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NMFS proposed rules to implement spiny dogfish management plan

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New rules have been proposed to manage the spiny dogfish fishery. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration announced in the Federal Register of Thursday, April 10 that it is proposing changes known as Amendment 3 for the Spiny Dogfish (squalus acanthias) Fishery Management Plan. The New England Fishery Management Council and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council jointly developed the proposal. The two councils and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission jointly manage the fishery.

NMFS is seeking public comments on the proposed rules. It will accept them until May 12. You can submit them to NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Dr., Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope ``Comments on Spiny Dogfish Amendment 3.'' Or you can send comments electronically by going to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail; D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0036 and clicking the ``Comment Now!'' icon.

In previous years, the stock had been overfished so the plan was adopted in 2000. In 2010, it was deemed that the stock has successfully been rebuilt. NMFS now considers the stock to be in fine shape.

Among the proposed changes, NMFS wants to updating the definitions of essential fish habitat. It last updated the definitions in 2007 and the Maguson-Stevens Act requires that they be updated periodically. The proposed amendment would include updated text and maps for spiny dogfish of various sizes by sex.

NMFS also wants to retain existing annual management measures until it develops new rules for matters such as specifications rollover. Amendment 3 would allow rollover from one year to the next for matters such as annual catch limits if no new rules were implemented in the meantime.

NMFS' analysis says its proposed amendments would not result in any major economic impact. It says it is just making administrative changes. And effects would be positive because improved habitat data will help manage the fishery.

These proposed rules would implement the plan that NMFS proposed in March.

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