VSSA has been working with MAFMC for a year to ensure our fishing regulations for Virginia remain fair and balanced. For years Virginia was the only state that had blueline regulations so our northern states, both recs and comms, caught as many as they wanted even in the waters off the Virginia coast. In June 2015 MAFMC and NOAA issued an emergency rule to limit blueline recs to 7 per person. Following the emergency rule, MAFMC began working on a Fishery Management Plan for blueline. VSSA attended numerous public hearings and working group sessions. During this year long process, MAFMC never once mentioned reduced limits by boat type nor closed seasons. It was not until the very last meeting in NY these new ideas were even mentioned then got approved with zero public input or comment. This process of public review was violated by MAFMC by waiting until the last meeting to finalize the decision to implement 7 tile per person for head boats, 5 tile per person for charters, and 3 tiles per person for private boats. This is unpreceded to show such favoritism to certain boat types. There should only be one recreational boat limit and it should not matter what type of boat you are fishing from.
Additionally, MAFMC is recommending a closed season from 1 Nov – 30 Apr. We all know that big BSB are often mixed in together with the bluelines. From Jan – May many targeting tiles have to release big BSB and we probably kill a lot of BSB that won’t survive the trip back down at 300 feet. Now if they close tiles down Oct 31 but BSB is open from Oct to Dec. Those targeting BSB will probably catch a lot tiles and have to release them mostly dead. These continued misaligned seasons will result in a lot of dead, wasted fish.
Here is MAFMC announcement on bluelines. http://www.mafmc.org/newsfeed/2016/federal-fishery-management-measures-approved-for-blueline-tilefish-in-the-mid-atlantic
Some supporting documentation from MAFMC on blueline. http://www.mafmc.org/actions/blueline-tilefish
Here are the VSSA positions on bluelines.
VSSA Blueline Tile Letter to MAFMC 30 Mar16