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November 15, 2012

Local herring boats face on sanctions

Herring landings in 2011 in the North and Mid-Atlantic waters amounted to about 88 percent of the allowable catch — with catches exceeding the limit only in the inshore Gulf of Maine subsection and then only slightly, NOAA Fisheries has announced.

But the agency published draft catch limits in the Federal Register for 2013, which proposes to penalize the Gulf of Maine fleet — which includes two major herring fishing businesses based in Gloucester — for excessive landings in 2011, as required by the 2006 re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The re-authorization requires hard catch limits and accountability measures — penalties — for exceeding catch limits.

The inshore Gulf fleet will be allowed to land 25,121 metric tons in 2013, following a deduction equal to the 1,425 metric tons landed in excess of the 2011 quota.

The excess landed in 2011 was 5 percent above allocation which is the same as the deduction from the 2013 allocation.

Fishery wide, landings were 80,245 metric tons, below the 91,200 metric tons in the total allowable catch.

The herring fishery, which involves three management areas ranging from Maine to North Carolina, was allocated 91,200 metric tons for 2013, representing a fishery with vessel revenues of $22.4 million. The accountability deduction from the inshore Gulf of Maine subsection is estimated to be $400,000

The three subdivisions of the fishery are Area 1 which is split between inshore and offshore, Area 2, which covers the fishery between Massachusetts and North Carolina, and Area 3 which is limited to Georges Bank.

The herring stock complex is considered a single stock but there are inshore and offshore components, wjhich segregate during spawning and mix during feeding and migration, NOAA Fisheries reported in its Federal Register filing for comments.

Although Area 1A (inshore Gulf of Maine) exceeded his catch limit by 5 percent or 1,425 metric tons, landings from other areas were below the catch limit.

Area 1B (offshore Gulf of Maine) provided 3,530 metric tons of herring to the fishery, 81 percent of the allocation. Area 2 (south of Massachusetts to North Carolina) provided 15,001 metric tons, 68 percent of the allocation, and Area 3 (Georges) provided 37,038 metric tons or 97 percent of the allocation.

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