By Capt. John McMurray After a canceled meeting in February due to the federal government shutdown, on March 6th and 7th the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council met jointly with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, to review the 2019 Summer Flounder Benchmark Stock Assessment, and to subsequently complete specifications and decide on recreational management measures.
Atlantic chub mackerel is a small, pelagic, schooling, tuna-like species prevalent from Florida and recently all the way up to Rhode Island. They expand across the Atlantic and can be found in the Mediterranean well.
Chub mackerel aggregations are a fairly recent occurrence in the Mid Atlantic. In the last several years they have shown up in extraordinary numbers from Virginia up to New York, usually offshore of 20 fathoms. Such chub aggregations have become a forage source for billfish, tuna, mahi etc. In recent years chub have undoubtedly driven spatial and temporal offshore recreational fishing opportunities.
While large scale chub mackerel fisheries certainly exist on the other side of the Atlantic, there was, more or less, no commercial fishery for chub here until fairly recently. Industry went from catching close to none in 2008 to catching over 5-million pounds in 2013. An extraordinary escalation in a very short amount of time.
In response, the Mid Atlantic Council capped the commercial fishery at an average of the three most recent three years they had data for, 2010 to 2013, while allowing for a forty-thousand pound “incidental” limit to be caught after that cap was met.
That cap was intended to last three years after it went into effect (in 2018). During that time, the intent was for the Council to develop alternatives for longer-term management of chub mackerel fisheries to ensure sustainability, not simply from a yield perspective, but from an ecosystem on (i.e. making sure enough remained in the water for predators). Most interpreted that to mean adding chub mackerel as a stock in the Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) Mackerel, Squid, , so that it would be managed under the Magnuson Stevens Act.
Currently the Council is developing such an amendment, but is struggling with data gaps and a general lack of information on chub mackerel in the Mid Atlantic.
For a full species description and management history on the Fissues page for chub mackerel
Your comments on an emerging large-scale fishery on a forage source for large pelagics are important. By Capt. John McMurray If you fish offshore of 20 fathoms at all, you’ve probably seen them. Schools of smallish “chub” mackerel blitzing rain bait. Throw a small metal lure at them, and you’ll likely catch one. But wait
By Capt. John McMurray At last month’s Council meeting there were a handful of issues that likely concern anglers, but at the top of the list is the Council’s Chub Mackerel Amendment. The purpose of such amendment is to “consider” adding Atlantic chub mackerel to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squids, and Butterfish Fishery
Photo by Angelo Peluso The Council met this week, here’s what you should know By Capt. John McMurray There were really only three agenda items during this meeting that are of importance to anglers. Although before getting to those, we want to point out that during the Law Enforcement Committee report on Tuesday, a NOAA
In the scoping document, the Council poses several relevant questions. Here’s how we are suggesting readers answer them when providing public comment. How should the Council evaluate potential conflicts between the commercial chub mackerel fishery and recreational fisheries for large tunas and billfish? The Council should bring in scientists and economists with knowledge and experience
Chub Mackerel Hearing Schedule Thursday, May 4, 2017, 7:00-9:00 pm. Kingsborough Community College, room V-219. 2001 Oriental Boulevard, Brooklyn, NY, 11235. Telephone: 718-368-5000. Monday, May 15, 2017, 6:00-7:30 pm. Virginia Marine Resources Commission 4th Floor Meeting Room. 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, VA, 23607. Telephone: 757-247-2200. Tuesday May 16, 2017, 6:30-8:00 pm. Princess Royale Oceanfront
Photo courtesy of Angelo Peluso A developing large-scale fishery on an important offshore baitfish needs management, but the right kind Chub mackerel is a small pelagic species, similar in appearance to your standard Atlantic mackerel, but noticeably different. Chub are considerably smaller – in that 8 to 14” range – and have markedly larger eyes.