Amendment 14, part of Joint Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 was submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries in June, 2007, and establishes a target reduction goal for juvenile red snapper mortality of 74% less than the benchmark years of 2001-2003, reducing that target goal to 67% beginning in 2011, eventually reducing the target to 60% by 2032. If necessary, a seasonal closure in the shrimp fishery will occur in conjunction with the annual Texas closure. The need for a closure will be determined by an annual evaluation by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Regional Administrator.
The joint amendment also addresses overfishing and bycatch issues in both the red snapper directed fishery and the shrimp fishery. The amendment sets total allowable catch (TAC) at 5.0 mp between 2008 and 2010. The commercial sector will receive a quota of 2.55 mp, with the remaining quota of 2.45 mp going to the recreational sector. The amendment also reduces the commercial size limit to 13”, reduces the recreational bag limit to two fish, eliminates a bag limit for captain and crew aboard a for-hire vessel, and sets the recreational fishing season from June 1 – September 30 (which may be extended by approximately 30 days if the Council’s presumed assumption of a 10% post-hurricane reduction in recreational fishing effort is realized). In addition, all commercial and recreational reef fish fisheries will be required to use non-stainless steel circle hooks when using natural baits, as well as venting tools and dehooking devices.
This final rule is effective February 28, 2008, except for § 622.41(m) which is effective June 1, 2008.