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REMINDER: Blueline Tilefish Scoping Hearing set for June 18th in Ocean City, MD
Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Blueline Tilefish Scoping Hearings: June 1–18, 2015

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold five scoping hearings in June 2015 to gather public comments related to initiating management of blueline tilefish in the Mid-Atlantic. There will also be a separate written comment period.

Scoping is the first and best opportunity for members of the public to raise concerns related to the scope of issues that will be addressed. The Council needs your input early in the amendment development process to help ensure that issues of public concern are addressed in a thorough and appropriate manner. Comment topics could include the scope of issues in the amendment, concerns and potential alternatives related to blueline tilefish management, and the appropriate level of environmental analysis.

Scoping Schedule
Monday June 1, 2015, 6:00 pm. Hyatt Place Long Island/East End. 451 E Main St, Riverhead, NY 11901. Telephone: (631) 208-0002

Tuesday June 2, 2015, 6:00 pm. Congress Hall Hotel. 251 Beach Ave, Cape May, NJ 08204. Telephone: (888) 944-1816.

Tuesday June 16, 2015, 6:00 pm. Dare County Administration Building. Commissioners Meeting Room, 954 Marshall C. Collins Drive. Manteo, NC 27954. Telephone: (252) 475-5700.

Wednesday June 17, 2015, 6:00 pm. Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront. 3001 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA, 23451. Telephone: (757) 213-3000

Thursday, June 18, 5:00 pm. Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. Eunice Q. Sorin Visitor & Conference Center. 12320 Ocean Gateway, Ocean City, Maryland 21842. Telephone: (410) 213-0552.

Written Comments
Comments will be taken at all scoping hearings. There will also be a separate written comment period for Amendment scoping, which is described in the Notice of Intent (NOI) to potentially develop an EIS that accompanies the Amendment.

Written comments may be sent by any of the following methods:

Email to the following address: jdidden@mafmc.org; Include ‘‘Blueline Tilefish Scoping Comments’’ in the subject line;

Use the online comment form at http://www.mafmc.org/actions/ blueline-tilefish.

Mail or hand-deliver to Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, Delaware 19901. Mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Blueline Tilefish Scoping Comments’’; or
Fax to (302) 674–5399.

Comments may also be provided verbally at any of the public scoping meetings.

Blueline tilefish are relatively long-lived, sedentary, and slow growing, making the species susceptible to overfishing. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) manages blueline tilefish in federal waters south of Virginia, but there is currently (as of May 14, 2015) no management of blueline tilefish in Federal waters off the Mid-Atlantic coast. Although Virginia and Maryland have instituted regulations for state waters, catches in any Federal waters north of North Carolina may be landed from Delaware north without restriction.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is considering developing management measures to prevent the depletion of blueline tilefish in the Mid-Atlantic. The Council has requested that NMFS take emergency action to implement a 300 pound (whole weight) commercial trip limit and a seven fish per-person recreational possession limit, but as of May 14, 2015, NMFS had not decided whether and/or how to respond to the Council’s request.

Because emergency rules can only be in effect for a maximum of 360 days, the Council is moving ahead with scoping for an amendment to develop long-term management and conservation measures for blueline tilefish off the Mid-Atlantic through the normal rule-making process. Potential management measures for blueline tilefish could be considered via an amendment to the Council’s golden tilefish FMP, or a new FMP for blueline tilefish and/or other deep-water fish such as sand tilefish, snowy grouper, and black-bellied rosefish. Management measures could include a definition of the management unit, as well as acceptable biological catches, annual catch limits, trip limits, essential fish habitat, etc.

After scoping, the Council plans to develop a range of management alternatives to be considered and prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and/or other appropriate environmental analyses. These analyses will consider the impacts of the management alternatives being considered. Following a review of any comments on the draft analyses, the Council will then choose preferred management measures for submission with a Final EIS or Environmental Assessment to the Secretary of Commerce for publishing of a proposed and then final rule, both of which have additional comment periods.

More Information
Check out the Blueline Tilefish Scoping Document for more information.

Questions? Contact Jason Didden at jdidden@mafmc.org, (302) 526-5254.

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