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

October 25, 2019

FB19-065: 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 Recreational Regulatory Amendment 26 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Regulatory Amendment 26) and proposed rule.  The proposed actions would:

  • Remove the recreational minimum size limits for queen snapper, silk snapper, and blackfin snapper in the South Atlantic region;
  • Reduce the recreational minimum size limit for gray triggerfish in federal waters off east Florida; and
  • Modify the 20-fish recreational aggregate bag limit in the South Atlantic region.

 

Comments are due by November 25, 2019

 

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES FOR THE RECREATIONAL SECTOR:

 

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

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

 

Gray Triggerfish

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

 

20-Fish Aggregate Bag Limit

  • The aggregate bag limit applies to the following species: whitebone porgy, jolthead porgy, knobbed porgy, saucereye porgy, scup, gray triggerfish, bar jack, almaco jack, banded rudderfish, lesser amberjack, white grunt, margate, sailor’s choice, and Atlantic spadefish.
  • Maintain the 20-fish per person per day aggregate bag limit for the recreational sector.
  • However, limit the harvest of any one species to 10 fish within the aggregate bag limit.

 

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 25, 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 57378, published October 25, 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-2019-0077.

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 being proposed?

  • The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council gathered input from recreational 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 stakeholders provided, 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 26 to address specific action items in the 2016-2020 Vision Blueprint for the recreational sector of the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan.

 

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

 

  • Vision Blueprint Commercial Regulatory Amendment 27 (Regulatory Amendment 27) was developed concurrently with Regulatory Amendment 26, and includes modifications to commercial management measures based on stakeholder input incorporated in the Vision Blueprint. 
  • Similar to Regulatory Amendment 26, Regulatory Amendment 27 proposes changes to commercial regulations for gray triggerfish and deep-water species, as well as modifying commercial fishing seasons, trip limits, and minimum size limits for other snapper-grouper species. 
  • Regulatory Amendment 27 was approved by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at their September 2018 meeting and has been submitted to NOAA Fisheries for review by the Secretary of Commerce. 
  • More information on Regulatory Amendment 27 can be found here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/regulatory-amendment-27-vision-blueprint-commercial-measures.

 

What actions were included in the framework amendment that are no longer being considered?

 

  • During development of Regulatory Amendment 26, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council considered three actions that would establish a deep-water species aggregate, specify the recreational season for the deep-water species aggregate, and specify the aggregate bag limit for the deep-water species aggregate. 
  • However, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council decided to not make these changes at this time because of regional and seasonal differences in access to some of the deep-water species in the South Atlantic. 
  • The Council determined that the recreational seasons proposed for the deep-water species aggregate could disproportionately and negatively affect recreational fishermen at either end of the Council’s area of jurisdiction. 

 

Where can I find more information on Regulatory Amendment 26?

 

  • 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


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Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on October 25, 2019