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Request for Comments: Proposed Rule to Modify Fishing Access in Eastern Gulf of Mexico Marine Protected Areas

March 02, 2021

FB21-015: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For more information, contact: Rich Malinowski, 727-824-5305, rich.malinowski@noaa.gov

KEY MESSAGE:

  • NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed rule that would prohibit fishing year-round in the Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Marine Protected Areas and prohibit the possession of Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) reef fish, with no exception for vessels in transit unless the vessel has an operating vessel monitoring system and a valid federal commercial Gulf reef fish permit.
  • These prohibitions do not apply to Atlantic highly migratory species.
  • Comments are due by April 1, 2021.

 

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES:

  • The rule would prohibit all fishing, except for Highly Migratory Species, year-round in the Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Marine Protected Areas.
  • The rule would prohibit the possession of Gulf reef fish year-round in these areas unless a vessel has a valid Federal commercial permit for Gulf reef fish, which requires an operating satellite-based vessel monitoring system, and is in transit with fishing gear are appropriately stowed.

 

HOW TO COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED RULE:

The comment period is open now through April 1, 2021.  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: 86 FR 12163, published March 2, 2021.

 

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

1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document/NOAA_FRDOC_0001-5803.

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.

  • 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


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
 

What Does the Proposed Rule for the Framework Action Do?

  • The rule would prohibit the possession of any species of Gulf reef fish year-round in the Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Marine Protected Areas, with no exception for vessels in transit unless the vessel has an operating vessel monitoring system and a valid federal commercial Gulf reef fish permit. 
  • This rule would eliminate the surface trolling provision and effectively close the protected areas to harvest year-round and is expected to result in direct positive effects for mature spawning gag that are known to inhabit the protected areas, as well as other resident reef fish species.
  • These prohibitions do not apply to Atlantic highly migratory species, such as tunas and billfish.

 

Who can possess Gulf reef fish species in the marine protected areas?

  • Possession of Gulf reef fish would be allowed only on a federally permitted commercial with an operating vessel monitoring system and fishing gear stowed.

    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

 

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Other contacts:

Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707

            Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750 

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on March 02, 2021