Request for Comments: Proposed Rule to Continue Reductions in Gulf of Mexico Red Grouper Catch Levels

July 19, 2019

FB19-038 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 rule that would continue reductions in the Gulf of Mexico red grouper commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACL) and associated annual catch targets (ACT) put in place through an emergency action requested by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
  • The emergency action reduced the commercial and recreational catch limits and targets to the level of combined commercial and recreational landings that occurred in 2017.
  • The emergency action was taken based on information indicating the red grouper population may not be large enough to sustain past harvest levels. 

Comments are due by August 19, 2019.

 

WHAT THIS MEANS:

  • The 2019 catch limits and targets are approximately 60 percent less than 2018 levels. This proposed rule would retain and continue those reductions. (see table below)
  • No changes to current bag limits, size limits, or fishing seasons are being proposed.


Red Grouper ACL and ACT (millions of pounds)

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

2020+

3.16

3.00

1.00

0.92

 

Definitions:

Annual Catch Limit is the amount of fish that can be harvested from the population each year.

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 August 19, 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 34845, published July 19, 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-2019-0061

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.

 

WHY DID THE COUNCIL REQUEST THE QUOTA REDUCTION?  

  • In 2017, Gulf of Mexico red grouper landings were the lowest they had been in recent years.
  • Public testimony from Gulf of Mexico fishermen indicated they observed fewer legal-sized red grouper, suggesting a declining population
  • 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.
  • An extensive outbreak of red tide off the Florida west coast in 2018 may have adversely affected the red grouper population.

 

More Information:

If you have further questions regarding this matter, please contact the Southeast Regional Office 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 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/framework-action-modification-gulf-mexico-red-grouper-annual-catch-limits-and-annual-catch.

 

The Environmental Assessment for the 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/framework-action-modification-gulf-mexico-red-grouper-annual-catch-limits-and-annual-catch.


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Other contacts:

Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707 or Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750 

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on July 19, 2019

Annual Quotas