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Title 50

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§ 648.89 Recreational and charter/party vessel restrictions.

(a) Recreational gear restrictions. Persons aboard charter/party vessels permitted under this part and not fishing under the DAS program or under the restrictions and conditions of an approved sector operations plan, as specified in § 648.87(c), and recreational fishing vessels in the EEZ, are prohibited from fishing with more than one line per angler, and all other gear on board must be stowed and not available for immediate use as defined in § 648.2.

(b) Recreational minimum fish sizes -

(1) Minimum fish sizes. Unless further restricted under this section, persons aboard charter or party boats permitted under this part and not fishing under the NE multispecies DAS program or under the restrictions and conditions of an approved sector operations plan, and private recreational fishing vessels may not possess fish in or from the EEZ that are smaller than the minimum fish sizes, measured in total length, as follows:

Table 1 to Paragraph (b)(1)

Species Minimum size
Inches cm
Cod:
Inside GOM Regulated Mesh Area1 21 53.3
Outside GOM Regulated Mesh Area1 21 53.3
Haddock:
Inside GOM Regulated Mesh Area1 17 43.2
Outside GOM Regulated Mesh Area1 18 45.7
Pollock 19 48.3
Witch Flounder (gray sole) 14 35.6
Yellowtail Flounder 13 33.0
American Plaice (dab) 14 35.6
Atlantic Halibut 41 104.1
Winter Flounder (black back) 12 30.5
Redfish 9 22.9

(2) Exceptions -

(i) Fillet size. Vessels may possess fillets less than the minimum size specified, if the fillets are taken from legal-sized fish and are not offered or intended for sale, trade or barter.

(ii) Transiting. Vessels in possession of cod or haddock caught outside the GOM Regulated Mesh Area specified in § 648.80(a)(1) may transit this area with cod and haddock that meet the minimum size specified for fish caught outside the GOM Regulated Mesh Area specified in § 648.80(b)(1), provided all bait and hooks are removed from fishing rods, and any cod and haddock on board has been gutted and stored.

(3) Fillets. Fish fillets, or parts of fish, must have at least 2 square inches (5.1 square cm) of skin on while possessed on board a vessel and at the time of landing in order to meet minimum size requirements. The skin must be contiguous and must allow ready identification of the fish species.

(c) Possession Restrictions -

(1) Private recreational vessels. Persons aboard private recreational fishing vessels during the open season listed in the column titled “Open Season” in Table 2 to this paragraph (c), may not possess more fish in or from the EEZ than the amount listed in the column titled “Possession Limit” in Table 2 to this paragraph (c).

(i) Closed season. Persons aboard private recreational fishing vessels may not possess species, as specified in the column titled “Species” in Table 2 to paragraph (c), in or from the EEZ during that species closed season as specified in the column titled “Closed Season” in Table 2 to paragraph (c).

Table 2 to Paragraph (c)

Stock Open season Possession limit Closed season
GB Cod All Year 10 N/A.
GOM Cod September 15-30, April 1-14 1 April 15-September 14, October 1-March 31.
GB Haddock All Year Unlimited N/A.
GOM Haddock May 1-February 28 (or 29), April 1-30 15 March 1-March 31.
GB Yellowtail Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
American Plaice All Year Unlimited N/A.
Witch Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
GB Winter Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
GOM Winter Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
SNE/MA Winter Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
Redfish All Year Unlimited N/A.
White Hake All Year Unlimited N/A.
Pollock All Year Unlimited N/A.
N Windowpane Flounder Closed No retention All Year.
S Windowpane Flounder Closed No retention All Year.
Ocean Pout Closed No retention All Year.
Atlantic Halibut See paragraph (c)(3) of this section
Atlantic Wolffish Closed No retention All Year.

(ii) [Reserved]

(2) Charter or Party Boats. Persons aboard party or charter boats during the open season listed in the column titled “Open Season” in Table 3 to this paragraph (c), may not possess more fish in or from the EEZ than the amount listed in the column titled “Possession Limit” in Table 3 to this paragraph (c).

Table 3 to Paragraph (c)

Species Open season Possession limit Closed season
GB Cod All Year 10 N/A.
GOM Cod September 8-October 7, April 1-14 1 April 15-September 7, October 8-March 31.
GB Haddock All Year Unlimited N/A.
GOM Haddock May 1-February 28 (or 29), April 1-30 15 March 1-March 31.
GB Yellowtail Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
SNE/MA Yellowtail Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
CC/GOM Yellowtail Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
American Plaice All Year Unlimited N/A.
Witch Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
GB Winter Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
GOM Winter Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
SNE/MA Winter Flounder All Year Unlimited N/A.
Redfish All Year Unlimited N/A.
White Hake All Year Unlimited N/A.
Pollock All Year Unlimited N/A.
N Windowpane Flounder Closed No retention All Year.
S Windowpane Flounder Closed No retention All Year.
Ocean Pout Closed No retention All Year.
Atlantic Halibut See Paragraph (c)(3) of this section
Atlantic Wolffish Closed No retention All Year.

(3) Atlantic halibut. Vessels permitted under this part, and recreational fishing vessels fishing in the EEZ, may not possess more than one Atlantic halibut on board the vessel.

(4) Accounting of daily possession limit. For the purposes of determining the per day trip limit for cod and haddock for private recreational fishing vessels and charter or party boats, any trip in excess of 15 hours and covering 2 consecutive calendar days will be considered more than 1 day. Similarly, any trip in excess of 39 hours and covering 3 consecutive calendar days will be considered more than 2 days and, so on, in a similar fashion.

(5) Fillet conversion. For purposes of counting fish for cod and haddock for private recreational fishing vessels and charter or party boats, if fish are filleted, fillets will be converted to whole fish by dividing the number of fillets by two. If fish are filleted into a single (butterfly) fillet, such fillet shall be deemed to be from one whole fish.

(6) Application of daily possession limit. Compliance with the daily possession limit for cod and haddock harvested by party, charter, and private recreational fishing vessels, in or from the EEZ, with more than one person aboard, will be determined by dividing the number of fish on board by the number of persons on board. If there is a violation of the daily possession limit on board a vessel carrying more than one person the violation shall be deemed to have been committed by the owner or operator of the vessel.

(7) Storage. Cod and haddock must be stored so as to be readily available for inspection.

(d) Restrictions on sale. It is unlawful to sell, barter, trade, or otherwise transfer for a commercial purpose, or to attempt to sell, barter, trade, or otherwise transfer for a commercial purpose, NE multispecies caught in or landed from the EEZ by recreational, charter, or party vessels permitted under this part not fishing under a DAS, on a sector trip, or under a Handgear A permit, Handgear B permit, or Small Vessel Category C permit.

(e) Charter/party vessel restrictions on fishing in GOM closed areas and the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area -

(1) GOM closed areas.

(i) A vessel fishing under charter/party regulations may not fish in the GOM closed areas specified in § 648.81(a)(3) and (4) and (d)(4) during the time periods specified in those paragraphs, unless the vessel has on board a valid letter of authorization issued by the Regional Administrator pursuant to § 648.81(d)(5)(v) and paragraph (e)(3) of this section. The conditions and restrictions of the letter of authorization must be complied with for a minimum of 3 months if the vessel fishes or intends to fish in the GOM cod protection closures; or for the rest of the fishing year, beginning with the start of the participation period of the letter of authorization, if the vessel fishes or intends to fish in the year-round GOM closure areas.

(ii) A vessel fishing under charter/party regulations may not fish in the GOM Cod Spawning Protection Area specified at § 648.81(b)(3) during the time period specified in that paragraph, unless the vessel complies with the requirements specified at § 648.81(b)(2)(iii).

(2) [Reserved]

(3) Letters of authorization. To obtain either of the letters of authorization specified in paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this section, a vessel owner must request a letter from the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, either in writing or by phone (see Table 1 to 50 CFR 600.502). As a condition of these letters of authorization, the vessel owner must agree to the following:

(i) The letter of authorization must be carried on board the vessel during the period of participation;

(ii) Fish species managed by the NEFMC or MAFMC that are harvested or possessed by the vessel, are not sold or intended for trade, barter or sale, regardless of where the fish are caught;

(iii) The vessel has no gear other than rod and reel or handline gear on board; and

(iv) For the GOM charter/party closed area exemption only, the vessel may not fish on a sector trip, under a NE multispecies DAS, or under the provisions of the NE multispecies Small Vessel Category or Handgear A or Handgear B permit categories, as specified at § 648.82, during the period of participation.

(f) Recreational fishery AM -

(1) Catch evaluation. As soon as recreational catch data are available for the entire previous fishing year, the Regional Administrator will evaluate whether recreational catches exceed any of the sub-ACLs specified for the recreational fishery pursuant to § 648.90(a)(4). When evaluating recreational catch, the components of recreational catch that are used shall be the same as those used in the most recent assessment for that particular stock. To determine if any sub-ACL specified for the recreational fishery was exceeded, the Regional Administrator shall compare the 3-year average of recreational catch to the 3-year average of the recreational sub-ACL for each stock.

(2) Reactive AM adjustment. If it is determined that any recreational sub-ACL was exceeded, as specified in paragraph (f)(1) of this section, the Regional Administrator, after consultation with the NEFMC, shall develop measures necessary to prevent the recreational fishery from exceeding the appropriate sub-ACL in future years. Appropriate AMs for the recreational fishery, including adjustments to fishing season, minimum fish size, or possession limits, may be implemented in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, with final measures published in the Federal Register no later than January when possible. Separate AMs shall be developed for the private and charter/party components of the recreational fishery.

(3) Proactive AM adjustment. When necessary, the Regional Administrator, after consultation with the NEFMC, may adjust recreational measures to ensure the recreational fishery achieves, but does not exceed any recreational fishery sub-ACL in a future fishing year. Appropriate AMs for the recreational fishery, including adjustments to fishing season, minimum fish size, or possession limits, may be implemented in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, with final measures published in the Federal Register prior to the start of the fishing year where possible. In specifying these AMs, the Regional Administrator shall take into account the non-binding prioritization of possible measures recommended by the NEFMC: For cod, first increases to minimum fish sizes, then adjustments to seasons, followed by changes to bag limits; and for haddock, first increases to minimum size limits, then changes to bag limits, and then adjustments to seasons.

(g) Regional Administrator authority for 2018 and 2019 Georges Bank cod recreational measures. For the 2018 or 2019 fishing years, the Regional Administrator, after consultation with the NEFMC, may adjust recreational measures for Georges Bank cod to prevent the recreational fishery from exceeding the annual catch target of 138 mt. Appropriate measures, including adjustments to fishing seasons, minimum fish sizes, or possession limits, may be implemented in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, with the final measures published in the Federal Register prior to the start of the fishing year when possible. Separate measures may be implemented for the private and charter/party components of the recreational fishery. Measures in place in fishing year 2019 will be in effect beginning in fishing year 2020, and will remain in effect until they are changed by a Framework Adjustment or Amendment to the FMP, or through an emergency action.

[69 FR 22984, Apr. 27, 2004]