Request for Comments: Proposed Rule to Modify Greater Amberjack Allowable Harvest

November 20, 2017

FB17-068 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For More Information, Contact: Kelli O’Donnell, 727-824-5305, Kelli.ODonnell@noaa.gov

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Key Message:

NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed rule for commercial and recreational greater amberjack management measures in the Gulf of Mexico.  Comments are due by December 5, 2017.

Summary of the Proposed Changes:

  • The proposed rule modifies the greater amberjack annual catch limits and annual catch targets for 2018 and subsequent years (see table below).
  • The proposed rule would set a new greater amberjack rebuilding timeframe of 2027 based on the adjusted annual catch limits and annual catch targets.
  • This proposed rule would change the greater amberjack recreational seasonal closure from June 1 - July 31 to January 1 - June 30. 
  • This is a temporarily closed season to give the Gulf Council time to develop another framework that would allow a spring and fall recreational fishing season.

Proposed acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limits (ACL), and annual catch targets (ACT) in pounds whole weight for 2018 through 2020 and beyond.

Year ABC Recreational ACL Recreational ACT  Commerical ACL Commercial ACT
2018 1,182,000 862,860 716,173 319,140 277,651
2019 1,489,000 1,086,970 902,185 402,030 349,766
2020+ 1,794,000 1,309,620 1,086,985 484,380 421,411

How to Comment on the Proposed Rule:

The comment period is open now through December 5, 2017.  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#2017-25050, published November 20, 2017

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

  1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov
  2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
  3. Enter or attach your comments.

Mail: Submit written comments to Kelli O’Donnell, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Why are the annual catch limits and quotas changing?

  • The most recent Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack population assessment, completed in 2016, indicated greater amberjack are experiencing overfishing (too many fish are being removed) and are overfished (population is too low).   
  • The current rebuilding plan was to be completed in 2019, but new scientific information indicates that the population cannot be rebuilt by 2019 under current harvest levels.  
  • The assessment also indicates that Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack have been overfished in all years since 1987 and have been undergoing overfishing since 1985.  Therefore, a reduction in the harvest limits is necessary to ensure that overfishing does not continue.  
  • The new rebuilding plan is anticipated to rebuild the Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack stock by 2027.

Why is the recreational fixed closed season changing?

  • The current recreational fixed closed season is June 1 - July 31.
  • The original intent of the June 1 - July 31 closure was to reduce the likelihood of an in-season quota closure and allow for the harvest of red snapper when greater amberjack would be closed.
  • Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack harvest has been closed earlier in the season in recent years not allowing the June - July fixed closed season to achieve those intents.
  • The January 1 - June 30 is a temporarily closed season which would prevent the recreational season from opening on January 1, 2018, and allow additional time to consider the most appropriate recreational closed season.

Where can I find more information on the Greater Amberjack Allowable Harvest and Rebuilding Plan Framework?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

By Mail: Kelli O’Donnell
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 March 14, 2019