Northeast Skate Complex Plan Overview

The New England Fishery Management Council initiated development of a Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in 2000 in response to findings by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS/NOAA) 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. During the development of the plan, the status of some stocks changed, and the final purpose of the original FMP, which was implemented in 2003, was to rebuild barndoor skates and thorny skates. Today, barndoor skates are rebuilt, and the only species in the complex that remains in an overfished condition is thorny skate.

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Plan Amendments, Frameworks, and Specifications

Plan Amendments

June 30, 2022
This action contains updates to the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan (FMP) objectives.
June 25, 2021
This Amendment is part of the Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment.
February 7, 2020
This Amendment is part of the Omnibus Industry-Funded Monitoring Amendment and Environmental Assessment.
January 4, 2017
In September 2021, the Council discontinued work on this action. Through Amendment 5, the Council considered establishing limited access in the skate wing and/or bait fisheries and other measures that may prevent the triggering of incidental skate possession limits, improve the precision and accuracy of catch data, and better define skate fishery participants.
June 3, 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.
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
June 27, 2023
This framework contains proposed specifications for the 2024-2025 fishing years and considers: (1) removing the partial possession prohibition on barndoor skates, which currently caps barndoor skate landings at 25% of total wing landings; and (2) allowing the possession of smooth skates. The framework contains possession limit alternatives for the wing fishery but no changes for the bait fishery.
Under Development
April 18, 2023
This action would establish a scallop rotational harvest program within and/or around the Closed Area II Habitat Closure Area (i.e., “habitat management area” or “HMA”) that avoids habitats important to juvenile cod, minimizes adverse effects to essential fish habitats, minimizes adverse biological and economic impacts to other managed fisheries, and contributes to optimum yield for the scallop fishery.
February 5, 2024
This omnibus action establishes a new Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC) in Southern New England through framework adjustments to the groundfish, scallop, monkfish, skate, and Atlantic herring plans.
March 17, 2022
This action contains proposed specifications for the 2022 and 2023 fishing years based on updated data.
September 29, 2021
This framework considered updating the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan (FMP) objectives and revising the conditions of the open-access federal skate fishing permit. In February 2022, the Council selected “No Action” for the permitting alternatives and agreed to update the FMP objectives through Amendment 8.
April 27, 2020
This framework contains proposed specifications for the 2020 and 2021 fishing years based on updated data and research.
May 19, 2020
Omnibus Clam Dredge Framework
February 15, 2019
This action is necessary to allow the skate wing total allowable landings to be achieved while minimizing the need to restrict fishing operations through incidental possession limits. This action intends to extend the directed fishing time for both the skate wing and bait fisheries.
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.