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Black sea bass season may be extended next year

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Two Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) committees have scheduled simultaneous webinars this month. MAFMC announced the agenda in the Federal Register of Monday, July 7, 2014. Both the Bluefish Monitoring Committee and the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Monitoring Committee will meet on Friday, July 25, starting at 9 a.m. Business is scheduled to end at 2:30 p.m.

The public is welcome to listen in to either by going to mafmc.adobeconnect.com/mc/. You can enter as a guest. If you have any questions, contact Christopher M. Moore Ph.D., executive director, MAFMC, 800 N. State St., Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901, (302) 526-5255. If you need any special help, such as a sign language interpreter, contact M. Jan Saunders at the council, (302) 526-5251 at least five days before the webinar.

The Bluefish committee meeting is only scheduled to last an hour. The committee plans to come up with its recommendations for 2015 annual catch targets and other management measures. The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass committee plans a longer meeting with a fuller agenda. It includes discussing and possibly amending the annual catch limits and other management measures that it already set.

MAFMC discussed at a meeting in June in New Jersey the possibility of opening the black sea bass season earlier next year for recreational fishing. It might allow party/charter operators to fish for it in January and February. Another possibility for discussion is opening the season up May 1 for all anglers, three weeks earlier than usual.

One catch is that MAFMC doesn't have and will have to come up with a way to measure catch during Wave 1 (January and February). Possibilities include requiring electronic submission of log books every week and requiring boaters to give advance notice of trips. MAFMC says it recognizes the importance of the black sea bass recreational fishing industry to the regional economy.

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