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ASMFC 2017 SPRING MEETING OVERVIEW

ASMFC Spring Meeting runs from May 8 - 11, 2017 and is being held in Alexandria, VA.
By Toby Lapinski  |  May 8, 2017
ASMFC 2017 SPRING MEETING OVERVIEW
From striped bass to fluke and more, the 2017 Spring Meeting of the ASMFC has many important issues on its agenda.

The Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Annual Spring Meeting kicked off at 8 am today and concludes on Thursday afternoon. There is always a lengthy slate of topics to be discussed at any given ASMFC meeting, but this one has some hot-button topics that have the potential to carry some very interesting results. Most notably, the popular species of striped bass, black sea bass and fluke have agenda items this week. As always, you can listen in to the public proceedings by signing up for the daily webinar. The webinar will allow registrants to listen to board/section deliberations and view presentations and motions as they occur. No comments or questions will be accepted via the webinar.

STRIPED BASS
The Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board is scheduled to meet from 1 pm to 3:15 pm on Tuesday, May 9, and the big issue here is the consideration of Draft Addendum V as follows:

At its February 2017 meeting, the Board initiated the development of Draft Addendum V to Amendment 6 to the Atlantic Striped Bass FMP to consider a relaxation of the coastwide commercial and recreational regulations to bring fishing mortality to the target-level based on the 2016 stock assessment update. The Board’s action responds to concerns raised by Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions regarding continued economic hardship endured by its stakeholders since the implementation of Addendum IV and information from the 2016 stock assessment update indicating that fishing mortality in 2015 (the terminal year of the assessment) is below the target.

It goes on to say:

According to the results of the 2016 stock assessment update, the Atlantic striped bass stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. Furthermore, implementation of Addendum IV successfully reduced fishing mortality (F) below the F target of 0.18; F in 2015 was estimated to be 0.16. However, stakeholders from the Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions, especially from the forhire sector (e.g., charter boats), have expressed economic hardship due to the implementation of more restrictive measures required by Addendum IV. To address this issue, and based on results of the 2016 assessment update indicating F is below the target, the Board determined that coastwide commercial and recreational regulations could be relaxed to increase F to the target-level and provide more opportunities for fishermen to retain fish. As such, Draft Addendum V proposes alternative management measures aimed to increase removals by 10% compared to 2015-levels in order to achieve F target. However, the issue of relaxation becomes confounded as length‐frequency data from the catch in 2015 indicates a strong presence of the 2011 year class which is anticipated to join the coastal spawning population this year, and conservation of the 2011 year class was an objective of Addendum IV.

The draft Addendum V to Amendment 6 to the Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan can be viewed in its entirety online.

BLACK SEA BASS
If you noticed, when the 2017 recreational regulations for black sea bass were announced by some New England states this year, there was a little asterisk included indicating the regulations might change in-season. This was due to the fact that the 2016 Wave 6 data still needed to be reviewed. Well, it all comes to a head on Wednesday when the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board must “Consider 2017 Black Sea Bass Recreational Measures Final Action (K. Rootes‐Murdy) [at] 3:30 p.m. The complete supplemental materials may be found online.

FLUKE/SUMMER FLOUNDER
On Wednesday, May 10 from 1 pm to 5:30 pm, we have the issue that has perhaps garnered the most discussion this off-season, review and consideration of the appeal filed by New Jersey of Addendum XXVIII to the Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan. As noted by New Jersey editor, Jim Hutchinson Jr.:

It’s possible that ASFMC could officially take a vote that New Jersey is “out of compliance” with the 2017 summer flounder regulations, at which point a process would begin to get underway by which NOAA Fisheries and ultimately the Department of Commerce would have to consider making an official call of non-compliance. Prior to that actually happening however, the ASFMC’s Interstate Fisheries Management Program Policy Board will meet on Thursday, May 11 from 8 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., at which point the member states along with representatives of both the Commerce (NMFS) and Interior Department (USFWS) will review and the official New Jersey appeal of Addendum XXVIII. So while ASMFC could vote on Wednesday to recommend that the Secretary of Commerce take up action against the state of New Jersey for failing to comply with their February vote, nothing is expected to be finalized until New Jersey’s official appeal is heard and reviewed on Thursday morning.

The final showdown comes to a head starting Wednesday with the compliancy question, moving along Thursday morning during review of the official appeal. Thus far, NOAA Fisheries and the Department of Commerce have refused to show their hand; and while some think the state of New Jersey is simply bluffing, the Christie administration has doubled down pretty well while holding cards close to the vest.

You can read Jim’s full review of this vote at NJ's Final Fluke Decision Nears.

As always, stay tuned for further details on this meeting and any breaking news right here at TheFisherman.com.

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