Hunting and Fishing: ASMFC Bluefish Board Approves Draft Addendum; Give Us Back Our Reefs
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Addendum Proposes Establishment of Coastwide Sampling Program to Improve Data used in Stock Assessment
Wilmington, DE - The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Bluefish Management Board has approved Draft Addendum I to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Bluefish for public comment and review. The Draft Addendum proposes a coastwide sampling program to improve the quantity and quality of information used in future bluefish stock assessments.
The last peer-reviewed stock assessment, conducted in 2005, supported the finding that the bluefish stock was rebuilt and not experiencing overfishing. However, the peer review panel expressed concern regarding the level of uncertainty in the assessment, particularly with regards to bluefish ageing data. It noted discrepancies in ageing protocols (e.g. the use of scales versus otoliths), gaps in the age-length keys from a lack of samples, and samples being geographically limited to Virginia and North Carolina. Age information is an important component of stock assessments because it is the basis for determining growth rates, the life-span of a species, and size-at-age to evaluate stock structure. The panel recommended that ageing practices be standardized and sampling expanded to overcome these deficiencies in the assessment.
In May 2011, the Commission's Bluefish Technical Committee conducted a workshop to review current bluefish ageing data, establish consistent ageing techniques, and explore opportunities to make aging efforts more cost-effective. A primary workshop recommendation was the establishment of a coastwide sampling program for bluefish. This recommendation provides the basis for Draft Addendum I.
States will be conducting hearings on the Draft Addendum; the details of those hearings will be released when they become available. The Board will meet in November at the Commission's Annual Meeting to review public comment and consider final action on the Addendum. If approved, the biological monitoring program would be implemented for the 2012 fishing year.
Copies of the Draft Addendum can be obtained via the Commission's website (www.asmfc.org) under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at 703.842.0740. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on September 30, 2011 and should be forwarded to Michael Waine, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or at [email protected] (Subject line: Bluefish Addendum I).
Public Affairs Specialist
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N
Arlington, VA 22201-2196
ASMFC Vision: Healthy, self-sustaining populations for all Atlantic coast fish species or successful restoration well in progress by the year 2015.
I am writing in response to your recent correspondence to Commissioner Martin regarding potential regulations that would restrict gear such as fish and lobster traps on the State's two amficial reef sites.
The Commissioner is aware, and understands the concerns, about the potential conflicts occurring between recreational anglers and commercial fishing gear and the implications for US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Sport Fish Restoration funds appropriated to New Jersey's Artificial Reef Program.
The Department of Environmental Protection (the Department) is working to address the situation and supports a compromise position to resolve the conflict issues similar to the previous proposal developed by the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council's Reef Committee. The Department will be working with both the recreational and commercial fishing sectors to develop a quick compromise that will satisfy all access issues while meeting the requirements of the US Fish and Wildlife's Sport Fish Restoration Program.
Thank you for your interest. and continued support of New Jersey's Artificial Reef Program.