NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed rule implementing regulations from Amendment 51 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Amendment 51). The proposed rule would reduce the annual catch limit for Gulf of Mexico gray snapper. This rule would not change any existing gray snapper bag limits or size limits. Amendment 51 established or revised overfished and overfishing thresholds. Overfishing is when too many fish are being caught and overfished is when the number of fish in a population is too low.
Comments are due by August 5, 2020.
SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES:
The proposed rule would reduce the annual catch limit from 2.42 million pounds whole weight (mp ww) to 2.24 mp ww for the 2020 fishing year, and 2.23 mp ww for 2021 and subsequent fishing years.
HOW TO COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED RULE:
The comment period is open now through August 5, 2020. 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: 85 FR 40181, published July 6, 2020
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
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 is the annual catch limit being reduced?
- The current gray snapper annual catch limit of 2.42 mp ww was initially set in 2012 using landings data from 1999-2008.
- In 2018, a gray snapper stock assessment was completed, which showed that although the stock was not overfished, the stock had been undergoing overfishing.
- After accounting for scientific and management uncertainty, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council recommended the annual catch limit be set at 2.24 mp ww for 2020, and 2.23 mp ww for 2021 and subsequent years to end overfishing.
What other actions are proposed in Amendment 51?
- The amendment set criteria for determining the status of the gray snapper stock.
- It established the maximum sustainable yield, optimum yield, and overfished threshold for gray snapper,
- It revised the overfishing threshold for gray snapper.
What are status determination criteria?
- National standard guidelines for the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act require that each fishery management plan specify a maximum sustainable yield and optimum yield for each fish stock.
- The maximum sustainable yield is the maximum level at which a natural resource can be routinely exploited without long-term depletion.
- Optimum yield is the amount of fish that will provide the greatest overall benefit to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production and recreational opportunities and taking into account the protection of marine ecosystems.
- National standard guidelines require an overfishing threshold. If the rate of harvest exceeds this level (too many fish are being caught), the stock is considered undergoing overfishing and action needs to be taken to reduce the number of fish being caught per year.
- National standard guidelines require an overfished threshold. If the population size falls below this level, then a rebuilding plan is needed to let the population recover to a level that allows the optimum number of fish being caught.
Where can I find more information on Amendment 51?
- 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
- Amendment 51 may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/amendment-51-establish-gray-snapper-status-determination-criteria-and-modify-annual-catch.
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