Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Historical Amendments and Rulemaking (1983-2017)
The following is a list of historic rulemakings to the Fishery Management Plan for Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Resources effective 2017 and earlier. The reef fish management plan is designed to rebuild declining reef fish stocks and support the sustainable use of reef fish resources. For current amendments and recent rulemaking, see the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan Homepage or Notices & Rules.
See current rules that are open for comment here.
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Species managed: Snappers, groupers, tilefishes, jacks, triggerfish, hogfish
Amendment 44: Minimum Stock Size Threshold Revision for Reef Fish Stocks with Existing Status Determination Criteria
This amendment standardizes the minimum stock size threshold for certain reef fish species. Minimum stock size threshold is used to determine whether or not a stock is considered to be overfished; if the biomass of the stock falls below the threshold then the stock is considered to be overfished. The minimum stock size threshold for gag, red grouper, red snapper, vermilion snapper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, and hogfish is equal to 50% of the biomass at maximum sustainable yield. The minimum stock size threshold is not expected to affect management action as fishing is primarily constrained by the overfishing definition. As long as overfishing is prevented, the stock biomass should never drop to the MSST level.
- Notice of Availability, 82 FR 44582.
- Notice of Agency Decision, 82 FR 61487. Effective December 28, 2017.
Amendment 43: Hogfish Stock Definition, Status Determination Criteria, Annual Catch Limits, and Size Limits
This Amendment revises the Gulf hogfish fishery management unit to include all hogfish found in the Gulf of Mexico Federal Waters north of the line extending due west from 25°09′ North latitude off the west coast of Florida, and sets annual catch limits for 2017 and 2018 at 219,000 pounds whole weight. The annual catch limit will revert to 159,300 pounds for 2019 and subsequent years. This amendment also increases the commercial and recreational minimum size limit to 14 inches fork length and prohibits the use of powerheads for harvesting hogfish in the Gulf stressed area. Finally, this amendment corrects a charter vessel definition so it’s consistent with the headboat definition.
Framework Action: Modification to Gear Requirements and Fishing Year for Yellowtail Snapper
This Amendment changes the commercial and recreational yellowtail snapper fishing year so that it opens on August 1 and runs through July 31, each year. The amendment also modifies the circle hook requirement so that the use of circle hooks is not required while commercial fishing with natural bait for yellowtail snapper south of Cape Sable (the line extending due west from 25°09’ N. latitude off the west coast of Monroe County, Florida, to the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils’ shared boundary).
This amendment increases the commercial and recreational allowable harvest for red grouper. The catch limits are as follows: Commercial ACL – 8,190,000 pounds, Commercial Quota – 7,780,000 pounds, Recreational ACL – 2,580,000 pounds, Recreational ACT – 2,370,000 pounds.
Amendment 28: Red Snapper Allocation
This amendment revises the commercial and recreational allocation for red snapper so that 48.5% of the total annual catch limit is allocated to the commercial sector and 51.5% of the total annual catch limit is allocated to the recreational sector. The increase for the recreational sector is the amount attributable to the recalibration of Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) catch estimates between 2015 and 2017. This allocation will remain in place until changed by the Council.
*Note: A court order vacated this amendment and NOAA Fisheries reinstated the previous sector allocations (51% commercial / 49% recreational).
- Final Rule, 81 FR 25575. Effective May 31, 2016.
Framework Action: Modifications to Gag Minimum Size Limits, Recreational Season, and Black Grouper Minimum Size Limits
This amendment revises the gag recreational closed season to January 1 to May 31, annually. This revised closed season is expected to reduce the amount of dead discards of gag that occur during the Gulf’s recreational season for red snapper that begins on June 1, annually, and to extend the gag recreational fishing season beyond the current December closure date to provide the opportunity for the recreational sector to harvest the recreational ACL. The amendment also increases the recreational minimum size limit in Gulf Federal waters for both species to 24 inches TL to be consistent with the Federal waters of the South Atlantic and state waters off Monroe County, Florida. The Council decided that the benefits of having a size limit for these species that is consistent with both the South Atlantic and the state size limits for the waters off Monroe County, Florida, will outweigh any impacts of increased discard rates for these species. Furthermore, gag are sometimes misidentified as black grouper and having the same recreational minimum size limit for gag and black grouper may assist the public in complying with the applicable regulations for gag and black grouper. Additionally, increasing the recreational minimum size limit for these species is expected to provide the opportunity for more gag and black grouper to become sexually mature and spawn.
Framework Action: Modifications to Greater Amberjack Allowable Harvest and Management Measures
This Framework Action will decrease the total annual catch limit from 1,780,000 pounds whole weight to 1,720,000 pounds whole weight, set the commercial annual catch limit at 464,400 pounds whole weight and the commercial quota at 394,740 pounds whole weight, set the recreational annual catch limit at 1,255,600 pounds whole weight and the recreational quota at 1,092,372 pounds whole weight, reduce the commercial trip limit from 2,000 pounds whole weight to 1,500 pounds gutted weight, and increase the minimum recreational size limit from 30 inches fork length to 34 inches fork length.
Amendment 45: Revision of the Red Snapper Recreational Sector Separation Sunset Provision
This Amendment extends the 3-year sunset provision for the Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational sector separation measure and the respective red snapper component quotas and annual catch targets for an additional 5 years (through 2022). Red snapper recreational sector separation, which established distinct federal for-hire and private angling components of the red snapper recreational sector, was initially implemented in the 2015 fishing year through Reef Fish Amendment 40.
- Notice of Availability, 81 FR 58466.
- Proposed Rule, 81 FR 62069.
- Final Rule, 81 FR 86971. Effective January 3, 2016.
This framework action will withhold 4.9 percent (352,000 pounds) of the 2016 red snapper commercial quota in the Gulf of Mexico to cover the increase in allocation to the recreational sector through Reef Fish Amendment 28. If approved, Amendment 28 would reallocate red snapper harvest between the commercial and recreational sectors from 51/49 percent to 48.5/51.5 percent, respectively. The distribution of commercial individual fishing quota allocations occurs on January 1, 2016. The 352,000 pounds to be held back will result in a commercial quota of 6,768,000 pounds. If Amendment 28 is not approved, the 352,000 pounds withheld will be returned to the commercial individual fishing quota program and distributed to the shareholders.
Amendment 39: Regional Management of Recreational Red Snapper
- Notice of Availability, 80 FR 79041. Publised December 18, 2015
Not finalized, put on hold
This action sets the commercial and recreational quotas and the recreational ACTs for the 2015, 2016, and 2017 fishing years for red snapper based on the ABCs recommended by the SSC and on the current commercial and recreational allocations (51-percent commercial and 49-percent recreational). Quotas for subsequent fishing years would remain at 2017 levels unless changed by future rulemaking.
|Year||ABC||Total Quota||Comm Quota||Rec Quota||Rec ACT|
|2015||14.30 mp||14.30 mp||7.293 mp||7.007 mp||5.605 mp|
|2016||13.96 mp||13.96 mp||7.120 mp||6.840 mp||5.473 mp|
|2017+||13.74 mp||13.74 mp||7.007 mp||6.733 mp||5.386 mp|
This amendment establishes a red snapper federal for-hire component that includes all for-hire operators with a valid or renewable federal reef fish for-hire permit, and a private angling component that includes all other for-hire operators and private recreational anglers. It also allocates the recreational red snapper quota and ACT based on 50% of the average percentages landed by each component between 1986 and 2013 (2010 excluded) and 50% of the average percentages landed by each component between 2006 and 2013 (2010 excluded). This results in federal for-hire and private angling allocations of 42.3% and 57.7% respectively. Finally, Amendment 40 establishes separate red snapper season closure provisions for the federal for-hire and private angling components.
This action proposes a reduction in the recreational red grouper bag limit to 2 fish per day within the 4-fish aggregate grouper bag limit. It also proposes to eliminate the accountability measure that automatically reduced the red grouper bag limit in the subsequent season if the recreational quota is exceeded in the current season. The fixed closed season of February 1 through March 31 in waters beyond the 20-fathom contour (which applies to red, black, scamp, yellowfin, and yellowmouth grouper) remains in place.
Note: the 3-fish red grouper bag limit that was implemented in April 2013 was the result of the automatic bag limit reduction accountability measure which is proposed to be repealed. That bag limit was a temporary measure that will expire on December 31. Consequently, on January 1, 2015, the red grouper bag limit in federal waters will temporarily revert to 4 fish until the proposed Framework Action is approved and implemented by NOAA Fisheries.
This framework action adds two long-term recreational accountability measures for red snapper. The first accountability measure establishes a recreational annual catch target. The annual catch target is 20 percent less than the recreational quota. Projected recreational seasons will be based on the annual catch target rather than the quota. This measure is expected to reduce the probability of exceeding the quota in any given year from 50 percent to 15 percent.
The second accountability measure is an overage adjustment that is only applied when the red snapper population is considered overfished (the population is too low). In the event the recreational quota is exceeded, the recreational quota will be reduced in the year following the overage by the amount of the overage. This quota reduction could be modified if the best scientific information available determines that a different amount is necessary. Under this measure, the recreational annual catch target would be set at 20 percent below the adjusted quota.
Final Rule Changes to the Red Snapper and Grouper-Tilefish Individual Fishing Quota Programs FAQ
The supplemental final rule to Reef Fish Amendment 26 and 29 contains administrative revisions to the commercial Gulf of Mexico red snapper and grouper-tilefish IFQ programs that improved enforcement, administration, and monitoring of the program. Changes included the landing notification process, offloading process, landing transaction process, and additional administrative changes.
- Supplemental Final Rule, 79 FR 57830. Effective September 26, 2014.
This Framework Action increases the 2013 quotas for commercial and recreational harvest of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico and sets the timing for a supplemental recreational fishing season for red snapper.
Framework Action: Set the Annual Catch Limit and Bag Limit for Vermilion Snapper, Set the Annual Catch Limit for Yellowtail Snapper, and Modify Venting Tool Requirements
This framework action establishes a 10-vermilion snapper recreational bag limit within the 20-reef fish aggregate, increases the Gulf yellowtail snapper Annual Catch Limit from 725,000 lb round weight to 901,125 lb round weight, and removes the requirement to have onboard and use venting tools when releasing reef fish.
Framework Action: Set the 2013 Red Snapper Commercial and Recreational Quotas and Modify the Recreational Bag Limit
This framework action increases the red snapper quotas from 4.121 mp commercial and 3.959 mp recreational to Commercial Quota Recreational Quota 4.315 mp 4.145 mp. The framework action also retains the 2-fish per angler bag limit. This action is projected to result in a 27-day recreational season, beginning June 1, provided that Texas maintains its existing state regulations and the remaining Gulf States adopt consistent regulations.
Amendment 37: Modifications to the Gray Triggerfish Rebuilding Plan Including Adjustments to the Annual Catch Limits and Annual Catch Targets for the Commercial and Recreational Sectors
Amendment 37 was implemented May 9, 2013 for annual catch limits (ACL) and annual catch targets (ACT), and June 10, 2013 for management measures, modified the gray triggerfish rebuilding plan based on a 2011 gray triggerfish update assessment, which determined that the stock was not rebuilding on target. This amendment reduced the commercial and recreational ACL to 64,100 and 241,200 pounds whole weight respectively, and reduced the commercial and recreational ACTs to 60,900 and 217,100 pounds whole weight respectively. To meet the necessary reductions, a fixed closed season from June 1 through July 31 was established for the commercial and recreational sectors.
In addition, this amendment established a commercial trip limit of 12 gray triggerfish, and a recreational bag limit of 2 gray triggerfish per angler bag limit within the 20 reef fish aggregate. The recreational accountability measures were modified by establishing an in-season closure authority based on the recreational ACT, and an overage adjustment to reduce the gray triggerfish ACL and ACT by the amount of the overage. This overage adjustment applies only while gray triggerfish is overfished.
Additional Information: Interim Rule
- Proposed Rule, 78 FR 10122.
- Final Rule, 78 FR 27084. Effective June 10, 2013, except for the amendments to §§ 622.39(a)(1)(vi) and 622.41(b) which are effective May 9, 2013.
Additional Information: Interim Rules
Amendment 38 was implemented March 1, 2013, and revised the post-season recreational accountability measure (AM) that reduces the length of the recreational season for all shallow-water grouper in the year following a year in which the annual catch limit (ACL) for gag or red grouper is exceeded. The modified AM reduces the recreational season of only the species for which the ACL was exceeded.
Additionally, the reef fish framework procedure was modified to include the addition of AMs to the list of items that can be changed through the standard framework procedure. This allows for faster implementation of measures designed to maintain harvest at or below the ACL. General language was added to the framework to accommodate future changes in naming of the Council’s advisory committees and panels.
Amendment 35: Modifications to the Greater Amberjack Rebuilding Plan and Adjustments to the Recreational and Commercial Management Measures
A 2009 greater amberjack stock assessment update shows that the stock remains overfished and continues to experience overfishing. This amendment sets the Annual Catch Limit at 1,780,000 pounds whole weight and establishes an Annual Catch Target of 1,539,000 pounds whole weight. The amendment also establishes a 2,000-pound commercial trip limit. Amendment 35 was implemented on December 13, 2012.
Amendment 34 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan was approved by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in February 2012, and implemented November 19, 2012. The amendment addresses crew size limits for dually permitted vessels. Dually permitted vessels are vessels with both a charter for-hire permit and a commercial reef fish permit. The amendment eliminates the earned income qualification requirement for the renewal of commercial reef fish permits and increases the maximum crew size from three to four.
Amendment 32: Gag Grouper Rebuilding Plan, Annual Catch Limits, and Management Measures; Red Grouper Annual Catch Limits, Management Measures, and Grouper Accountability Measures
Amendment 32 establishes annual catch limits and annual catch targets for 2012 to 2015 for gag and for 2012 for red grouper. The amendment also establishes a rebuilding plan for gag, sets recreational bag limits, size limits and closed seasons for gag/red grouper in 2012, contains a commercial gag and shallow-water grouper quota adjustment to account for dead discards, makes adjustments to multi-use IFQ shares in the grouper individual fishing quota program, reduces the commercial gag size limit, modifies the offshore time and areas closures, and revises gag, red grouper, and shallow-water grouper accountability measures.
- Proposed Rule 1, 76 FR 67656.
- Proposed Rule 2, 77 FR 1910.
- Proposed Rule 3, 77 FR 20775.
- Final Rule, 77 FR 6988. Effective March 12, 2012.
- Supplemental Final Rule, 77 FR 45270. Effective August 30, 2012.
Regulatory Amendment: Revise Fall Recreational Fixed Closed Season and Set 2012 and 2013 Quotas for Red Snapper
This regulatory amendment sets the 2012 and 2013 quotas for commercial and recreational red snapper harvest. The quotas can be increased because recent population assessments show that overfishing has ended.
If the 2012 overall quota is exceeded, the 2013 quota increase would require further scientific review and potential modification by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
The regulatory amendment also eliminates the fixed recreational red snapper closed season of October 1 – December 31. By eliminating the closure date, NOAA Fisheries Service can re-open the recreational harvest for red snapper if any remaining quota is available, without the delay of additional rulemaking.
|Commercial Allocation (51%)||4.121||4.432|
|Recreational Allocation (49%)||3.959||4.258|
This August 2011 Red Grouper Regulatory Amendment increases the 2011 total allowable catch (TAC) to 6.88 million pounds and allows the TAC to increase from 2012 to 2015. The increases in TAC are contingent upon the TAC not being exceeded in previous years. If TAC is exceeded in a given year, it will remain at that year’s level until the effects of the overage are evaluated by the Scientific and Statistical Committee. The amendment also increases the red grouper bag limit to 4 fish per person.
This amendment increases the red snapper total allowable catch from 6.945 million pounds to 7.185 MP. This increase is consistent with goals and objectives of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s red snapper rebuilding plan, and provides a substantial safety buffer by keeping the TAC 25 percent below the overfishing limit (which is also the maximum rebuilding yield).
Based on the current 51% commercial and 49% recreational allocation of red snapper, the increase in TAC will adjust the commercial and recreational quotas from 3.542 and 3.403 MP to 3.66 MP and 3.51 MP in 2011. The commercial sector is under an individual fishing quota program and has maintained landings within their quota in recent years. The projected recreational fishing season length will be announced before the season opens on June 1.
This amendment increases the red snapper total allowable catch (TAC) from 6.945 million pounds (MP) to 7.185 MP. This increase is consistent with goals and objectives of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s red snapper rebuilding plan, and provides a substantial safety buffer by keeping the TAC 25 percent below the overfishing limit (which is also the maximum rebuilding yield). Based on the current 51% commercial and 49% recreational allocation of red snapper, the increase in TAC will adjust the commercial and recreational quotas from 3.542 and 3.403 MP to 3.66 MP and 3.51 MP in 2011. The commercial sector is under an individual fishing quota program and has maintained landings within their quota in recent years. The projected recreational fishing season length will be announced before the season opens on June 1.
Regulatory Amendment: Set 2011 Total Allowable Catch for Red Grouper and Establish Marking Requirements for Buoy Gear
This amendment sets the red grouper total allowable catch (TAC) at 5.68 MP GW for 2011. Based on the 76%:24% commercial and recreational allocation of red grouper, the commercial quota will be 4.32 MP GW and the recreational allocation will be 1.36 MP GW for 2011. The TAC and commercial quota will remain at the 2011 levels until modified by a subsequent amendment or framework procedure.
The regulatory amendment also provides a more specific definition of buoy gear by limiting the number of hooks, limiting the terminal end weight, restricting materials used for the line, restricting the length of the drop line, and where the hooks may be attached. In addition, the Council requested that each buoy must display the official number of the vessel (USCG documentation number or state registration number) to assist law enforcement in monitoring the use of the gear, which requires rulemaking.
Regulatory Amendment: Set Total Allowable Catch for Red Snapper
The amendment increases the red snapper total allowable catch (TAC), making the resulting recreational and commercial quotas consistent with goals and objectives of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s red snapper rebuilding plan. This regulatory amendment increases red snapper TAC from 5.0 million pounds (MP) to 6.945 MP.
Amendment 31 addresses sea turtle interactions with bottom longline fishing gear in the reef fish fishery of the Gulf of Mexico, received Council approval in August and was implemented May 26, 2010.
Management actions contained in the amendment include: longline endorsement requirement – Vessels must have average annual reef fish landings of 40,000 pounds gutted weight or more from 1999 through 2007; Reef fish bottom longline fishing restricted to outside the 35-fathom depth contour from June – August; and Vessels are limited to 1000 hooks of which no more than 750 of which can be rigged for fishing or fished.
Amendment 29: Effort Management in the Commercial Grouper and Tilefish Fisheries
Amendment 29 was approved by the Council in January, 2009 and established an individual fishing quota (IFQ) system for the commercial grouper and tilefish fishery, which began January 1, 2010.
- Proposed Rule, 74 FR 20134.
- Supplemental Proposed Rule, 74 FR 65500.
- Final Rule, 74 FR 44732. Effective September 30, 2009.
- Supplemental Final Rule, 75 FR 9116. Effective March 31, 2010.
Amendment 30B: End Overfishing and Set Management Thresholds and Targets for Gag, Set Optimum Yield Total Allowable Catch and Management Measures, Time/Area Closures, and Federal Regulatory Compliance for Red Grouper
Amendment 30B addresses the overfishing of Gag grouper and defines its maximum stock size threshold (MSST) and optimum yield (OY). The amendment also sets interim allocations of gag and red grouper catches between recreational and commercial fisheries, and makes adjustments to the red grouper total allowable catch (TAC) to reflect the current status of the stock, which is currently at OY levels. Additionally, the amendment establishes annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) for the commercial and recreational red grouper fisheries, commercial and recreational gag fisheries, and commercial aggregate shallow-water fishery.
For the commercial sector, the amendment for 2009 reduces the aggregate shallow-water grouper quota from 8.80 mp to 7.8 mp, increases the red grouper quota from 5.31 mp to 5.75 mp, and sets a gag quota of 1.32 mp. The gag and shallow-water grouper quotas are scheduled to increase in subsequent years as the gag stock rebuilds. When 80 percent of a grouper species quota is reached, the allowable catch per trip for that species will be reduced to an incidental catch limit of 200 pounds until the species quota is filled, in order to reduce discard mortality of that species while fishermen target other species.
The amendment repeals the commercial closed season of February 15 to March 15 on gag, black and red grouper, and replaces it with a January through April seasonal area closure to all fishing at the Edges 40 fathom contour, a 390 nautical square mile gag spawning region northwest of Steamboat Lumps. In addition, the Steamboat Lumps and Madison-Swanson fishing area restrictions will be continued indefinitely.
For the recreational sector, the amendment reduces the aggregate grouper bag limit from five fish to four, increases the red grouper bag limit from one fish to two, and sets a two-fish bag limit for gag. A recreational closed season on shallow-water grouper was established from February 1 through March 31.
Finally, the amendment requires that all vessels with federal commercial or charter reef fish permits must comply with the more restrictive of state or federal reef fish regulations when fishing in state waters.
Amendment 30B was implemented on May 18, 2009. On July 24, 2009, a correction was implemented to resolve an error contained in the rule that would have implemented a longer season closure that was not intended and was not supported by Amendment 30B.
- Proposed Rule, 73 FR 68390.
- Supplemental Proposed Rule, 73 FR 17812.
- Final Rule, 73 FR 17809. Effective April 1, 2008.
- Supplemental Final Rule, 74 FR 30001. Effective July 24, 2009.
Reef Fish Amendment 30A: Revise Rebuilding Plan and Accountability Measures for Greater Amberjack, Establish Rebuilding Plan, End Overfishing, Accountability Measures, Regional Management, Management Thresholds, and Benchmarks for Gray Triggerfish
Implemented August 2008, Amendment 30A addresses the overfishing and overfished status of Gray Triggerfish and Greater Amberjack.
The amendment proposes to reduce the harvest of both greater amberjack and gray triggerfish in order to end overfishing and rebuild the stocks. The amendment also proposes to adjust the allocation of gray triggerfish and greater amberjack catches between recreational and commercial fisheries and set management thresholds and targets to comply with the Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA) for gray triggerfish.
Amendment 27/14 was implemented February 28, 2008, except for § 622.41(m) which is effective June 1, 2008. It addresses overfishing and bycatch issues in both the red snapper directed fishery and the shrimp fishery. The amendment sets total allowable catch (TAC) at 5.0 mp between 2008 and 2020. The commercial sector will receive a quota of 2.55 mp, with the remaining quota of 2.45 mp going to the recreational sector. The amendment also reduces the commercial size limit to 13”, reduces the recreational bag limit to two fish, sets the bag limit for captain and crew aboard a for-hire vessel at zero, and sets the recreational fishing season from June 1 – September 30. In addition, all commercial and recreational reef fish fisheries will be required to use non-stainless steel circle hooks when using natural baits, as well as venting tools and dehooking devices.
For the shrimp fishery, the amendment establishes a target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality of 74% less than the benchmark years of 2001-2003, reducing that target goal to 67% beginning in 2011, eventually reducing the target to 60% by 2032. If necessary, a seasonal closure in the shrimp fishery will occur in conjunction with the annual Texas closure (which begins on or about May 15). The need for a closure will be determined by an annual evaluation by the NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator.
- Proposed Rule, 72 FR 59989.
- Final Rule, 73 FR 5117. Effective February 28, 2008, except for § 622.41(m) which is effective June 1, 2008.
Regulatory Amendment: Vermilion Snapper Regulations
This amendment revises management measures for vermilion snapper to those prior to implementation of Reef Fish Amendment 23 by reducing the minimum size limit for from 11 inches to 10 inches TL; eliminating the 10 fish bag limit for vermilion snapper and retaining the current 20-fish aggregate bag limit for those reef fish species without a species-specific bag limit; and eliminating the April 22 through May 31 commercial closed season for vermilion snapper.
Implemented in January 2007, Amendment 26 establishes an individual fishing quota (IFQ) system for the commercial red snapper fishery.
- Proposed Rule, 72 FR 20980.
- Final Rule, 73 FR 406. Effective February 4, 2008, except for the amendments to § 622.16(c)(3)(i) and (ii) which are effective January 3, 2008 and the amendment to § 622.39(b)(1)(x) which is effective February 4, 2008 through March 28, 2008.
Amendment 26: Establish a Red Snapper Individual Fishing Quota Program
This amendment establishes an individual fishing quota (IFQ) system for the commercial red snapper fishery. The amendment requires that, for any single fishing year, no person shall own IFQ shares that represent a percentage of the total, which exceeds the maximum percentage issued to a recipient at the time of the initial apportionment of IFQ shares (e.g., ~8%). It also restricts initial eligibility to persons owning a Class 1 or Class 2 license, and allocates initial IFQ shares proportionately among eligible participants based on average annual landings. During the first 5 years of the program, IFQ shares/allocations can be transferred only to individuals/vessels with a valid commercial reef fish permit and to US citizens and permanent resident aliens thereafter. The IFQ program will be evaluated by the Council every 5 years.
- Proposed Rule, 71 FR 50012.
- Final Rule, 71 FR 67447. Effective January 1, 2007, except: Amendments to § 622.4(p)(4) § 622.7(gg), and (hh) are effective November 22, 2006. The existing stay of § 622.16 is lifted, effective November 22, 2006. The revision of § 622.16(b) is effective November 22, 2006. The new stay of § 622.16, except paragraph (b), is effective November 22, 2006, until January 1, 2007.
Regulatory Amendment: Set Recreational Management Measures for Grouper Starting in 2006
This amendment established a one-fish recreational bag limit for red grouper; a closed recreational season for red, gag, and black grouper from February 15 – March 15; and prohibits captain and crew of for-hire vessels from retaining grouper when under charter. The purpose of the amendment is to return red grouper landings to levels specified in the red grouper rebuilding plan, and prevent or minimize impacts on gag and other grouper resulting from more restrictive recreational red grouper regulations.
- Proposed Rule, 71 FR 16275.
- Final Rule 1, 71 FR 34534.
- Final Rule 2, 71 FR 66878. Effective December 18, 2006.
Prohibits vessels from retaining reef fish caught under the recreational size and bag/possession limits when commercial quantities of Gulf reef fish are on board; adjusts the number of persons allowed on board when a vessel with both commercial and charter vessel/headboat reef fish permits and a U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection is fishing commercially; prohibits use of Gulf reef fish, except sand perch or dwarf sand perch, as bait in any commercial or recreational fishery in the exclusive economic zone) of the Gulf of Mexico, with a limited exception for crustacean trap fisheries; requires a NOAA Fisheries-approved vessel monitoring system on board vessels with Federal commercial permits for Gulf reef fish, including charter vessels/headboats with such commercial permits; and requires owners and operators of vessels with Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permits for Gulf reef fish to comply with sea turtle and smalltooth sawfish release protocols, possess on board specific gear to ensure proper release of such species, and comply with guidelines for proper care and release of incidentally caught sawfish and sea turtles.
- Proposed Rule, 71 FR 28842.
- Final Rule, 71 FR 45428. Effective September 8, 2006, except for the amendments to §§ 622.4 (m)(1) and 622.9, which are effective December 7, 2006, and §§ 622.4(h)(1) and 635.4(m)(1), which are effective September 1, 2006.
Implemented June 2006, this amendment establishes a limited access system on for-hire reef fish and coastal migratory pelagics permits. Permits are renewable and transferable in the same manner as currently prescribed for such permits. The Council will have a periodic review at least every 10 years on the effectiveness of the limited access system.
Regulatory Amendment: Set Commercial Management Measures for Grouper Starting in 2006
The amendment established an aggregate deep-water grouper and shallow-water grouper commercial trip limit of 6,000 pounds gutted weight.
Amendment 24 was implemented on August 17, 2005. It establishes a permanent limited access system for the commercial fishery for Gulf reef fish. Permits issued under the limited access system are renewable and transferable. This amendment was developed concurrently with Coastal Pelagics FMP Amendment 15, which creates a permanent limited access system for the mackerel fishery.
Amendment 23: Set Vermilion Snapper Sustainable Fisheries Act Targets and Thresholds, and to Establish a Plan to End Overfishing and Rebuild the Stock
Amendment 23, submitted to NOAA Fisheries October 2004, was implemented July 8, 2005. It contains a rebuilding plan and sets the SFA parameters for vermilion snapper.
Amendment 22: Set Red Snapper Sustainable Fisheries Act Targets and Thresholds, and Establish Bycatch Reporting Methodologies
Amendment 22, submitted to NOAA Fisheries June 2004, was implemented July 5, 2005. It contains a rebuilding plan and sets the SFA parameters for red snapper. It also establishes bycatch reporting methodologies for the reef fish fishery.
Secretarial Amendment 1: Set a 10-Year Rebuilding Plan for Red Grouper, with Associated Impacts on Gag and Other Groupers
Secretarial Amendment 1 was initially submitted to NOAA Fisheries in September 2002 and was implemented July 15, 2004. It contains a ten-year rebuilding plan for red grouper based on three-year intervals. It specifies maximum sustainable yield, optimum yield, maximum fishing mortality threshold, and minimum stock size threshold levels that comply with the Sustainable Fisheries Act. A red grouper assessment, completed in 2002, found that approximately a 10% reduction relative to the recent fishing mortality during 1999-2001 was required for the first three years of the rebuilding plan in order to implement the plan.
To accomplish this, the Council proposed that the revised Secretarial Amendment include a 5,200 pound shallow-water grouper gutted weight commercial trip limit that will achieve a 10% red grouper harvest reduction, a reduction in the shallow-water grouper quota from 9.35 million pounds gutted weight (9.8 million pounds whole weight) to 8.80 million pounds gutted weight, repeal the Feb. 15 – Mar. 15 closed season on commercial harvest of red grouper, black grouper and gag in the Gulf EEZ (which appeared to be resulting in mini-derby fisheries around the closed season rather than a fishing reduction), and set a recreational bag limit of two red grouper out of the five aggregate grouper bag limit per person, with a double bag limit allowed for persons on qualified for-hire boats that are out over 24 hours.
In addition, the Council proposed changing the quota for deep-water grouper from 1.6 million pounds whole weight (equal to 1.35 million pounds landed weight) to a gutted weight quota of 1.02 million pounds (equal to the average annual harvest 1996-2000), and establishing a landed weight quota for tilefish (all tilefish species in aggregate) at 0.44 million pounds (average annual harvest 1996-2000). NOAA Fisheries rejected the proposed 5,200 pound shallow-water grouper trip limit and the repeal of the February 15 – March 15 commercial closed season. The remaining proposed measures were approved, and NOAA Fisheries added a commercial red grouper quota of 5.31 million pounds gutted weight with the stipulation that the commercial shallow-water grouper fishery close when either the shallow-water grouper quota or red grouper quota is reached, whichever occurs first.
Amendment 21, implemented on June 3, 2004, continues the Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps marine reserves for an additional 6 years, until July 2010, and modifies the fishing restrictions within the reserves to allow surface trolling on a seasonal basis.
Secretarial Amendment 2: Set Greater Amberjack Sustainable Fisheries Act Targets and Thresholds, and Set a Rebuilding Plan
In 2001, NMFS determined that the Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack fishery was overfished and notified the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council of related responsibilities under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (66 FR 16618)
In 2003, NMFS announced approval of Secretarial Amendment 2 that established a 10-year stock rebuilding plan for greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico. The greater amberjack rebuilding plan consisted of a series of 3-year management goals. The Amendment also established biomass-based stock rebuilding targets and thresholds (i.e., maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT), and minimum stock size threshold (MSST)), consistent with the requirements of the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (SFA).
Amendment 20: Charter Vessel/Headboat Permit Moratorium
Amendment 20, also known as the Corrected Charter/Headboat Moratorium Amendment, was initially implemented in July 2002. It is designated both as Reef Fish Amendment 20 and Coastal Pelagic FMP Amendment 14. This amendment established a 3-year moratorium on the issuance of new charter and headboat vessel permits in the recreational for-hire fisheries in the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The amendment was approved by NOAA Fisheries and the provisions to determine eligibility and distribute moratorium permits was implemented on July 29, 2002, with the moratorium originally scheduled to become effective on December 26, 2002 (67 FR 43558).
However, on December 17, 2002, NOAA Fisheries published an emergency action that deferred the date when “moratorium” charterboat permits are required from December 26, 2002 until June 16, 2003 (67 FR 77193). This action was required because the final rule implementing the for-hire permit moratorium contained an error regarding eligibility that needed to be resolved before the moratorium could take effect. The purpose of this moratorium is to limit future expansion in the recreational for-hire fishery while the Council monitors the impact of the moratorium and considers the need for a more comprehensive effort management system in the for-hire recreational fishery. The Council set a qualifying cutoff date of March 29, 2001 in order to include all currently permitted vessels and vessels which have applied for a permit as of that date. The qualifying provisions also included persons who had a recreational for-hire vessel under construction prior to March 29, 2001 and who could show expenditures of at least five thousand dollars.
In addition, persons who met the eligibility requirements to qualify as a historical captain (USCG licensed and operating as a captain of a for-hire vessel prior to March 29, 2001, will qualify for a permit within 90 days of the final rule, and at least 25 percent of earned income was from recreational for-hire fishing in one of the last four years ending March 29, 2001) were issued a letter of eligibility, which can be replaced by a permit/endorsement valid only on the vessel that is operated by the historical captain.
Generic Amendment: Establishment of the Tortugas Marine Reserves
Amendment 19, also known as the Generic Amendment Addressing the Establishment of the Tortugas Marine Reserves, was submitted to NOAA Fisheries in March 2001, and was implemented on August 19, 2002. This amendment, affecting all FMPs for the Gulf fisheries (as Reef Fish Amendment 19, Coastal Pelagics Amendment 13, Coral Amendment 4, Red Drum Amendment 4, Shrimp Amendment 12, Spiny Lobster Amendment 7, and Stone Crab Amendment 8), establishes two marine reserve areas off the Tortugas area and prohibits fishing for any species and anchoring by fishing vessels inside the two marine reserves.
Amendment 17, was submitted to NOAA Fisheries in September 1999, and was implemented by NOAA Fisheries on August 2, 2000. This amendment extended the commercial reef fish permit moratorium for another five years, from its previous expiration date of December 31, 2000 to December 31, 2005, unless replaced sooner by a comprehensive controlled access system. The purpose of the moratorium is to provide a stable environment in the fishery necessary for evaluation and development of a more comprehensive controlled access system for the entire commercial reef fish fishery.
This amendment was to all 7 fishery management plans and addresses the new provisions implemented by the SFA that pertain to preventing overfishing and rebuilding of overfished stocks. It also provides demographic and economic information on fishing communities. It proposed scientific definitions for each stock managed by the Council for maximum sustainable yield, optimum yield, Maximum Fishing Mortality Thresholds, and for Minimum Stock Size Thresholds. It proposed rebuilding plans for overfished stocks for which such data were available. It assessed bycatch and proposed reporting requirements for bycatch.
Regulatory Amendment: Set Total Allowable Catch and Management Measures for Red Snapper for the 2000 and 2001 Seasons
The amendment maintains the status quo red snapper total allowable catch (TAC) of 9.12 million pounds for the next two years, pending an annual review of the assessment; increase the red snapper recreational minimum size limit from 15 inches to 16 inches total length; set the red snapper recreational bag limit at 4 fish; reinstate the red snapper recreational bag limit for captain and crew of recreational for-hire vessels; set the recreational red snapper season to be April 15 through October 31, subject to revision by the Regional Administrator to accommodate reinstating the bag limit for captain and crew, set the commercial red snapper Spring season to open on February 1 and be open from noon on the 1st until noon on the 10th of each month until the Spring sub-quota is reached; set the commercial red snapper Fall season to open on October 1 and be open from noon on the 1st to noon on the 10th of each month until the remaining commercial quota is reached; retain the red snapper commercial minimum size limit at status quo 15 inches total length; and allocate the red snapper commercial season sub-quota at 2/3 of the commercial quota, with the Fall season sub-quota as the remaining commercial quota.
- Proposed Rule, 65 FR 4221.
- Interim Rule, 64 FR 71056. Effective January 19, 2000 through June 19, 2000, except that § 622.34(n) is effective January 1, 2000, through June 19, 2000.
Regulatory Amendment: Set 1999 Gag, Red Grouper, and Black Grouper Management Measures (Revised)
The amendment, implemented June 19, 2000, increased the commercial size limit for gag from 20 to 24 inches TL, increased the recreational size limit for gag from 20 to 22 inches TL, prohibited commercial sale of gag, black, and red grouper each year from February 15 to March 15 (during the peak of gag spawning season), and established two marine reserves on areas suitable for gag and other reef fish spawning aggregations sites that are closed year-round to fishing for all species under the Council’s jurisdiction. The two sites cover 219 square nautical miles near the 40-fathom contour, off west-central Florida. An additional proposal to continue increasing the recreational minimum size limit for gag and black grouper by one inch per year until it reached 24 inches TL was rejected by NOAA Fisheries because it was felt that it would have a disproportionate impact on the recreational fishery vs. the commercial fishery.
Amendment 16A, submitted to NOAA Fisheries in June 1998, was partially approved and implemented on January 10, 2000. The approved measures provided: (1) that the possession of reef fish exhibiting the condition of trap rash on board any vessel with a reef fish permit that is fishing spiny lobster or stone crab traps is prima facie evidence of illegal trap use and is prohibited except for vessels possessing a valid fish trap endorsement; (2) that NOAA Fisheries establish a system design, implementation schedule, and protocol to require implementation of a vessel monitoring system for vessels engaged in the fish trap fishery, with the cost of the vessel equipment, installation, and maintenance to be paid or arranged by the owners as appropriate; and, (3) that fish trap vessels submit trip initiation and trip termination reports.
Prior to implementing this additional reporting requirement, there will be a one-month fish trap inspection/compliance/education period, at a time determined by the NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator and published in the Federal Register. During this window of opportunity, fish trap fishermen will be required to have an appointment with NOAA Fisheries enforcement for the purpose of having their trap gear, permits, and vessels available for inspection. The disapproved measure was a proposal to prohibit fish traps south of 25.05 degrees north latitude beginning February 7, 2001. The status quo 10-year phase-out of fish traps in areas in the Gulf EEZ is therefore maintained.
Amendment 16B, was submitted to NOAA Fisheries in January 1999, and was implemented by NOAA Fisheries on November 24, 1999. This amendment set a recreational bag limit of one speckled hind and one warsaw grouper per vessel, with the prohibition on the sale of these species when caught under the bag limit.
Regulatory Amendment: Total Allowable Catch, Bag Limits, Minimum Size Limits, and Seasons for Red Snapper
This amendment proposed to maintain the status quo red snapper total allowable catch (TAC) of 9.12 million pounds; reduce the recreational bag limit for red snapper to 4 fish for recreational fishermen and 0 fish for captain and crew of for-hire vessels; set the opening date of the recreational red snapper fishing season to March 1; reduce the minimum size limit for red snapper to 14 inches total length for both the commercial and recreational fisheries; and change the opening criteria for the second commercial red snapper fishing season from the first 15 days to the first 10 days of each month beginning September 1, until the suballocation is met or the season closes on December 31.
This regulatory amendment follows up the same set of proposals requested under an emergency action, of which NOAA Fisheries approved only the proposal for a 4-fish bag limit. An interim rule implemented by NOAA Fisheries in January 1999 reduced the recreational bag limit for red snapper from 5 to 4 fish per person and retained the 15-inch minimum size limit for both the commercial and recreational fishing season to commence in January 1999 (63 FR 72200).
Generic Amendment for Addressing Essential Fish Habitat Requirements in the Gulf of Mexico
Regulatory Amendment: 1998 Red Snapper Total Allowable Catch and the Recreational Bag Limit
This amendment proposed maintaining the status quo red snapper total allowable catch of 9.12 million pounds, but set a zero bag limit for the captain and crew of for-hire recreational vessels in order to extend the recreational red snapper quota season. NOAA Fisheries provisionally approved the TAC, releasing 6 million pounds, with release of all or part of the remaining 3.12 million pounds to be contingent upon the capability of shrimp trawl bycatch reduction devices to achieve better than a 50 percent reduction in juvenile red snapper shrimp trawl mortality. The zero bag limit for captain and crew of for-hire recreational vessels was not implemented. Following an observer monitoring program of shrimp trawl BRDs, conducted during the Summer of 1998, NOAA Fisheries concluded that BRDs would be able to achieve the reduction in juvenile red snapper mortality needed for the red snapper recovery program to succeed and the 3.12 million pounds of TAC held in reserve was released on September 1, 1998.
- Interim Rule 63 FR 18144 Effective May 14, 1998 through October 13, 1998 except for the suspension of §§ 622.34(l) and 622.39(b)(1)(iii) and the addition of §§ 622.34(m) and 622.39(b)(1)(vi), which are effective April 29, 1998, through October 13, 1998 and except for the suspension of § 622.42(a)(2) and the addition of § 622.42(g)(2), which are effective April 14, 1998, through October 13, 1998
Amendment 15, implemented in January 1998, prohibited harvest of reef fish from traps other than permitted reef fish traps, stone crab traps, or spiny lobster traps. It also removes sea bass, grunts, and porgies from the Council’s reef fish fishery management plan.
- Proposed Rule, 62 FR 55205.
- Final Rule, 62 FR 67714. Effective January 29, 1998, except that the amendments to 15 CFR 902 and Secs. 622.4(d) and (p), and 622.7(b) are effective December 30, 1998, and Sec. 622.34(l) is effective January 1, 1997. The interim final rule published on September 11, 1997 (62 FR 47765), which became effective September 14, 1997, through March 10, 1998, is to continue in effect indefinitely.
Regulatory Amendment: Maintain the Red Snapper Minimum Size Limit at 15 Inches Total Length
The amendment canceled a planned increase in the red snapper minimum size limit to 16 inches that had been implemented through Amendment 5, and retained the 15-inch minimum size limit.
Regulatory Amendment: Set the 1997 Commercial Red Snapper Season and Authorize Recreational Quota Closures
The amendment changed the opening date of the second 1997 commercial red snapper season from September 15 to September 2 at noon and closed the season on September 15 at noon; thereafter the commercial season was opened from noon of the first day to noon of the fifteenth day of each month until the 1997 quota was reached. It also complied with the new Magnuson-Stevens Act requirement that recreational red snapper be managed under a quota system by authorizing the NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator to close the recreational fishery in the EEZ at such time as projected to be necessary to prevent the recreational sector from exceeding its allocation. Subsequent to implementation of a recreational red snapper quota, the recreational red snapper fishery filled its 1997 quota of 4.47 million pounds, and was closed on November 27, 1997 for the remainder of the calendar year.
- Proposed Rule 62 FR 42478
- Final Rule 62 FR 46677 Effective October 6, 1997, except that the removal of § 622.42(a) introductory text and the revision of § 622.42 (a)(1) is effective September 2, 1997, and the revision of § 622.34(l) is effective September 15, 1997.
Amendment 14, including EA, RIR and IRFA, implemented in March 25 and April 24, 1997, provided for a ten-year phase-out for the fish trap fishery; allowed transfer of fish trap endorsements for the first two years and thereafter only upon death or disability of the endorsement holder, to another vessel owned by the same entity, or to any of the 56 individuals who were fishing traps after November 19, 1992 and were excluded by the moratorium; and prohibited the use of fish traps west of Cape San Blas, Florida. The amendment also provided the Regional Administrator (RA) of NOAA Fisheries with authority to reopen a fishery prematurely closed before the allocation was reached, and modified the provisions for transfer of commercial reef fish vessel permits. In addition, the amendment prohibited the harvest or possession of Nassau grouper in the Gulf EEZ, consistent with similar prohibitions in Florida state waters, the South Atlantic EEZ, and the Caribbean EEZ.
- Proposed Rule, 61 FR 67766.
- Final Rule, 62 FR 13983. Effective April 24, 1997, except that the amendments to Sec. 622.4 are effective March 25, 1997.
Amendment 12, including EA, RIR and IRFA, implemented in January 15, 1997, reduced the greater amberjack bag limit from three fish to one fish per person, and created an aggregate bag limit of 20 reef fish for all reef fish species not having a bag limit.
Amendment 13, including EA, RIR and IRFA, implemented in September 15, 1996, further extended the red snapper endorsement system through the remainder of 1996 and, if necessary, through 1997, in order to give the Council time to develop a permanent limited access system that was in compliance with the new provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
Amendment 11: Resubmission of Disapproved Measure Specifying Optimum Yield
Amendment 11 was partially approved by NOAA Fisheries and implemented in January 1996. The six approved provisions are: 1) limit sale of Gulf reef fish by permitted vessels to permitted reef fish dealers; 2) require that permitted reef fish dealers purchase reef fish caught in Gulf federal waters only from permitted vessels; 3) allow transfer of reef fish permits and fish trap endorsements in the event of death or disability; 4) implement a new reef fish permit moratorium for no more than five years or until December 31, 2000, while the Council considers limited access for the reef fish fishery; 5) allow permit transfers to other persons with vessels by vessel owners (not operators) who qualified for their reef fish permit; and, 6) allow a one time transfer of existing fish trap endorsements to permitted reef fish vessels whose owners have landed reef fish from fish traps in federal waters, as reported on logbooks received by the Science and Research Director of NOAA Fisheries from November 20, 1992 through February 6, 1994.
NOAA Fisheries disapproved a proposal to redefine optimum yield (OY) from 20 percent SPR (the same level as overfishing) to an SPR corresponding to a fishing mortality rate of F0.1 until an alternative operational definition that optimizes ecological, economic, and social benefits to the nation could be developed. In April 1997, the Council resubmitted the OY definition with a new proposal to redefine OY as 30 percent SPR. The resubmission document was disapproved by NOAA Fisheries.
Amendment 10 (Not Submitted)
Withdrawn Amendment 10, including EA, RIR and IRFA, would have extended the validity of additional fish trap endorsements for the duration of the fish trap moratorium that was implemented under Amendment 5. These additional endorsements were to have been issued under an emergency rule, requested in March 1994, to alleviate economic hardships after the Council heard from fishermen who entered the fish trap fishery after the November 19, 1992 cutoff date and stated that they were unaware of the impending moratorium.
The Council rejected the proposed amendment in May 1994 after NOAA Fisheries stated that it had notified fishermen of the pending moratorium and fish trap endorsement criteria during the time between Council final action and NOAA Fisheries implementation if they asked about fish trap rules or if they requested application materials and NOAA Fisheries was aware that it was for purposes of entering the fish trap fishery. The Council also considered arguments that the change in qualifying criteria circumvented the intent of the fish trap moratorium to halt expansion of the fish trap fishery at the November 19, 1992 level. After the Council rejected Amendment 10, NOAA Fisheries subsequently rejected the emergency request.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
Regulatory Amendment: Set the 1996 Red Snapper Total Allowable Catch
This amendment set the 1996 red snapper total allowable catch (TAC), raised the red snapper TAC from 6 million pounds to 9.12 million pounds, with 4.65 million pounds allocated to the recreational sector. Recreational size and bag limits remained at 5 fish and 15 inches total length. The recovery target date to achieve 20 percent SPR was extended to the year 2019, based on new biological information that red snapper live longer and have a longer generation time than previously believed. A March 1996 addendum to the regulatory amendment split the 1996 and 1997 commercial red snapper quotas into two seasons each, with the first season opening on February 1 with a 3.06 million pound quota, and the second season opening on September 15 with the remainder of the annual quota.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
Amendment 9, including EA, RIR and IRFA, implemented in July 1994, provided for collection of red snapper landings and eligibility data from commercial fishermen for the years 1990 through 1992. The purpose of this data collection was to evaluate the initial impacts of the limited access measures being considered under Amendment 8 and to identify fishermen who may qualify for initial participation under a limited access system. This amendment also extended the reef fish permit moratorium and red snapper endorsement system through December 31, 1995, in order to continue the existing interim management regime until longer term measures can be implemented. The Council received the results of the data collection in November 1994, at which time consideration of Amendment 8 resumed.
- Proposed Rule 59 FR 27258 May 26, 1994
- Final Rule August 2, 1994 Docket No. 940536-4202 I.D. 041994B Effective July 27, 1994
Amendment 8, including EA, RIR and IRFA, proposed establishment of a red snapper Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system. It was approved by NOAA Fisheries and final rules were published in the Federal Register on November 29, 1995. However, concerns about Congressional funding of the ITQ system made it inadvisable for the ITQ system to become operational, pending Congressional action. In October 1996, Congress, through reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, repealed the red snapper ITQ system and prohibited Councils from submitting, or NOAA Fisheries from approving and implementing, any new individual fishing quota program before October 1, 2000.
- Proposed Rule, 60 FR 44825.
- Final Rule, 60 FR 61200. Effective April 1, 1996; except that the amendments to 15 CFR part 902 and 50 CFR 641.2, 641.7(s), 641.24(g), and the additions 50 CFR 641.7(ee) and 641.10 heading and paragraph (c), are effective November 24, 1995.
Regulatory Amendment: Adjust Red Snapper Size and Bag Limits and Set Starting Date for the 1995 Red Snapper Season
This amendment retained the 6 million pound red snapper total allowable catch and commercial trip limits and set the opening date of the 1995 commercial red snapper fishery as February 24, 1995; since the recreational sector exceeded its 2.94 million pound red snapper allocation each year since 1992, this regulatory amendment reduced the daily bag limit from 7 fish to 5 fish, and increased the minimum size limit for recreational fishing from 14 inches to 15 inches a year, ahead of the scheduled automatic increase.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule 50 CFR 641, Effective January 1, 1995
Amendment 7, including EA, RIR, and IRFA, implemented in February 1994, established reef fish dealer permitting and recordkeeping requirements, allowed transfer of fish trap permits and endorsements between immediate family members during the fish trap permit moratorium, and allowed transfer of other reef fish permits or endorsements in the event of the death or disability of the person who was the qualifier for the permit or endorsement. A proposed provision of this amendment that would have required permitted vessels to sell harvested reef fish only to permitted dealers was disapproved by the Secretary of Commerce and was not implemented.
- Proposed Rule 58 FR 57771 October 27, 1993
- Final Rule 59 FR Effective March 14, 1994
Amendment 5, including a supplemental EIS, RIR, and IRFA, implemented in February 1994, established restrictions on the use of fish traps in the Gulf of Mexico exclusive economic zone, implemented a three-year moratorium on the use of fish traps by creating a fish trap endorsement and issuing the endorsement only to fishermen who had submitted logbook records of reef fish landings from fish traps between January 1, 1991 and November 19, 1992, created a special management zone (SMZ) with gear restrictions off the Alabama coast, created a framework procedure for establishing future SMZ’s, required that all finfish except for oceanic migratory species be landed with head and fins attached, and closed the region of Riley’s Hump (near Dry Tortugas, Florida) to all fishing during May and June to protect mutton snapper spawning aggregations.
- Proposed Rule 58 FR 52063 October 6, 1993
- Final Rule 59 FR 966, Effective February 7, 1994
Regulatory Amendment: Adjust Red Snapper Landing Provisions and Set Starting Date for the 1994 Red Snapper Fishing Season
The amendment, implemented January 1, 1994, set the opening date of the 1994 commercial red snapper fishery as February 10, 1994, and restricted commercial vessels to landing no more than one trip limit per day. The shallow-water grouper regulations were also evaluated, but no change was made. The shallow-water grouper total allowable catch, which previously had only been specified as a commercial quota, was specified as a total harvest of 15.1 million pounds (with 9.8 million pounds allocated to the commercial quota) and 20-inch TL size limit for gag, red, Nassau, yellowfin and black grouper.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
Amendment 6, including EA, RIR, and RFA, implemented in June 1993, extended the provisions of an emergency rule for red snapper endorsements for the remainder of 1993 and 1994, and it allowed the red snapper trip limits for qualifying and non-qualifying permitted vessels to be changed under the framework procedure for specification of total allowable catch.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
Regulatory Amendment: Set the 1993 Red Snapper Total Allowable Catch
This amendment raised the 1993 red snapper total allowable catch from 4.0 million pounds to 6.0 million pounds to be allocated with a commercial quota of 3.06 million pounds and a recreational allocation of 2.94 million pounds (to be implemented by a 7-fish recreational daily bag limit). The amendment also changed the target year to achieve a 20 percent red snapper SPR from 2007 to 2009, based on the Plan provision that the rebuilding period may be for a time span not exceeding 1.5 times the potential generation time of the stock and an estimated red snapper generation time of 13 years (Goodyear 1992).
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
Amendment 4, including EA, RIR, and initial RFA, implemented in May 1992, established a moratorium on the issuance of new reef fish permits for a maximum period of three years. The moratorium was created to moderate short term future increases in fishing effort and to attempt to stabilize fishing mortality while the Council considers a more comprehensive effort limitation program. It allows the transfer of permits between vessels owned by the permittee or between individuals when the permitted vessel is transferred. Amendment 4 also changed the time of the year that total allowable catch is specified from April to August and included additional species in the reef fish management unit.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
The amendment, implemented June 22, 1992, raised the 1992 commercial quota for shallow-water groupers to 9.8 million pounds (using the corrected gutted-to-whole weight conversion factor of 1.05, see footnote 1), after a red grouper stock assessment indicated that the red grouper SPR was substantially above the Council’s minimum target of 20 percent, and the Council concluded that the increased quota would not materially impinge on the long-term viability of at least the red grouper stock.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
Amendment 3, including EA and RIR, implemented in July 1991, provided additional flexibility in the annual framework procedure for specifying total allowable catch (TAC) by allowing the target date for rebuilding an overfished stock to be changed depending on changes in scientific advice, except that the rebuilding period cannot exceed 1.5 times the generation time of the species under consideration. It revised the FMP’s primary objective, definitions of optimum yield and overfishing and framework procedure for TAC by replacing the 20 percent SSBR target with 20 percent spawning potential ratio. The amendment also transferred speckled hind from the shallow-water grouper quota category to the deepwater grouper quota category.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
The amendment, implemented November 12, 1991, provided a one-time increase in the 1991 quota for shallow-water groupers from 9.2 million pounds to 9.92 million pounds. This action was taken to provide the commercial fishery an opportunity to harvest 0.7 million pounds that went unharvested in 1990 due to an early closure of the fishery in 1990. NOAA Fisheries had projected the 9.2 million-pound quota to be reached on November 7, 1990, but subsequent data showed that the actual harvest was 8.5 million pounds.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
Regulatory Amendment: Set the 1991 Red Snapper Total Allowable Catch
This amendment reduced the red snapper total allowable catch from 5.0 million pounds to 4.0 million pounds to be allocated with a commercial quota of 2.04 million pounds and a 7-fish recreational daily bag limit (1.96 million pound allocation) beginning in 1991. This amendment also contained a proposal by the Council to effect a 50 percent reduction of red snapper bycatch in 1994 by the offshore exclusive economic zone (EEZ) shrimp trawler fleet, to occur through the mandatory use of finfish excluder devices on shrimp trawls, reductions in fishing effort, area or season closures of the shrimp fishery, or a combination of these actions.
This combination of measures was projected to achieve a 20 percent SPR by 2007. The 2.04 million pound quota was reached on August 24, 1991, and the red snapper fishery was closed to further commercial harvest in the EEZ for the remainder of the year. In 1992, the commercial red snapper quota remained at 2.04 million pounds; however, extremely heavy harvest rates resulted in the quota being filled in just 53 days, and the commercial red snapper fishery was closed on February 22, 1992.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
Amendment 2, including EA, RIR and RFA, implemented in 1990, prohibited the harvest of goliath grouper (jewfish) to provide complete protection for this species in federal waters in response to indications that the population abundance throughout its range was greatly depressed. This amendment was initially implemented by emergency rule.
- Proposed Rule
- Final Rule
Amendment 1, including environmental assessment, regulatory impact review, and regulatory flexibility analyses, to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan, implemented in 1990, was a major revision of the original FMP. It set as a primary objective of the FMP the stabilization of long-term population levels of all reef fish species by establishing a survival rate of biomass into the stock of spawning age to achieve at least 20 percent spawning stock biomass per recruit, relative to the SSBR that would occur with no fishing. The target date for achieving the 20 percent SSBR goal was set at January 1, 2000.
The Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan was implemented in November 1984. The regulations, designed to rebuild declining reef fish stocks, included: 1) prohibitions on the use of fish traps, roller trawls, and powerhead-equipped spear guns within an inshore stressed area; 2) a minimum size limit of 13 inches total length for red snapper with the exceptions that for-hire boats were exempted until 1987 and each angler could keep 5 undersized fish; and, 3) data reporting requirements.