Tina Berger: 703-842-0740
Doug Grout: 603-868-1095
September 27, 2012
Public Hearing October 2, 2012, on Winter Flounder Draft Addendum II
DURHAM, NH -- New England states from Maine through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have scheduled their hearings to gather public comment on Draft Addendum II to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for the Inshore Stocks of Winter Flounder. The New Hampshire hearing will take place on Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at 7:45 p.m. (or following the completion of the Northern Shrimp Hearing, which precedes it), at the Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth, N.H.
The Draft Addendum proposes changes to the commercial and recreational
management requirements for the Gulf of Maine (GOM) stock in response to updated stock status information and recent federal action to significantly increase the GOM winter flounder state waters annual catch limit (ACL) subcomponent.
A peer-reviewed stock assessment (SAW/SARC 52) of GOM winter flounder was completed in 2011, which changed the stock’s status to not experiencing overfishing, although the overfished status could not be determined. NOAA Fisheries responded to this finding by more than doubling the ACL for the remainder of 2011 fishing year. The ACL was nearly doubled again for the 2012 fishing year. The state waters ACL-subcomponent for 2012 fishing year has increased to 272 mt, a 450% increase from 60 mt in 2010.
The Commission currently manages winter flounder under Addendum I, which requires a 250 pound possession limit for non-federally permitted commercial fishermen and a combination of bag/size/season restrictions for the recreational fishery. These actions were taken in response to the results of the 2008 benchmark assessment which determined the GOM stock was likely to be overfished with overfishing likely to be occurring. The Addendum’s provisions were also intended to complement federal management measures on groundfish stocks, including winter flounder, in offshore waters (3 – 200 miles).
Given the significant increase in state waters ACL-subcomponent for the 2012 fishing year, the Draft Addendum proposes to increase the commercial trip limit for non-federally permitted fishermen from 250 pounds to 500 pounds limit and return the recreational season to a year-round fishery. The Draft Addendum also includes an annual specifications process to allow the Board to respond to changes in stock condition.
Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the Draft Addendum either by attending state public hearings or providing written comment. Draft Addendum II is available on the Commission website at www.asmfc.org/speciesDocuments/winterFlounder/fmps/draftAddendumIIforPublicComment.pdf under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at 703.842.0740.
Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on October 19, 2012 and should be forwarded to Toni Kerns, ISFMP Acting Director, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or email@example.com (Subject line: Winter Flounder Draft Addendum II). For more information, please contact Toni Kerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.