WHAT IS SCOPING?
Scoping is the process of identifying issues, potential impacts, and reasonable alternatives associated with a particular management issue. It provides the first and best opportunity for the public to make suggestions or to raise issues and concerns before development of an amendment begins.
This is the public’s opportunity to inform the Council and Commission about changes observed in the fishery, actions the public feels should or should not be taken in terms of management, regulation, enforcement, research, development, enhancement, and any other concerns the public has about the resource or the fishery.
Your comments early in the amendment development process will help us identify management priorities and develop effective alternatives that address issues of public concern in a thorough and appropriate manner.
What is Scoping Not?
The measures outlined in this document are not a list of "preferred alternatives" or measures that will necessarily be included in the amendment. No management measures have yet been analyzed for their effectiveness or impacts. Please comment on which management measures may or may not be useful or practical and explain your rationale. Please also comment on any other issues that should be addressed in the amendment. The list of relevant issues may be expanded as suggestions are offered during the scoping process.
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have proposed to develop a Comprehensive Summer Flounder Amendment. The amendment will involve a review of all aspects of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) related to summer flounder. Specifically, the Council and Commission will consider whether modifications to the FMP’s goals, objectives, and management strategies for summer flounder are needed.
The Council and Commission would like your input on the range of issues and information that should be considered during development of this amendment, including the specific issues identified in this document, as well as any other issues that might be of concern to you regarding summer flounder management.
• Perform a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) related to summer flounder
• Update the FMP goals and objectives for summer flounder management, and
• Modify management strategies and measures as necessary to achieve those goals and objectives.
WHY IS THIS ACTION BEING PROPOSED?
A number of issues and concerns relative to summer flounder management have been raised by Commission and Council members, advisors, and other interested stakeholders. The Council received significant input on summer flounder management during the Council's Visioning and Strategic Planning process, conducted from 2011-2013. During this process, input gathered from surveys, port meetings, and other comment opportunities indicated that there was significant stakeholder interest in re-examining and updating many of the management strategies and measures currently in place.
Changing Fishery Conditions
In addition, the Commission and Council have also proposed this action to evaluate the need for management response to changing conditions in the summer flounder fishery. This includes addressing apparent shifts in the distribution and center of biomass for the summer flounder stock (possibly related to the effects of rebuilding and/or climate change), as well as changing social and economic drivers for these fisheries.
POTENTIAL ISSUES FOR CONSIDERATION
Public comment is sought on a range of issues that may be considered in the draft amendment. The public is encouraged to submit comments on the issues listed below as well as any other issues that should be addressed in the amendment. Please refer to the full scoping document for complete details and about each option (http://www.mafmc.org/s/Summer-Flounder-Scoping-Document.pdf).
1. FMP Goals and Objectives
The amendment may consider revisions to some or all of the objectives current management objectives for the FMP, listed below:
1. Reduce fishing mortality in the summer flounder fishery to assure that overfishing does not occur.
4. Promote compatible management regulations between State and Federal jurisdictions.
6. Minimize regulations to achieve the management objectives stated above.
2. Quota Allocation between the Commercial and Recreational Fisheries
The amendment may consider revisions to the existing quota allocations, which are set at 60% for the commercial fishery and 40% for the recreational fishery.
3. Commercial Management Measures and Strategies
Commercial management measures may be considered for revision, including, but not limited to:
? Commercial fishing gear requirements and restrictions
? Minimum fish size requirements
? Possession limit and trigger requirements
? Time/area closures and exemption programs
? Licensing, permitting, and fleet capacity relative to stock size
? Commercial quota allocation strategies
? Landings flexibility (regional, coastwide, other)
4. Recreational Management Measures and Strategies
Recreational management measures may be considered for revision, including, but not limited to:
? Recreational bag limits, size limits, and seasonal limits
? Recreational fishing gear requirements and restrictions
? Inter-jurisdictional management processes and strategies (including use of state-by-state or regional
Conservation Equivalency vs. Coastwide measures)
? Management strategies specific to the party/charter (for-hire) recreational fleet and/or management
strategies specific to private recreational anglers
? Recreational quota allocation strategies (by state, fishing sector, other)
5. Discards in the Commercial and Recreational Fisheries
To address concerns over discard rates as raised by managers and stakeholders, this amendment may consider measures to reduce discards in the commercial and recreational fisheries.
? Ecosystem, Habitat, Bycatch, and Protected Species Issues: This amendment may consider measures
to address ecosystem, habitat and protected species issues associated with the summer flounder
? Data Collection Requirements and Protocols: To address developments in technology and
communication systems, this amendment may consider changes to data collection requirements and protocols.
SUBMIT WRITTEN COMMENTS:
In addition to providing comments at any of the fourteen scheduled scoping hearings, you may submit written comments by 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time, on October 31, 2014. Written comments may be sent by any of the following methods:
1. EMAIL: nmfs.gar.FlukeAmendment@noaa.gov
2. MAIL or FAX:
?Chris Moore, Ph.D., Executive Director Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council North State Street, Suite 201
Dover, DE 19901
Bob Beal, Executive Director
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 1050 North Highland Street, Suite 200A-N Arlington, VA 22201
3. ONLINE: www.mafmc.org/comments/summer-flounder-amendment
?Please include “Summer Flounder Amendment Scoping Comments” in the subject line if using email or fax or on the outside of the envelope if submitting written comments.
All comments, regardless of submission method, will be compiled into a single document for review and consideration by both the Council and Commission. Please do not send separate comments to the Council and Commission.