Proposed Increase in Bluefish Harvests

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Proposed Increase in Bluefish Harvests

NOAA Fisheries is proposing the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s recommended catch specifications for the 2022 and 2023 bluefish fishery. These proposed catch limits were developed using a 2021 assessment update and under the measures implemented by Amendment 7 to the Bluefish Fishery Management Plan. This action would increase the commercial quota and recreational harvest limit in both 2022 and 2023 (Table 1), in accordance with the first year of the rebuilding plan.

Table 1. Comparison of Current 2021, Proposed 2022, and Projected 2023 Bluefish Specifications (million lb).

2021 (Current) 2022 (Proposed) 2023 (Projected)
Overfishing Limit 32.98 40.56 45.17
Acceptable Biological Catch = Annual Catch Limit (ACL) 16.28 25.26 30.62
Commercial ACL = Commercial Annual Catch Target (ACT) 2.77 3.54 4.29
Recreational ACL = Recreational ACT 13.51 21.73 26.34
Commercial Total Allowable Landings (TAL) 2.77 3.54 4.29
Recreational TAL 8.34 13.89 22.14
Sector Transfer 0 0 0
Commercial Quota 2.77 3.54 4.29
Recreational Harvest Limit 8.34 13.89 22.14

The commercial fishery state allocations (Table 2) are based on the final coast-wide commercial quota and the phased-in changes to the allocated percentages to the states defined in the Bluefish Fishery Management Plan specified in Amendment 7. No states exceeded their state allocated quota in 2020 or are projected to do so in 2021, so no adjustments are necessary for the 2022 commercial fishery.

Table 2. Proposed 2022 and Projected 2023 Bluefish State Commercial Quota Allocations.

2022 (Proposed) 2023 (Projected)
State Percent Share Quota (pounds) Percent Share Quota (pounds)
Maine 0.59 20,819 0.51 21,807
New Hampshire 0.39 13,655 0.36 15,331
Massachusetts 7.20 254,748 7.69 329,578
Rhode Island 7.21 254,956 7.61 326,165
Connecticut 1.24 43,885 1.22 52,094
New York 11.72 414,693 13.06 560,031
New Jersey 14.68 519,158 14.54 623,295
Delaware 1.68 59,442 1.48 63,572
Maryland 2.85 100,698 2.69 115,409
Virginia 11.02 389,802 10.16 435,625
North Carolina 32.06 1,133,855 32.05 1,374,077
South Carolina 0.04 1,590 0.05 2,344
Georgia 0.02 805 0.04 1,544
Florida 9.31 329,137 8.55 366,585
Total 100.00 3,537,096 100.01 4,287,109

All other management measures and requirements, including the recreational daily bag limit of 3 fish per person for private anglers and 5 fish per person for for-hire (charter/party) vessels, would remain unchanged.

For more details on the proposed specifications, read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register, and submit your comments through the online portal. The comment period is open through December 17, 2021.

Questions?

Fishermen: Contact Cynthia Ferrio, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 978-281-9180

Media: Contact Allison Ferreira, Regional Office, 978-281-9103

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