At its meeting this week in Biloxi, Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took final action to modify the red grouper annual catch limits and annual catch targets.
The Council chose to set the red grouper annual catch limits and annual catch targets based on landings from the 2017 fishing season as follows:
|Year||Total ACL||Commercial ACL||Commercial ACT||Recreational ACL||Recreational ACT|
*Values expressed in pounds, gutted weight.
Last fall, the Council was presented with results from an interim analysis that could be used to provide harvest recommendations for red grouper while awaiting the results of the stock assessment that is currently underway. Landings in recent years have been significantly below the annual catch limits, indicating that the stock may not be large enough to sustain current harvest levels.
In October 2018, the Council requested that NOAA Fisheries implement an emergency rule to reduce commercial and recreational annual catch limits and annual catch targets to levels equal to the combined 2017 landings. This request came after the Council heard recommendations from its Scientific and Statistical Committee, and heard public testimony indicating that the stock is struggling.
NOAA Fisheries is currently working to implement the emergency rule, and has withheld a portion of commercial quota equal to the proposed reduction to the commercial ACL in anticipation of the reduced catch levels. This framework amendment intends to continue catch limit reductions beyond the expiration of the emergency rule and in anticipation of stock assessment results that will inform longer-term management decisions.
The suggested red grouper annual catch limits and annual catch targeted will be transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation.