Regulatory Amendment to Modify the Trigger for Implementing Accountability Measures

Both recreational and commercial fishers harvest fish from federal waters in the U.S. Caribbean; however, only federally managed reef fish stocks and stock complexes in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off of Puerto Rico are managed with sector-specific annual catch limits (ACL).  Thus, this amendment only applies to Puerto Rico EEZ waters.

Currently, when either the commercial or recreational sector exceeds its ACL for a stock or stock complex, an accountability measure (AM) is triggered and applied to that sector to reduce the length of the fishing season for that stock/complex in the following year.  The AM was established to ensure the sector-specific ACL for a stock or stock complex is not again exceeded.

However, an AM-based fishing season reduction could be triggered and applied to a sector even if the total ACL (i.e., the combined commercial and recreational ACL) for a stock or stock complex was not exceeded.  This generally occurs when one sector harvests over its sector-specific ACL, but the other sector harvests well below its ACL.  The total ACL equals the optimum yield for the stock or stock complex, which is defined as the amount of harvest of a stock/complex that provides the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to food production and recreational opportunities.

The Caribbean Fishery Management Council is considering revising the trigger for the implementation of AM-based fishing season reductions from an overage of the sector-specific ACL to an overage of the total ACL for stocks and stock complexes managed by sector under the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  If and only if the total ACL is exceeded, the AM is then applied to the sector or sectors that exceeded their assigned ACL.

To reach the Caribbean Operations Branch staff, please call 727-824-5305.

Point of Contact 

Sarah Stephenson

Sarah.Stephenson@noaa.gov 

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