Project Report:
Integrated Catch-Based Management of Northeast Fisheries to Reduce Wasteful At-Sea Discarding
- Investigates causes tending to destroy or impair the free-market system.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


This 'Fisheries Integration Initiative' seeks to promote effective fisheries management solutions for New England. Recent changes to the management of New England’s groundfish fishery have been well-documented. However, among the most important and widely overlooked consequences of the new groundfish management plan is its unintended impacts on other demersal (bottom-living) fish stocks, including monkfish, skates and dogfish. Without quick action, these issues threaten to undermine the primary goal of this initiative, which is to end overfishing and protect our region’s fisheries resources. The most effective solution is to integrate the management of all demersal stocks with the groundfish plan (an approach similar to British Columbia’s multispecies groundfish fishery). The longer the management of these over-lapping fisheries remains segregated, the more risk there is to currently healthy stocks and the harder it will ultimately be to transition to ecosystem-based management.


CCCHFA staff and member fishermen have attended and participated in dozens of New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) meetings in our ongoing efforts to combine demersal fishery management plans for the purposes of streamlining and expanding the scope of Sector management.

The most recent outcome of this continued effort was a thorough discussion by the NEFMC regarding how best to combine existing fishery management plans (specifically monkfish, skates, and groundfish). The Committee responsible for the development of such actions passed a motion recommending that the NEFMC pursue the consolidation of the multispecies, skate and monkfish management plans.

The Committee decided that an ‘omnibus amendment’ (a regulatory revision which affects multiple fishery management plans) would be needed to achieve this goal. Though the Committee considered adding spiny dogfish to this action, they concluded that doing so would be far more complicated (the spiny dogfish fishery is co-managed by both the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission).
This action, unfortunately, did not make the NEFMC list of priorities for the current year; however, CCCHFA staff continues to work towards making this regulatory change a priority for the upcoming year.

Additionally, this February CCCHFA staff and fishermen traveled to Capitol Hill to discuss the improvements to the management of skates and dogfish to ensure the effective implementation of the catch-share program in the multispecies groundfish fishery. This trip was effective in increasing the understanding of these economically important fisheries and in outlining meaningful improvements to existing management.


The management of New England's fisheries is conducted through a number of disjointed management plans, despite the repeated failure of this approach in other fisheries. While many species are caught in the same areas and with the same gear, their respective management plans are incongruous. Recently, these differences have multiplied with the adoption of a ‘catch-based’ management system in the multispecies groundfish plan. Fishermen targeting groundfish under the new rules also frequently catch other bottom-feeding species such as monkfish, skates, and dogfish which are still managed using effort-controls. At this time, however, many of these fishermen will be forced to wastefully discard these fish at sea due to the lack of integration of these complicated regulations. This threatens the underlying resource and undermines responsible and profitable harvesting. Without a single integrated and functioning market for all of these stocks, both our fish and fishermen will suffer.


Our Fisheries Integration Initiative will focus on local, regional and national fisheries management. CCCHFA will engage the New England Fishery Management Council in efforts to immediately incorporate monkfish and skate into the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery Management Plan. Simultaneously, CCCHFA will engage both the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in the subsequent integration of dogfish management (delayed due to the specific timing of amendments and regulatory landscape). At the national level, we will advocate for proactive integration of all future fisheries in an effort to prevent unnecessary missteps during each step in the transition to catch-based management.

Information Dissemination

CCCHFA has an active media component. Beyond reporting back to the foundation, much of our progress is reported to the public through earned media and to our supporters through newsletters.

For instance, there was a Cape Cod Times article on our trip to DC to discuss dogfish and skate fisheries. Not only do these articles educate the public about our results, but they assist in our efforts to improve the management of these stocks and move towards sector management for these stocks while ensuring smooth transition to catch-shares implementation in groundfish.

Amount Approved
$20,000.00 on 11/16/2009 (Check sent: 12/15/2009)

  Related Organizations
Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association  

Local Fisherman in DC
Local fisherman in DC to educate congress about skate and dogfish.

Monkfish catch being offloading at the Chatham Fish Pier.

Local Fisherman in DC
Fall 2009 Newsletter (PDF)
Council members caucusing before a vote
Policy Team

1566 Main Street
Chatham, MA 02633

(508) 945-2432 ext 12
(508) 348-0252
(508) 945-0981 (fax)


Melissa Sanderson
Program Director, Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishe
Paul Parker
Executive Director, Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishe

Posted 8/25/2009 4:02 PM
Updated   9/21/2010 12:40 PM

  • Nonprofit

Council members caucusing before a vote
NEFMC members discuss the pros and cons of a motion during a break before voting.

Spiny dogfish need more integrated management to fully incorporate their ecosystem impacts.

Policy Team
The CCCHFA Policy Team at a management meeting, reviewing council handouts.

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