An emergency action that boosted the Gulf of Maine haddock catch to prevent premature 2023 closings is now being extended to the end of the fishing  year April 30, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced Monday.

Faced with warnings from fishermen of unusually high catch rates, the New England Fishery Management Council in April 2023 asked NMFS for an increase in the allowable biological catch (ABC) of Gulf of Maine haddock for the coming fishing year that began May 1.

Without a one-time emergency increase for haddock, groundfish shutdowns appeared likely in August, the council warned.

In response to the request NMFS took emergency action Aug. 18 to increase the ABC in fishing year 2023 to the fishing mortality associated with the calculated maximum sustainable yield of 2,515 metric tons.

The emergency measures were included in the final rule for Framework Adjustment 65. But the emergency measures will now expire on Feb. 14, 2024, under the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s initial 180-day limit on the duration of an emergency action.

“The Magnuson-Stevens Act allows an extension of emergency actions for up to 186 days. We are extending the emergency measures through the end of the 2023 fishing year (April 30, 2024), consistent with the Council’s emergency action request and our analysis for fishing year 2023,” according to the announcement from NMFS.

The  emergency action extension prevent the haddock ABC from reverting to a 1,936 mt ABC that had been set by the council and NMFS before the need for an emergency increase became evident. The rule has been  filed in the Federal Register and a NMFS daily bulletin.


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