NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule modifying the greater amberjack commercial trip limit in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and adjusting the state/federal boundary of several areas for reef fish management.
WHEN THIS RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:
Regulations will be effective May 14, 2020.
WHAT THIS MEANS:
- The greater amberjack commercial trip limit will be 1,000 lb gutted weight.
- When 75 percent of the quota has been landed, the greater amberjack commercial trip limit will be reduced to 250 lb gutted weight.
- The coordinates for the Gulf reef fish stressed area, the reef fish longline and buoy gear restricted area, and the recreational shallow-water grouper closure now align with the 9-nautical mile (nm) reef fish management boundary specified in the Department of Commerce 2016 and 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Acts.
FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 85 FR 20611, published April 14, 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is the commercial trip limit changing?
• The change in the current commercial trip limit is expected to extend the Gulf greater amberjack commercial fishing season.
• The 1,000-lb trip limit will still allow for targeted trips for the species.
What are the current commercial greater amberjack managementameasures, including when this rule is effective?
• Fishing Year: January 1 – December 31
• Seasonal Closure: March 1 – May 31
• Size Limit: 36 inch fork length
• Accountability Measures: inseason closure and payback of any overage of the annual catch limit
• Trip Limit: 1,000 lb gutted weight with a step-down to 250 lb gutted weight when 75 percent of the quota has been landed
• 2020 annual catch limit if no payback*: 484,380 lb whole weight
• 2020 annual catch target if no payback*: 421,411 lb whole weight
*2019 commercial greater amberjack landings are still being finalized. A payback, if any, will be published in the Federal Register after final commercial landings are complete.
Why are the coordinates of the reef fish management areas being changed?
• Generally, the state/federal boundary for all fisheries management in the Gulf is 3 nm off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and 9 nm off the coasts of Texas and Florida.
• The Consolidated Appropriations Acts of 2016 and 2017 changed the state/federal boundary for purposes of management under the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan to 9 nm off the coasts of all of the Gulf states.
• As a result, some existing federal reef fish management areas now extend into state managed areas.
• This final rule revises the boundaries of the Gulf reef fish stressed area, reef fish longline and buoy gear restricted area, and the recreational shallow-water grouper closure to align with the changed state/federal boundary. Please click on the links for maps and coordinates.
Where can I find more information on the Department of Commerce Appropriations Act?
• The Department of Commerce Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 can be found at: Public Law 114-113 Department of Commerce NOAA General Provisions Section 110.
• The Department of Commerce Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 can be found at: Public Law 115-31 Department of Commerce NOAA General Provisions Section 110.
Where can I find more information on this rule?
Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Kelli O’Donnell
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 Greater Amberjack Commercial Trip Limits Framework may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/framework-action-greater-amberjack-commercial-trip-limits.
• Additional information on management of greater amberjack in the Gulf may be found at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/management-plan/gulf-mexico-reef-fish-fishery-management-plan.