NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on an amendment that would change the current minimum stock size threshold, or the population level that stock would be considered overfished, used for gag, red grouper, red snapper, vermilion snapper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, and hogfish (Amendment 44). Amendment 44 was developed and submitted for approval by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). The minimum stock size values would be changed from a value based on the natural mortality rate of a species to 50 percent of the population biomass level that allows the stock to produce the maximum sustainable yield on a continuing basis. Maximum sustainable yield is the largest long-term average catch or yield that can be taken from a stock under prevailing conditions.
Comments are due by November 24, 2017
Background and Summary of Proposed Changes:
- A fish species is considered overfished if the population falls below the minimum stock size.
- The minimum stock size threshold defines that level.
- The current definition is based on the natural mortality rate (deaths of fish from all causes except fishing such as old age, predation, and disease) and the population biomass level that allows the population to produce the maximum sustainable yield on a continuing basis.
- For many reef fish populations, the natural mortality rate is very small so that:
- It can be difficult to determine if a population is actually below the minimum stock size due to uncertainty in the data used in population assessments.
- Natural fluctuations in population levels of a species may temporarily drop the population biomass below the minimum stock size.
- Amendment 44 would increase the buffer between the minimum stock size and the population biomass level that allows the population to produce the maximum sustainable yield on a continuing basis for gag, red grouper, red snapper, vermilion snapper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, and hogfish.
- Increasing the buffer can avoid mistakenly declaring a population overfished.
- Although this action would lower the minimum stock size value, NOAA Fisheries and the Council have determined that recent requirements for populations to have overfishing limits, annual catch limits, and accountability measures reduce the probability of long-term overfishing and reduce the chances that a population could become overfished.
How to Comment on Amendment 44:
The comment period is open now through November 24, 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.
Formal Federal Register Name/Number: FR#44582, published September 25, 2015.
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 Peter Hood, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
For more information on Amendment 44, 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 FAX: (727) 824-5308
By Phone: (727) 824-5305
Amendment 44 may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Website.
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