New South At­lantic Red Grouper Catch Lim­its

Saltwater Sportsman - - Tod / Casts + Blasts -

NOAA Fish­eries an­nounced a fi­nal rule that amends the fish­ery man­age­ment plan (FMP) for the Snap­perGrouper Fish­ery of the South At­lantic Re­gion, re­duc­ing the an­nual catch limit (ACL) for red grouper in the South At­lantic.

The move fol­lows rec­om­men­da­tions from the South At­lantic Fish­ery Man­age­ment Coun­cil’s Sci­en­tific and Sta­tis­ti­cal Com­mit­tee, con­sis­tent with the re­sults of the lat­est red grouper pop­u­la­tion as­sess­ment, which de­ter­mined that red grouper in the South At­lantic is un­der­go­ing over­fish­ing and is over­fished.

This fi­nal rule went into ef­fect Au­gust 27, re­duc­ing the to­tal ACL (44 per­cent com­mer­cial and 56 per­cent recre­ational al­lo­ca­tions com­bined) from 780,000 pounds to 139,000 pounds for 2018, 150,000 pounds for 2019, and 162,000 pounds for 2020 and sub­se­quent fish­ing years, and re­duces the recre­ational ACL from 436,800 pounds to 77,840 pounds for 2018, 84,000 pounds for 2019, and 90,720 pounds for 2020 and sub­se­quent fish­ing years.

The re­duced ACL for the recre­ational sec­tor is pre­dicted to re­sult in a short­ened recre­ational red grouper fish­ing sea­son in the South At­lantic, with clo­sure dates rang­ing from July 26 to Au­gust 19 and based on the an­nual sea­sonal open­ing date of May 1.

Should the red grouper stock ex­pe­ri­ence a year of un­ex­pected higher-thannor­mal re­cruit­ment, the re­duced ACLS are de­signed to main­tain lim­its on fu­ture catches and pre­vent over­fish­ing.

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