This framework considers adjustments to the Council’s acceptable biological catch (ABC) control rules for groundfish, including modifying or replacing the existing control rules.

Draft Discussion Document

See here for latest version of the draft discussion document for this action, which describes the work to date.

NOTE: Work on Framework 68 is currently on pause pending the completion of the Council’s work to update its Risk Policy. More information can be found on the Risk Policy Working Group webpage.

Related News, Press Releases, and Announcements

Council to Hold August 17, 2023 Facilitated Meeting to Discuss Groundfish Acceptable Biological Catch Control Rules

What are the Council’s current ABC control rules for Groundfish?

As specified in Amendment 16 to the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery Management Plan (FMP):

“These ABC control rules will be used in the absence of better information that may allow a more explicit determination of scientific uncertainty for a stock or stocks. If such information is available – that is, if scientific uncertainty can be characterized in a more accurate fashion – it can be used by the SSC to determine ABCs, these ABC control rules can be modified in a future Council action (an amendment, framework, or specification package):

A. ABC should be determined as the catch associated with 75% of FMSY.

B. If fishing at 75% of FMSY does not achieve the mandated rebuilding requirements for overfished stocks, ABC should be determined as the catch associated with the fishing mortality that meets rebuilding requirements (Frebuild).

C. For stocks that cannot rebuild to BMSY in the specified rebuilding period, even with no fishing, the ABC should be based on incidental bycatch, including a reduction in bycatch rate (i.e., the proportion of the stock caught as bycatch).

D. Interim ABCs should be determined for stocks with unknown status according to case-by-case recommendations from the SSC.”

What do MSY, FMSY, and BMSY mean?

MSY stands for maximum sustainable yield. This is the largest long-term average catch that can be taken from a stock under prevailing environmental and fishery conditions.

FMSY is a fishing mortality rate (F) that would produce MSY when the stock biomass is sufficient for producing MSY on a continuing basis.

BMSY is the stock biomass (B) that would produce MSY when fished at a fishing mortality rate equal to FMSY.

Why update the Council’s ABC control rules for groundfish?

The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), Groundfish Plan Development Team, Recreational Advisory Panel, Groundfish Advisory Panel, Groundfish Committee, and Council have all expressed issues when applying the current ABC control rules. This includes, but is not limited to, large fluctuations in catch advice resulting from management measures, questions on when constant catch is appropriate, and an inability to phase in ABC reductions.

What are the Council’s goal and objective for this action?

The overarching goal of this action is to modify/replace the existing groundfish ABC control rules to better address the goals and objectives of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) FMP considering increasing uncertainty/variability in stock assessments, changing environmental conditions, and National Standard Guidelines. The new control rule should produce catch advice that prevents overfishing, rebuilds stocks, improves attainment of optimum yield, and seeks to minimize large changes in catch advice as appropriate.

The objective is to develop a tiered groundfish ABC control rule which considers as potential categories, but is not limited to:

  1. Stock status, including unknown and rebuilt;
  2. Stock assessment model type and sources or level of uncertainty; and
  3. Productivity regime.

The control rule should also consider stability in the ABCs, with decision rules for when to use constant ABCs and the ability to use phasing-in ABCs consistent with National Standard 1 guidelines.

Additional Information:

Summary Document from the August 17th Facilitated Meeting on Groundfish ABC Control Rule

Meeting Summary from the August 17th Committee Meeting

Meeting Materials from the August 17th Facilitated Meeting

Evaluation of Alternative Harvest Control Rules for New England Groundfish