The commercial season for bluefish ended on Wednesday. The closure came when fisheries experts determined that the 2012 annual commercial Massachusetts quota of 692,986 pounds was taken. The last time Massachusetts commercial anglers took the full annual bluefish quota was in 2008, back when it was 516,619 pounds. The season closed on Sept. 6, 2008 during that year.
According to state records, fishermen came close to the quota in 2006, 2007 and again last year.
“This fishery over the past decade has been a successful one in terms of length of the season, availability of fish to markets and consumers — and the abundance of fish,” said Dan McKiernan, deputy director for the state Division of Marine Fisheries.
For purposes of comparison, other fish have a shorter commercial season. The commercial season for fluke, striped bass and black sea bass close a good deal earlier in the fishing season.
The abundance of bluefish in Vineyard waters varies from year to year. For a time bluefish were so plentiful that fishermen would catch enough to fill their pickup trucks and use the fish for fertilizer, or take it to the dump. In other years, the fish were scarce.
Looking ahead, the quota for bluefish will drop slightly in Massachusetts, following an assessment of the abundance of the fish. Next year, Massachusetts fishermen will be given a quota of 635,600 pounds. In 2014, the quota will be 606,900.
Mr. McKiernan said bluefish are managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and they are pointing towards an elevated concern about the stock in the coming years.
Recreational fishermen are less encumbered by seasonal closures than their commercial brothers. They can continue to catch most fish throughout the year. However, they do have one recreational season closure ahead. The fluke (summer flounder) recreational season ends on Sept. 30.
Louis S. Larsen, of the Net Result Fish Market in Vineyard Haven, said closing the commercial season for bluefish has little impact on the market at this time of the year because of the ongoing fishing derby.
“People are giving it away,” Mr. Larsen said.
In other words, why buy the fish when you can get it free from a recreational angler?
The derby fishermen also donate their fish to the ongoing filet program, so that seniors can pick up free fish at their local councils on aging.