Request for Comments: Proposed Changes to Commercial Regulations for Snapper-Grouper Species in Federal Waters of the South Atlantic Region

October 17, 2019

FB19-063: South Atlantic Fishery Bulletin; For more information contact: Mary Vara, (727) 824-5305, mary.vara@noaa.gov

KEY MESSAGE:

NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on Vision Blueprint Commercial Regulatory Amendment 27 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region and proposed rule:  

  • The proposed actions would modify commercial regulations for blueline tilefish, snowy grouper, greater amberjack, red porgy, vermilion snapper, almaco jack, Other Jacks Complex (lesser amberjack, almaco jack, and banded rudderfish), queen snapper, silk snapper, blackfin snapper, and gray triggerfish. 
  • The proposed actions would modify commercial fishing seasons, trip limits, and minimum size limits.

Comments are due by November 18, 2019

 

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES FOR COMMERCIAL SNAPPER-GROUPER SPECIES:

 

Blueline Tilefish

  • Reduce the commercial trip limit from 300 to 100 pounds gutted weight from January 1 through April 30;
  • Retain the commercial trip limit of 300 pound gutted weight from May 1 through December 31.

 

Snowy Grouper

  • Establish two commercial fishing seasons of January 1 through June 30 (Season 1) and July 1 through December 31 (Season 2);
  • Allocate 70% of the commercial catch limit to Season 1 and 30% to Season 2, and transfer any remaining quota from Season 1 to Season 2.

 

Greater Amberjack

  • Establish two commercial fishing seasons of March 1 through August 31 (Season 1) and September 1 through the end of February (Season 2);
  • Allocate 60% of the commercial catch limit to Season 1 and 40% to Season 2, and transfer any remaining quota from Season 1 to Season 2;
  • Retain the commercial trip limit of 1,200 pounds whole weight or gutted weight for Season 1;
  • Retain the commercial sale and purchase prohibition during April, and the harvest and possession limit is one per person per day or one per person per trip, whichever is more restrictive;
  • Reduce the commercial trip limit from 1,200 to 1,000 pounds whole weight or gutted weight for Season 2.

 

Red Porgy

  • Establish two commercial fishing seasons of January 1 through April 30 (Season 1) and May 1 through December 31 (Season 2);
  • Allocate 30% of the commercial catch limit to Season 1 and 70% to Season 2, and transfer any remaining quota from Season 1 to Season 2;
  • Remove the sale and purchase prohibition and the possession limit of three fish per person per day or three fish per person per trip during January 1 through April 30 each year;
  • Establish a commercial trip limit of 60 fish in Season 1;
  • Retain the 120 fish commercial trip limit in Season 2.

 

Vermilion Snapper

  • Retain the 50% split quotas of the commercial catch limits between January 1 through June 30 (Season 1) and July 1 through December 31 (Season 2);
  • Retain the commercial trip limit of 1,000 pound gutted weight;
  • Remove the 500 pound gutted weight commercial trip limit when 75% of the seasonal quotas are met or projected to be met.

 

Other Jacks Complex (lesser amberjack, almaco jack, and banded rudderfish)

  • Establish a commercial trip limit of 500 pounds gutted weight.

 

Almaco Jack

  • Establish a commercial minimum size limit of 20 inches fork length.

 

Deep-water Species (queen snapper, silk snapper, and blackfin snapper)

  • Remove the 12-inch total length commercial minimum size limit for queen snapper, silk snapper, and blackfin snapper.

 

Gray Triggerfish

  • Reduce the commercial minimum size limit in the exclusive economic zone off the east coast of Florida from 14 inches to 12 inches fork length;
  • Retain the commercial minimum size limit of 12 inches fork length off North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

 

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below for more information on these actions.

 

HOW TO SUBMIT COMMENTS:

The comment period is open now through November 18, 2019.  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: 84 FR 55531, published October 17, 2019 

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

1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0059.

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

3. Enter or attach your comments.

Mail: Submit written comments to Mary Vara, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

 

Why are changes to the commercial sector of the Snapper-Grouper fishery being proposed?

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council gathered input from commercial fishermen throughout the region during a series of stakeholder meetings to develop a long-term strategic plan for managing the snapper-grouper fishery.  Based on the input, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council developed the 2016-2020 Vision Blueprint for the Snapper-Grouper fishery.  The Vision Blueprint identifies the goals, objectives, strategies, and actions that support the vision for the snapper-grouper fishery and centers around four goal areas: Science, Management, Communication, and Governance.  The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council prioritized action items in the Vision Blueprint that would be addressed through amendments to the Snapper-Grouper FMP over the next five years. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council developed Regulatory Amendment 27 to address specific action items in the 2016-2020 Vision Blueprint for the commercial sector of the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan.

 

Are similar regulations changing for the recreational sector of the Snapper-Grouper fishery?

Vison Blueprint Recreational Regulatory Amendment 26 (Regulatory Amendment 26) was developed concurrently with Regulatory Amendment 27, and includes modifications to recreational management measures based on stakeholder input from the 2016-2020 Vision Blueprint.  The regulatory amendment includes similar regulations for gray triggerfish and deep-water species, as well as modifications to the 20-fish aggregate bag limit.  The regulatory amendment was approved by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at their December 2018 meeting and has been submitted to NOAA Fisheries.  More information on Regulatory Amendment 26 can be found here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/regulatory-amendment-26-vision-blueprint-recreational-measures.

 

Where can I find more information on Regulatory Amendment 27?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office 

By Mail: Mary Vara

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


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

Join us every other Friday on NOAA Fish Instagram for Rec Fish Friday!

 

Other contacts:

Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707

            Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on October 17, 2019