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Request for Comments: Changes to Catch Levels, Sector Allocations, and Recreational Accountability Measures and Fishing Season for Snowy Grouper in the South Atlantic

May 22, 2023

FB23-032: South Atlantic Fishery Bulletin; For more information, contact: Rick DeVictor, 727-824-5305, rick.devictor@noaa.gov

Key Message:

NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on the notice of availability and proposed rule for Amendment 51 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 51).  The latest population assessment determined South Atlantic snowy grouper is overfished and undergoing overfishing.  If implemented, Amendment 51 and the proposed rule would modify management of South Atlantic snowy grouper through revising the acceptable biological catch, annual catch limits, annual optimum yield, sector allocations, and recreational accountability measures and fishing season. 


Comments are due by July 21, 2023.


Summary of Proposed Changes:

  • Catch Levels and Sector Allocations
    • The proposed total annual catch limit would be equal to the acceptable biological catch of 119,654 pounds gutted weight (lb gw), for 2023; 121,272 lb gw for 2024; 122,889 lb gw for 2025 and subsequent fishing years.
    • The proposed snowy grouper sector annual catch limits are based on a revised commercial and recreational allocation of 87.55% and 12.45%, respectively.
      • The commercial annual catch limits would be 104,757 lb gw for 2023; 106,174 lb gw for 2024; 107,589 lb gw for 2025 and subsequent years. 
      • 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.
        • The Season 1 commercial catch limit would be 73,330 lb gw for 2023; 74,322 lb gw for 2024; 75,312 lb gw for 2025 and subsequent years.
        • The Season 2 commercial annual catch limit would be 31,427 lb gw for 2023; 31,852 lb gw for 2024; 32,277 lb gw for 2025 and subsequent years.
      • The recreational annual catch limits ACLs would be 1,668 fish for 2023; 1,691 fish for 2024; 1,713 fish for 2025 and subsequent years.
  • Recreational Fishing Season
    • The proposed rule would shorten the recreational fishing season from May 1 through August 31 to May 1 through June 30.
  • Recreational Accountability Measures
    • The current in-season closure and stock status based post-season accountability measure would be removed.  If recreational landings exceed the recreational annual catch limit, the length of the following year’s recreational fishing season would be reduced by the amount necessary to prevent the recreational annual catch limit from being exceeded in the following year.


How to Comment on the Notice of Availability and Proposed Rule:

The comment period for the notice of availability is open now through July 21, 2023.  The comment period on the proposed rule is expected to fall within this same timeframe, and comments on both the amendment and proposed rule will be considered in the final rule.  You may submit comments by electronic submission (described below) or by postal mail.  Comments received after the end of the comment period may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.


Federal Register Citation: 88 FR 32717, published May 22, 2023


Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket/NOAA-NMFS-2023-0026/document.

2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.

3. Enter or attach your comments.


Mail: Submit written comments to Rick DeVictor, Southeast Regional Office, NOAA Fisheries, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701.


Where can I find more information on Amendment 51?

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Why are changes to management of South Atlantic snowy grouper being proposed?

  • Amendment 51 would 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.


Why are changes to the commercial and recreational allocations for snowy grouper being considered?

  • Estimates of recreational landings have changed to incorporate Marine Recreational Information Program’s Fishing Effort Survey method, which has replaced the Marine Recreational Information Program’s Coastal Household Telephone Survey.
  • The new allocations result in an increase to the commercial sector.


What are the proposed catch levels for the commercial sector?

  • The commercial sector annual catch limits are split 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 would be added to the commercial quota in Season 2.  Any remaining quota from Season 2 would not be carried forward into the next fishing year.
  • The commercial quotas in 2023 for Season 1 would be 73,330 lb ww and for Season 2 would be 31,427 lb ww; in 2024, Season 1 would be 74,322 lb ww and Season 2 would be 31,852 lb ww; in 2025, Season 1 would be 75,312 lb ww and Season 2 would be 32,277 lb ww; and for 2026 and subsequent years, Season 1 would be 75,312 lb ww and Season 2 would be 32,277 lb ww.
  • The current 200 lb gutted weight trip limit would remain.


What are the proposed management measures for the recreational sector?

  • The proposed rule would 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.


Why are recreational accountability measures being modified?

  • The intent in revising the recreational accountability measure is to avoid in-season closures of the recreational sector and extend maximum fishing opportunities to the sector.
  • The proposed measure would remove the current potential duplicate application of a reduction in the recreational season length and a payback of the recreational annual catch limit overage if the total annual catch limit is exceeded.  Under this proposed measure, the trigger would not be tied to the total annual catch limit, but only to the recreational annual catch limit.

The proposed modification would ensure that overages in the recreational sector do not affect the catch levels for the commercial sector.

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


Other contacts:

Media:  Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on May 22, 2023