Skip to main content
Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Final Rule to Implement Two Framework Actions for Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper

December 01, 2022

FB22-070: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin. For more information, contact Dan Luers or Rich Malinowski; (727) 824-5305. Daniel.Luers@noaa.gov; Rich.Malinowski@noaa.gov

Key Message:

NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule that will implement two framework actions under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico; Modifications to Data Calibrations (Data Calibrations Framework) and Annual Catch Limits (Catch Limits Framework) for Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) Red Snapper.  

 

When the Rule Will Take Effect:

  • Regulations will be effective January 1, 2023.

 

What This Means:

The Catch Limits Framework and the final rule will increase the catch limits as indicated in Table 1.    

Table 1.  The current (2022) and new (effective Jan 1, 2023) red snapper overfishing limit (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limits (ACL), and recreational annual catch targets (ACT).

Catch Limit Type

Current  (2022)

Proposed (2023)

Calculation

OFL

15,500,000  

25,600,000  

N/A 

ABC

15,100,000

15,400,000

60.1% of the OFL

Total ACL

15,100,000

15,400,000

ACL = ABC

Commercial ACL

7,701,000

7,854,000

51% of ABC

Recreational ACL

7,399,000

7,546,000

49% of ABC

Federal For-Hire ACL  

3,130,000

3,191,958

42.3% of Recreational ACL

Federal For-Hire ACT  

2,848,000

2,904,682

9% below For-Hire ACL 

Private Angling ACL

4,269,000

4,354,042

57.7% of Recreational ACL

Private Angling ACT*

3,415,200

3,483,234

20% below Private Angling ACL

*Under federal regulations, the private angling ACT will increase with implementation of the new catch limits, but it is not currently used in management of red snapper.

  • The Data Calibrations Framework and the final rule will apply calibration ratios developed by NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology and the Gulf of Mexico States to state-specific ACLs to adjust those ACLs into the currency in which each state monitors landings (Table 2).  Upon implementation of this rule, the private recreational red snapper ACL for each state will be as follows.

Table 2: State ACLs that will be implemented with this final rule.  The “Federal Equivalent” is multiplied by the calibration ratio to get the “State Annual Catch Limit.”  Catch limits are in whole weight.

State

Federal Equivalent

Calibration Ratio

State Annual Catch Limit

Alabama

1,145,026

0.4875

558,200

Florida

1,951,569

1.0602

2,069,053

Louisiana

832,493

1.06

882,443

Mississippi

154,568

0.3840

59,354

Texas

270,386

1.00

270,386

 

FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 87 FR 74014, published December 2, 2022

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
 

Why are the Gulf red snapper catch limits increasing?

  • Two red snapper interim analyses, completed in 2021, indicated that catch levels could be increased.
  • One of the analyses used the results from the Great Red Snapper Count in 2021, which estimated stock biomass of Gulf red snapper was approximately three times the previous estimate.  The other analysis used information from the NOAA Fisheries’ Bottom Longline survey. 
  • The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee reviewed results of both of these analyses at its March 30 - April 2, 2021, meeting.
  • Based on this information, the Scientific and Statistical Committee recommended an increase in the red snapper annual catch limits.

 

Why will the OFL increase by so much (10.1 million pounds) but the ABC only has a small (0.3 million pounds) increase?

  • During its March - April 2021 meeting, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee reviewed the Great Red Snapper Count project report, supporting documentation, and findings of independent consultants.  
  • The Great Red Snapper Count indicated that the number of red snapper was estimated to be approximately three times greater than estimated in the most recent stock assessment, SEDAR 52.
  • The Committee discussed that the estimates of red snapper from the Great Red Snapper Count and SEDAR 52 were similar for hard bottom and artificial reef habitat where most fishing occurs for the species.
  • The Great Red Snapper indicated that red snapper also inhabit uncharacterized bottom, which was largely not considered in previous stock assessments for red snapper.  This represents the primary driver in the difference in abundance estimates between the SEDAR 52 stock assessment and the Great Red Snapper Count.  
  • The Committee noted that because red snapper occur at relatively low densities over uncharacterized bottom compared to known hard bottom (including artificial reefs, etc.), they are unlikely to be targeted in these areas. 
  • Because red snapper occupying uncharacterized bottom have historically faced lower fishing mortality than hard bottom, basing harvest levels on the entire population may lead to localized depletion on reefs as the overwhelming majority of harvest would be expected to occur on this habitat. 
  • The Committee used results of the interim analysis that incorporated the abundance estimates from the Great Red Snapper Count to provide an OFL recommendation of 25.6 million pounds (mp) whole weight (ww).  This was based on the abundance of all red snapper over structure (artificial reef, natural reef, and pipeline) and 13% of the abundance from the uncharacterized bottom.  
  • However, the Committee made its ABC recommendation of 15.4 mp using the results of the interim analysis that incorporated information from NOAA Fisheries’ Bottom Longline survey, with data from 2000 - 2020.  The survey index showed that the highest Gulf-wide abundance of red snapper was in 2016 and has declined since.  
  • The Committee concluded that the red snapper ABC should be considerably more conservative than the OFL due to the uncertainties in the Great Red Snapper Count.

 

Why will the calibration ratios be implemented for the Gulf states?

  • For the red snapper private angling component, each Gulf state is allocated a portion of the component’s ACL, and is responsible for constraining landings to its ACL. 
  • However, the current state ACLs are not all set in the same units, or currency, in which each state estimates landings.
  • Because the state-specific landings are in a different currency than the current state ACLs, calibration is necessary to convert the state ACLs into the currency in which each state monitors landings. This would reduce the likelihood of exceeding red snapper catch limits including the private angling component ACL, total recreational ACL, and the OFL.
  • Allowing each state to manage state landings using its own data collection system has allowed the total private recreational ACL, which is set in Federal units, to be exceeded in 2018 and 2019, and the OFL to be exceeded in 2019.  When catch limits are exceeded in this manner, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries take action to prevent exceeding these limits in the future.

 

When will this final rule be implemented?

  • The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council chose an implementation date for the calibration ratios of January 1, 2023.  Thus, the effective date for the changes in this rule will be January 1, 2023.

 

Where can I find more information on the Red Snapper Catch Limits Framework?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

 

By Mail: Daniel Luers or Rich Malinowski

               NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

               Sustainable Fisheries Division

               263 13th Avenue South

              St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505

              By FAX: (727) 824-5308

              By Phone: (727) 824-5305


SIGN UP FOR TEXT MESSAGE ALERTS - FIND OUT ABOUT IMMEDIATE OPENINGS AND CLOSURES

NOAA's Text Message Alert Program allows you to receive important fishery related alerts via text message (SMS).  Standard message & data rates may apply. You may opt-out at any time.

 

Text alerts you may receive include:

  • Immediate fishery openings and closures
  • Any significant changes to fishing regulations that happen quickly

 

Sign up for one or more of the following groups:

  • Gulf of Mexico Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFRECFISH to 888777
  • Gulf of Mexico Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text GULFCOMMFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Recreational Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLRECFISH to 888777
  • South Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text SATLCOMMFISH to 888777
  • Caribbean Fisheries Related Alerts
    • Text CARIBFISH to 888777

 

Quick Glance Contact List for the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office

Permits Mailbox: The Permits Office in St. Petersburg, FL now has a Permits mailbox in the front lobby (263 13th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701).  You can now drop off original permits for permit transfers.  Envelopes with information labels will be provided so that your documents can be attached to the correct application.  The mailbox will be checked daily.  For more information contact the Permits Office at 877-376-4877.

Other contacts:

Media: Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on December 02, 2022