NOAA Fisheries requests comments on an amendment and proposed rule that include management measures to rebuild the gray triggerfish population in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf), which is currently overfished (population abundance is too low). The proposed actions would modify the recreational fixed closed season, reduce the recreational bag limit, increase the recreational minimum size limit, and increase the commercial trip limit.
Summary of Proposed Changes:
- The proposed rule would maintain the current established recreational annual catch limit of 241,200 pounds (lb) whole weight (ww) and annual catch target (quota) of 217,100 lb ww; and the commercial annual catch limit of 64,100 lb ww and annual catch target (quota) of 60,900 lb ww.
- For recreational fishermen the proposed actions are:
- In addition to the current recreational fixed closed season of June 1 through July 31, set a recreational fixed closed season of January 1 through the end of February.
- Reduce the recreational bag limit from 2 gray triggerfish per angler per day within the 20-reef fish aggregate bag limit to 1 gray triggerfish per angler per day within the 20-reef fish aggregate bag limit.
- Increase the recreational minimum size limit from 14 inches fork length to 16 inches fork length.
- For commercial fishermen the proposed action is:
- Increase the commercial trip limit from 12 gray triggerfish per trip, to 16 gray triggerfish per trip.
- The proposed measures are expected to rebuild the gray triggerfish population in 9 years, or by the end of 2025.
How to Comment:
The comment period is open now through October 25, 2017. You may submit comments by electronic submission or by postal mail. Comments sent by any other method (such as e-mail), to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries. Relevant comments on both the amendment and proposed rule will be addressed in the final rule.
Formal Federal Register Name/Number:
NOAA- NMFS-2017-0080, published September 22, 2017.
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
- Go to: www.regulations.gov.
- Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
- Enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Lauren Waters, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why are the proposed actions necessary?
- A population assessment for Gulf gray triggerfish indicated that the gray triggerfish stock is no longer undergoing overfishing (rate of removal is not too high), but remains overfished (population abundance is too low).
- NOAA Fisheries notified the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) that the gray triggerfish stock was not making adequate progress toward rebuilding as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
- Within 2 years of the notice, the Council must prepare and implement a plan to rebuild the stock as quickly as possible, but not to exceed 10 years.
Why are changes being proposed for the recreational sector to decrease harvest, but the commercial trip limit is increasing?
- The recreational sector has exceeded its annual catch limit in recent years, whereas commercial landings of gray triggerfish have been below the commercial quota for the past 3 years.
- Gray triggerfish are primarily landed by recreational anglers, and the current allocation is 79% recreational and 21% commercial. Therefore, modifications to the recreational sector would have a greater overall impact on rebuilding the population.
- The proposed recreational management changes would slow the recreational harvest of gray triggerfish , allowing for harvest later in the year.
- A commercial trip limit increase would allow the commercial sector to achieve optimum harvest while still making progress to rebuild the population.
Where can I find more information on Reef Fish Amendment 46?
- Amendment 46 may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Website.
- Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Lauren Waters
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
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