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Reminder of New Requirements for Commercial Reef Fish Permitted Vessels

November 16, 2018

FB18-079 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For More Information, Contact: Sustainable Fisheries, 727-824-5305


  • In June 2018, NOAA Fisheries implemented new requirements to improve compliance and increase management flexibility in the Gulf of Mexico individual fishing quota (IFQ) programs. 
  • One change requires all owners or operators of a commercial reef fish permitted vessel to land reef fish at locations pre-approved by NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), beginning January 1, 2019.  A list of currently approved landing locations and a map can be found at https://portal.southeast.fisheries.noaa.gov/cs/main.html# (select view landings locations).


  • All owners or operators of a commercial reef fish permitted vessel landing any commercially caught, federally managed reef fish from the Gulf of Mexico will be required to provide an advance notice of landing at least 3 hours, but no more than 24 hours, prior to landing. 
  • This applies even if the reef fish landed are not part of the IFQ program. 
  • Landing must occur at approved landings locations.  See below for information on submitting landing locations for approval.


  • One issue identified in a 5-year review of the red snapper IFQ program was additional enforcement efforts are needed to deter violations in the program.
  • Extending the landing notification requirement to all commercial reef fish trips should help to deter fishermen from illegally landing IFQ species or reporting IFQ species as another species (e.g., red snapper reported as vermilion snapper).
  • With this requirement, law enforcement and port agents will be alerted in advance of all reef fish trips returning to port and can meet vessels to inspect landings. 


  • Landing notifications can be made through the vessel monitoring system (VMS) required for federally permitted commercial reef fish vessels or through a call service 24-hour support line.
  • Notifications can be submitted by other NMFS-approved methods in the future (e.g., by website) if they are developed.
  • Landing notifications need to be made at least 3 hours, but no more than 24 hours, prior to landing.


  • A vessel can land anytime during the day and night, provided that a landing notification has been given between 3 to 24 hours prior to landing.
  • A vessel must land within 1 hour after the arrival time given in the landing notification.  If a vessel is going to arrive more than 1 hour after the noticed arrival time, a new notification with an updated arrival time must be submitted.  The captain is not required to wait an additional 3 hours if only one superseding landing notification has been submitted for the trip, the landing location has not changed, and the vessel is not moving to an earlier landing time.
  • Vessels are allowed to land prior to the 3-hour landing notification time of arrival if an authorized officer is present, is available to meet the vessel at the landing site, and authorizes the owner or operator of the vessel to land early.
  • Fishermen only need to notify law enforcement in advance of landing, not offloading.


  • The landing notification must provide the vessel identifier (name and official vessel registration), date and time of expected landing, expected landing location, and certification that there are no IFQ species on board the vessel.
  • Landing locations must be on NOAA Fisheries’ pre-approved landing location list.
  • This does not change the landing notification required by the IFQ program.  If the vessel is landing IFQ species, they must submit a landing notification following the IFQ regulations.



  • A list of currently approved landing locations and a map can be found at https://portal.southeast.fisheries.noaa.gov/cs/main.html# (select view landings locations). 
  • If your landing location is on this list, you do not need to submit a new landing location.
  • If your landing location is not on the list, then you must submit a new landing location.
  • The landing location submission must contain a contact name and phone number, a location name, and the location’s street address, unless there is no street address on record.  If a particular landing location has no street address on record, global positioning system (GPS) coordinates for an identifiable geographic location must be provided in decimal degrees.
  • Landing locations must be publicly accessible by land and water.  No conditions may impede free and immediate access to the site by an authorized law enforcement officer or port agent.  Examples of impeding conditions include, but are not limited to:  A locked gate, fence, wall, or other barrier preventing 24-hour access to the site; a gated community entry point; a guard animal; a posted sign restricting access to the site; or any other physical deterrent.  When approving locations, other criteria also may be used by the Office of Law Enforcement to identify impediments to access. 
  • New landing locations will be approved only at the end of each calendar-year quarter.  To have a landing location approved by the end of the calendar-year quarter, it must be submitted at least 45 days before the end of the calendar-year quarter.  Quarters end on March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. 
  • Landing locations must be approved in advance to ensure the sites actually exist and law enforcement agents can access these sites.  The landing notification requirement is intended to provide law enforcement officers the opportunity to be present at the point of landing so they can monitor and enforce IFQ requirements dockside. 
  • Landing locations are approved by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement.
  • More information on landing locations, how to submit a new landing location, and general information on the IFQ program can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/ifq/documents/pdfs/gulf_reef_fish_ifq_faqs_jan_2018.pdf.



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


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Other contacts:

Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707

            Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on March 13, 2019