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Request for Comments: Proposed Rule to Increase Lane Snapper Catch Limits in the Gulf of Mexico

June 17, 2024

FB24-042: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For more information, contact: Daniel Luers, 727-824-5305, Daniel.Luers@noaa.gov

Key Messages:

NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed rule that would modify lane snapper catch limits in the Gulf of Mexico.  This proposed rule would also revise reporting and compliance requirements for Gulf of Mexico reef fish commercial fishermen using vessel monitoring systems (VMS).

Comments are due by July 17, 2024


Summary of Changes:

  • Lane snapper catch limits: 
    • This proposed rule would increase the lane snapper overfishing limit from 1,053,834 pounds whole weight (lb ww) to 1,116,330 lb ww.
    • This proposed rule would also increase the lane snapper acceptable biological catch and the annual catch limit from 1,028,973 lb ww to 1,088,873 lb ww. 
  • Revisions to reporting requirements: 
    • This proposed rule would revise the process for requesting a power-down exemption to the VMS requirement for fishermen with a valid federal commercial permit to harvest Gulf of Mexico reef fish.  It would require the submission on an online form and provide for immediate approval.
    • This proposed rule would also remove the requirement that the vessel owner or operator certify compliance with the proper installation and activation of a VMS unit.


How To Comment On The Proposed Rule:

The comment period is open now through July 17, 2024.  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: 89 FR 51295; June 17, 2024

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

  1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket/NOAA-NMFS-2024-0049/document.

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

3. Enter or attach your comments.

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


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is NOAA Fisheries announcing today?

  • NOAA Fisheries is announcing the publication of a proposed rule seeking public comment to increase the catch limits for Gulf of Mexico lane snapper.


Are there separate catch limits for the recreational and commercial lane snapper sectors?

  • No, Gulf of Mexico lane snapper is managed under a stock annual catch limit.  The stock annual catch limit is not divided between the recreational and commercial sectors.


Why are lane snapper catch limits increasing?

  • A 2023 interim analysis found that a further increase in catch limits was appropriate for Gulf of Mexico lane snapper.
  • The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee determined the 2023 interim analysis suitable for providing catch advice and recommended an increase to catch levels.


Why would vessel monitoring system (VMS) reporting and compliance requirements be revised?

  • Power-down exemption
    • When NOAA Fisheries revised the VMS regulations in 2007, the process for requesting a power-down exemption was added to the federal regulations.  However, in practice, the process has never been done exactly as specified in the regulations. 
    • In addition, technology now allows for use of an online form and immediate authorization by NOAA Fisheries.
  • VMS installation requirement
    • The intent of the form, “Vessel Monitoring System Installation and Activation Certification for the Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico,” was to provide NOAA Fisheries with additional assurance that a vessel owner or operator is compliant with the requirements to install and activate an approved VMS unit. 
    • NOAA Fisheries has determined that it is not necessary for a vessel owner or operator to submit a form attesting to their compliance. 
    • The existing requirement for a qualified marine technician to install the VMS unit would remain in § 622.28(f).


Where can I find more information on the Lane Snapper Catch Limits Framework?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office.


By Mail: Daniel Luers

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.

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Quick Glance Contact List for the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office

Permits Mailbox: The Permits Office in St. Petersburg, Florida, now has a Permits mailbox in the front lobby (263 13th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701).  You can now drop off original permits for permit transfers.  Envelopes with information labels will be provided so that your documents can be attached to the correct application.  The mailbox will be checked daily.  For more information contact the Permits Office at 877-376-4877.

Other contacts:

Media: Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750 

Recreational Fishing Coordinator: Sean Meehan, 727-385-5202

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on June 17, 2024