Skates Plan Overview

The NEFMC initiated development of a Skate FMP in 2003 in response to findings by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service that four of the seven species in the Northeast skate complex — winter, smooth, thorny, and barndoor — were overfished. The other three species — little, clearnose, and rosette skates — were not overfished. Today, the only species in the complex that remains in an overfished condition is thorny skate, and overfishing is not occurring on any of the seven skate species.

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Plan Amendments, Frameworks, and Specifications

Plan Amendments

Under Development
January 4, 2017
June 30, 2015
This action establishes standards of precision for bycatch estimation for all Northeast Region fisheries.
July 16, 2009
Amendment 3 includes final specifications for the 2010 and 2011 fishing years (FY). Amendment 3 was developed by the New England Fishery Management Council (Council) to rebuild overfished skate stocks and implement annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) consistent with the requirements of the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Amendment 3 implements a rebuilding plan for smooth skate and establishes an ACL and annual catch target (ACT) for the skate complex, total allowable landings (TAL) for the skate wing and bait fisheries, seasonal quotas for the bait fishery, new possession limits, in season possession limit triggers, and other measures to improve management of the skate fisheries. This interim final rule also includes skate fishery specifications for FY 2010 and 2011, pursuant to the specifications process established in Amendment 3.
April 9, 2018
This action implements approved regulations for the New England Fishery Management Council’s Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2. This rule revises essential fish habitat and habitat area of particular concern designations, revises or creates habitat management areas, including gear restrictions, to protect vulnerable habitat from fishing gear impacts, establishes dedicated habitat research areas, and implements several administrative measures related to reviewing these measures, as well as other regulatory adjustments to implement these measures. This action is necessary to comply with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to periodically review essential fish habitat designations and protections. The measures are designed to minimize to the extent practicable the adverse effects of fishing on essential fish habitat.
February 27, 2008
The SBRM Amendment establishes an SBRM for all 13 Northeast Region FMPs, as required under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-StevensAct). 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.

Framework Adjustments/Specifications

Under Development
July 19, 2018
September 28, 2018
The action is necessary to establish skate specifications to be consistent with the most recent scientific information and improve management of the skate fisheries. This action is intended to establish appropriate catch limits for the skate fishery and to provide additional operational flexibility to fishery participants.
January 3, 2018
This final rule implements several measures to reduce the risk of the skate bait fishery from effectively closing down as it did in fishing year 2016. This action will reduce the skate bait season 3 possession limit and establish a separate skate bait incidental possession limit. This action is needed to better control the catch of skate bait and provide a more consistent supply of skate bait to the lobster fishery.
June 3, 2016
This rule approves regulations to implement Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan Framework Adjustment 3 management measures, including fishing year 2016–2017 specifications, and implements a new seasonal quota allocation for the skate wing fishery.
July 23, 2014
The approved management measures include updated skate fishery specifications for the 2014–2015 fishing years and changes to skate reporting requirements.
April 27, 2012
This rule implements catch limits and associated measures for the Northeast skate complex fishery for the 2012–2013 fishing years. The action was developed by the New England Fishery Management Council pursuant to the provisions of the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan. The catch limits are supported by the best available scientific information and reflect recent increases in skate biomass.
May 17, 2011
Framework Adjustment 1 was developed to adjust the possession limits for the skate wing fishery in order to slow the rate of skate wing landings, so that the available Total Allowable Landings limit (TAL) is taken by the fishery over a longer duration in the fishing year (FY) than occurred in FY 2010, thus ensuring a steady market supply.