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South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Historical Amendments and Rulemaking (1983-2017)


Under the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan (FMP), the South Atlantic Council manages 55 species of fishes. Management is designed to support the sustainable use of snapper-grouper resources.
Fishing Type
Commercial, Recreational
Action Status
Final Rule
List of historical amendments to the fishery management plan from 1983 to 2017
Point of Contact
Southeast Regional Office 727-824-5305


The following is a list of historic rulemakings to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper Grouper Fishery, effective during 2017 and earlier. While our website is in transition, to view historical amendments that are not found on this page, please visit the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Snapper Grouper FMP webpage. For more recent amendments and rule-making, please visit the Snapper Grouper FMP page

See current rules that are open for comment here.

To be notified of rulemaking, sign up for our fishery bulletins.

Species managed: snappers, groupers, porgys, triggerfish, jacks, tilefishes, grunts, spadefishes, wrasses, and sea basses.

Amendment 37: Hogfish Stock

Modify the hogfish fishery management unit; specify fishing levels for the two South Atlantic hogfish stocks; establish a rebuilding plan for the Florida Keys/East Florida stock; establish/revised management measures for both hogfish stocks in the South Atlantic Region, such as size limits, recreational bag limits, and commercial trip limits.


Amendment 36: Actions to Implement Special Management Zones

Establish spawning special management zones (Spawning SMZs) to enhance protection for snapper-grouper species in spawning condition including speckled hind and warsaw grouper.


Regulatory Amendment 16: Changes to the Seasonal Closure for the Black Sea Bass Pot Sector

Addresses the prohibition on the use of black sea bass pots; Specifies potential new black sea bass pot gear modifications that aid in gear identification in the event of a whale entanglement.


Amendment 35: Removing Species and Golden Tilefish Longline Endorsement

Remove black snapper, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, and schoolmaster from the Snapper-Grouper FMP.  Clarify regulations governing the use of golden tilefish longline endorsements to align them with the Council’s original intent when the endorsement program was implemented.


Regulatory Amendment 25: Blueline Tilefish, Yellowtail Snapper, and Sea Bass

Adjust the annual catch limits, optimum yield, and commercial and recreational management measures for the blueline tilefish stock, change fishing year for yellowtail snapper, and increase bag limit for black sea bass.

  • Proposed Rule, 81 FR 34944.
  • Final Rule, 81 FR 45245. Effective August 12, 2016, except for the amendments to § 622.187(b)(2), § 622.191(a)(10), and § 622.193(z) that are effective July 13, 2016.


Amendment 34: Generic Accountability Measures and Dolphin Allocation Amendment

Modify Accountability Measures for snapper-grouper species and the golden crab fishery; adjust sector allocations for dolphin.


Amendment 33: Dolphin and Wahoo Fillets From the Bahamas

Allowed dolphin and wahoo fillets to enter the U.S. EEZ after lawful harvest in The Bahamas; Specified the condition of any dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper fillets;  described how the recreational bag limit is determined for any fillets; explicitly prohibited the sale or purchase of any dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper recreationally harvested in The Bahamas; specified the required documentation to be onboard any vessels that have these fillets; specified transit and stowage provisions for any vessels with fillets.

Regulatory Amendment 22: Revise ACLs and OY for Gag and Wreckfish; Revise Management Measures for Gag

Adjusted annual catch limits (ACLs) and optimum yield (OY) for gag and wreckfish; proposed modifications to gag bag limit.

  • Proposed Rule, 80 FR 31880.
  • Final Rule, 80 FR 48277. Effective September 11, 2015, except for the amendments to §§ 622.190(b) and 622.193(r)(1) which are effective August 12, 2015.


Regulatory Amendment 20: Rebuilding Strategy, ACLs, and Management Measures for Snowy Grouper

Increased the recreational and commercial ACLs for snowy grouper; adjusted the rebuilding strategy; increased the commercial trip limit; modified the recreational fishing season.


Amendment 32: End Overfishing of Blueline Tilefish

Ended overfishing of blueline tilefish; separated blueline tilefish from the deepwater complex; specified ACLs for blueline tilefish and the deepwater complex; specified AMs for blueline tilefish; revised AMs for the deepwater complex; specified recreational ACTs for blueline tilefish.


Regulatory Amendment 14: Greater Amberjack, Black Sea Bass, Gag, Vermilion Snapper

Modified the fishing year for greater amberjack, and black sea bass; modified the Accountability Measures for vermilion snapper and black sea bass; modified the trip limit for gag.


Amendment 29: ABC Control Rule and Gray Triggerfish Management Measures

Updated the Council’s ABC control rule to incorporate methodology for determining the ABC of unassessed species; adjusted ABCs for fourteen unassessed snapper-grouper species; adjusted ACLs and ACTs for three species complexes and four snapper-grouper species based on revised ABCs; modified and implemented gray triggerfish minimum size limits;  established a commercial split season and commercial trip limits for gray triggerfish.


Regulatory Amendment 21: Modify the Overfished Definition for Select Species

Modified the definition of the overfished threshold (MSST) for red snapper, blueline tilefish, gag, black grouper, yellowtail snapper, vermilion snapper, red porgy, and greater amberjack. 


Generic Amendment: Joint Dealer Permitting and Reporting Amendment

Joint South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Generic Dealer Reporting Amendment: Modifies the permitting and reporting requirements for seafood dealers who first receive species managed by the Councils through the previously mentioned FMPs. These revisions create a single dealer permit for dealers who first receive fish managed by the Councils, require both purchase and non-purchase reports to be submitted online on a weekly basis, prohibit dealers from first receiving fish from federally permitted vessels if they are delinquent in submitting reports, and change the sale and purchase provisions based on the new dealer permitting requirements. This rule also adds regulatory language to clarify the bag limit for private recreational vessels when a trip exceeds one calendar day


Amendment 31: Joint Headboat Reporting Amendment

Joint South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Generic Headboat Reporting Amendment: Included under the Generic charter/headboat reporting amendment, that modified logbook reporting for headboat vessels to require electronic reporting, regarding snapper grouper landings.


Amendment 27: Nassau Grouper, Dual-Permitted Vessels, Blue Runner

Established the South Atlantic Council as the responsible entity for managing Nassau grouper throughout its range including federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico; modified the crew member limit on dual-permitted snapper grouper vessels; modified the restriction on retention of bag limit quantities of some snapper-grouper species by captain and crew of for-hire vessels; minimized regulatory delay when adjustments to snapper-grouper species’ ABC, ACLs, and ACTs are needed as a result of new stock assessments; addressed harvest of blue runner by commercial fishermen who do not possess a South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Permit.

Regulatory Amendment 19: Black Sea Bass

Adjusted the Annual Catch Limit for black sea bass and implement an annual closure on the use of black sea bass pots from November 1 to April 30.

  • Proposed Rule, 78 FR 39700.
  • Final Rule, 78 FR 58249. Effective October 23, 2013, except for the amendments to §§ 622.190(a)(5) and 622.193(e)(2) which are effective September 23, 2013.


Regulatory Amendment 15: Yellowtail Snapper, Gag, and Shallow-Water Groupers

Modified the existing specification of OY and ACL for yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic.  Modified the existing gag commercial ACL and AM that required a closure of all other shallow-water groupers (black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, graysby, coney, yellowmouth grouper, and yellowfin grouper) in the South Atlantic when the gag commercial ACL is met or projected to be met.


Regulatory Amendment 18: Vermilion Snapper and Red Porgy

Adjusted ACLs for vermilion snapper and red porgy, and removed the 4-month recreational closure for vermilion snapper.


Amendment 28: Red Snapper

Established equation and process to determine ACLs and allow limited harvest of red snapper in the South Atlantic.

Regulatory Amendment 13: Unassessed Species

Revised the ABCs, ACLs (including sector ACLs), and ACTs implemented by the Comprehensive ACL Amendment to prevent a disjunction between the established ACLs and the landings used to determine if AMs are triggered (in response to MRIP implementation and phasing out of MRFSS).


Amendment 18A: Black Sea Bass

Limited participation and effort in the black sea bass sector through endorsement program; modified management measures for black sea bass pot sector; improved the accuracy, timing, and quantity of fisheries statistics. NOAA Fisheries disapproved the action establishing transferability criteria for the black sea bass pot endorsement because the amendment identified the wrong preferred. The Council re-submitted the action on July 5, 2012.


Amendment 18B: Golden Tilefish

Limited participation and effort in the golden tilefish commercial sector through the establishment of a longline endorsement; modified trip limits; specified allocations for gear groups (75% longline and 25% hook and line).

Regulatory Amendment 12: Golden Tilefish

Adjusted the ACL and OY for golden tilefish; considered specifying a commercial ACT; revised recreational AMs for golden tilefish.

  • Proposed Rule, 77 FR 42688.
  • Final Rule, 77 FR 61295. Effective October 9, 2012, except regulations at § 622.49(b)(1)(ii) which will be effective November 8, 2012.


Amendment 25: Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment

Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment: Established acceptable biological catch (ABC) control rules, establish ABCs, ACLs, and AMs for species not undergoing overfishing; removed some species from South Atlantic FMU and designate others as ecosystem component species; specified allocations between the commercial and, recreational sectors for species not undergoing overfishing; limited the total mortality for federally managed species in the South Atlantic to the ACLs.


Amendment 24: Red Grouper Rebuilding Plan

Specified MSY, rebuilding plan (including ACLs, AMs, and OY), and allocations for red grouper.


Amendment 23: Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 2 (CE-BA 2)

 Designated the Deepwater MPAs as EFH-HAPCs; limited harvest of snapper grouper species in SC SMZs to the bag limit; modified sea turtle release gear.


Amendment 20A: Wreckfish

Redistributed latent shares for the wreckfish individual transfer quota (ITQ) program.


Regulatory Amendment 11 (Appendices): 240-Ft Fathom Closure

Eliminated 240 ft harvest prohibition for six deepwater species.


Regulatory Amendment 10: Red Snapper

Eliminated closed area for snapper-grouper species approved in Amendment 17A.


Regulatory Amendment 9: Black Sea Bass, Vermilion Snapper, Gag, and Greater Amberjack

Established trip limits for vermilion snapper and gag; increased trip limit for greater amberjack; reduced bag limit for black sea bass.

  • Proposed Rule, 76 FR 23930.
  • Final Rule, 76 FR 34892. Effective July 15, 2011, except for the amendment to Sec. 622.39, which is effective June 22, 2011.


Amendment 17B: Species Undergoing Overfishing

Specified ACLs, annual catch targets (ACT), and AMs, where necessary, for 9 species undergoing overfishing Modified management measures as needed to limit harvest to the ACL or ACT; Updated the framework procedure for specification of total allowable catch; Prohibited harvest of 6 deepwater species seaward of 240 feet to curb bycatch of speckled hind and warsaw grouper.


Amendment 17A: Red Snapper

Required use of non-stainless steel circle hooks when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear north of 28 deg. N latitude in the South Atlantic EEZ; specified an annual catch limit (ACL) and an accountability measure (AM) for red snapper with management measures to reduce the probability that catches will exceed the stocks’ ACL; specified a rebuilding plan for red snapper; specified status determination criteria for red snapper; specified a monitoring program for red snapper. Established an area closure for snapper-grouper species.

  • Proposed Rule, 75 FR 49447.
  • Final Rule, 75 FR 76873. Effective December 3, 2010, except for the amendments to § 622.35, which are effective January 3, 2011, and the amendments to § 622.41, which are effective March 3, 2011.
  • Correction: 76 FR 12883


Interim Rule: Red Snapper

Interim measures to reduce overfishing of red snapper in the South Atlantic published in the Federal Register on December 4, 2009, and became effective January 4, 2010. NOAA Fisheries Service published the Final Rule which established a prohibition on recreational and commercial harvest of red snapper in federal waters off of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The Interim Rule was extended for another 186-day period until December 5, 2010.

  • Temporary Rule, 74 FR 63673. Effective January 4, 2010 through June 2, 2010.


Amendment 19: Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 1 (CE-BA 1)

The amendment was included under Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 1 (CE-BA 1) and provided presentation of spatial information for EFH and EFH-HAPC designations under the Snapper Grouper FMP. Designated Deepwater Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs)


Amendment 16: Gag and Vermilion Snapper

Specified interim allocations, spawning closures, quotas, bag limits. 


Amendment 15B: Snowy Grouper, Golden Tilefish, Sales Restrictions, Bycatch, Incidental Take, and Permit Requirements

Prohibited the sale of bag-limit caught snapper-grouper species; reduced the effects of incidental hooking on sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish; adjusted commercial renewal periods and transferability requirements; implemented plan to monitor and assess bycatch; established reference points for golden tilefish; established allocations for snowy grouper (95% commercial & 5% recreational) and red porgy (50% commercial & 50% recreational).

  • Proposed Rule, 74 FR 31225.
  • Final Rule, 74 FR 58902. Effective December 12, 2009, except for the following amendments. The amendment to § 622.18(c) is effective November 16, 2009; the amendment to § 622.10(c) is effective February 16, 2010; and the amendments to §§ 622.5, 622.8, and 622.18(b)(1)(ii) require approval by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act.


Amendment 15A (Appendices): Snowy Grouper, Red Porgy, and Black Sea Bass

Established rebuilding plans and status determination criteria for snowy grouper, black sea bass, and red porgy.

  • Notice of Agency Action, 73 FR 14942. Approved: March 14, 2008.


Amendment 14: Type 2 MPA Sites for Deepwater Species

Established eight deepwater Type II marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect a portion of the population and habitat of long-lived deepwater snapper grouper species.


Amendment 13C: Snowy Grouper, Golden Tilefish, Vermilion Snapper, Black Sea Bass, and Red Porgy

Ended overfishing of snowy grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, and golden tilefish.
Increased allowable catch of red porgy. Year 1 = 2006.


Amendment 13A: Oculina Experimental Closed Area

Extended for an indefinite period the regulation prohibiting fishing for and possessing snapper-grouper species within the Oculina Experimental Closed Area.


Amendment 12: Red Porgy, Framework Procedures, and Snapper-Grouper Limit Access

Fofianr Red porgy:
MSY=4.38 mp; OY=45% static SPR; MFMT=0.43; MSST=7.34 mp; rebuilding timeframe=18 years (1999=year 1). No sale of red porgy during Jan-April; 1 fish bag limit; 50 lb. bycatch commercial trip limit May-December. Modified management options and list of possible framework actions.

  • Proposed Rule, 65 FR 35877.
  • Final Rule, 65 FR 51248. Effective September 22, 2000, except for the amendments to §§ 622.39(d)(1)(vi), 622.39(d)(2), and 622.44(c)(4)(i) which are effective August 29, 2000.


Regulatory Amendment 8: Established SMZs off Georgia Artificial Reefs

Established 12 SMZs at artificial reefs off Georgia; revised boundaries of 7 existing SMZs off Georgia to meet CG permit specs; restricted fishing in new and revised SMZs.


Amendment 11: Comprehensive Sustainable Fisheries Act Amendment

Implemented the Comprehensive Amendment Addressing Sustainable Fishery Act Definitions and Other Required Provisions in Fishery Management Plans of the South Atlantic Region (Comprehensive Amendment) that modifies the framework procedures in the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s FMPs to allow the addition of biomass levels and agestructured analyses to these FMPs.


Amendment 10: Generic Essential Fish Habitat Amendment

Comprehensive Essential Fish Habitat Amendment: Identified essential fish habitat (EFH) and established habitat areas of particular concern (HAPC) for species in the snapper-grouper FMU.


Amendment 9: Red Porgy, Black Sea Bass, Vermilion Snapper, Greater Amberjack, Gag, Black Grouper, Aggregate Bag Limit, Longline Gear and Escape Vents

Increased the minimum size for red porgy, black sea bass, gag, and black grouper for all participants in the fishery; increases the minimum size for vermilion snapper for a person subject to the bag limit; establishes bag limits for red porgy and black sea bass; during March and April, prohibits harvest and possession in excess of the bag limit and prohibits purchase and sale of red porgy, gag grouper, and black grouper; for greater amberjack, reduces the bag limit, establishes a commercial quota, prohibits sale of greater amberjack caught under the bag limit when the commercial fishery is closed, prohibits harvest and possession in excess of the bag limit during April, changes the beginning of the fishing year to May 1, and prohibits coring (i.e., removing the head from the carcass); restricts possession of gag and black grouper within the aggregate grouper bag limit; establishes an aggregate bag limit for all snapper-grouper species currently not under a bag limit (excluding tomtate and blue runner); requires escape vents and escape panels with degradable hinges and fasteners in black sea bass pots; and specifies that a vessel with longline gear on board may only possess certain deep-water species of snapper grouper (i.e., snowy grouper, warsaw grouper, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, golden tilefish, blueline tilefish, and sand tilefish.)


Regulatory Amendment 7: Established SMZs off South Carolina Artificial Reefs

Established 10 SMZs at artificial reefs off South Carolina.


Amendment 8: Established Program to Limit Initial Eligibility for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery

Established program to limit initial eligibility for snapper-grouper fishery:  Must have demonstrated landings of any species in the snapper-grouper FMU in 1993, 1994, 1995 or 1996; and have held valid snapper-grouper permit between 02/11/96 and 02/11/97.  Granted transferable permit with unlimited landings if vessel landed ≥ 1,000 pounds (lb) of snapper-grouper species in any of the years.  Granted non-transferable permit with 225 lb trip limit to all other vessels.  Modified problems, objectives, optimum yield (OY), and overfishing definitions.  Expanded the Council’s habitat responsibility.  Allowed retention of snapper grouper species in excess of bag limit on a permitted vessel with a single bait net or cast nets on board.  Allowed permitted vessels to possess filleted fish harvested in the Bahamas under certain conditions.

  • Proposed Rule, 63 FR 1813.
  • Final Rule, 63 FR 38298. Effective August 17, 1998, except that the amendments to 15 CFR 902.1(b), 50 CFR 622.4(g), 622.7(b), and 622.40(b)(3)(ii)(B), and the addition of § 622.18 to subpart B are effective July 16, 1998, and the amendments to § 622.4(a)(2)(vi) and § 622.44 introductory text and the revision of § 622.44(c) are effective December 14, 1998.


Regulatory Amendment 6: Established Hogfish, Gray Triggerfish, and Cubera Snapper Bag Limits

Established actions which applied only to EEZ off Atlantic coast of FL:  Bag limits – 5 hogfish/person/day (recreational only), 2 cubera snapper/person/day > 30” TL; 12” TL – gray triggerfish.


Amendment 7: Modified the Framework Procedure, Hogfish & Mutton Snapper Size Limits 

12” FL – hogfish; 16” TL – mutton snapper; Required dealer, charter and headboat federal permits; allowed sale under specified conditions; specified allowable gear and made allowance for experimental gear; allowed multi-gear trips in NC; added localized overfishing to list of problems and objectives; adjusted bag limit and crew specs. for charter and headboats; modified management unit for scup to apply south of Cape Hatteras, NC; modified framework procedure.

  • Proposed Rule, 59 FR 47833.
  • Final Rule, 59 FR 66270. Effective January 23, 1995, except that Secs. 646.4 (d) and (e), (f) and (g), and 646.7(e) are effective December 23, 1994; and Secs. 646.4 (a)(3) and (a)(4), 646.7 (c), (d), and (mm), and 646.26(a) are effective March 1, 1995.


Amendment 6: Oculina Experimental Closed Area, Golden Tilefish, Snowy Grouper, Speckled Hind, Warsaw Grouper

Set up separate commercial TAC levels for golden tilefish and snowy grouper; established commercial trip limits for snowy grouper, golden tilefish, speckled hind, and warsaw grouper; included golden tilefish in grouper recreational aggregate bag limits; prohibited sale of warsaw grouper and speckled hind; 100% logbook coverage upon renewal of permit; created the Oculina Experimental Closed Area; specified data collection needs for evaluation of possible future individual fishing quota system.

  • Proposed Rule, 59 FR 9721.
  • Final Rule, 59 FR 27242. Effective June 27, 1994, except for § 646.25, which is effective June 6, 1994.


Regulatory Amendment 5: Establish SMZs off South Carolina

Established 8 SMZs off South Carolina, where only hand-held, hook-and-line gear, and spearfishing (excluding powerheads) was allowed.


Regulatory Amendment 4: Black Sea Bass Gear Requirements

For Black Sea Bass (BSB): Modified definition of BSB pot; allowed multi-gear trips for BSB; allowed retention of incidentally-caught fish on BSB trips.


Amendment 5: Wreckfish ITQ Program

Established limited entry system with individual transferable quotas (ITQs); required dealer to have permit; rescinded 10,000 lb. trip limit; required off-loading between 8 am and 5 pm; reduced occasions when 24-hour advance notice of offloading required for off-loading; established procedure for initial distribution of percentage shares of total allowable catch (TAC).

  • Proposed Rule, 56 FR 57302.
  • Final Rule, 57 FR 7886. Effective April 6,1992, except that §§ 646.4, 646.7(d) and 646.10(a) are effective March 5,1992.


Amendment 4: Aggregate Bag Limits, Gear Restrictions, and Overfished/Overfishing Rebuilding Timeframe 

Prohibited gear in designated SMZs off S. Carolina; Defined overfishing/overfished and established rebuilding timeframes;  Established an assessment group and annual adjustment procedure (framework);  Permit, gear, and vessel id requirements specified for black sea bass traps; Set aggregate bag limits;  Spawning season closures;  Charter/headboats and excursion boat possession limits extended.


Amendment 3: Add Wreckfish to the Fishery Management Unit and Establish Management Measures

Established a management program for the wreckfish fishery which: added wreckfish to the snapper grouper management unit; defined OY and overfishing; required an annual permit to fish for, land or sell wreckfish; established a control date of March 28, 1990 for the area bounded by 33° and 30° N. latitude; established a fishing year beginning April 16; established a process whereby annual quotas would be specified; implemented a 10,000 pound trip limit and a January 15 – April 15 spawning season closure.


Amendment 2: Prohibit Fishing for Goliath Grouper

Prohibited harvest or possession of jewfish (goliath grouper) in or from the EEZ in the South Atlantic; and defined overfishing for snapper-grouper species according to NMFS 602 guidelines.


Regulatory Amendment 3: Establish SMZ off FL, Prohibit Fishing in SMZs for Goliath Grouper and Using Certain Gear

Established an artificial reef at Key Biscayne, FL as an SMZ in Dade County, FL; prohibited fish trapping, bottom longlining, spearfishing and harvesting of Goliath grouper in SMZ.


Amendment 1: Trawl Gear, Habitat Description, Vessel Safety

Prohibited trawl gear to harvest fish south of Cape Hatteras, NC and north of Cape Canaveral, FL; directed fishery as vessel with trawl gear and ≥200 lb s-g on board; established rebuttable assumption that vessel with s-g on board had harvested such fish in the EEZ.


Regulatory Amendment 2: Establish SMZs off FL

Established 2 artificial reefs off Ft. Pierce, FL as SMZs.


Regulatory Amendment 1: Prohibit Fishing in SMZs for Goliath Grouper and Using Certain Gear

Prohibited fishing in SMZs except with hand-held hook-and-line and spearfishing gear; prohibited harvest of goliath grouper in SMZs.


Original Fishery Management Plan (Source Document)

12” total length limit – red snapper, yellowtail snapper, red grouper, Nassau grouper; 8” limit – black sea bass; 4” trawl mesh size; gear limitations – poisons, explosives, fish traps, trawls; designated modified habitats or artificial reefs as Special Management Zones.

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on 04/30/2021