Northeast Multispecies Plan Overview

The Northeast Multispecies FMP was implemented in 1986 to reduce fishing mortality of heavily fished groundfish stocks and to promote rebuilding to sustainable biomass levels. Thirteen species are managed through plan amendments and framework adjustments to the original plan, while five additional stocks are managed under a separate small mesh multispecies program.

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Plan Amendments, Frameworks, and Specifications

Plan Amendments

Under Development
February 7, 2017
June 30, 2015
This action establishes standards of precision for bycatch estimation for all Northeast Region fisheries.
July 1, 2014
Amendment 18 was developed to promote fleet diversity and in the groundfish fishery, prevent the acquisition of excessive shares of permits, and enhance sector management.
June 22, 2011
State-operated permit banks may be allocated an annual catch entitlement and specifically authorized to provide their annual catch entitlement and/or days-at-sea to approved groundfish sectors to enhance the fishing opportunities available to sector members. This action also approves a provision allowing NMFS to issue a days-at-sea credit to a vessel that cancels a fishing trip
October 16, 2009
Amendment 16 was developed by the New England Fishery Management Council (Council) as part of the biennial adjustment process in the FMP to update status determination criteria for all regulated NE multispecies or ocean pout stocks; to adopt rebuilding programs for NE multispecies stocks newly classified as being overfished and subject to overfishing; and to revise management measures, including significant revisions to the sector management measures, necessary to end overfishing, rebuild overfished regulated NE multispecies and ocean pout stocks, and mitigate the adverse economic impacts of increased effort controls. This final rule also implements new requirements under Amendment 16 for establishing acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limits (ACLs), and accountability measures (AMs) for each stock managed under the FMP, pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Finally, this action adds Atlantic wolffish to the list of species managed by the FMP. This action is necessary to address the results of the most recent stock assessment, which indicate that several additional regulated species are overfished and subject to overfishing, and that stocks currently classified as overfished require additional reductions in fishing mortality to rebuild by the end of their rebuilding periods.
February 7, 2008
NMFS is implementing approved management measures contained in the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) Omnibus Amendment (SBRM Amendment) to the Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) of the Northeast Region, developed by the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils (Councils).
Under Development
December 1, 2004
Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2, currently under development
December 8, 2003
Amendment 13 was developed to end overfishing and rebuild NE multispecies (groundfish) stocks managed under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and to make other changes in the management of the groundfish fishery. This rule implements the following measures: Changes in the days-at-sea (DAS) baseline for determining historical participation in the groundfish fishery; DAS reductions from the baseline; creation of new categories of DAS and criteria for their allocation and use in the fishery; changes in minimum fish size and possession limits for recreationally caught fish; a new limited access permit category for Handgear vessels; elimination of the northern shrimp fishery exemption line; access to groundfish closed areas for tuna purse seiners; an exemption program for southern New England (SNE) scallop dredge vessels; modifications to Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) requirements; changes to procedures for exempted fisheries; changes to the process for making periodic adjustments to management measures in the groundfish fishery; revisions to trip limits for cod and yellowtail flounder; changes in gear restrictions, including minimum mesh sizes and gillnet limits; a DAS Transfer Program; a DAS Leasing Program; implementing measures for the U.S./ Canada Resource Sharing Understanding for cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder on Georges Bank (GB); a Special Access Program (SAP) to allow increased targeting of GB yellowtail flounder; revisions to overfishing definitions and control rules; measures to protect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH); new reporting requirements; sector allocation procedures; and a GB Cod Hook Gear Sector Allocation. The effort-reduction measures in Amendment 13 are intended to end overfishing on all stocks and constitute rebuilding programs for those groundfish stocks that require rebuilding. Other measures are intended to provide flexibility and business options for permit holders. Also, NMFS informs the public of the approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of the collection-of- information requirements contained in this final rule and publishes the OMB control numbers for these collections.
March 29, 2000
NMFS issues this final rule to implement measures contained in Amendment 12 to the Northeast Multispecies Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) to
April 21, 1999
EFH
January 11, 1999
Amendment 10 includes a long-term, comprehensive program to manage the sea scallop fishery through an area rotation management program to maximize scallop yield. Areas will be defined and will be closed and reopened to fishing on a rotational basis, depending on the condition and size of the scallop resource in the areas. This rule includes measures to minimize the adverse effects of fishing on Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) to the extent practicable. Amendment 10 also includes updated days-at-sea (DAS) allocations, measures to minimize bycatch to the extent practicable, and other measures to make the management program more effective, efficient, and flexible.
October 9, 1998
The amendments describe and identify EFH for the specified fisheries, discuss measures to address the effects of fishing on EFH, and identify other actions for the conservation and enhancement of EFH. Atlantic Salmon Amendment 1 also discusses a definition for overfishing and establishes an aquaculture framework adjustment process for Atlantic salmon.
March 3, 1999
The amendments describe and identify EFH for the specified fisheries, discuss measures to address the effects of fishing on EFH, and identify other actions for the conservation and enhancement of EFH. Atlantic Salmon Amendment 1 also discusses a definition for overfishing and establishes an aquaculture framework adjustment process for Atlantic salmon.
May 31, 1996
NMFS issues this final rule to implement approved measures contained in Amendment 7 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP) including a resubmitted part of the amendment.
May 1, 1994
Action to amend the regulations implementing the Fishery Management Plan for the Summer Flounder Fishery (FMP). This rule requires Federally permitted summer flounder dealers to submit weekly reports even if no fish are received during a particular week, and owners of vessels having summer flounder moratorium permits to maintain accurate daily fishing logs and submit them each month regardless of species fished for or taken. Other minor language changes are made to the regulations regarding dealer and vessel reporting to clarify intent. The intended effect of this rule is to achieve consistency and effectiveness by standardizing the reporting requirements for all Federally managed fisheries in the Northeast Region.
September 30, 1993
Moratorium on new vessel permits during rebuilding period; implements a day-at-sea effort reduction program; additional mesh size restrictions; interim gillnet regulations to reduce harbour porpoise bycatch; mandatory reporting system for landings; prohibits pair-trawling; requires finfish excluder device for shrimp fishery; implements minimum fish size; expands size of Closed Area II.
June 27, 1991
Adds more restrictions to Exempted Fisheries Program; establishes a procedure for Council to recommend modifying northern shrimp gear to reduce bycatch; expands management unit to include silver hake, ocean pout, and red hake; establishes management for Cultivator Shoal whiting fishery; tightens restrictions on carrying small mesh in the Regulated Mesh Area; requires a 5.5≤ mesh size in the Southern New England yellowtail area
August 17, 1989
Amendment 3 establishes a Flexible Area Action System.
October 1, 1988
Amendment 2 will improve overall effectiveness of existing management measures and enhance the conservation of the grounfish stocks. The intended effect of the rule is to afford better protection of the groundfish stocks to support both commercial and recreational fisheries.
October 1, 1987
Decreases the area for silver hake exempted fishery; increases large mesh area to include yellowtail flounder grounds in the south, tighten existing mesh size regulations for Southern New England yellowtail flounder.

Framework Adjustments/Specifications

Under Development
January 22, 2018
March 16, 2017
This rule sets catch limits for 4 of the 20 groundfish stocks, adjusts several allocations and accountability measures for groundfish catch in groundfish and non-groundfish fisheries, and makes other administrative changes to groundfish management measures.
May 2, 2016
This rule sets 2016–2018 catch limits for all 20 groundfish stocks, adjusts the groundfish at-sea monitoring program, and adopts several sector measures.
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.
June 18, 2014
This rule sets fishing years 2015–2017 catch limits for several groundfish stocks, modifies management measures for Gulf of Maine cod, and adopts other measures to improve the management of the groundfish fishery.
June 1, 2014
This final rule contains two modifications to the current windowpane flounder accountability measures
First, the size of the accountability measure gearrestricted areas can be reduced if we determine that improvements in windowpane flounder stock health occurred despite the catch limits being exceeded.
February 24, 2014
This action sets catch limits for groundfish stocks, revises the rebuilding programs for Gulf of Maine cod and American plaice, modifies management measures for yellowtail flounder, and revises management measures for the U.S./ Canada Management Area. Although not part of Framework 51, this action also sets fishing year 2014 trip limits for the common pool fishery and announces 2014 accountability measures for windowpane flounder.
April 22, 2013
This action intends to do the following: Finalize interim rule measures put in place by Framework Adjustment (FW) 48, FW 50, and in the 2013 Sector Operations Plan rulemakings; respond to public comments received on the interim measures; and notify the public of changes being made to Eastern U.S./Canada Area quota monitoring and associated reporting requirements.
February 28, 2013
Framework 49 sets specifications for the Atlantic sea scallop fishery for the 2013 fishing year, including days-at-sea allocations, individual fishing quotas, and sea scallop access area trip allocations.
February 26, 2013
This final rule finalizes interim measures put in place for the May 1, 2013, start of the Northeast (NE) multispecies fishing year. This action intends to do the following: Finalize interim rule measures put in place by Framework Adjustment (FW) 48, FW 50, and in the 2013 Sector Operations Plan rulemakings; respond to public comments received on the interim measures; and notify the public of changes being made to Eastern U.S./Canada Area quota monitoring and associated reporting requirements.
March 9, 2012
The rule implements the approved measures in FW 47 and also implements management measures and revises existing regulations that are not included in Framework 47, including common pool management measures for fishing year (FY) 2012, modification of the Ruhle trawl definition, and clarification of the regulations for charter/party and recreational groundfish vessels fishing in groundfish closed areas.
June 17, 2011
Framework 46 increases the haddock incidental catch cap allocated to the Atlantic midwater trawl herring fishery to 1 percent of the Georges Bank (GB) haddock Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) and to 1 percent of the Gulf of Maine (GOM) haddock ABC, thereby, adjusting final fishing year (FY) 2011 specifications for the other fishery components of these ABCs.
January 21, 2011
This action revises the biological reference points and stock status for pollock, updates annual catch limits (ACLs) for several stocks for fishing years (FYs) 2011–2012, adjusts the rebuilding program for Georges Bank (GB) yellowtail flounder, increases scallop vessel access to the Great South Channel Exemption Area, approves five new sectors, modifies the existing dockside and at-sea monitoring requirements, revises several sector administrative provisions, establishes a Gulf of Maine (GOM) Cod Spawning Protection Area, and refines measures affecting the operations of NE multispecies vessels fishing with handgear.
January 15, 2010
Implements specifications for the FMP for fishing years (FY) 2010–2012. FW 44 is implemented in this rule in conjunction with approved Amendment 16 measures, as well as with approved sector operations plans authorized under the FMP.
August 15, 2006
Framework 43 addresses the incidental catch of NE multispecies by vessels fishing for Atlantic herring by establishing a Herring Exempted Fishery.
April 21, 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.
October 14, 2005
Framework 41 expands participation in the existing Closed Area (CA) I Hook Gear Haddock Special Access Program (SAP) to all NE multispecies limited access days-at sea (DAS) vessels fishing with hook gear.
February 15, 2005
FW 40B was developed to modify existing effort control programs implemented under Amendment 13 to the FMP to improve the effectiveness of these programs, to create additional opportunities for commercial fishing vessels in the fishery to target healthy groundfish stocks, and to increase the information available to assess groundfish bycatch in the herring fishery.
July 2, 2004
This rule corrects inadvertent errors and omissions found in the April 27, 2004, final rule implementing Amendment 13 and the November 19, 2004, interim final rule implementing Framework Adjustment (Framework) 40–A to the Northeast (NE) Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP).
November 2, 2004
The Joint Frameworks establish Scallop Access Areas within Northeast (NE) multispecies Closed Area I (CAI), Closed Area II (CAII), and the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area (NLCA). The NE multispecies closed areas are closed year-round to all fishing that is capable of catching NE multispecies, including scallop fishing.
July 9, 2003
FW 38 intends to exempt a fishery from the Gulf of Maine (GOM) Regulated Mesh Area mesh size regulations. Framework 38 establishes an exempted small mesh silver hake (Merluccius bilinearis) (whiting) fishery in the inshore GOM. The exempted fishery is authorized from July 1 through November 30 each year; requires the use of specific exempted grate raised footrope trawl gear; establishes a maximum whiting possession limit of 7,500 lb (3,402 kg); and includes incidental catch restrictions.
April 28, 2003
FW 37 intends to eliminate the Year 4 default measure for whiting in both stock areas; reinstate the Cultivator Shoal whiting fishery (CSWF) season through October 31 each year; eliminate the 10–percent restriction on red hake incidental catch in the CSWF; adjust the incidental catch allowances in Small Mesh Areas 1 and 2 so that they are consistent with those in the Cape Cod Bay raised footrope trawl fishery; clarify the transfer-at-sea provisions for small-mesh multispecies for use as bait; modify slightly the Cape Cod Bay raised footrope trawl fishery area; and retain the 30,000–lb (13.6–mt) trip limit for the CSWF.
January 1, 2001
This action was not adopted by the Council.
September 1, 2000
This final rule is to exempt a fishery from the Gulf of Maine (GOM)/Georges Bank (GB) Regulated Mesh Area mesh size regulations and closed area restrictions. Framework 35 establishes an exempted small mesh whiting fishery in the GOM. The exempted fishery is authorized in an area near Provincetown, MA, from September 1 through November 20 each year, and requires the use of raised footrope trawl gear.
March 7, 2000
This final rule implements management measures that include the following: A continuation of the current Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod trip limit and the current GOM area closures;
February 3, 2000
This final rule implements management measures that include the following: A continuation of the current Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod trip limit and the current GOM area closures;
April 28, 2000
Framework Adjustment 32 (Framework 32) establishes that a vessel’s whiting and offshore hake possession limit shall be determined by the smallest codend mesh size the vessel has on board or the smallest mesh on board not incorporated into the body of a fully constructed net, whichever is smaller.
January 31, 2000
Modified the management measures of the Gulf of Maine cod fishery and Georges Bank cod trip limit system in the 1999-2000 fishing year.
July 29, 1999
Intended to reduce the fishing mortality rate for Georges Bank cod by 22% from the 1997/1998 levels.
June 15, 1999
Temporarily opened portions of the groundfish closed areas to controlled access scallop fishing (Same as Framework Adjustment 11 to the Sea scallop FMP).
March 1, 1999
Made multispecies FMP measures consistent with the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan implemented in Dec-98
February 19, 1999
Implemented additional measures such as closed areas, trip limits, and gear restrictions to reduce or maintain fishing
December 18, 1998
Implemented additional seasonal closures in February and April to provide additional protection for spawning cod.
February 1, 1998
Established Gulf of Maine closed areas, trip limits, and other measures to reduce fishing effort on Gulf of Maine cod.
September 5, 1997
Adjusted the Gulf of Maine cod trip limits; allows vessels to carryover 10 days-at-sea; and provided exemptions for vessels fishing in the NAFO Regulated Area Except: Section 648.81(f)(2)(ii)(B) requires Office of Management Budget approval and when approval received effective date will be announced in the Federal Register
January 30, 1997
Closed the Great South Channel and Cape Cod Bay right whale critical habitat areas seasonally to fixed gear.
December 13, 1996
This rule will close certain areas to specific gear types, thereby alleviating the gear conflicts in Southern New England.
November 27, 1996
These regulations allow vessels with general category scallop permits or limited access permits, if not fishing under a days-at-sea (DAS) limitation, to fish for scallops with small dredges (combined
width not to exceed (10.5 ft (3.2 m)) within the Gulf of Maine Small Mesh Northern Shrimp Fishery Exemption Area.
February 6, 1997
A daily trip limit for cod for vessels when fishing north of 42°00′ N. lat.; a seasonal increase in the haddock limit from 1,000 lb (453.6 kg) per trip to 1,000 lb (453.6 kg) per day up to a maximum of 10,000 lb (4,536.0kg) per trip beginning September 1, 1997, and ending when 1,150 mt are harvested; gillnet effort-reduction measures including a limit on the number of nets; and several exempted fishery actions, including exemptions for monkfish, skate, and dogfish in the Gulf of Maine and Southern New England Regulated Mesh Areas.
September 16, 1996
This rule changes the time and area of the current multispecies Mid-coast Closure Area within the Gulf of Maine (GOM) and establishes an exemption to allow sink gillnet vessels to fish in the reopened area when utilizing acoustic devices (pingers) on their nets.
July 23, 1997
Framework Adjustment 18 allows pelagic midwater trawling for herring and mackerel in Multispecies Closed Areas I and II, the Gulf of Maine (GOM) multispecies closure areas, and in the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area, under certain conditions.
September 27, 1996
Framework 17 restores unused days-at-sea (DAS) to vessels enrolled in the DAS effort control call-in system that fished less than one-sixth of their Amendment 7 DAS allocation during the months of May and June 1996.
September 12, 1996
This rule prohibits the use of all gillnets capable of catching Northeast multispecies during the periods in which the harbor porpoise time/area closures are in effect unless the gillnet meets certain specifications.
July 24, 1996
This rule extends the timing of the Mid-coast Closure Area for vessels fishing with sink gillnet gear from the current November through December period to September 15 through December 31.
January 30, 1996
This rule implements a spring closure for gillnet gear in the Revised Mid-coast Closure Area and establishes a new Cape Cod South Closure Area off Southern New England.
January 1, 1996
This action was included in Amendment 7 - Exempted Mid-Atlantic vessels from prohibition on winter flounder possession limits.
October 12, 1995
This rule expands and redefines the Mid-coast Closure Area for sink gillnet gear, in both area and time during 1995, to reduce the bycatch of harbor porpoise, while minimizing the loss of fishing
opportunity to harvesters using sink gillnet gear.
May 1, 1995
This action modifies a demarcation line in the current regulations that is used to monitor vessel activity. The intent of this action is to enhance enforcement capability.
May 1, 1995
This action was included in Amendment 7 - Exempted Mid-Atlantic vessels from prohibition on winter flounder possession limits.
April 18, 1995
This rule implements on a permanent basis several measures originally imposed by a temporary emergency rule, with some modifications and additions:
January 1, 1995
Framework 8 was withdrawn - Originally was to exempt some vessels from permit splitting prohibition in Amendment 5.
December 5, 1995
This rule implements framework adjustments that revise a provision in each of the FMPs that requires all permit applicants to own a fishing vessel at the time they apply for or renew a limited access permit.
August 2, 1994
The intent of this rule is to reduce the catch of juvenile silver hake in the Cultivator Shoal whiting (silver hake) fishery by increasing the minimum mesh size from 2 1/2 inches (6.35cm) to 3 inches (7.62cm).
June 1, 1994
This action was included in Framework 9 - Adjusted square mesh requirements for Stellwagen Bank and Jeffrey’s Ledge.
May 14, 1994
The measures contained in this rule are a series of time and area closures for sink gillnet gear to reduce bycatch of harbor porpoise.
August 17, 1994
The intent of this rule is to reduce the potential for vessels to direct fishing efforts regulated multispecies finfish with mesh smaller the the regulated minimum size.
May 1, 1994
Framework 2 was withdrawn - Originally proposed a 100-pound possession limit for winter flounder.
April 14, 1994
NMFS implemented parts of Amendment 5 to the FMP on March 1, 1994, but delayed implementation of some provisions, including the effort-reduction program, until May 1, to provide the industry and NMFS staff sufficient time to prepare for this unprecedeted and far-reaching change to regulations.