The Commission’s Tautog Management Board approved regional stock assessments for Long Island Sound (LIS) and New Jersey-New York Bight (NJ-NYB) for management use. Stock status for both regions was found to be overfished and experiencing overfishing. The assessments were initiated in response to the findings of the 2015 benchmark stock assessment which explored a number of regional breakdowns for management purposes, including the option of: (1) Massachusetts and Rhode Island; (2) Connecticut, New York and New Jersey; and (3) Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. The Board had concerns about the biological implications of grouping LIS with New Jersey ocean waters. The Board requested a new assessment that would explore the population dynamics of the Connecticut, New York and New Jersey region in more detail. The regional assessments propose two additional stock unit boundaries for consideration at a finer regional scale: LIS, which consists of Connecticut and New York waters north of Long Island, and NJ-NYB, which consists of New Jersey and New York waters south of Long Island.
Given approval of the regional assessments by the peer review panel and Management Board, the Tautog Technical Committee will move forward with updating the benchmark stock assessment, including data through 2015 for all four regions for Board review and approval in October. Upon its completion, work on developing a new amendment to the Tautog Fishery Management Plan can begin. The draft amendment will propose a four region management approach: Massachusetts and Rhode Island; Long Island Sound; New Jersey/New York Bight; and Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. It is anticipated a draft for public comment will be presented to the Board for its review and approval in February 2017, with final amendment approval later in the year.
The stock assessments and peer review report, which are combined into one document, will be available on the Commission website, www.asmfc.org, on the Tautog page by the end of August. For more information on the stock assessments, please contact Katie Drew, Senior Stock Assessment Scientist, at email@example.com; and for more information on tautog management, please contact Ashton Harp, FMP Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.