AUGUST 10, 2018

South Atlantic Limited Red Snapper Season Opens Friday, August 10

KEY MESSAGE:

NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule for Amendment 43 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 43).  This rule specifies recreational and commercial annual catch limits for red snapper beginning in 2018. 

·   Red snapper recreational and commercial seasons will open in South Atlantic federal waters for limited harvest beginning in 2018.   

·   The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved Amendment 43 after recent scientific information indicated an increase in the red snapper population since 2010.  

·   NOAA Fisheries determined limited harvest beginning in 2018 is neither expected to result in overfishing, nor prevent continued rebuilding of the population. 

WHEN RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:

·   The rule will take effect on July 26, 2018.

  • The recreational sector will open for harvest on weekends only (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) on the following days:
    • August 10, 11, and 12, 2018 – The recreational season opens at 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 10, 2018, and closes at 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 13, 2018. 
    • August 17, 18, and 19, 2018 – The recreational season opens again at 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 17, 2018, and closes at 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 20, 2018. 
  • The commercial sector will open for harvest upon publication of the final rule at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 26, 2018, and will close at 11:59 p.m., local time, on December 31, 2018, unless the commercial annual catch limit is met or projected to be met before this date. 
    • NOAA Fisheries will announce if the commercial sector needs to close before December 31, 2018.

WHAT THIS MEANS:

  • The total annual catch limit will be 42,510 fish.
  • The recreational annual catch limit will be 29,656 fish.
    • The recreational bag limit will be one red snapper per person per day.  This applies to private and charterboat/headboat vessels (the captain and crew on for-hire vessels may retain the recreational bag limit).
  • The commercial annual catch limit will be 124,815 pounds whole weight (12,854 fish).
    • The commercial trip limit will be 75 pounds gutted weight.
  • There will be no minimum or maximum size limit for the recreational or commercial sectors.
  • NOAA Fisheries expects that beginning in 2019, commercial and recreational harvest will begin in July, as per Amendment 43 and the final rule.    

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

When will the 2018 South Atlantic recreational and commercial red snapper seasons open? 

  • The recreational sector will open for harvest on weekends only (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) on the following days:
    • August 10, 11, and 12, 2018 – The recreational season opens at 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 10, 2018, and closes at 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 13, 2018. 
    • August 17, 18, and 19, 2018 – The recreational season opens again at 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 17, 2018, and closes at 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 20, 2018. 
  • The commercial sector will open for harvest upon implementation of the final rule at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 26, 2018, and will close at 11:59 p.m., local time, on December 31, 2018, unless the commercial annual catch limit is met or projected to be met before this date. 
    • NOAA Fisheries will announce if the commercial sector needs to close before December 31, 2018.

What will the regulations for red snapper be during the Atlantic recreational and commercial red snapper seasons? 

  • Recreational annual catch limit of 29,656 fish.
    • The recreational bag limit of one red snapper per person per day.   This applies to private and charterboat/headboat vessels (the captain and crew on for-hire vessels may retain the recreational bag limit).
  • Commercial annual catch limit of 124,815 pounds whole weight (12,854 fish).
    • The commercial trip limit of 75 pounds gutted weight.
  • There will be no minimum or maximum size limit for either the recreational or commercial sector.

 

Why is limited harvest of South Atlantic red snapper allowed to begin in 2018? 

How will the limited harvest beginning in 2018 affect the overfishing and overfished status of red snapper? 

·    NOAA Fisheries has determined that the limited harvest beginning in 2018 is not expected to result in overfishing and is not expected to prevent the continued rebuilding of the red snapper population.

 

What is the history of South Atlantic red snapper harvest and prohibitions since 2010?

·    Harvest of red snapper from South Atlantic federal waters was prohibited in 2010 when the population was determined to be severely overfished and undergoing overfishing (See 2008 population assessment - Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review [SEDAR] 15).

·    Amendment 28 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region established a process that allowed harvest if total removals (landings plus dead discards) were below the acceptable biological catch in the previous year.

·    Limited harvest of red snapper was allowed in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

·    The estimated total removals of red snapper exceeded the acceptable biological catch in 2014, 2015, and 2016, resulting in no allowable harvest since 2014.

·    NOAA Fisheries temporarily allowed limited harvest of red snapper beginning November 2, 2017, by a temporary rule through emergency action.  The temporary rule was effective through December 31, 2017.

What is the current status of the red snapper population in the South Atlantic Region? 

·    The latest population assessment (SEDAR 41) was completed in 2016 and revised in 2017.  It indicated the South Atlantic red snapper population is overfished and undergoing overfishing; however, the population is rebuilding.

·    The red snapper overfishing determination in the assessment came from 2012-2014 when only a small amount of harvest was allowed to occur.  However, discards during this time period were high due to fishermen targeting other species that co-occur with red snapper, which likely contributed to the overfishing determination.

·    Recent results from fishery-independent studies suggest that the relative abundance of red snapper has increased since 2014.

What are some Best Fishing Practices while fishing for red snapper? 

·    The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council identified the following best practices to reduce release mortality and further protect the population as it rebuilds:

o   Avoid areas likely to have red snapper if you already have met your recreational bag limit.  If you are approaching your commercial vessel limit, move to a different area.

o   When red snapper are out of season, avoid areas where they are common.

o   Use single hook rigs since the recreational bag limit for red snapper during the proposed limited fishing seasons will be one per person per day.  This will potentially reduce the number of red snapper that are caught on one drop.

o   Use non-offset circle hooks while fishing in areas where red snapper are common.

o   Use a dehooking device to remove the hook.  Keep fish in the water if you plan to release them or return them to the water as quickly as possible.

o   Use descending devices when releasing fish with signs of barotrauma.

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Media: Kim Amendola, 727-551-5707

Allison Garrett, 727-551-5750