• Commercial harvest of king mackerel in federal waters of the Western Zone will close at 12:01 pm (local time) on May 21, 2017.
• Commercial harvest will reopen at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on July 1, 2017.
WHY THIS CLOSURE IS HAPPENING:
• The western zone originally closed on October 14, 2016. A final rule, published on April 11, 2017, adjusted management boundaries, zones, and annual catch limits for Gulf migratory king mackerel that resulted in increased commercial quotas for each zone in the Gulf.
• Consequently NOAA Fisheries reopened the western zone to commercial harvest of king mackerel on May 11, 2017.
• The 2016/2017 commercial hook-and-line quota is 1,180,000 pounds. Updated landings data indicate that the harvest of king mackerel in this zone will reach the quota by May 21, 2017.
• As a result, commercial harvest will close in federal waters of the Western Zone at 12:01 pm (local time) on May 21, 2017, and will remain closed until 12:01 am (local time) on July 1, 2017.
DURING THE CLOSURE:
• No commercial fisherman may fish for or keep king mackerel in or from the closed zoneafter 12:01 p.m. on May 21, 2017.
• There is an exception for people aboard a vessel that has a charter/headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish and a commercial king mackerel permit. Those people may keep the 3-fish per person daily king mackerel bag limit from the closed zone if the vessel is operating as a charter vessel or headboat.
• Vessels are considered to be operating as a charter vessel or headboat when they carry a passenger who pays a fee or when more than three people are aboard, including operator and crew.
• Sale or purchase of any harvested king mackerel in or from federal waters in the Western Zone is prohibited.
• The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to trade in king mackerel that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold before 12:01 p.m., May 21, 2017, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.