Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission (MFAC) approved several recommendations made by the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to make in-season adjustments to 2020 commercial fishing limits for striped bass, black sea bass, and summer flounder (see Declaration). These actions were taken in response to fishery performance and quota utilization so far in 2020, with consideration of market impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and are described in detail in the bullets below.
- Striped Bass. DMF is adding Tuesdays as an opening commercial fishing day beginning on September 1, 2020. This will increase the number of fishing days per week from two days (Mondays and Wednesdays) to three days (Mondays – Wednesdays). This action also accommodates commercial fishermen who seek to conduct their fishing activity over consecutive days to take advantage of night fishing opportunities that may otherwise be limited by having non-consecutive open fishing days.
- Black Sea Bass. DMF is making several in-season adjustments to the 2020 commercial black sea bass limits. Beginning, August 31, 2020 Mondays and Wednesdays will be added as open commercial fishing days for the commercial pot and hook and line fisheries. With these additional commercial fishing days, these gear types will be able to fish for black sea bass five days per week (Sundays – Thursdays). Then, effective October 2, 2020, Fridays and Saturdays will be added as open fishing days for the commercial pot and hook and line fisheries, allowing commercial fishing seven-days per week. Additionally, effective Sunday, August 30, DMF is increasing the daily trip limit for both pot and hook and line fishermen by 25%. For pot fishermen the trip limit is increasing from 400 pounds to 500 pounds and for hook and line fishermen the trip limit is increasing from 200 pounds to 250 pounds.
- Summer Flounder. DMF is making several in-season adjustments to the 2020 commercial summer flounder limits. Effective August 23, 2020, the commercial summer flounder trip limit for trawlers is increased from 400 pounds to 600 pounds. Vessels participating in the Period II Summer Flounder Pilot Program will be subsequently allowed to possess and land 1,200 pounds taken over a two-day trip and amended Letters of Authorization will be issued to participating vessels. Then effective October 4, 2020, the commercial summer flounder trip limit is being increased to 1,000 pounds for all gear types and the closed fishing days (Fridays and Saturdays) will be eliminating allowing commercial fishing seven days per week.
Information regarding the August 20 MFAC business meeting may be found on the MFAC’s webpage. The background documents relevant to these actions are available online. Note that for striped bass, the final action differs slightly from the action recommended in the memorandum, as DMF initially recommended adding Tuesdays and Thursdays as open fishing days, but revised this recommendation based on feedback from the MFAC.
For more information about the management of marine fisheries in Massachusetts, contact DMF at 617-626-1520 or visit mass.gov/marinefisheries.