Chub Mackerel, Scomber colias

(photo credit: mafmc.org)

UPDATE 5/29: Click Here to view CCA Maryland’s input on the issue.

5/15/2017

David Sikorski, CCA MD Executive Director

Background:

Last summer the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) passed an amendment to protect forage species from large scale harvest.  Many of the protected species are important food sources for highly migratory species(HMS) like tuna, marlin, swordfish, wahoo, and sharks.

The amendment also placed a temporary cap on the emerging directed commercial fishery for chub mackerel, also referred to as “tinkers”.  The cap was set at a quota level based on a 3 year average of recent catch. This cap will sunset after 3 years, and the MAFMC has now started an amendment to add chub mackerel as a managed stock in the mackerel, squid, and butterfish fisheries management plan.

A handful of large commercial trawlers aim to expand their catch of chub mackerel in the Mid-Atlantic canyons, and the outcome of the current amendment process could have major impacts on the vitality of HMS based recreational and charter fisheries, as well as a number of highly valuable tournaments.  Industrial trawlers can catch a half million pounds of chub mackerel worth an average of $0.19 per pound.

Large scale fisheries of this kind can have negative impacts on the amount of forage available for predatory species, and can impact the economic well being of towns like Ocean City that depend on a high abundance of tuna, marlin, and other HMS species during the summer months.

The full scoping document can be viewed HERE

Maryland’s public hearing will be held on Tuesday May 16th from 6:30-8:30pm at the Princess Royale Oceanfront Resort & Conference Center.  9100 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, MD 21842.

You can also provide written input on the scoping document by COB Tuesday May 31, 2017 in the following ways:

Please include “chub mackerel scoping comments” in the subject line if using email or fax, or on the outside of the envelope if submitting written comments.

Additional information and relevant background documents are available on the Council’s website at http://www.mafmc.org/actions/chub-mackerel-amendment.

Please consider the following points when providing comment to the MAFMC:

  • Chub mackerel are a critically important forage species for tuna, marlin, swordfish, sharks and other highly migratory species.
  • Offshore charter and recreational fisheries rely upon a large abundance of forage to concentrate predatory species in the Mid-Atlantic Canyons and surrounding areas.
  • Charter and recreational offshore fisheries generate millions of dollars of economic benefit throughout the summer months for coastal towns like Ocean City, MD.
  • The large scale harvest of chub (“tinker”) mackerel can negatively effect the abundance of marlin, tuna, and other gamefish during economically important times of the year.
  • The harvest of large amounts of the low value chub mackerel should not outweigh the importance of their presence to currently established, and highly valuable charter and recreational fisheries

 

The MAFMC (council) should consider:

  • Adding advisors and members with expertise in the economics of the HMS fisheries to the appropriate advisory panels, FMAT, and Scientific and Statistical Committee.
  • Including protection of the existing Mid-Atlantic marlin and tuna fisheries in the goals and objectives of the amendment and in the definition of Optimum Yield for the chub mackerel fishery.
  • Including a comprehensive description and economic analysis of the existing Mid-Atlantic recreational fisheries (private, charter, and tournament) for marlin and tuna in the amendment, including seasonal and spatial fishing effort.
  • Include management options that would avoid negative impacts to existing HMS fisheries, including options for Optimum Yield that would be based on capping the chub fishery at historical levels.
  • Include a comprehensive suite of management alternatives that would mitigate any impacts to existing HMS fisheries and avoid conflict with new fisheries, including seasonal and spatial restrictions on directed fishing for chub mackerel to prevent industrial-scale removals of chub mackerel until after marlin, tuna and other HMS species have migrated from the Mid-Atlantic canyons.
  • Include risks to the existing HMS fisheries in all of the terms of reference for the management of chub mackerel, including stock assessments and any requests for scientific advice from the Scientific and Statistical Committee.
  • Develop and fund research priorities to document the foraging patterns of HMS species while they are in the Mid-Atlantic
Coastal Conservation Association Maryland