Request for Comments: Proposed Rule to Modify Red Snapper and Hogfish Annual Catch Limits and Annual Catch Targets

December 04, 2018

FB18-083 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For More Information, Contact: Peter Hood, peter.hood@noaa.gov, 727-824-5305

KEY MESSAGE:

NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed rule to increase the commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACLs) and recreational annual catch targets (ACTs) for Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) red snapper as well as set the stock ACL for west Florida Hogfish based on a recent stock assessments. 

 

Comments are due by January 3, 2019.

 

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES:

  • The proposed rule would increase the commercial and recreational red snapper ACLs and ACTs.  See the table below.
  • The proposed rule would reduce the buffer between the ACL and ACT for red snapper for the federal for-hire component from 20% to 9% for 2019 only.  This would temporarily increase the federal for-hire component ACT.
  • The proposed rule would decrease the west Florida hogfish stock ACL for 2019, and then allow it to increase in 2020 and 2021 from the 2019 ACL.

The current and proposed red snapper total ACLs, commercial ACLs, and recreational and component (private angling and federal for-hire) ACLs and ACTs in millions of pounds whole weight, are listed below.  The federal for-hire ACT and total recreational ACT would be different in 2019 due to a temporary reduction in the buffer between the federal for-hire ACL and ACT.

 

Red Snapper

2018 ACL

Proposed 2019+ ACL

2018 ACT

ACT 2019 and 2020+

Commercial

7.007

7.701

n/a

n/a

Total Recreational

6.733

7.399

5.386

6.263 (2019)

5.919 (2020+)

Recreational
Private

3.885

4.269

3.108

3.415

Recreational Federal For-Hire

2.848

3.130

2.278

2.848 (2019)

2.504 (2020+)

 

The current and proposed west Florida hogfish stock ACLs in pounds, whole weight, are listed below.

 

Hogfish

2018

2019

2020

2021+

Stock ACL

219,000

129,500

141,300

150,400

 

 

HOW TO COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED RULE:

The comment period is open now through January 3, 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: 83 FR 62555, published December 4, 2018

 

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

1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0130

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

3. Enter or attach your comments.

 

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


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

 

Why are the proposed changes needed for red snapper?

  • An assessment of Gulf red snapper was completed in 2018 and indicated that red snapper was not overfished or experiencing overfishing, but the stock is still in a rebuilding plan.
  • Based on the assessment, catch limits can be increased.  The commercial, recreational, and component ACLs could also be increased. 

 

How would the increases be applied to the commercial and recreational sectors?

  • The current red snapper total ACL is 13.74 million pounds whole weight. 
    • Of that, 51% is allocated to the commercial sector and 49% to the recreational sector. 
    • The recreational sector's ACL is further divided into the private angling component (57.7%) and federal for-hire component (42.3%).  These components were implemented in 2015 and are currently set to expire in 2022.

 

What are ACTs?

  • For the recreational sector, ACTs were developed to reduce the likelihood that the recreational sector as a whole or either component exceed their ACL.  The red snapper recreational fishing seasons are projected from the ACTs.
  • Initially, ACTs were set for the recreational sector and its components at 20% below the ACL.
  • Because the federal for-hire component has never exceeded its ACT, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) determined that the buffer between the ACL and ACT could be reduced from 20% to 9%.
  • The proposed rule retains the 20% buffer for the private angling component because this component has exceeded its ACL in two of the past three years.
  • The commercial sector does not have an ACT because it is managed under an individual fishing quota program that provides harvest accountability. 

 

Why are the changes for the federal for-hire ACT only proposed for 2019?

  • In 2018, all five Gulf states were issued exempted fishing permits for a pilot study that allowed those states some management authority of the private angling component in state and federal waters through 2019.
  • The Council determined the federal for-hire component ACT could be increased as discussed above while the states manage private angling fishing.
  • Because the change in how the private angling component is being managed ends after the 2019 fishing year, the federal for-hire component buffer between the ACL and ACT would return to 20% after 2019 to account for any needed adjustments to recreational red snapper harvest projections.

 

Why are the proposed changes needed for the west Florida hogfish stock?

  • In 2018, an updated assessment for the west Florida hogfish stock indicated that the stock was not overfished (population too low) and was not experiencing overfishing (too many fish being caught
  • However, the assessment produced catch levels that were lower than projections from the previous assessment.
  • Although the proposed ACLs are lower, the Council did not recommend any further management action because landings in recent years have not exceeded the ACL and the minimum size limit was recently increased from 12 to 14 inches fork length, which should reduce harvest.

 

Where can I find more information on the modifications to the red snapper and hACLs and ACTs, west Florida hogfish ACLs and ACTs?

 

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

 

By Mail: Peter Hood

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

 

  • The Red Snapper and West Florida Hogfish ACL Framework and the Recreational Red Snapper ACT Buffer framework may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site.
  • Additional information on management of red snapper and hogfish in the Gulf may be found here.

 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

 

Other contacts:

Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707

            Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750 

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on December 04, 2018