So how’s the bluefish action been for you the past couple of years? According to NOAA Fisheries, it was pretty darn good; in fact, the federal fisheries agency said there was a recreational catch overage of 5.59 million pounds (2,536 metric tons) in 2021 that is required to be paid back pound-for-pound through accountability measures (AM) in 2023.
Additionally, updated data indicates that the initial projection of recreational discards was too low to accommodate the actual “catch and release” bluefish action that recreational fishermen actually experienced in that time.
To account for this data, the 2023 recreational harvest limit for bluefish has been adjusted from the projected 22.14 million pounds down to just 14.11 million pounds, an increase of 1.6% from 2022, rather than the previously project 59%. The good news is that no changes have been recommended to recreational management measures because the adjusted harvest limits for 2023 are only slightly higher than those in 2022.
NOAA Fisheries is implementing the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s recommended catch specifications for the 2023 bluefish fishery, which are largely unchanged from what was previously projected for fishing year 2023, with an adjustment to the final recreational harvest limit to account for a 2021 recreational sector overage, and higher than expected recreational discards. The coastwide commercial quota is increasing by 21% to 4.29 million pounds.
The commercial fishery state allocations for 2023 are unchanged from what was previously projected. No states exceeded their state-allocated quota in 2021 or 2022, so no adjustments are necessary for the 2023 commercial fishery.
All other management measures and requirements, including the recreational daily bag limit of three fish per person for private anglers and five fish per person for for-hire (charter/party) vessels, remain unchanged.