- NOAA Fisheries announces a temporary rule to increase:
- The commercial trip limit for vermilion snapper from 1,000 pounds gutted weight to 1,500 pounds gutted weight in federal waters of the South Atlantic Region (Virginia/North Carolina boundary south to the Florida Keys in the Atlantic).
- The recreational bag limit for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel (Atlantic king mackerel) from: (1) 3-fish per person to 4-fish per person in federal waters from the Connecticut/Rhode Island/New York boundary to the Georgia/Florida boundary, and (2) 2-fish per person to 4-fish per person in federal waters from the Georgia/Florida boundary south to the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Florida boundary.
- These changes are being made to address economic losses to the commercial and recreational fishing communities and industries that have resulted from recent unforeseen events such as disruptions to market, restricted access to ports, closures of harbors and boat ramps, and disruptions to fishing supplies.
WHEN RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:
- This change to the commercial trip limit and recreational bag limit will be effective on September 17, 2020.
WHAT THIS MEANS:
- At their June 2020 meeting, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council requested an emergency rule to increase the commercial trip limit for vermilion snapper and the recreational bag limit for Atlantic king mackerel starting as soon as possible in 2020.
- The change to the commercial trip limit and recreational bag limit will be effective from September 17, 2020, through March 16, 2021:
- The commercial trip limit for vermilion snapper will be 1,500 pounds gutted weight in federal waters of the South Atlantic Region (Virginia/North Carolina boundary south to the Florida Keys in the Atlantic).
- The recreational bag limit for Atlantic king mackerel will be 4-fish per person in federal waters throughout its management area, from the Connecticut/Rhode Island/New York boundary south to the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary.
- The increase in commercial trip limit and recreational bag limit is necessary to prevent unnecessary economic losses, increase fishing opportunities, and to increase the likelihood of achieving optimum yield for vermilion snapper and Atlantic king mackerel.
This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Why is the commercial trip limit for vermilion snapper increasing?
- Commercial landings of vermilion snapper in 2020 have been accumulating at a slower rate than observed in 2018 and 2019, presumably due to recent unforeseen events such as business closures, restricted access to ports, and the resulting economic slow-down.
- Preliminary commercial landings for vermilion snapper as of July 20, 2020, show that only 64.5% of the 2020 commercial quota for Season 1 (January through June) has been caught. The unused portion of the commercial quota from Season 1 will be added to the commercial quota for Season 2 (July through December) in 2020.
- The commercial trip limit increase from 1,000 pounds gutted weight to 1,500 pounds gutted weight may help commercial fishermen harvest more of the annual catch limit in 2020, without resulting in a commercial closure in 2020.
- In 2018, the latest Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) stock assessment (SEDAR 55) indicated that South Atlantic vermilion snapper is neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing.
Why is the recreational bag limit for Atlantic king mackerel increasing?
- Recreational fishing effort has also been impacted by recent and unforeseen circumstances such as closures of harbors and boat ramps, and disruptions to fishing supplies. The charter vessel and headboat (for-hire) industry within the recreational sector has been particularly impacted by recent events because of their reliance on the tourism trade.
- Preliminary recreational landings as of July 28, 2020, show that headboat landings for Atlantic king mackerel during January through March were 9,534 pounds whole weight. In 2018 and 2019, for the same months, headboat landings were 19,664 pounds whole weight and 42,449 pounds whole weight, respectively.
- Increasing the recreational bag limit to 4-fish per person throughout its management may have positive economic and social effects without risking an overage of the recreational annual catch limit.
- In 2020, an update to the latest stock assessment (SEDAR 38 Update) indicated that Atlantic king mackerel is neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing.
For more information on the emergency rule, you may contact the following:
- NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Nikhil Mehta
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505
By Phone: (727) 824-5305, By FAX: (727) 824-5308
- The final rule can be found at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/emergency-rule-vermilion-snapper-commercial-trip-limit-atlantic-king-mackerel-recreational
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