Catch and possession limits have finally been set for spiny dogfish for this year and next year. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced in the Federal Register of Friday, August 8, 2014 that it has set the quotas for 2014 and 2015. The limits were decided jointly by the New England and Mid-Atlantic fishery management councils.
The catch limits will rise from 2013 because the best evidence available shows that the dogfish population has increased. The rule takes effect Sept.8. If you have questions, call Fishery Policy Analyst Tobey Curtis at (978) 281-9273.
The spiny dogfish management plan was adopted in 2000 when it was determined that the species was overfished. But by 2010, it was determined that the stock had been rebuilt. In fact, NMFS now thinks the population is one-third above sustainable levels. The fishery management councils and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission manage the plan. NMFS opened the plan to public comment this spring.
The annual catch limit is being set at of 60.695 million lb. (27,531 mt), a 20 percent increase over 2013. The trip limit is set at 5,000 lb (2,268 kg). The two councils would not agree on a trip limit. The Mid-Atlantic council recommended a limit of 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) but the New England Council suggested no limit because of the large underharvest. In cases of such disagreement, NMFS makes the call.
NMFS received 29 comments in its call for them this spring. Almost all came from New England (fishermen, fishing organizations, government agencies) and all but one dealt with trip limits. But they expressed a variety of opinions as to what the limit should be or if one is needed at all. Some expressed fears that a larger trip limit would disadvantage small fishermen. NMFS responded that it didn't think that the new limit would make much difference to them.