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Atlantic bluefish rules set for the rest of the year

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration announced the final rules governing the Atlantic bluefish fishery for 2014. NMFS declared in the Federal Register of Friday, June 20, 2014, the final catch limits, landings and recreational harvest and possession limits. The rules take effect July 21, 2014 and last till the end of the year.

The rules describe the management plan NFMS will take to achieve the desired fish mortality rate consistent with the recommendations of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery Management Plan. MAFMC and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission jointly manage the fishery in American waters of the western Atlantic Ocean. MAFMC's Bluefish Monitoring and Scientific & Statistical committees review available data and recommend plans each year.

The recreational fishery gets 83 percent of the annual catch target, with the commercial sector getting the balance. The commercial industry can get more depending on whether the recreational people are likely to get their fill. This year, MAFMC projects a recreational harvest of 13.179 million lb (5,978 mt), less than allowed. The formula also factors in recreational discards. Therefore, NMFS proposes to transfer 3.34 million lb (1,515 mt) from the recreational sector to the commercial one. So the commercial quota this year totals 7.494 million lb (3,399 mt) the recreational one 13.587 million lb (6,163 mt).

The final recreational possession limit will remain at 15 fish per person. If you have any questions contact Fishery Management Specialist Carly Bari at (978) 281-9224.

During a public comment period earlier this year, only one person wrote, criticizing NMFS' data methodology. But NMFS says the writer didn't provide evidence. NMFS says bluefish are not overfished or in danger. Therefore, it made no changes from its proposal. NMFS also set aside 99,000 lb (45 mt) of the fishery for two research projects.