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NOAA Fisheries Recommends Funding Projects that Explore Innovative Strategies to Reduce Red Snapper Discards and Increase Fishing Opportunities in the South Atlantic

February 12, 2024

FB24-010: South Atlantic Fishery Bulletin; For more information, contact: Rick DeVictor, 727-824-5305, rick.devictor@noaa.gov

Key Message:

Today, NOAA Fisheries recommended five projects for funding totaling $879,211 to explore new, innovative approaches to better understand and reduce red snapper dead discards, and increase fishing opportunities in the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery.

 

Background:

NOAA Fisheries recognizes that recreational and commercial fishers, fishery managers, and other stakeholders are challenged and frustrated by short fishing seasons for red snapper and high levels of dead discards.  The most recent South Atlantic red snapper population assessments indicate the stock is recovering, but experiencing too much fishing mortality as a result of the number of fish that are discarded and subsequently die.  We identified a need to study effective alternative management strategies that reduce dead discards to improve the status of snapper-grouper stocks, including red snapper, and to better optimize the social and economic benefits for the snapper-grouper fishery.

In September 2023, NOAA Fisheries requested proposals under a Notice of Funding Opportunity for projects that explore new approaches to better understand and reduce red snapper dead discards and increase fishing opportunities in the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery.  Proposals were accepted from September 7 through November 20, 2023. NOAA Fisheries is recommending funding the following five projects, totaling $879,211.

Project Title

Organization/Agency

Amount Requested

Testing innovative management strategies through a FWC Experimental Hot Spot Fleet off NE Florida to reduce red snapper/snapper-grouper discards and improve angler satisfaction

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

$244,644

Testing innovative management strategies through a FWC Southeast Florida Snapper- Grouper Fleet to reduce red snapper/other snapper-grouper discards and improve angler satisfaction

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

$178,814

Testing management strategies through a FWC Red Snapper Full-Retention Study Fleet off NE Florida to reduce red snapper/other snapper-grouper discards and improve angler satisfaction

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

$97,404

Characterizing South Carolina charter and private recreational red snapper fishing behavior, catch, and discard composition

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

$209,683

Portable electronic monitoring systems - Innovative technology data collection approach in the South Atlantic recreational snapper-grouper fishery

Mote Marine Laboratory, Inc.

$148,666

 

At this point in the process, project approval and obligation is not final.  A funding recommendation is not an authorization to begin work on the project and is not a guarantee of funding.  Applications still need to go through final review and processing before an award is approved and issued.  If funded, NOAA Fisheries expects project funds to be available in spring 2024.

The researchers may need an exempted fishing permit from NOAA Fisheries to authorize fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited (e.g., retention of fish under the minimum size limit).  In the coming months, the public will be provided an opportunity to comment on requests from researchers to be exempted from certain regulations.  All studies will require the cooperation and participation of private recreational anglers and charter captains.  Through this collaborative work, NOAA Fisheries’ goal is to gather information and data to better quantify and reduce discards, improve fishing opportunities, and inform future management.

NOAA Fisheries recognizes the frustrations amongst fishers from short seasons and high level of discards for many snapper-grouper species, including red snapper.  We believe that funding these projects is a crucial part of a multiple-part plan to improve management.  Part of the plan is being led by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to perform a Management Strategy Evaluation of the snapper-grouper fishery.  Management Strategy Evaluations allow scientists and managers to evaluate and test various management strategies to determine how best they will perform and meet management goals.  In addition, the South Atlantic Red Snapper Research Program is being conducted to produce an independent estimate of the population size of red snapper aged 2 years and older from North Carolina to Florida. This study will help inform the next population assessment for red snapper.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is also continuing to evaluate management actions to end the overfishing of red snapper, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  The Council was notified by NOAA Fisheries in summer 2021 that overfishing was occurring, but it has yet to take action to end the overfishing of red snapper. NOAA Fisheries, under the authority provided by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, is evaluating options for addressing red snapper overfishing that may affect the length of the 2024 red snapper commercial and recreational fishing seasons.  At this time, the length of the red snapper fishing seasons have not yet been determined.  NOAA Fisheries will discuss the red snapper seasons at the upcoming South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in March 2024.


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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
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Quick Glance Contact List for the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office

 

Permits Mailbox: The Permits Office in St. Petersburg, FL 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.

Other contacts:

Media: Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750 

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

 

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on February 12, 2024