Final Rule to Revise the GOM Red Grouper Catch Limits and Catch Targets


red grouper swimming along sea bottom

NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule for Gulf of Mexico red grouper. This rule puts in place management measures from Amendment 53 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources in the Gulf of Mexico to revise the Gulf of Mexico red grouper sector annual catch limits and sector annual catch targets.

  • Amendment 53:
    • Modifies the allocation of Gulf of Mexico red grouper catch between the commercial and recreational sectors; and
    • Specifies a new overfishing limit and acceptable biological catch.


Although the most recent red grouper population assessment did not show red grouper was undergoing overfishing (too many fish being caught) or being overfished (the populations is too low), the assessment did find the population was below a level that could support the optimal harvest.

Additionally, there is evidence the red grouper population was impacted by recent red tide events along the west Florida shelf.

When Rule Will Take Effect:

  • The reductions in the annual catch limits and catch targets will be effective on June 1, 2022.


Summary of Changes from the Final Rule and Amendment 53:

  • Revise the Gulf of Mexico red grouper allocation from 76% commercial and 24% recreational, to 59.3% commercial and 40.7% recreational.
  • Revise the recreational annual catch target buffer from 8% to 9%.
  • Revise the overfishing limit, acceptable biological catch, sector annual catch limits, and sector annual catch targets as indicated in Table 1 below.
Table 1. Current and new overfishing limit (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), annual catch limit (ACL), sector ACLs, and sector annual catch targets (ACT) in million pounds gutted weight.
Note that current recreational ACLs and ACTs are in Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) Coastal Household Telephone Survey (CHTS) units and the newly implemented recreational ACLs and ACTs are in MRIP Fishing Effort Survey (MRIP-FES) units.
The reduction shows the percent change in the new commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs (recreational percentages are calculated using MRIP-FES values).

* In MRIP-CHTS units
** In MRIP-FES units

Formal Federal Register Name/Number: 87 FR 25573, published May 2, 2022.

This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.