NOAA Fisheries Announces Changes to Commercial Regulations for Snapper-Grouper Species in Federal Waters of the South Atlantic Region

January 27, 2020

FB20-003: South Atlantic Fishery Bulletin, For more information, contact: Mary Vara, Sustainable Fisheries (727) 824-5305

KEY MESSAGE:

NOAA Fisheries announces the final rule for Vision Blueprint Commercial Regulatory Amendment 27 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region.  The final rule will:  

  • Modify commercial regulations for blueline tilefish, snowy grouper, greater amberjack, red porgy, vermilion snapper, almaco jack, Other Jacks Complex (lesser amberjack, almaco jack, and banded rudderfish), queen snapper, silk snapper, blackfin snapper, and gray triggerfish. 
  • Modify commercial fishing seasons, trip limits, and minimum size limits.

 

WHEN RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:

Regulations will be effective February 26, 2020.

 

SUMMARY OF CHANGES FOR COMMERCIAL SNAPPER-GROUPER SPECIES:

Blueline Tilefish

  • The final rule reduces the commercial trip limit from 300 to 100 pounds gutted weight from January 1 through April 30; and
  • Retains the commercial trip limit of 300 pound gutted weight from May 1 through December 31.

 

Snowy Grouper

  • The final rule establishes two commercial fishing seasons of January 1 through June 30 (Season 1) and July 1 through December 31 (Season 2); and
  • Allocates 70% of the commercial catch limit to Season 1 and 30% to Season 2, and transfer any remaining quota from Season 1 to Season 2.

 

Greater Amberjack

  • The final rule establishes two commercial fishing seasons of March 1 through August 31 (Season 1) and September 1 through the end of February (Season 2);
  • Allocates 60% of the commercial catch limit to Season 1 and 40% to Season 2, and transfer any remaining quota from Season 1 to Season 2;
  • Retains the commercial trip limit of 1,200 pounds whole weight or gutted weight for Season 1;
  • Retains the commercial sale and purchase prohibition during April, and the harvest and possession limit is one per person per day or one per person per trip, whichever is more restrictive; and
  • Reduces the commercial trip limit from 1,200 to 1,000 pounds whole weight or gutted weight for Season 2.

 

Red Porgy

  • The final rule establishes two commercial fishing seasons of January 1 through April 30 (Season 1) and May 1 through December 31 (Season 2);
  • Allocates 30% of the commercial catch limit to Season 1 and 70% to Season 2, and transfer any remaining quota from Season 1 to Season 2;
  • Removes the sale and purchase prohibition and the possession limit of three fish per person per day or three fish per person per trip during January 1 through April 30 each year;
  • Establishes a commercial trip limit of 60 fish in Season 1; and
  • Retains the 120 fish commercial trip limit in Season 2.

 

Vermilion Snapper

  • The final rule retains the 50% split quotas of the commercial catch limits between January 1 through June 30 (Season 1) and July 1 through December 31 (Season 2);
  • Retains the commercial trip limit of 1,000 pound gutted weight; and
  • Removes the 500 pound gutted weight commercial trip limit when 75% of the seasonal quotas are met or projected to be met.

 

Other Jacks Complex (lesser amberjack, almaco jack, and banded rudderfish)

  • The final rule establishes a commercial trip limit of 500 pounds gutted weight.

 

Almaco Jack

  • The final rule establishes a commercial minimum size limit of 20 inches fork length.

 

Deep-water Species (queen snapper, silk snapper, and blackfin snapper)

  • The final rule removes the 12-inch total length commercial minimum size limit for queen snapper, silk snapper, and blackfin snapper.

 

Gray Triggerfish

  • The final rule reduces the commercial minimum size limit in the exclusive economic zone off the east coast of Florida from 14 inches to 12 inches fork length; and
  • Retains the commercial minimum size limit of 12 inches fork length off North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

 

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below for more information on these actions.

FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 85 FR 4588, January 27, 2020.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

 

Why are changes to the commercial sector of the Snapper-Grouper fishery being implemented?

  • The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council gathered input from commercial fishermen throughout the region during a series of stakeholder meetings to develop a long-term strategic plan for managing the snapper-grouper fishery. 
  • Based on the input, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council developed the 2016-2020 Vision Blueprint for the Snapper-Grouper fishery.  The Vision Blueprint identifies the goals, objectives, strategies, and actions that support the vision for the snapper-grouper fishery and centers around four goal areas: Science, Management, Communication, and Governance. 
  • The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council prioritized action items in the Vision Blueprint that would be addressed through amendments to the Snapper-Grouper FMP over the next five years.
  • The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council developed Regulatory Amendment 27 to address specific action items in the 2016-2020 Vision Blueprint for the commercial sector of the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan.

 

Are similar regulations changing for the recreational sector of the Snapper-Grouper fishery?

  • Vison Blueprint Recreational Regulatory Amendment 26 (Regulatory Amendment 26) was developed concurrently with Regulatory Amendment 27, and includes modifications to recreational management measures based on stakeholder input from the 2016-2020 Vision Blueprint. 
  • Similar to Regulatory Amendment 27, Regulatory Amendment 26 includes similar regulations for gray triggerfish and deep-water species, as well as modifications to the 20-fish aggregate bag limit. 
  • Regulatory Amendment 27 was approved by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at their December 2018 meeting and is currently in rule-making. 
  • More information on Regulatory Amendment 26 can be found here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/regulatory-amendment-26-vision-blueprint-recreational-measures.

 

Where can I find more information on Regulatory Amendment 27?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office 

By Mail: Mary Vara

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


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Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on January 31, 2020