Purpose of the Changes:
The purpose of this action is to make changes to the commercial fishery. Spiny dogfish are a highly migratory species of shark found in both federal and state waters.
State and federal waters are managed through different processes. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is responsible for implementing management in federal waters. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) is responsible for management of spiny dogfish in state waters (0-3 miles offshore). The Commission is a collaborative entity of the Atlantic coast states from Maine to Florida and is governed by the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act (ACFCMA). Maryland is included in the Commission fishery management plan and must comply with certain provisions contained in that plan. Spiny dogfish are currently managed under the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Spiny Dogfish (2002) and Addenda I—V.
The proposed action reorganizes the regulation by moving text to more appropriate locations, corrects citations and makes it clear that the season for catching spiny dogfish is May 1 through April 30. The season corresponds with the federal season and adding it to the regulation helps clarify time periods associated with eligibility and reporting requirements.
The proposed action modifies the eligibility requirement from a 2 year/10,000 lb landing requirement to a 3 year/15,000 lbs requirement. Since limited entry was implemented there have been significant changes that impacted the fishery. Specifically, there were two seasons of harsh winters, the European market was lost, fuel costs increased, fish were mostly in federal waters in 2014/2015, and the price was $0.14—17 per pound. All of these factors made it difficult or not worthwhile to catch the required 10,000 pounds of spiny dogfish. The workgroup felt the extra year would give harvesters flexibility with their businesses to pursue spiny dogfish and maintain their permit.
The proposed action includes provisions to allow new entrants into the spiny dogfish fishery by setting tiered catch limits based upon ownership of a permit and by establishing a process to reissue a spiny dogfish permit that was revoked or not renewed. The proposed action describes the process for allocating the commercial quota by public notice. The catch limits will be established each year so that the entire quota may be caught and so that dead discards are reduced. Setting the catch limits in tiers will allow licensees to catch spiny dogfish while harvesting other species and could potentially increase the number of people in the fishery. Someone who owns an Atlantic striped bass permit may be allowed to have a higher vessel limit of spiny dogfish than the bycatch allowance. This will help achieve the quota by watermen that catch spiny dogfish as bycatch when targeting striped bass and may help reduce dead discards of spiny dogfish. The proposed action establishes a method for issuing a spiny dogfish permit when an existing permit expires for failing to declare two years in a row or not meeting harvest requirements. This will allow an opportunity for new participants, create stability in the fishery, and be consistent with goals of the Spiny Dogfish Industry Workgroup as well as the Department.
The proposed action eliminates paper permit cards. The paper permit cards are being removed because they are not necessary and more timely information is available to the Department for management of the fishery. Currently, the Department issues a separate spiny dogfish landing permit and harvesters are required to complete their card and submit it at the end of the season. Permits are listed on the commercial fishing license so an additional card is not necessary. Also, regulation requires spiny dogfish to be sold to a federally permitted dealer; therefore, landings data are available to managers within one week. Since permit cards are not required to be submitted until the end of the season, the dealer information is more timely
Published in the Maryland Register: January 22, 2016
Public Comment Period Ends: February 22, 2016
Scheduled Effective: March 28, 2016
Click here to view the proposal
Comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or emailed to the Regulatory Staff.