A broad range of federal fishery management measures were approved for submission to the Secretary of Commerce during last week’s meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in St. Simons Island, Georgia. The following amendments were approved by the Council last week for submission to the Secretary of Commerce for final approval and implementation by NOAA Fisheries:
- Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 18 – Adjustments for Vermilion Snapper and Red Porgy.
- Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 27 – Captain and crew bag limit retention, crew size on dual-permitted vessels, framework actions, removal of blue runner from the fishery management unit and measures for Nassau grouper.
- Joint South Atlantic/Gulf Generic Headboat/Charterboat Reporting Amendment – Addresses Reporting Requirements for Headboats.
- Joint Generic Dealer Amendment – Requirements for electronic reporting and frequency of reporting for seafood dealers.
Vessel Monitoring System Requirements
The Council continued work on Amendment 30 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan that contains management alternatives to require vessels with a federal Commercial Snapper Grouper Permit to use vessel monitoring systems (VMS).
After receiving a presentation from NOAA Fisheries Southeast Program Manager for VMS and discussing available funding, the Council revised alternatives in the draft amendment and approved the document for public hearings. A series of five public hearings will be held in the Southeast, beginning April 15, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida. The specific dates and locations for all of the public hearings will be publicized as they become available.
NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center provided the Council with an update on the estimated recreational landings of red snapper during the 2012 mini-season. Council members expressed concern about the estimates from the Marine Recreational Information Program when compared with those taken by state marine resource agencies during the same time period. NOAA Fisheries will continue to assess both the recreational and commercial data, including discards. Those estimates will be used by NOAA Fisheries to help determine if there will be a red snapper season during 2013. In January 2013, the Council submitted measures to the Secretary of Commerce in Amendment 28 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan to address methods for specifying an Annual Catch Limit for red snapper and criteria for commercial and recreational red snapper fishing seasons based on the available ACL. The final decision regarding the opening of a red snapper season is determined by NOAA Fisheries.
Marine Protected Areas
The Council is considering the use of MPAs to help reduce bycatch of speckled hind and warsaw grouper. The Council received a report from the February 2013 meeting of the MPA Expert Workgroup that included recommendations for modifying existing deepwater MPAs as well as alternatives for new sites. The Council also received a minority report from fishermen who serve on the Workgroup. After much discussion, the Council decided to address the issue of MPAs again during its September 2013 meeting, focusing on the purpose and need as well as options to reconfigure existing MPAs and target spawning areas.
For the complete news release including details of amendments submitted to the Secretary of Commerce visit the Council’s website here.
The next meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is scheduled for June 10-14, 2013 in Stuart, Florida.