South Atlantic Fishery Bulletin

 
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FB17-059
FISHERY BULLETIN ISSUE D
ATE: October 24, 2017
CONTACT: Mary Vara (727) 824-5305, mary.vara@noaa.gov

Request for Comments: Proposed Changes to Mutton Snapper Regulations in Federal Waters of the South Atlantic

KEY MESSAGE:

NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on Amendment 41 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 41) and proposed rule.  The proposed actions would update mutton snapper catch limits and fishing regulations based on the most recent population assessment. 

Comments are due by November 27, 2017

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES FOR MUTTON SNAPPER:

 For commercial fishermen:

  • Revise the commercial catch limit;
  • Increase the commercial minimum size limit from 16 to 18 inches total length;
  • Establish a commercial trip limit during January through April, and July through December, to 500 pounds whole weight;
  • In order to protect fish that are aggregating to reproduce, establish a commercial trip limit during May and June of five mutton snapper per person per day, or five mutton snapper per person per trip, whichever is more restrictive.

For recreational fishermen:

  • Revise the recreational catch limits;
  • Increase the recreational minimum size limit from 16 to 18 inches total length;
  • Decrease the recreational bag limit within the ten-fish aggregate snapper bag limit to five mutton snapper per person per day;
  • Revise the recreational annual catch target.

For both sectors:

  • Specify the maximum sustainable yield (long-term average catch that can be taken from a population under prevailing ecological and environmental conditions);
  • Specify the minimum population size threshold (level below which a fishery is overfished (population abundance is too low)).

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below for more information on these actions.

 

HOW TO SUBMIT COMMENTS:

The comment period is open now through November 27, 2017.  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: 82 FR 49167, published October 24, 2017

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

  1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0103.
  2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
  3. Enter or attach your comments.

Mail: Submit written comments to Mary Vara, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

 

Why are the proposed actions necessary?

A population assessment for mutton snapper conducted in 2015 indicated that the population is not undergoing overfishing (rate of removal is not too high), and is not overfished (population abundance is too low).  However, the assessment resulted in lower biological reference point values and fishing level projections than those from the original assessment in 2008.

What are the proposed commercial and recreational catch limits?

Table 1.  Proposed commercial and recreational catch limits for 2017-2020 through Amendment 41.

Year

Commercial Catch Limit

(pounds)

Recreational Catch Limit

(numbers of fish)

2017

100,015

116,127

2018

104,231

121,318

2019

107,981

124,766

2020

111,354

127,115

Why is the catch limit for the recreational fishery specified in numbers of fish instead of pounds?

The recreational catch limit is specified in numbers of fish because recreational fishermen report landings in numbers, not by weight.  In addition, since fishery managers are proposing a minimum size limit increase to 18 inches total length through Amendment 41, the average weight per fish is expected to increase.  Therefore, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has concluded that the combination of increasing the minimum size limit and converting the catch limit from numbers to pounds could increase the risk of exceeding the acceptable biological catch.

Where can I find more information on Amendment 41?

  •  Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

By Mail: Mary Vara

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