Final Rule Modifies the Number of Unrigged Hooks Carried On Board Bottom Longline Vessels in the Gulf of Mexico

February 06, 2018

FB18-011 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For More Information, Contact: Kelli O’Donnell, 727-824-5305,

Key Message:

NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule modifying commercial bottom longline regulations in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). 

When This Rule Will Take Effect:

  • Regulations will be effective February 6, 2018.

What This Means:

  • The 1,000 hooks per vessel limit onboard commercial reef fish vessels with a bottom longline endorsement in the Gulf when fishing for reef fish east of 85°30' west longitude (Cape San Blas, Florida) has been removed.
  • The limit of 750 hooks that could be rigged for fishing on commercial reef fish vessels with a bottom longline endorsement in the Gulf remains unchanged.
  • Bottom longline endorsement holders in the Gulf can now carry an unlimited amount of additional hooks onboard their vessel.

FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 83 FR 5210 published February 6, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Why are these changes needed?

  • Implemented in 2010, Amendment 31 placed a restriction on the number of hooks bottom longline fishermen with an endorsement could carry on board their vessel to help protect sea turtles; 1,000 total hooks of which no more than 750 could be rigged for fishing.
  • Currently, reef fish bottom longline fishermen can only carry 250 extra unrigged hooks onboard their vessels.
  • Industry representatives indicated this was not enough hooks for longer trips due to hook loss, and NOAA Fisheries observer data supported this.
  • After the 250 extra hooks are used, the vessel must return to port, reduce the number of hooks fished, or be resupplied by another vessel. 
  • Allowing additional unrigged hooks on board should make multi-day trips more economical while still maintaining the observed reduction in sea turtle interactions since the implementation of Amendment 31.

Area rule affects (see map below).



Where can I find more information on this rule?

     By Mail: Kelli O’Donnell

     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


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

Other contacts:
Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707
           Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750 


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Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on March 12, 2019