Porgy Limits To Change Again? - The Fisherman

Porgy Limits To Change Again?

While fluke and sea bass regulations are set for 2022, it would appear that we’re going back to the virtual drawing board on porgy limits this season.

On April 18, NOAA Fisheries announced through their federal e-rulemaking portal that the recent decision by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries (Commission) to increase the size limit of porgy (scup) coastwide by 1-inch would not be enough in federal waters to meet the required reduction in recreational harvest levels (RHL) for 2022.

“Collectively, this change in both state and Federal waters is expected to achieve an approximate 33-percent reduction in harvest,” NOAA Fisheries stated, adding “This is less than the estimated 56-percent reduction in harvest needed to constrain recreational harvest to the 2022 RHL.”

Because the action proposed by the Council and Commission would not sufficiently reduce scup harvest as required by the fishery management plan, NOAA Fisheries is required to propose additional measures to ensure the scup recreational annual catch limit is not exceeded. “We are proposing a closure for Federal waters, which is the only management measure available that would result in any meaningful reduction in harvest, even though less than 6 percent, on average, of recreational scup catch comes from Federal waters, and a reduction in catch of an additional 23 percent is needed to achieve, but not exceed, the RHL,” the statement by NOAA Fisheries said.

This closure as proposed would apply to all recreational vessels fishing in federal waters (outside of 3 miles) and all federally permitted for-hire vessels fishing in either state or Federal waters.  Public comment on the federal proposal was due on May 3, while it is expected that the Council and Commission will address in short order to the issue.

At a meeting of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council on April 7, a 1-inch size increase to the minimum for porgy – from 9 inches to 10 inches – was moved forward to be finalized by the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife for 2022.  What the current action by NOAA Fisheries means for those regulations will come down to future management decisions by the Commission and Council.

NOAA Fisheries is not proposing to change 2022 summer flounder or black sea bass recreational regulations from those regulations already selected by states.