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Final Rule to Increase Lane Snapper Catch Limits and Modify the Accountability Measure in the Gulf of Mexico; Reopening of the 2021 Commercial and Recreational Lane Snapper Season

December 21, 2021

FB21-090; Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin. For more information, contact: Daniel Luers; 727-824-5305, Daniel.Luers@noaa.gov

Lane Snapper photo

Key Messages:

NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule for lane snapper in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf).  This rule:

  • Opens lane snapper commercial and recreational fishing, effective at 12:01 am on December 23, for the remainder of 2021.
  • Increases the annual catch limit for lane snapper,
  • Changes the accountability measure from post-season to an inseason measure,
  • Corrects language in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) regarding individual fishing quota (IFQ) program regulations.


When Rule Will Take Effect:

  • The regulations modifying the lane snapper management measures are effective on December 23, 2021.  The regulations correcting the IFQ language are effective on January 22, 2022. 


Summary of Changes:

  • Lane snapper catch limits:
    • This rule increases the lane snapper annual catch limit from 301,000 pounds (lb) whole weight (ww) to 1,028,973 lb ww.
    • This rule also modifies the accountability measure for lane snapper such that NOAA Fisheries will monitor landings every year and close harvest when the annual catch limit is projected to be reached.
    • This rule reopens lane snapper to commercial and recreational fishing, effective on December 23, 2021, for the remainder of the 2021 fishing year.


  • Corrections in IFQ program regulations:
    • This rule updates the CFR to replace the obsolete webpage addresses for the Southeast Regional Office’s (SERO) website for fishing permits, forms, and resources, and the website for portal access to the SERO Catch Shares Program.
    • This rule updates the webpage address in the CFR for the SERO public-facing website displaying landings information and providing customer support for the IFQ Program.
    • This rule modifies the language in the CFR regarding IFQ websites software requirements to make the requirements more general (i.e. not include specific browsers or software).


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is NOAA Fisheries announcing today?

  • NOAA Fisheries is announcing filing and publication of a final rule to increase the annual catch limit, modify the accountability measure, correct language in the CFR regarding IFQ program regulations, and immediately reopen the Gulf of Mexico lane snapper on December 23, 2021.  


Are there separate catch limits for the recreational and commercial lane snapper sectors?

  • No, the annual catch limit is not divided between recreational and commercial sectors.  It is one catch limit for both sectors combined.


Why is the annual catch limit increasing?

  • The annual catch limit is increasing because a lane snapper interim analysis, completed in 2020, indicated an increase in abundance of the lane snapper population.
  • The annual catch limit is also increasing because of a change in the recreational data collection program used to generate catch limits. 
  • Previously, the annual catch limit was calculated using recreational data from the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistical Survey (MRFSS).  
  • The lane snapper annual catch limit is now calculated using the Marine Recreational Information Program Fishing Effort Survey (MRIP-FES).  
  • Conversion from the old survey to the new survey resulted in a near doubling of recreational catch and effort estimates because new survey indicates much greater recreational fishing effort than previously estimated.
  • The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee determined the interim analysis is suitable for providing catch advice and recommended an increase to catch levels.


Are there any changes to the recreational bag limit or recreational/commercial size limits?

  • No, there are no changes to the bag limit or size limit for lane snapper in this rule.


What changes will occur on the NOAA Fisheries Permit and IFQ webpages?

  • Application forms and instructions for operator permit renewals and Gulf of Mexico permit consolidation applications, as well as other permit applications and forms in the Southeast will now be available at the following webpage address: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/resources-fishing/permits-applications-and-forms-southeastThe new website address will replace the obsolete address that is currently referenced in the CFR.
  • NOAA Fisheries has updated browser requirements for the IFQ pages such that any current, up to date browser can be used.  These browsers may be downloaded free from the internet.
  • NOAA Fisheries has updated the webpage address for IFQ landing, accounts, applications, etc., for both grouper/tilefish IFQ and red snapper IFQ to the following web address:  https://secatchshares.fisheries.noaa.gov.


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

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office 

     By Mail: Daniel Luers

     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


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Other contacts:

Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707

            Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on April 11, 2022