ATE: December 28, 2017
CONTACT: Kelli O’Donnell, 727-824-5305, Kelli.ODonnell@noaa.gov

Modifications to the Gulf of Mexico Greater Amberjack Allowable Harvest and Recreational Closed Season


NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule modifying commercial and recreational greater amberjack management measures in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf).


  • Regulations will be effective January 27, 2018.


  • Greater amberjack annual catch limits and annual catch targets for 2018 and subsequent years will change (see table below).
  • The greater amberjack population is expected to rebuild to sustainable levels by 2027.
  • The greater amberjack recreational seasonal closure will be January 1 – June 30.
  • The greater amberjack recreational sector will open January 1, 2018, but is closed effective 12:01 a.m., local time, January 27, 2018.

Annual catch limits (ACL) and annual catch targets (ACT, quota) in pounds whole weight for 2018 through 2020 and beyond.

Recreational Commercial
Year ACL ACT (quota)
ACL ACT (quota)
2018 862,860 716,173 319,140 277,651
2019 1,086,970 902,185 402,030 349,766
2020+ 1,309,620 1,086,985 484,380 421,411

FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 82 FR 61485, published December 28, 2017



Why are the annual catch limits and quotas changing?

  • The most recent Gulf greater amberjack population assessment, completed in 2016, indicated greater amberjack are experiencing overfishing (too many fish are being removed) and are overfished (population is too low).
  • The current rebuilding plan was to be completed in 2019, but new scientific information indicates that the population cannot be rebuilt by 2019 under current harvest levels.
  • The assessment also indicates that Gulf greater amberjack have been overfished in all years since 1987 and have been undergoing overfishing since 1985.  Therefore, a reduction in the harvest limits is necessary to ensure that overfishing does not continue.
  • The new rebuilding plan is anticipated to rebuild the Gulf greater amberjack stock by 2027.

Why is the recreational fixed closed season changing?

  • The current recreational fixed closed season is June 1 – July 31.
  • The original intent of the June 1 – July 31 closure was to reduce the likelihood of an in-season quota closure.
  • Gulf greater amberjack harvest has been closed earlier in the season in recent years not allowing the June – July fixed closed season to achieve that intent.
  • The January 1 – June 30 fixed closed season is a short-term measure while a new rule is being developed to set spring and fall seasons.

Where can I find more information on this rule?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

   By Mail: Kelli O’Donnell
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505
   By FAX: (727) 824-5308
   By Phone: (727) 824-5305