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NOAA Fisheries Announces Changes to the Management of Snowy Grouper in the South Atlantic Including Catch Levels and the Recreational Fishing Season

December 01, 2023

FB23-086: South Atlantic Fishery Bulletin; For more information, contact: Rick DeVictor, 727-824-5305, rick.devictor@noaa.gov

Key Messages:

  • NOAA Fisheries announces changes to management of snowy grouper in the South Atlantic through a final rule for Amendment 51 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. 
  • The latest population assessment determined South Atlantic snowy grouper is overfished and undergoing overfishing. 
  • Amendment 51 and the final rule will modify management of South Atlantic snowy grouper through revising the acceptable biological catch, annual catch limits, sector allocations, recreational accountability measures, and recreational fishing season.

 

When Rule Will Take Effect:

Regulations will be effective January 2, 2024.

 

What This Means:

  • Catch Levels and Sector Allocations
    • The catch limits are being decreased from the current levels (Table 1).

 

Table 1.  Revised catch limits and commercial seasonal quotas in pounds gutted weight (lbs gw) for South Atlantic snowy grouper.

Year

Total ACL

(lbs gw)

Recreational ACL

(fish)**

Commercial ACL

(lbs gw)

Commercial Season 1 Quota

(lbs gw)***

Commercial Season 2 Quota

(lbs gw)

2023

119,654

1,668

104,757

73,330

31,427

2024

121,272

1,691

106,174

74,322

31,852

2025*

122,889

1,713

107,589

75,312

32,277

*Catch levels beginning in 2025 will remain in place until modified.

**The snowy grouper sector annual catch limits are based on a revised commercial and recreational allocation of 87.55% and 12.45%, respectively.

***70 percent of the commercial annual catch limit is allocated to Season 1 from January through June, and 30 percent to Season 2 from July through December.

 

  • Recreational Fishing Season
    • The final rule will shorten the recreational fishing season from May 1 through August 31 to May 1 through June 30.
  • Recreational Accountability Measures
    • If recreational landings exceed the recreational annual catch limit, the length of the following year’s recreational fishing season will be reduced by the amount necessary to prevent the recreational annual catch limit from being exceeded in the following year.

 

Formal Federal Register Name/Number:  88 FR 83860, December 1, 2023

 

This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Why are there changes to management of South Atlantic snowy grouper?

  • The final rule will modify management of South Atlantic snowy grouper in response to the latest population assessment.
  • The results of the latest assessment indicated that the stock has experienced over harvest and needs to rebuild to target levels.

 

What are the new catch levels for the commercial sector?

  • The commercial sector annual catch limits are divided into two commercial fishing seasons with 70% allocated to Season 1 (January through June) and 30% allocated to Season 2 (July through December).  Any remaining commercial quota from Season 1 will be added to the commercial quota in Season 2.  Any remaining quota from Season 2 will not be carried forward into the next fishing year.
  • The commercial quotas in 2023 for Season 1 will be 73,330 lbs gw and for Season 2 will be 31,427 lbs gw; in 2024, Season 1 will be 74,322 lbs gw and Season 2 will be 31,852 lbs gw; and for 2025 and subsequent years, Season 1 will be 75,312 lbs gw and Season 2 will be 32,277 lbs gw.
  • The current 200 lbs gw trip limit will remain.

 

What are the new management measures for the recreational sector?

  • The final rule will shorten the recreational fishing season from May 1 through August 31 to May 1 through June 30.
  • The snowy grouper recreational bag and vessel limits will remain the same.

 


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, Florida, 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.

Media Contact: Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750

Recreational Fishing Coordinator: Sean Meehan, 727-385-5202

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on December 28, 2023

Small Entity Compliance Guide