NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed rule that would increase the recreational and commercial minimum size limit for cobia in the Gulf of Mexico’s Gulf Zone from 33 inches fork length to 36 inches fork length. Comments are due by November 4, 2019.
SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES:
The proposed rule would modify the minimum size limit for cobia in the Gulf Zone of the Gulf of Mexico, as shown in the map below.
HOW TO COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED RULE:
The comment period is open now through November 4, 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: FR#52864, published October 3, 2019
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
1. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0036
2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
3. Enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Why is the minimum size change needed?
- Stakeholders fishing within the Gulf Zone have expressed concern to the Gulf Council regarding the condition of the Gulf cobia stock since 2016, with increasing frequency in public comment on the issue in 2017 and 2018.
- The most recent stock assessment (SEDAR 28 2013) did not indicate that Gulf cobia are overfished or undergoing overfishing. The next stock assessment is currently scheduled to be conducted in 2019 and made available for management advice in 2020.
- At its meeting in April 2018, the Gulf Council decided to explore options for reducing fishing mortality of cobia in the Gulf Zone, including modifications to minimum size and possession limits, ahead of the next stock assessment. The actions presented in this framework amendment are designed to take a precautionary approach by reducing fishing mortality in response to constituent concerns, in case the decrease in landings observed in 2017 indicates some presently unknown issue with the stock.
- The management measures considered in this document do not reflect those adopted for Atlantic cobia because Atlantic and Gulf cobia are separate stocks with different growth, recruitment, and migratory patterns. Atlantic cobia can reach similar sizes as Gulf cobia, but do so over a longer lifespan, and range from the Georgia-Florida state line north to New York. Therefore, the management measures appropriate for Atlantic cobia may not be appropriate for Gulf cobia.
Where can I find more information on Framework Amendment 7?
- Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Rich Malinowski
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
- Framework Amendment 7 may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/modifications-gulf-mexico-migratory-group-cobia-size-and-possession-limits.
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