RECREATIONAL Scup/Porgy Fishing
There is a major recreational fishery for scup. The 2012 recreational harvest of 1,891 metric tons made up almost 21 percent of the total scup harvest. Most recreational landings come from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York.
In the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England, the recreational scup fishery is managed under separate regulations for federal and state waters. Managers set regulations for the recreational fishery annually; they usually include a combination of an annual catch quota, minimum size limits, bag limits, and fishing seasons. For-hire recreational vessels must have a permit. In the South Atlantic, there is a limit on the amount of scup recreational fishermen can keep and restrictions on the type of gear they can use.
A small and mild-tasting fish, scup has been harvested off the East Coast since colonial times. More recently, due to heavy fishing pressure and the incidental catch of scup in other fisheries, the scup resource reached relatively low levels in the 1990s. In response, federal and state fishery managers jointly implemented a number of regulations that restricted both commercial and recreational harvest of this species. They also seasonally closed certain areas to fisheries that incidentally caught scup. As a result, scup abundance increased 30-fold from 1997 to 2008. Scup was declared officially rebuilt in 2009. Today, fisheries for scup operate under measures to ensure the species is not over-harvested again. Scientists monitor abundance of scup annually through surveys and work with the fishing industry on research projects to improve knowledge of the resource and the management of the fishery.
Scup are deep-bodied (deeper from back to belly than they are wide) and dusky brown with bright silvery reflections below and spiny fins. Adult fins are mottled with dark brown, and young scup fins may be faintly barred. Scup’s front teeth are very narrow, almost conical, and they have two rows of molars in the upper jaw. Longspine porgy look similar to scup, but can be easily identified by the elongated spines on their backs.