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NOAA Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule Adding Blueline Tilefish to Golden Tilefish Management Plan
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

NOAA Fisheries is asking for comments on a proposed rule to add blueline tilefish to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Golden Tilefish Fishery Management Plan.

Blueline tilefish have been managed for many years under the South Atlantic Council's Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan, whose measures only apply south of the Virginia/North Carolina border. The fishery in the Mid-Atlantic was considered very small and remained unregulated until recently.

Recreational and commercial blueline tilefish catch has been increasing steadily in the Greater Atlantic Region (Virginia to Maine) since 2011. In 2014, commercial landings increased more than 20-fold from the previous several years' average. This rapid increase in unregulated harvest represented a risk to the long-term sustainability of the stock, and triggered the Mid-Atlantic Council to request emergency management measures in 2015. Interim management measures took effect in June 2016, while the Council developed this proposed amendment.

Amendment 6 to the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan would manage the federal waters blueline tilefish fishery north of the Virginia/North Carolina border. We are proposing these management measures for blueline tilefish as part of the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan.

Through this action, we are proposing a commercial possession limit of 300 pounds per trip.

We are also proposing a recreational season from May 1-October 31 and limits of:
7 fish per person on Coast Guard inspected for-hire vessels (party boats)
5 fish per person on uninspected for-hire vessels (charter boats), and
3 fish per person on private recreational vessels.
The proposed rule would require fishermen to hold a valid Greater Atlantic Region open access tilefish commercial or charter/party permit to ensure adequate reporting and monitoring of blueline tilefish fishing activity. We also recommend requirements for new permits and catch reporting for private recreational fishermen.

More information is available in the proposed rule and Notice of Availability, along with the draft Environmental Assessment and preliminary Regulatory Impact Review.

You may submit comments on either through the e-rulemaking portal or by mailing your comments to: John Bullard, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Please mark the outside of the envelope: "Comments on Blueline Tilefish Amendment."

The comment period for the proposed rule closes on July 28, 2017 and for the Notice of Availability on August 14, 2017.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel at 978-281-9175 or jennifer.goebel@noaa.gov

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