In the waters off the northeastern United States, many stocks of com-mercial and recreational species have declined in recent years (An-thony, 1993; Sissenwine and Rosen-berg, 1994; Collins, 1995; Ma-tthiessen, 1995; NEFSC, 1995). Al-though much of the blame for these declines is ascribed to sustained overfishing, there also has been substantial concern over bycatch and discarding practices in key fisheries of the region, especially those involving demersal trawling (Murawski, 1994; Howell and Langan, 1987, 1992; Cadrin et al., 1995; Kennelly et al., 1997). For many years scup (or porgy, Stenotomus chrysops) has been an important commercial species in the mid-Atlantic and southern New England regions, caught princi-pally by otter trawling and to a lesser extent by pound nets, float-ing trap nets, and fish traps (Shep-herd and Terceiro, 1994). Like many other key species in the re-gion, annual commercial landings of this species have declined mark-edly in recent years from between 18,000 and 27,000 metric tons (t) in the 1950s and 60s to 6000 t in 1992 and 4400 t in 1993 (NEFSC, 1995). There is also an important recreational fishery for scup in this region, and recreational landings in recent years have accounted for 20. to 50% of the total annual catch. These have also declined from an estimated 3,100 t in the 1980s to 2100 t in 1992 and 1300 t in 1993 (NEFSC, 1995). Scientists at the 1995 Northeast Regional Stock As-sessment Workshop for the scup stock in this region concluded that 1) it is currently overexploited; 2) it is at a low level of biomass; and 3) current high rates of exploitation of age 0–2 fish should be decreased as much as possible (NEFSC 1). As predicted by Wilk and Brown (1980) some time ago, one of the causes of mortality for young scup in this region is thought to be the incidental bycatch and subsequent discarding of this species from de-mersal trawlers that target other species, particularly squid (Loligo spp.). McKiernan and Pierce's 2 study of the inshore squid fishery in Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, Massachusetts, showed significant discard of scup but, like Cadrin et al. (1995), they concluded that the inshore abundances of this species were more probably related to trawl effort throughout the region than to the relatively small effort of inshore squid trawlers. They concluded that significant numbers of small scup may be discarded by squid trawlers farther offshore where scup are known to migrate in the autumn (see also Finkelstein, 1971; Eklund and Targett, 1990) and recom-mended an examination of the dis-carding practices of these trawlers. The most reliable way to quan-tify discards in commercial fisher-ies is for observers to record data during normal fishing operations (e.g. Jean, 1963; Powles, 1969; Young and Romero, 1979; Atkinson, 1984; Murawski et al., 1995). Infor-mation from such programs is a necessary prerequisite for the two main management alternatives used to reduce discards: 1) spatial and temporal closures to fishing in areas and times of high rates of dis-card of key species (i.e. discard "hot-spots") (Murawski, 1992; Hendrick-son and Griffin, 1993; Alverson et al., 1994, Kennelly, 1997); and 2) modifications to fishing gears and practices that improve selectivity (Robertson and Stewart, 1988; Isaksen et al. Fisheries Service's Northeast Fish-eries Science Center (NEFSC) has operated a large-scale observer pro-gram in many of the fisheries off the northeastern United States from Maine to North Carolina (Murawski et al., 1995; Kennelly et al., 1997). The data collected from demersal trawlers in this program have provided an opportunity to examine the spatial and temporal occurrences of discarded scup in the offshore mid-Atlantic and southern New England trawl fishery.