Monkfish Plan Overview

The monkfish fishery is jointly managed by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils, with the New England Council having the administrative lead. The fishery is assessed and managed in two areas. The Northern Fishery Management Area covers the Gulf of Maine and northern part of Georges Bank, and the Southern Fishery Management Area extends from the southern flank of Georges Bank through the Mid-Atlantic Bight to North Carolina. The directed monkfish fishery is primarily managed with a yearly allocation of monkfish days-at-sea and possession limits, though incidental landings are allowed in other fisheries. Based on a 2022 stock assessment, the status of the monkfish stocks changed in 2023 from not subject to overfishing and not overfished to unknown.

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Plan Amendments, Frameworks, and Specifications

Plan Amendments

June 25, 2021
This Amendment is part of the Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment.
June 30, 2015
This action establishes standards of precision for bycatch estimation for all Northeast Region fisheries.
December 1, 2010
Withdrawn, no longer under development.
March 25, 2011
Amendment 5 to brings the FMP into compliance with the annual catch limit (ACL) and accountability measure (AM) requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). This rule establishes the mechanisms for specifying ACLs and AMs and sets the annual catch target (ACT) and associated measures for days-at-sea (DAS) and trip limits for the Southern Fishery Management Area (SFMA). NMFS disapproved the proposed ACT, and associated measures, for the Northern Fishery Management Area (NFMA) on the grounds that they are not consistent with the most recent scientific advice. This final rule implements three additional Amendment 5 management measures to promote efficiency and reduce waste, brings the biological and management reference points in the Monkfish FMP into compliance with recently revised National Standard 1 (NS1) Guidelines, and makes one correction to the monkfish weight conversion factors.
April 9, 2018
This action implements approved regulations for the New England Fishery Management Council’s Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2.
February 27, 2008
The measures include: Bycatch reporting and monitoring mechanisms; analytical techniques and allocation of at-sea fisheries observers; an SBRM performance standard; a review and reporting process; framework adjustment and annual specifications provisions; a prioritization process; and provisions for industry-funded observers and observer set-aside programs
May 1, 2005
Amendment 2 was developed to address essential fish habitat (EFH) and bycatch issues, and to revise the FMP to address several issues raised during the public scoping process.
April 21, 1999
Omnibus Habitat Amendment 1 (OHA1) was prepared by the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) to implement the essential fish habitat (EFH) provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as reauthorized in 1996.

Framework Adjustments/Specifications

Under Development
April 18, 2023
This joint framework action, which is being developed in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, would establish measures to reduce bycatch of Atlantic sturgeon in the monkfish and spiny dogfish large-mesh gillnet fisheries. Large mesh is defined as being greater than or equal to 7 inches.
Under Development
February 1, 2022
This omnibus action would establish a new Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC) in Southern New England and be added as a framework adjustment to the groundfish, scallop, monkfish, skate, and Atlantic herring plans.
Under Development
April 12, 2022
This action contains monkfish specifications for fishing years 2023-2025 and other management measures.
September 17, 2020
This action contains monkfish specifications for fishing years 2020-2022.
May 19, 2020
Omnibus Clam Dredge Framework
May 5, 2017
This action sets monkfish specifications for fishing years 2017–2019 (May 1, 2017 through April 30, 2020). It also increases current days-at-sea allocations and trip limits. This action is intended to allow the fishery to more effectively harvest its optimum yield.
February 26, 2016
This action is necessary to better achieve the goals and objectives of the management plan and achieve optimum yield. It is intended to increase monkfish landings by enhancing the operational and economic efficiency of existing management measures.
July 18, 2014
This action increases monkfish day-at sea allocations and landing limits, allows vessels issued a limited access monkfish Category H permit to fish throughout the Southern Fishery Management Area, and enables vessels to use an allocated monkfish-only day at-sea at any time throughout the fishing year.
October 26, 2011
Framework Adjustment 7 developed to adjust the annual catch target for the Northern Fishery Management Area to be consistent with the most recent scientific advice regarding the acceptable biological catch for monkfish.
October 10, 2008
This action eliminates the backstop provision adopted in Framework Adjustment 4 (Framework 4) to the FMP, which was implemented in October 2007.
May 1, 2008
This action approves and implements revised biological reference points in the FMP to be consistent with the recommendations resulting from the most recent stock assessment for this fishery (Northeast Data Poor Stocks Working Group (DPWG, July 2007)), and approves and implements revised management measures to ensure that the monkfish management program succeeds in keeping landings within the target total allowable catch (TAC) levels.
October 22, 2007
This framework eliminates the control rule for determining management measures established by Framework Adjustment 2 to the FMP, and establishes target total allowable catch (TAC) levels, trip limits, and days-at-sea (DAS) allocations for the final 3 years of the monkfish rebuilding plan.
November 22, 2006
FW 42, is a biennial adjustment to the NE Multispecies FMP that sets forth a rebuilding program for Georges Bank (GB) yellowtail flounder and modifies NE multispecies fishery management measures to reduce fishing mortality rates (F) on six other groundfish stocks in order to maintain compliance with the rebuilding programs of the FMP.
May 7, 2004
NMFS implements measures to establish target total allowable catch (TAC) levels for the monkfish fishery for the 2004 fishing year (FY), and adjust trip limits and days-at-sea (DAS) for limited access monkfish vessels fishing in the Southern Fishery Management Area (SFMA) based upon the target TAC setting and trip limit and DAS adjustment methods established in Framework Adjustment 2 (Framework 2) to the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP).
June 18, 1999
NMFS notifies the public that it has disapproved proposed Framework 1 to the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). NMFS is issuing this emergency interim rule to amend temporarily the monkfish fishing mortality rate (F) criteria in the FMP to be consistent with those recommended by the most recent stock assessment (SAW 34; January 2002). This emergency rule also implements the management measures that were proposed in Framework 1 to the FMP because, with the amendment of the F criteria in the FMP, these measures are consistent with the best available scientific information. The intended effect of this rule is to suspend temporarily the restrictive Year 4 default management measures that became effective May 1, 2002, and to implement management measures for the monkfish fishery based on the best scientific information.