The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has approved measures to increase the Annual Catch Limit (ACL) for black sea bass in the South Atlantic region.
The Council’s intent is to have the increase in place in 2013 in order to help extend this year’s fishing season, which begins June 1st for both commercial and recreational fishermen.
A recent stock assessment shows that the black sea bass stock in the South Atlantic is no longer undergoing overfishing, is not overfished, and the stock is rebuilt.
If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the changes would be implemented through Regulatory Amendment 19 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. During a special meeting, Council members acknowledged the need to provide fishermen an opportunity to maximize harvest of the recovered stock given hardships experienced by both commercial and recreational fishermen. Harvest levels for black sea bass have been reduced since 2006 to end overfishing and rebuild the stock. The current ACL has severely restricted fishing seasons as the stock recovered. Fishermen have consistently expressed frustration in limited seasons while seeing increases in the number and size of black sea bass.