NOAA Fisheries announces the final rule for Vision Blueprint Recreational Regulatory Amendment 26 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Regulatory Amendment 26). The final rule will:
- Remove the recreational minimum size limits for queen snapper, silk snapper, and blackfin snapper in the South Atlantic region;
- Reduce the recreational minimum size limit for gray triggerfish in federal waters off east Florida; and
- Modify the 20-fish recreational aggregate bag limit in the South Atlantic region.
WHEN RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:
Regulations will be effective March 30, 2020.
SUMMARY OF CHANGES FOR THE RECREATIONAL SECTOR:
Deep-water Species (queen snapper, silk snapper, and blackfin snapper)
- The final rule removes the 12-inch total length minimum size limit for queen snapper, silk snapper, and blackfin snapper.
- The final rule reduces the minimum size limit in federal waters off the east coast of Florida from 14 inches to 12 inches fork length; and
- Retains the minimum size limit of 12 inches fork length in federal waters off North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
20-Fish Aggregate Bag Limit
- The aggregate bag limit applies to the following species: whitebone porgy, jolthead porgy, knobbed porgy, saucereye porgy, scup, gray triggerfish, bar jack, almaco jack, banded rudderfish, lesser amberjack, white grunt, margate, sailor’s choice, and Atlantic spadefish.
- The final rule maintains the 20-fish per person per day aggregate bag limit for the recreational sector. However, the rule limits the harvest of any one species within the aggregate bag limit to 10 fish.
Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below for more information on these actions.
FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 85 FR 11307, February 27, 2020
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Why are changes to the recreational sector of the Snapper-Grouper fishery being implemented?
- The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council gathered input from recreational 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 stakeholders provided, 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 Fishery Management Plan during 2016-2020.
- The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council developed Regulatory Amendment 26 to address specific action items in the 2016-2020 Vision Blueprint for the recreational sector of the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan.
Are similar regulations changing for the commercial sector of the Snapper-Grouper fishery?
- Vision Blueprint Commercial Regulatory Amendment 27 to the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan (Regulatory Amendment 27) was developed concurrently with Regulatory Amendment 26, and includes modifications to commercial management measures based on stakeholder input incorporated in the Vision Blueprint.
- Similar to Regulatory Amendment 26, Regulatory Amendment 27 will change minimum size limits for commercially caught gray triggerfish, queen snapper, silk snapper, and blackfin snapper, as well as modifying commercial fishing seasons, trip limits, and minimum size limits for other snapper-grouper species.
- Regulatory Amendment 27 was approved by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at their September 2018 meeting. The final rule published on January 27, 2020, with regulations effective on February 26, 2020.
- More information on Regulatory Amendment 27 can be found here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/regulatory-amendment-27-vision-blueprint-commercial-measures.
What actions were included in the Regulatory Amendment 26 that are no longer being considered?
- During development of Regulatory Amendment 26, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council considered three actions that would establish a deep-water species aggregate, specify the recreational season for the deep-water species aggregate, and specify the aggregate bag limit for the deep-water species aggregate.
- However, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council decided to not make these changes at this time because of regional and seasonal differences in access to some of the deep-water species in the South Atlantic.
- The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council determined that the recreational seasons proposed for the deep-water species aggregate could disproportionately and negatively affect recreational fishermen at either end of the area of their jurisdiction (North Carolina and the Florida Keys).
Where can I find more information on Regulatory Amendment 26?
- 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
- Regulatory Amendment 26 may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Web site: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/regulatory-amendment-26-vision-blueprint-recreational-measures.
- Or at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0077.
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