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New spiny dogfish rules take effect in August

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New rules for managing the spiny dogfish fishery will be implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). In the Federal Register of Tuesday, July 15, 2014, NMFS announced final rules governing Amendment 3 of the Spiny Dogfish Fishery Management Plan. The new policy takes effect on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014.

The Mid-Atlantic and New England fishery management councils jointly developed the new regulations. If you have any questions, contact Fishery Policy Analyst Tobey Curtis at (978) 281-9273. NMFS, a division of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce, implemented Amendment 3 in 2004.

Changes taking place in August include a research set-aside. The management councils will be able to reserve up to three percent of the annual catch for scientific research aimed at improving the fishery. The new rules also update the definition of “essential fish habitat.” The definitions are updated as are the text and maps of where spiny dogfish are found, based on updated information.

The new rules provide that specifications such as annual catch limits and commercial quotas will carry forward to the next year in case of delays in developing rules or specifications. If rules aren't established by the May 1 start of the fishing season, the previous year's specifications would apply until the new ones are finalized. Until now, if NMFS did not set new quotas on time, no rules applied. And the agency does not have authority to close the fishery.

Also, the seasonal commercial quota will be replaced by an annual quota. In 2012, 2,666 boats had been granted spiny dogfish permits, but only 489 reported catching the species. NMFS figured that the new rules will not create a major economic impact.

NMFS placed the rules up for public comment earlier this year. It received only five responses. NMFS made no changes to the rule.

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