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Increase in spiny dogfish catch proposed for next two years

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Spiny dogfish specifications for this year and next have been officially proposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). In the Federal Register of Tuesday, May 13, 2014, NMFS announced proposed catch and retention limits for Atlantic spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) for 2014 and 2015. The proposal increases the catch of the restored species while complying with the Spiny Dogfish Management Plan.

The fishery is managed jointly by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC), the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC). NMFS, a division of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, is taking comments on the proposed plan until June 12. You can get copies of the plan from Christopher M. Moore, executive director, MAFMC, Suite 201, 800 N. State St., Dover, DE 19901 or by going to http://www.nero.noaa.gov.

To comment, go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0053 and click the ``Comment Now!'' icon. Or you can mail remarks to NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Dr., Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope ``Comments on Spiny Dogfish Specifications.'' If you have any questions, contact Fishery Policy Analyst Tobey Curtis at (978) 281-9273.

NMFS considers the spiny dogfish population to stand above its target, having successfully been rebuilt by 2010. It was deemed below target in 2000, leading to the plan. NMFS bases fishing limits on the best available population estimates made by MAFMC's Scientific & Statistical Committee (SSC).

Based on the latest available fishing reports from last year, SSC determined that dogfish aren't overfished. SSC recommended increasing the acceptable biological catch for 2014 and 2015. The proposed new level for 2014: 60.839 million lb (27,596 mt), an increase from the previously proposed level of 55.455 million lb (25,154 mt). For 2015, the recommendation totals 62.413 million lb (28,310 mt), up from 55.241 million lb (25,057 mt).

The councils had previously recommended different levels. NMFS is proposing NEFMC's suggestion of unlimited possession of the fish. But it is accepting public comments before implementing the rule.

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