequa ......

January 2020 Commercial Trip Limits
On Wednesday, January 1, 2020, the following daily trip limits are effective in New York State. All trip limits will remain in effect until further notice:
  • Bluefish - The daily trip limit is set at 5,000 pounds.
Continuation of the "Population is overfished" while "Overfishing is not occurring" distortion of the Space/Time Continuum per chance??? We'll have to get Big Think on it, although I doubt the answer is "42"...
 

Chinacat

Well-Known Angler
Dec 20, 2018
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so it seems a big issue with the bluefish industry is the commercial lobby has more power than the recs?

FWIW, this fall I intentionally searched for pods of bluefish outside of Shinnecock on multiple trips to fill the smoker and came up empty every time.
In the fall I should be able to find them easily and have more than I need within a half an hour....
 

pequa1

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Caught far more weaks and flukes livelining off my yak than I did cocktails or small blues this summer. (of course I was livelining snappers but even they weren't as plentiful as in most years, although 2018 was even worse.) But sure, let a dragger take 2 & 1/2 tons a day...
 

buddha162

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sounds like a done deal fuzzy math 15 fish minus 18% is not 3 fish. if sites like this do not fight back we can find another hobby. already less bait stores less marine fuel soon no recreational fishery. ny angler speak up or the guys in suits totally destroy our beloved sport THIS IS A DISGRACE
It's not fuzzy math, as very few anglers kept (or even caught) their 15 fish limit. Therefore, a proportional cut will have little effect on reducing the actual take.

As for guys in suits destroying fishing...stocks collapsing will certainly do that too.
 

Roccus7

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It's not fuzzy math, as very few anglers kept (or even caught) their 15 fish limit. Therefore, a proportional cut will have little effect on reducing the actual take.

As for guys in suits destroying fishing...stocks collapsing will certainly do that too.
Yeah, the "Population is overfished" really means the population is lower than desired, BUT the reason isn't necessarily overfishing. Could be environmental, diseases, natural predation, etc.

"Overfishing is NOT occurring" means that the amount of fish taken by fishing (commercial and recreational) is within prescribed limits and is not the causative reason for the population being "overfished".

Since fishing usually has the largest impact on a fishery, and how the term "fishing" is used by fisheries management for ALL reductions in the population, it does seem that the 2 statements are mutually exclusive, but in this case it's a question of semantics. Think of Pacific Northwest salmon. The sea lions park themselves by fish ladders and feast on salmon while the fisherman watch in despair. In terms of fisheries management, the population is overfished, but overfishing, by humans, is not occurring.

HOWEVER, expect pain for bluefish because fishing is the only thing fisheries management can control and since the bluefish population is hurting, severe cutbacks will be in the cards, even though the NY commercial catch limit doesn't seem that way. I'm disappointed that it seems that recreational fishers will bear the brunt of the cutbacks. As you mentioned with the exception of snappers, most LI folk will see little practical differences with the new bag limit since blues were few and far between this past season.

What irks me the most is that the For Hire gang gets special dispensation, kind of like being "a little pregnant". Is the For Hire fishery Commercial or Recreational? Yes, their fares are Recreational fisherman, but they're trying to make a living out of running their boat, which sure sounds like a commercial operation to me. Therefore I think their harvest should be taken out of the Commercial quota and not the Recreational one.
 

george

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Hello All,

I have an interview coming up with regulators to get a full explanation. Does anyone have any specific questions they would like answered on the history/future of blueish regulations?
 

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