Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
National Marine Fisheries Service enacts
emergency action for blueline tilefish
DNREC to hold June 24 hearing on state regulation consistent with NMFS emergency action
DOVER (June 12, 2015) – The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has enacted emergency action to protect blueline tilefish while a long-term management plan is developed to reduce fishing mortality and help ensure the long-term sustainability of a species that is very susceptible to overfishing. DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, proposing a regulation in line with NMFS’s emergency action, will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 24 in the DNREC auditorium, Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901.
The NMFS emergency action takes the following measures, which affect all vessels fishing for blueline tilefish north of the Virginia/North Carolina border:
- Commercial possession limit of 300 pounds of whole fish per trip;
- Recreational limit of 7 fish per person, per trip; and
- Commercial and charter/party vessels must hold a valid open-access golden tilefish permit to land blueline tilefish.
This temporary rule will be in place for six months (having gone into effect June 4), and may be extended for an additional six months, while the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic fishery management councils develop the long-term management plan for the species.
The Division of Fish & Wildlife’s proposed regulation is in response to a formal request of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) for member states to consider adopting commercial trip limits and recreational bag limits for blueline tilefish similar to current Virginia and Maryland state regulations.
Consistent with MAFMC’s request and the NMFS emergency action, and with input from Delaware’s Advisory Council on Tidal Finfisheries, the Division of Fish & Wildlife has proposed two options for a new tilefish regulation. Both options include a commercial trip limit of 300 pounds and a recreational possession limit of no more than seven fish per person; however, one option limits the new regulation to blueline tilefish and one option applies the regulation more broadly to include both blueline and golden tilefish.
Blueline tilefish are slow-growing, deep-water dwellers that are targeted by both recreational and commercial fisheries as a foodfish. The species may grow up to 32 inches long and live up to 15 years, feeding on bottom creatures such as crabs, shrimp, snails, worms, sea urchins and small fish and sharing habitat with groupers and snappers. Spawning occurs from May to October, with females laying more than 4 million free-floating eggs.
For more information on the blueline tilefish emergency action or regulatory hearing, call the Fisheries Section at 302-739-9914 or visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Fisheries.
Vol. 45, No. 192