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FB17-041
FISHERY BULLETIN ISSUE D
ATE: July 26, 2017
CONTACT: Sustainable Fisheries (727)-824-5305

Final Rule for Hogfish Management in South Atlantic Federal Waters

                      

KEY MESSAGE:

NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule for Amendment 37 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 37).  Hogfish in the South Atlantic will be managed as two populations: Georgia through North Carolina and Florida Keys/East Florida.  A population assessment determined that the Florida Keys/East Florida population is undergoing overfishing (rate of removal is too high) and is overfished (population abundance is too low) and, therefore, in need of a rebuilding plan.  The overfishing and overfished status of the Georgia/North Carolina population is unknown.

WHEN RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:

  • Regulations will be effective August 24, 2017.

WHAT THIS MEANS:

The final rule for Amendment 37 will implement the following management measures in addition to specifying commercial and recreational annual catch limits and accountability measures:


Management Measures

Georgia-North Carolina

Florida Keys/East Florida

Minimum size limit

(for both commercial and recreational sectors)

17 inches fork length

16 inches fork length

Commercial trip limit

500 pounds whole weight

25 pounds whole weight

Recreational bag limit

2 fish per person per day

1 fish per person per day

Recreational fishing season

Open year-round

Open - May through October

Closed- January through April; November through December


FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER:

82 FR 34584, published July 25, 2017.

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)

What is the purpose of Amendment 37?

  • Through Amendment 37, NOAA Fisheries will manage hogfish in the South Atlantic Region as two populations.
  • The two populations will be 1) Georgia through North Carolina and 2) Florida Keys/East Florida.

Why the need for two populations in the South Atlantic Region?

  • Based on genetic information, a population assessment identified two populations of hogfish for the South Atlantic Region.
  • The Florida Keys/East Florida population is undergoing overfishing (rate of removal is too high) and is overfished (population abundance is too low) and, therefore, is in need of a rebuilding plan.  The overfishing and overfished status for the Georgia through North Carolina population is unknown.
  • Separate regulations will be implemented for each population.

What are the boundaries between the West Florida (Gulf of Mexico), Florida Keys/East Florida, and Georgia through North Carolina hogfish populations?

  • The population assessment also identified a stock in the Gulf of Mexico (West Florida population).
  • The Gulf of Mexico (West Florida) population boundary ranges from Texas/Mexico border to  25°09’ N. latitude near Cape Sable on the west coast of Florida (preferred sub-alternative 2C in the figure below).
  • The Florida Keys/East Florida population of hogfish will be managed from south of Cape Sable, around the Florida Keys, to the Florida/Georgia border. 
  • The Georgia through North Carolina population of hogfish will be managed from the Florida/Georgia border to the North Carolina/Virginia border.
  • Hogfish throughout the Florida Keys will be managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

Source: Amanda Frick, NOAA Fisheries SERO

What are the final actions in Amendment 37 for the Florida Keys/East Florida population?

  • Establish a rebuilding plan that will set the allowable catch level so the stock can rebuild in 10 years.  The allowable catch level will increase annually through 2027 as the stock rebuilds
  • Establish revised sector allocations of 9.63% commercial and 90.37% recreational.
  • Specify a 17,034 fish total annual catch limit for 2017; the commercial annual catch limit will be 3,510 pounds whole weight (lbs ww) (1,345 fish), and the recreational annual catch limit will be 15,689 fish.  The annual catch limits will increase annually through 2027 as the stock rebuilds (see Table 4.6.2 in Amendment 37 for all the values).
  • Establish a 13,335 fish recreational annual catch target, which is equal to 85% of the recreational annual catch limit.  Recreational annual catch targets will increase from 2017-2027 as the stock rebuilds see Table 4.7.2 in Amendment 37 for all the values).  Increase the commercial and recreational minimum size limit to 16 inches fork length.
  • Establish a commercial trip limit of 25 lbs ww.
  • Establish a recreational bag limit of one fish per person per day.
  • Establish an open six-month recreational fishing season from May-October.  Recreational fishing will be prohibited from January through April, and November through December.

What regulations do I follow if I’m fishing the Florida Keys/East Florida hogfish population, but I’m in Gulf waters?

  • Fishermen will be subject to the hogfish minimum size limits, bag limits, trip limits, and fishing seasons developed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council when fishing or transiting Gulf federal waters south of 25°09' North latitude.
  • Operators of commercial and charter/headboat vessels harvesting hogfish in Gulf federal waters south of 25°09' North latitude will still be required to have a Gulf reef fish permit.
  • Commercial and charter vessel/headboat vessels fishing for hogfish in South Atlantic Federal waters, i.e., south and east of the jurisdictional boundary, will be required to have the appropriate Federal South Atlantic snapper-grouper permits.
  • All permit holders will be required to follow the sale and reporting requirements associated with the respective permits.

What are the final actions in Amendment 37 for the Georgia/North Carolina population?

  • Specify a total annual catch limit, and commercial and recreational annual catch limits based on revised sector allocations of 69.13% commercial and 30.87% recreational.
  • Specify a 33,930 lbs ww total annual catch limit; the commercial annual catch limit will be 23,456 lbs ww, and the recreational annual catch limit will be 988 fish.
  • Establish a recreational annual catch target equal to 85% of the recreational annual catch limit at 840 fish.
  • Increase the commercial and recreational minimum size limit to 17 inches fork length.
  • Establish a commercial trip limit of 500 lbs ww.
  • Establish a recreational bag limit of two fish per person per day.

What are the accountability measures for the Florida Keys/East Florida and Georgia/North Carolina populations of hogfish?

  • If commercial landings reach or are projected to reach the commercial annual catch limit, the commercial sector will close for the remainder of the fishing year; all sale or purchase will be prohibited, and harvest or possession of hogfish in or from the exclusive economic zone will be limited to the recreational bag and possession limit.  If the commercial annual catch limit is exceeded, the commercial annual catch limit in the following fishing year will be reduced by the amount of the commercial overage only if hogfish is overfished and the total annual catch limit is exceeded.
  • If recreational landings reach or are projected to reach the recreational annual catch limit, the recreational sector will close for the remainder of the fishing year, unless NOAA Fisheries determines that a closure is unnecessary.  If recreational landings exceed the recreational annual catch limit, then during the following fishing year, landings will be monitored for a persistence in increased landings.  If necessary, the length of fishing season and the recreational annual catch limit will be reduced in the following fishing year by the amount of the recreational overage, only if the species is overfished and the total annual catch limit is exceeded.  The length of the recreational season and recreational annual catch limit will not be reduced if NOAA Fisheries determines a reduction is unnecessary.

Where can I find more information on Amendment 37?

  • Contact 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 FAX: (727) 824-5308

By Phone: (727) 824-5305

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