Fishing Regulations and Seasonal Closures - Gulf of Mexico

Commercial and recreational seasonal closures and current status of federally managed Gulf of Mexico species.
Species not listed do not currently have seasonal closures or quotas.

NOAA Sustainable Fisheries Division Gulf of Mexico Branch, together with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, manages fisheries in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Federal waters begin where state waters end and extend 200 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. 

This summary is intended to provide appropriate information to fishermen about fishing regulations in the Gulf of Mexico. This summary is for general information purposes. Fishery Regulations are subject to changes. Any discrepancies between this information and the regulations as published in the Federal Register will be resolved in favor of the Federal Register. For more information on fishery regulations consult the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 50 CFR 622.

NOTE: Species not listed do not currently have federal seasonal closures or quotas. 

  • States may regulate vessels registered in that state and fishing in federal waters for species that do not have a federal fishery management plan or applicable federal regulations, or for which the appropriate fishery management plan has delegated management to the state. 
  • Federally permitted for-hire reef fish vessels must comply with the more restrictive of federal or state reef fish regulations when fishing for reef fish in state waters. 

Fishing Regulations

Commercial 
Seasonal Closure and Current Status

Recreational
Seasonal Closure and
Current Status

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Greater Amberjack

  • Mar 1-May 31 and when quota is met

Currently CLOSED.
 

Closes June 9, 2019 see FB19-025

  • November 1 - April 30 and June 1 - July 31
  • When quota is met through July 31

Currently CLOSED(4)

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Gag

None(3)
  • Jan 1 - May 31 (1)
  • When quota is met through December 31


Currently OPEN

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Goliath Grouper

CLOSED HARVEST PROHIBITED

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Gray Triggerfish

  • June 1 - July 31 and when quota is met 
Currently OPEN
  • January 1 - end of February
  • June 1-July 31
  • When quota is met through December 31
Currently CLOSED see Fishery bulletin FB19-016

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King Mackerel

Southern Zone Gillnet

  • July 1 - MLK Jr. Day and when quota is met

Currently CLOSED

Western Zone, Northern Zone, Southern Zone Hook & Line

  • When quota is met

Currently OPEN

 

N/A 
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Nassau Grouper
CLOSED HARVEST PROHIBITED

 

Other Shallow-water grouper:

Black Grouper,
Yellowmouth Grouper,
Scamp, and
Yellowfin Grouper

None(3)
  • Feb 1-Mar 31 (2)
  • When quota is met through December 31

Currently OPEN

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Red Grouper

None(3)
  • Feb 1-Mar 31 (2)
  • When quota is met through December 31

Currently OPEN

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Red Snapper (For-Hire and Commercial)

n/a(3)
  • Jan 1  - May 31
  • Closes August 2 12:01 a.m., local time or When quota is met through December 31

Currently CLOSED see Fishery Bulletin FB19-14

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Red Snapper (Private)

  • Jan 1 - May 31;
  • When quota is met through December 31

Under state management through exempted fishing permits for
2018 and 2019 see Fishery Bulletin FB18-026

 

(1) Open June 1-December 31, each year

(2) This closure occurs in the portion of the Gulf EEZ seaward of coordinates defined in the Federal regulations at paragraph (d) of  § 622.34, Seasonal and area closures designed to protect Gulf reef fish.  These coordinates approximate the 20-fathom depth contour.

(3) Currently managed under an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program. Anyone commercially fishing for this species must possess IFQ allocation and follow established protocols, see Current IFQ landings.

(4) As of April 30, 2018 the recreational Greater Amberjack fishing year was modified to be August 1 through July 31 and the fixed closed season was modified to be November 1 through April 30 and June 1 through July 31. As such, the 2018 quota is distributed across the 2017-2018 fishing year, the 2019 quota is distributed across the 2018-2019 fishing year, and the 2020 and beyond quota will be distributed for each subsequent fishing year, which now begins on August 1.

Recreational Quota Closure Analysis

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on November 07, 2019