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The New England Fishery Management Council is conducting a review of the groundfish sector system, which is a catch share program under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP).

The evaluation period for this review is focused strictly on fishing years 2010 to 2015, spanning from May 1, 2010 through April 30, 2016. This period covers the first six years of the catch share program under Amendment 16 to the FMP. Information prior to program implementation also will be included for fishing years 2007 to 2009, covering May 1, 2007 through April 30, 2010.

The Council has contracted with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) to conduct a series of port meetings to solicit public comments about the review. The meetings, which will run from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., will be held in the following locations:

  • Ellsworth, ME – July 18 at the Moore Community Center, 5 General Moore Way
  • Portland, ME – July 19 at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, 350 Commercial Street
  • Hyannis, MA – July 23 at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center, 141 Bassett Lane
  • Plymouth, MA – July 24 at Plymouth Library, 132 South Street
  • Gloucester, MA – July 25 at Gloucester Library, 2 Dale Ave.
  • Portsmouth, NH – July 26 at Portsmouth High School, 50 Andrew Jarvis Drive
  • Montauk, NY – August 21 (originally set for Riverhead, this is a revised date and location), Senior Nutrition Room, 240 Edgemere Street
  • Point Judith, RI – August 15 at the Narragansett Office of Town Managers, 25 Fifth Avenue, Narragansett
  • New Bedford, MA – August 16 at Fairfield Inn and Suites, 185 MacArthur Drive

PORT MEETING QUESTIONS: Contact GMRI’s Patty Collins at (207) 228-1625, email

PORT MEETING FLYER: GMRI has produced a flyer with the meeting schedule and related information, which can be downloaded at Attend a Port Meeting.

WRITTEN COMMENTS: The Council also is collecting written comments until 5 p.m. EST on Monday, August 19. Submit comments by:

  • Email:
  • Fax: (978) 465-3116
  • Mail: Tom Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950

Label all comments as “Groundfish Catch Share Program Review.”

WHY IS THE COUNCIL CONDUCTING THIS REVIEW: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) catch share policy states that Councils periodically should review catch share programs to evaluate whether a program is meeting its goals and objectives. NOAA’s guidance is that “a formal and detailed review” should occur “no less frequently than once every seven years” for all limited access privilege programs (LAPPs) established after January 12, 2007. More information is available at NOAA Catch Share Policy.

IS ANYONE ELSE INVOLVED: The Council contracted with MRAG Americas Inc. to support the technical working group conducting the Groundfish Catch Share Program Review. The working group includes members from the Council, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office staff. MRAG Americas is:

  • Facilitating working group meetings;
  • Researching and summarizing pertinent information and coordinating working group review documents;
  • Assisting with developing and writing the draft Catch Shares Program Review document; and
  • Presenting the draft document to the Groundfish Plan Development Team, Groundfish and Recreational Advisory Panels, Scientific and Statistical Committee, Groundfish Committee, and the full Council.

TIMELINE: During its September meeting in Gloucester, MA, the Council is expected to: (1) receive a summary of input from the public port meetings; (2) receive a summary of written comments; and (3) be presented with a draft final report.