NOAA Fisheries, in collaboration with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) intends to prepare a draft environmental impact statement to describe and analyze management alternatives to be included in Amendment 53 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Amendment 53). For Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) red grouper, Amendment 53 will consider alternatives to revise the commercial and recreational sector allocations as well as the overfishing limit, acceptable biological catch, and sector annual catch limits and annual catch targets. These measures would help to manage the population using the best scientific information available.
Comments are due by May 21, 2020
- A recent population assessment found the Gulf red grouper is not overfished (the population size is too low) or undergoing overfishing (too many fish are being caught).
- There has been concern from fishermen and the Council about the health of the population because red grouper have been harder to catch than in previous years, there appear to be fewer legal-size and larger fish in catches, and the population may have been harmed by a severe red tide event in 2018.
- The assessment used historical landings calibrated to the new Marine Recreational Information Program Fishing Effort Survey, which estimated more fish were caught by the recreational sector than by previous NOAA Fisheries recreational surveys.
SUMMARY OF PROPOSED ACTIONS:
The actions being considered to date would:
- Revise the red grouper allocation between the commercial and recreational sectors using historical landings with recreational landings based on the Marine Recreational Information Program Fishing Effort Survey.
- Revise the overfishing limit and acceptable biological catch based on recommendations by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee.
- Revise the sector annual catch limits and annual catch targets.
NOAA Fisheries and the Council are soliciting comments on the current actions or any other actions within the scope of the amendment that the public would like the Council and NOAA Fisheries to consider.
HOW TO COMMENT ON THE NOTICE OF INTENT:
The comment period is open now through May 21, 2020. 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.
FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 85 FR 22137 published April 21, 2020.
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
- Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0062
- Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
- Enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Peter Hood, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Where can I find more information on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Red Grouper Management in the Gulf of Mexico?
- Red Grouper Management in the Gulf of Mexico documents may be found online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/amendment-53-red-grouper-allocations-and-catch-levels.
- Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Peter Hood
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505
By Phone: (727) 824-5305
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