Final Rule to Modify GOM Mutton Snapper and Gag Management Measures

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NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule modifying commercial and recreational mutton snapper and commercial gag management measures in the Gulf of Mexico. The rule will:

  • Modify the annual catch limit for mutton snapper
  • Remove the annual catch target
  • Decrease the mutton snapper recreational bag limit
  • Increase the mutton snapper commercial and recreational minimum size limits
  • Increase the gag commercial minimum size limit.

 

WHEN THIS RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:
Regulations will be effective: July 23, 2018.

WHAT THIS MEANS:

  • The annual catch limits for mutton snapper during 2018-2020 will be decreased from 203,000 pounds whole weight to:
    • 134,424 pounds whole weight in 2018,
    • 139,292 pounds whole weight in 2019,
    • and 143,694 pounds whole weight in 2020 and subsequent years.
  • The annual catch target will be removed.
  • The mutton snapper recreational bag limit will be decreased from 10 mutton snapper per angler per day within the 10-snapper aggregate bag limit to 5 mutton snapper per angler per day within the 10-snapper aggregate bag limit.
  • The mutton snapper commercial and recreational minimum size limits will be increased from 16 inches total length (TL) to 18 inches TL.
  • The gag commercial minimum size limit will be increased from 22 inches TL to 24 inches TL.

 

FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER:NOAA-NMFS-2017-0082, published June 22, 2018.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

Why are these changes needed?

  • In 2015, a population assessment indicated mutton snapper are not experiencing overfishing (rate of removal is not too high), and are not overfished (stock abundance is too low), but the adult population is smaller than previously estimated.
  • Therefore, a reduction in mutton snapper harvest limits is necessary to ensure that overfishing does not occur.
  • While only a quota reduction was needed at this time, additional mutton snapper recreational and commercial management measures were approved to aid in reduced harvest.
  • Changes in commercial gag management measures allow for consistency between commercial and recreational fisheries within federal and state waters and across regions.

 

Where can I find more information on the amendment and environmental assessment?
Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail:

Rich Malinowski
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

The Mutton Snapper and Gag Management Measures Framework may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site at:  http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2017/mutton_gag/mutton_gag_index.html