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The MA Division of Marine Fisheries will be holding a public hearing on 2018 recreational fishing regulations for black sea bass, fluke and scup on March 28.
By Toby Lapinski  |  March 26, 2018
Black sea bass are among the three species to be discussed at the meeting on March 28 in Hyannis.

One of the most common complaint in fisheries management is the feeling that the voice of the recreational angler is not heard. Well, here is your chance to be heard!

Coming up on March 28, the he Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) will be holding a public hearing to discuss the proposed 2018 recreational fishing regulations for black sea bass, summer flounder (fluke) and scup (porgy.) The meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 28, at 6:00 PM at the Doubletree Hotel (287 Iyannough Road, Hyannis, MA.)

If you are unable to attend this meeting in person, fret not as written public comment may also be submitted with a submission deadline of April 4. Written comment may be sent to David Pierce, DMF Director. His address is 251 Causeway Street, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02114. You may also submit comment via email at marine.fish@state.ma.us, and fax at (617) 626-1509.

Again, your comment may be submitted either in person at the March 28 meeting or in writing by April 4 at midnight.

The Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission is scheduled to meet on April 12, and will review the Director’s recommendation for 2018 recreational fluke, black sea bass, and scup regulations. The Division expects to announce the regulations soon after. The fluke and black sea bass regulations could vary from the options provided below based on public input.

Massachusetts is allowed to liberalize our recreational fluke regulations to increase projected harvest by 17% in 2018, relative to our preliminary 2017 harvest estimate (25,669 fish). DMF’s preferred option includes increasing the possession limit by 1 fish (reversing the 1-fish decrease required in 2017) and adding 15 days to the open season thereby encapsulating both the Memorial Day Weekend and Columbus Day Weekend.

Possible (non-preferred) alternatives include a slightly different season at 5 fish and 17” (e.g., opening on May 19, the same as black sea bass), or remaining at 4 fish to gain 59 open days. A size limit decrease (back to the 16” allowed prior to 2017) was evaluated and found to exceed the allowed liberalization.

Massachusetts is allowed to liberalize our recreational black sea bass regulations to increase projected harvest by 4.6%, relative to our preliminary 2017 harvest estimate (222,079 fish). We are part of a region with RI, CT, and NY that has been newly allocated 61.35% of the coastwide recreational harvest limit, which is decreasing 15% in 2018. The Northern Region faces an 11.7% harvest reduction this year; however, this has been distributed between the states in a manner designed to achieve more consistent measures and equitable access within the region, while accommodating local differences. RI, CT, and NY must implement -2.1%, -28.5%, and -5.8% harvest reductions, respectively.

DMF is committed to opening the fishery on May 19, representing the third Saturday in May, consistent with recent prior years. The total length of the season will be determined by the possession limit (or limits) selected. A change in the minimum size is not allowed.

For recreational scup management, the Northern Region of MA–NY strives for compatible regulations to achieve our harvest target, which is increasing 34% in 2018. A regional proposal has been approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, from which deviation at this point are impractical.

Given the already liberal season and bag limits, the Northern Region states prioritized a reduction in the minimum size to 9”, matching the federal waters size limit. This is projected to increase harvest by about 27% within the region.

Again, comment may be submitted in person or in writing via the following:

Scoping Meeting
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
6:00 PM
Doubletree Hotel
287 Iyannough Road
Hyannis, MA

Written Comment (April 4 Deadline)
Address to: David Pierce, DMF Director
251 Causeway Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
Email: marine.fish@state.ma.us
Fax: (617) 626-1509

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