NOAA Fisheries announces the final rule for a framework amendment to the Fishery Management Plan for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. This framework amendment and final rule will revise the overfishing limit, acceptable biological catch, annual catch limits, and annual catch targets for Gulf of Mexico red grouper.
When Rule Will Take Effect:
Regulations become effective August 8, 2022.
What This Means:
- This rule will increase the red grouper total annual catch limit from 4.26 million pounds (mp) gutted weight (gw) specified in Amendment 53 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Amendment 53) to 4.96 mp gw (Table 1).
- This rule will increase the commercial annual catch limit from 2.53 mp to 2.94 mp gw, and will increase the commercial annual catch target from 2.40 mp to 2.79 mp gw.
- This rule will increase the recreational annual catch limit from 1.73 mp to 2.02 mp gw, and will increase the recreational annual catch target from 1.57 mp to 1.84 mp gw.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why are catch limits being increased?
The most recent red grouper stock assessment model used the average weight of landed red grouper (based on lengths) to convert recreational landings in numbers of fish into weight. When the assessment’s dataset and the current landings dataset were compared, it was found that the assessment model predicted a lower weight of landed red grouper.
The assessment model predicted an average weight of approximately 4 pounds (lb) gw per red grouper landed by the recreational sector, which is considerably lower than the average weight of approximately 6.1 lb gw for recreationally landed red grouper based on the current dataset. No adjustments were necessary for the commercial sector. The assessment-predicted recreational landings were adjusted accordingly, and projections for the assessment were rerun using the 59.3% commercial: 40.7% recreational allocation as defined in Amendment 53 to determine the overfishing limit and acceptable biological catch.
The updated projections resulted in an overfishing limit of 5.99 mp gw and an acceptable biological catch of 5.57 mp gw.
In response, the Southeast Fisheries Science Center prepared an interim analysis of the Gulf of Mexico red grouper stock that incorporated the mean weight adjustment to the assessment-predicted recreational landings.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s (Council) Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) determined the interim analysis suitable for providing catch advice and recommended to increase the overfishing limit to 5.99 mp gw and the acceptable biological catch of 4.96 mp gw.
At its October 2021 meeting, the Council accepted the SSC recommendations to increase the annual catch limits and annual catch targets for Gulf of Mexico red grouper.
Where can I find more information on the Red Grouper Catch Limits Framework?
Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Daniel Luers
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 Red Grouper Catch Limits Framework may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/modification-gulf-mexico-red-grouper-catch-limits.