FISHERY BULLETIN ISSUE DATE: 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).
WHEN THIS RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:
- Regulations will be effective January 27, 2018.
WHAT THIS MEANS:
- 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.
FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 82 FR 61485, published December 28, 2017
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
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?
- The Greater Amberjack Allowable Harvest and Rebuilding Plan Framework may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site at: https://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2017/GAJ_Framework/index.html.
- Additional information on management of greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico may be found at: https://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/policy_branch/rules/gulf/reef_fish/index.html.
- 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