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Doug Grout: 603-868-1095
Sandy Falicon: 603-271-3511
Jane Vachon: 603-271-3211
August 24, 2010

September 13 Marine Hearing on Groundfish Rules; ASMFC Addendum on Striped Bass

DURHAM, N.H. -- The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will hold a public hearing on proposed marine rule changes on Monday, September 13, 2010, at 6:30 p.m., at the Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, N.H.  Immediately following the rule hearing, at 7:00 p.m. there will be an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission hearing on an addendum to the management plan for striped bass.

MARINE RULE HEARING: At the 6:30 p.m. meeting, the N.H. Fish and Game Department will address the readoption of rules (without change) regarding clams and other mollusks, and proposed changes to groundfish rules that would:

- Amend the definition of groundfish to add Atlantic wolffish, ocean pout, and Atlantic halibut;
- Establish a minimum length for Atlantic halibut of 41 inches;
- Require that groundfish that are filleted maintain at least 2 square inches of contiguous skin intact to enable species identification;
- Extend the closure for recreational fishing for cod from the end of March until April 15;
- Clarify the vessel limits for groundfish for vessels with or without limited access permits;
- Limit the possession of Atlantic halibut to one fish per trip and require that the head and tail remain intact while on or leaving the waters of the state; and
- Prohibit the take and possession of Atlantic wolffish by commercial and recreational fishing.

The proposed rule, with original and proposed language, may be found at www.wildnh.com/Legislative/Notices_summary.htm.

Written comments on the proposed changes may be submitted by September 23, 2010; e-mail to comments@wildlife.nh.gov (please put "Comment on Marine Rules" in subject line); fax to (603) 271-1438; or mail to Executive Director, N.H. Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301.

ASMFC HEARING ON STRIPED BASS – At 7:00 p.m. on September 13, 2010, New Hampshire's hearing to gather public comment on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Draft Addendum II to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass will begin (also at the Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, NH). Atlantic coastal states from Maine to North Carolina have scheduled similar hearings. The Draft Addendum proposes two changes to the striped bass management program: (1) an increase in the coastal commercial quota, and (2) revising the definition of recruitment failure based on Technical Committee advice.

The proposal to increase the coastal commercial quota is intended to improve equality between the commercial and recreational fishery sectors. Although Amendment 6 established management programs for both fisheries based on the same target fishing mortality rate, the implementation of state-specific quotas for coastal commercial harvest (and not for recreational harvest) has prevented the commercial and recreational fisheries from responding equally to changes in striped bass population size. Since 2003, coastal commercial harvest has decreased by 3.6 percent, while recreational harvest has increased by 13.7 percent. Under the option, the Board would select a percent increase to be applied to the coastal commercial allocations assigned in Amendment 6.

The Management Board voted to include a second issue in the Draft Addendum. As part of its review of the juvenile abundance indices, the Striped Bass Technical Committee recommended to the Management Board a revision to how striped bass recruitment failure is defined.

Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the Draft Addendum, either by attending public hearings or providing written comments. The Draft Addendum can be obtained via the Commission's website at www.asmfc.org under "Breaking News" or by contacting the Commission at (202) 289-6400. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on October 1, 2010, and should be forwarded to Nichola Meserve, FMP Coordinator, 1444 Eye Street, NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 289-6051 (FAX) or at nmeserve@asmfc.org (Subject line: Striped Bass Addendum II). For more information, contact Nichola Meserve, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator at (202) 289-6400 or nmeserve@asmfc.org.

Directions to the Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, N.H.:  From Portsmouth Traffic Circle: Take the Route 1 Bypass South exit off circle. Merge with Route 1 and go through five traffic lights. Turn left at sixth light onto Elwyn Road.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats. For more information about N.H. Fish and Game's Marine Division, visit www.wildnh.com/marine.

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NH Fish and Game Dept.
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