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Monkfish fishing opportunities increased, effective immediately

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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has adopted new measures for monkfish fishing. NFMS announced in the Federal Register of Friday, July 18, 2014, that it is implementing a new final rule regarding Framework Adjustment 8 to the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan. The rule takes effect immediately. NMFS waived the normal 30-day delay in implementing new rules, citing the public interest.

The New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management councils jointly manage the fishery, which runs from the Gulf of Main to North Carolina. The new rule will allow more monkfish fishing. It increased days-at-sea from 40 to 46 and landing limits. If you have any questions, contact Fishery Policy Analyst Douglas Christel at (978) 281-9141, fax (978) 281-9135.

Based on an assessment done last year, the councils figured that no changes were warranted in the catch limits. But in recent years, monkfish have been underfished and the catch targets haven't been reached. New rules were proposed in May that will allow more days at sea and landings to help reach the targets. The new rule also corrects errors, omissions and ambiguities in the previous rules.

NMFS says it can't be sure why optimum yield has not been reached in recent years. The Monkfish Plan Development Team suggested several possible factors, including the fact that people might not like to eat it or it costs too much at market. In any event, three-quarters of the monkfish catch is incidental while hoping for other species, such as groundfish. But NMFS notes that the groundfish fishery has declined in recent years.

Since the rule is taking effect after the May 1 start of the monkfish fishing season, any fish caught already will be deducted from the totals. NMFS received only two comments to its proposed rules. It made no changes from the proposed rule. NMFS notes that it is imposing no new regulatory burdens on anyone.

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