April 10, 2017 — An effort to gain better control over the amount of participation in the East Coast squid fishery will be the subject of a series of public hearings this spring.
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council wants to reduce latent permits for certain kinds of squid. Most years, a few vessels are responsible for bringing the majority of the commercially harvested squid to shore.
The fishery council says it’s concerned that excessive squid fishing could occur if latent permits become active.
Longfin squid fishing’s a major industry, with more than 26 million pounds coming to shore in 2015. It was valued at more than $31 million. Rhode Island’s the biggest producer.
April 4, 2017 — The following was released by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council:
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold nine public hearings in April and May 2017 to solicit public input on the Squid Amendment to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan. The Council is also soliciting written comments on the amendment through 11:59 pm on May 18, 2017.
The amendment considers measures to reduce latent longfin and Illex squid permits. Currently, a relatively small portion of vessels with limited access (“moratorium”) squid permits account for the majority of landings in most years. The Council is concerned that activation of latent permits in the squid fisheries could lead to excessive fishing effort, potentially resulting in shortened seasons and increased catch of non-target species.
The amendment also considers measures to modify the management of longfin squid during Trimester 2 (May-August). The Council is considering this action because there is concern that the productivity of the longfin squid stock may be negatively impacted if excessive fishing in Trimester 2 does not allow sufficient spawning and/or successful egg hatching from egg mops.
- April 24, 2017, 5:00 – 7:00 PM: The Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, 12320 Ocean Gateway, Ocean City, MD 21842, 410-213-0144.
- April 25, 2017, 5:00 – 7:00 PM: Holiday Inn by the Bay, 88 Spring St., Portland, ME 04101, 207-775-2311.
- April 26, 2017, 5:00 – 7:00 PM: Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station, 30 Emerson Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930, 978-282-0308.
- May 2, 2017, 5:00 – 7:00 PM: Congress Hall, 200 Congress Place, Cape May, NJ 08204, 609-884-8421.
- May 3, 2017, 5:00 – 7:00 PM: DoubleTree by Hilton Tinton Falls, 700 Hope Road, Tinton Falls, NJ 07724, 732-544-9300.
- May 4, 2017, 6:00 – 8:00 PM: Webinar, http://mafmc.adobeconnect.com/squid2017/ 800-832-0736, Rm: *7833942#. A listening station will be available at Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, VA 23607, (757) 247– 2200.
- May 8, 2017, 5:00 – 8:00 PM: University of Rhode Island, Corless Auditorium, Watkins Building, 218 Ferry Rd., Narragansett, RI 401-874-6222.
- May 9, 2017, 4:30 – 7:00 PM: Doubletree by Hilton Cape Cod – Hyannis, 287 Iyannough Rd., Hyannis, MA 02601, 508-771-1700.
- May 11, 2017, 5:00 – 7:00 PM: Hyatt Place Long Island/East End, 431 East Main St., Riverhead, NY 11901, 631-208-0002.
Written comments may be sent through mail, email, fax, or online through 11:59 pm on Thursday, May 18, 2017.
- Mail to Dr. Chris Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE, 19901 (please write “Squid Amendment Comments” on the outside of the envelope.)
- Fax to Dr. Chris Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council at 302-674-5399 (please include “Squid Amendment Comments” in the subject line.)
- Email to email@example.com
- Onlineat http://www.mafmc.org/comments/squid-amendment-public-comments
Additional information and relevant background documents are available on the Council’s website at http://www.mafmc.org/actions/squid-capacity-amendment. The public hearing document will be posted there by April 18, 2017.
Please direct any questions about the amendment to Jason Didden (firstname.lastname@example.org, 302-526-5254).
March 24, 2017 — It was the best single run of longfin squid anyone on the East Coast had ever seen – and it happened fast and was over fast. In two months last summer, June and July, the East Coast-based squid fleet landed approximately 14 million pounds, with Rhode Island landing more than 50 percent of that quota, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration landing reports.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. The squid just kept coming,” said Point Judith fisherman Jeff Wise of Narragansett. “I’ve never seen volume and catch rates that high before.”
For those two summer months, the fishing port of Point Judith, or Galilee, was the squid capital of the world, the hub of squid commerce. Shore-side activity went nonstop as processors and others tried to keep pace with the volume of squid the fishing vessels carried in from the sea. Approximately 118 vessels, according to state landing reports, from as far south as Wanchese, N.C., used Rhode Island ports to offload their catch.
Although June and July are traditionally peak squid months, with average summer landings (May through August) fluctuating between 3 million and 19 million pounds, it was the high catch rates for those two months that was unprecedented last summer, which for the season saw 18.7 million pounds of landings.
“Though we’ve been seeing an upward trend in [longfin] squid since 2010, [last year was] one of the strongest we’ve seen since the 1990s,” said Jason Didden, squid-management-plan coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the agency, along with the National Marine Fisheries Service, responsible for squid policy.
Local fishermen, many of whom depend heavily on squid, enjoyed the bounty but are warily focused on regulatory issues they fear could bring the good times to a premature end.
Landings the past 30 years have shown peaks and valleys, as levels of squid abundance have changed – but there has been no need for quota cuts.
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council often works with advisory panels to identify problems within fisheries and to come up with solutions to those problems. It’s a long road, complex and full of red tape, to go from an identified fishery problem to an actual change in the policy. These advisory panels are composed of industry members, recreational anglers, environmentalists and academics.
Three policy issues surfaced in recent months that could affect Rhode Island squid vessels and processors. One concerns managing the number of squid permits allowed, an issue perennially raised by the commercial fishing industry. The other two concern the possible loss of fishing ground – one by proposed wind farms off Long Island, and the other from lobbying pressure for a buffer zone in a key squid area south of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
The buffer-zone issue was raised by a group of recreational fishermen from Nantucket.
“It’s hard to be optimistic right now,” said Wise. “It never seems to stop – we are constantly worried about losing fishing ground [due to] buffer zones, marine sanctuaries and wind farms.”
December 30, 2016 — Could sea scallops and longfin squid be reason enough to stop an offshore wind farm on the coast of New York and New Jersey?
The Fisheries Survival Fund, which represents the majority of the U.S. Atlantic scallop industry, claims the site picked for the farm is on documented fishing grounds for both commercially important species. It claims the wind turbines would shut fishermen out.
The group is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Sally Jewell, the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The BOEM has jurisdiction over the sea floor.
Other plaintiffs include the Garden State Seafood Association, the Fishermen’s Dock Co-Operative in Point Pleasant Beach and the Borough of Barnegat Light.
“We’re looking to stop the construction in it’s proposed location. If they want to build it somewhere else, that’s fine,” said Andrew E. Minkiewicz, attorney for the group.
Last year, the co-op handled close to $15 million worth of seafood, of which roughly two-thirds were scallops, according to the lawsuit.
April 21, 2016 — The following was released by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council:
During a meeting last week in Montauk, New York the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a framework action to modify the boundary of one of the region’s two Scup Gear Restricted Areas (GRAs). The proposed change to the Southern Scup GRA boundary is expected to increase the availability of longfin squid to small-mesh fisheries.
The GRAs were implemented in 2000 and are intended to reduce discard mortality of juvenile scup. The current GRA regulations include a Northern GRA, which is effective from November 1 through December 31, and a Southern GRA, which is effective from January 1 through March 15. Trawl vessels which fish for or possess longfin squid, black sea bass, or silver hake (also known as whiting) are required to use mesh 5 inches or larger in the GRAs during those times of the year. The scup stock has expanded substantially since the GRAs were first implemented, and analysis conducted by scientists at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center indicate that the GRAs were partially responsible for this rebuilding.
The GRAs have been modified several times in response to requests from commercial fishermen. In recent years, advisors have recommended further modification of the GRAs to restore access to certain areas for longfin squid fishing, arguing that modifications to the GRA boundaries would not harm the scup stock
In response to an industry request, the Council initiated a framework action in 2014 to address potential changes to the scup GRAs. The framework considered a range of alternatives, including modifications to the GRA boundaries and elimination of one or both GRAs.
After a lengthy discussion of the impacts of the proposed alternatives, the Council voted to modify the boundary of the Southern Scup GRA. The proposed change, shown in Figure 1, is based on a proposal developed by members of the Council’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Advisory Panel.
“By increasing access to important fishing grounds, the Council balanced the concerns of the squid industry with the possible impacts on the scup stock,” said the Council’s Executive Director, Chris Moore. “If the modification is approved by NMFS, the Council will be working closely with NMFS to monitor scup discards to make sure that mortality of juvenile scup does not increase as a result.”
July 20, 2015 — The following was released by NOAA:
Due to a change in one of the two observer programs (Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology or SBRM) that apply to the Longfin Squid Fishery, the observer waivers you receive through the Pre-Trip Notification System will no longer apply to SBRM observers when this change goes through.
The new waivers will say:
“You have been waived of observer requirements for [VESSEL NAME] departing [SAIL DATE and TIME], confirmation # [NUMBER] for your longfin squid trip notification through PTNS. However, you may be asked to take an observer through a selection notice or verbally by an approved observer service provider. If selected, you must carry an observer.”
The system will operate as usual after this change, but be aware that any waiver you get will only apply to observers from the butterfish mortality cap monitoring program. You may still be asked, either verbally or by a letter, to take an SBRM observer on a trip.
For more information on this change, please read our letter. Information about the Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish Fishery Management Plan regulations is available on our website.
Pre-Trip Notification procedures remain the same. Notify us either by emailing email@example.com, logging into our website (https://fish.nefsc.noaa.gov/ptns/), or calling 855-FISHES-1 (855-347-4371).
Contact Amy Martins, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, at 508-495-2266 or Amy.Martins@noaa.gov.