- NOAA Fisheries has published a final rule that continues reductions in the Gulf of Mexico red grouper commercial and recreational annual catch limits and associated annual catch targets put in place through an emergency action requested by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
- The emergency action reduced the commercial and recreational catch limits and targets to the level of combined commercial and recreational landings that occurred in 2017.
- This action was taken based on information indicating the red grouper population may be declining and not large enough to sustain past harvest levels.
- The 2019 catch limits and targets are approximately 60 percent less than 2018 levels. This rule continues those reductions for 2020 and beyond (see table below).
- Current bag limits, size limits, or fishing seasons are not being changed.
Red Grouper ACL and ACT (millions of pounds)
|Year||Comm ACL||Comm ACT/Quota||Rec ACL||Rec ACT|
- In 2017, Gulf of Mexico red grouper landings were the lowest they had been in recent years.
- Public testimony from Gulf of Mexico fishermen indicated they observed fewer legal-sized red grouper, suggesting a declining population
- An interim analysis conducted by NOAA Fisheries suggested a harvest reduction was needed.
- An extensive outbreak of red tide off the Florida west coast in 2018 may have adversely affected the red grouper population.