Request for Comments: Proposed Temporary Rule to Reduce Red Grouper Catch Levels

March 05, 2019

FB19-012 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Bulletin; For more information, contact Peter Hood, 727-824-5305, peter.hood@noaa.gov

KEY MESSAGES:

  • NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed temporary rule to reduce the Gulf of Mexico red grouper commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACL) and associated annual catch targets (ACT) to provide increased protections to the population.     
  • The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council requested commercial and recreational annual catch limits be reduced to a level equal to the combined 2017 commercial and recreational landings based on information indicating the red grouper population may not be large enough to sustain current harvest levels. 

Comments are due by March 20, 2019.

WHAT THIS MEANS:

  • This proposed rule would reduce the current ACLs and ACTs by approximately 60 percent.

The rule would reduce the 2019 commercial (Comm) and recreational (Rec) ACLs and ACTs from the 2018 levels.  See the table below for 2019.

Year

Comm ACL

Comm ACT/Quota

Rec ACL

Rec ACT

2018

8.19

7.78

2.58

2.37

2019

3.16

3.00

1.00

0.92

 

  • No changes to current bag limits, size limits, or fishing seasons are being proposed.
  • The Annual Catch Limit is the amount of fish that can be harvested from the population each year.
  • The Annual Catch Target is a level of catch reduced from the annual catch limit to account for management uncertainty.

 

HOW TO COMMENT ON THE PROPOSED RULE:

The comment period is open now through March 20, 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: 84 FR 7864, published March 5, 2019

 

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

1. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0142

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

 

WHY DID THE COUNCIL REQUEST THE QUOTA REDUCTION?  

  • An interim analysis conducted by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center and reviewed by the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee suggested a harvest reduction was needed.
  • In 2017, Gulf of Mexico red grouper landings were the lowest they had been in recent years.
  • Public testimony from Gulf fishermen indicated they observed fewer legal-sized red grouper, suggesting a declining stock.
  • An extensive outbreak of red tide off the Florida west coast in 2018 may adversely affect the red grouper stock.

 

WHY WAS 2019 COMMERCIAL RED GROUPER ALLOCATION WITHHELD ?

  • The current red grouper commercial quota is 7.78 million pounds.
  • NOAA Fisheries withheld the distribution of 59.4 percent of red grouper commercial quota through the individual fishing quota (IFQ) program on January 1, 2019.
  • If NOAA Fisheries had not withheld that portion of the commercial quota, then the entire 7.78 million pounds would have been allocated to IFQ fishermen and that allocation could not be taken back once the commercial ACL reduction requested by the Council is finalized.
  • If the proposed quota reduction does not occur prior to June 1, 2019, then NOAA Fisheries will distribute the withheld quota back to IFQ shareholders in accordance with the regulations.

 

More Information:

If you have further questions regarding this matter, please contact the SERO Sustainable Fisheries Office at the above address or by telephone at (727) 824-5305, weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. 

 

The Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Temporary Rule to Reduce Red Grouper Catch Levels may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/emergency-rule-modify-gulf-mexico-red-grouper-annual-catch-limit


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Text alerts you may receive include:

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 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 April 23, 2019

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