DURHAM, N.H. — The NH Fish and Game Department will be implementing interim rules on July 1 to change the minimum size limits of some groundfish species and implement a minimum size limit for witch flounder for commercial harvesters. The interim rules will be in place for 180 days and are designed to complement similar federal rules that also will go into effect on July 1 for federal waters (3-200 miles from shore). The minimum size changes are as follows:
New Hampshire commercial minimum fish sizes for groundfish:
Cod: Current Minimum Size – 22 inches; New Minimum Size as of July 1, 2013: 19 inches
Haddock: Current Minimum Size – 18 inches; New Minimum Size as of July 1, 2013: 16 inches
Witch flounder (gray sole): Current Minimum Size – none; New Minimum Size as of July 1, 2013: 13 inches
Yellowtail flounder: Current Minimum Size – 13 inches; New Minimum Size as of July 1, 2013: 12 inches
American plaice (dab): Current Minimum Size – 14 inches; New Minimum Size as of July 1, 2013: 12 inches
Redfish: Current Minimum Size – 9 inches; New Minimum Size as of July 1, 2013: 7 inches
On May 1, the NOAA Fisheries implemented a management action that greatly reduced the commercial quotas on several groundfish species in order to end overfishing. Since all catch, including both harvested and discarded fish, count toward commercial quotas, NOAA Fisheries also reduced the minimum size limits of some fish to allow more of the fish currently being discarded due to minimum size limits to be harvested and sold.
The 6.5 inch minimum mesh sizes for fishermen’s nets that allow small fish to escape remains in place and the new size limits are still at or above the length at 50-percent maturity for these species.
NOAA Fisheries also delayed implementation of the new size limits until July 1 to provide States the opportunity to make similar changes to size limits in state waters (0-3 miles from shore).
While the interim rules are in place, N.H. Fish and Game will go through the state rulemaking process to propose making these size limit changes permanent and will also include a proposal to raise the haddock minimum size limit for recreational anglers to 21 inches. The proposed rule change to the recreational size limit for haddock would also complement a similar change made by NOAA Fisheries for federal waters on May 1 to reduce the recreational harvest of haddock.
A tentative public hearing for these proposed rule changes will take place at 7 PM on Tuesday, September 3, 2013, at the Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwin Road in Portsmouth.
FOR MORE DETAILS: The complete rulemaking notices, with original and proposed rule language, will be posted by the end of July and at that time will be available for online viewing at http://www.wildnh.com/Legislative/Notices_summary.htm
Directions to the Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, N.H.: From Portsmouth Traffic Circle: Take the Route 1 Bypass South exit off circle. Merge with Route 1 and go through five traffic lights. Turn left at sixth light onto Elwyn Road.