Small-Mesh Multispecies Plan Overview

Small-Mesh Multispecies in the Northeast consist of two stocks of whiting (silver hake), two stocks of red hake, and one stock of offshore hake. Catches of silver and offshore hake are known as “whiting,” while the fishery that harvests any of these species is known as the “whiting fishery.” Because vessels participating in the fishery use small mesh, they are regulated through a series exemptions from the Northeast Multispecies, or Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). A comprehensive approach to their management was first adopted in early 2000 with the implementation of Amendment 12 to the Groundfish FMP.

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Plan Amendments, Frameworks, and Specifications

Plan Amendments

November 9, 2015
This amendment has been withdrawn.
May 6, 2013
NEFMC developed Amendment 19 to modify management measures that currently govern the small-mesh multispecies fishery, including the accountability measures, the year-round possession limits, and total allowable landings process.
April 28, 2000
This action addresses Sustainable Fisheries Act requirements for managing Whiting, red hake and offshore hake.
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.
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
December 6, 2023
This action proposes fishing year 2024 through 2026 specifications for: (1) northern silver hake; (2) southern whiting, which includes southern silver hake and, as a minor component, offshore hake; (3) northern red hake; and (4) southern red hake.
February 1, 2021
This action contains three items: (1) 2021-2023 specifications for small-mesh multispecies stocks of whiting and red hake; (2) a provision to reset the TAL trigger for northern red hake to the original value of 90%; and (3) an adjustment to the whiting possession limit on trips using less than 3-inch mesh codends.
January 25, 2022
This framework contains a proposed rebuilding program for the southern stock of red hake.
June 4, 2018
The specifications are necessary to establish allowable catch limits for each stock within the fishery to control overfishing while allowing optimum yield, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The intent of this
action is to inform the public of these specifications for the 2018 fishing year, projected specifications for 2019–2020, and the regulatory correction.
February 26, 2016
February 3, 2015
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.
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.
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.