FISHERY BULLETIN ISSUE DATE: May 11, 2018
CONTACT: Kelli O’Donnell, 727-824-5305,Kelli.O’Donnell@noaa.gov
- Commercial harvest of king mackerel in federal waters of the Northern Zone will close at 12:01 am (local time) on May 15, 2018.
- The Northern Zone for Gulf of Mexico king mackerel is located in federal waters between a line at 87°31.1′ W. longitude, which is a line extending south from the state boundary of Alabama and Florida, and a line at 26°19.48′ N. latitude, which is a line extending west from the Lee and Collier County line in Florida (Figure 1).
- Commercial harvest will reopen at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on October 1, 2018.
Figure 1: Location of King Mackerel Northern Zone
WHY THIS CLOSURE IS HAPPENING:
- The 2017/2018 commercial northern zone quota is 511,200 pounds. Updated landings data indicate that the harvest of king mackerel in this zone will reach the quota by May 15, 2018.
- As a result, commercial harvest will close in federal waters of the Northern Zone at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on May 15, 2018, and will remain closed until 12:01 a.m. (local time) on October 1, 2018.
- In accordance with the regulations, NOAA Fisheries is required to close a fishery when the quota has been met. This closure is needed to prevent overfishing of this species. Overfishing is defined as the annual catch rate being too high.
DURING THE CLOSURE:
- No commercial fishing for king mackerel in or from the closed zone may occur after 12:01 a.m. May 15, 2018.
- There is an exception for people aboard a vessel that has a charter/headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish and a commercial king mackerel permit. Those people may keep the three-fish per person daily king mackerel bag limit from the closed zone if the vessel is operating as a charter vessel or headboat.
- Vessels are considered to be operating as a charter vessel or headboat when they carry a passenger who pays a fee or when more than three people are aboard, including operator and crew.
- There is also an exception for people aboard a vessel that has only a commercial king mackerel permit. Those people may fish for and retain the recreational bag limit for king mackerel of three-fish per person during the open recreational season when the commercial season for this species is closed.
- Sale or purchase of any harvested king mackerel in or from federal waters in the Northern Zone is prohibited after the closure.
- The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to trade in king mackerel that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold before 12:01 a.m., May 15, 2018, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.