New South Atlantic Red Grouper Catch Limits
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.