Commercial Gillnet Harvest of King Mackerel in Federal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico Southern Zone Closed on February 25, 2020
• Commercial gillnet harvest of king mackerel in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico Southern Zone closed at 12 p.m., local time, on February 25, 2020. • Commercial king mackerel gillnet harvest will reopen at 6:00 a.m., (local time) on January 19, 2021. • The Gulf of Mexico Southern Zone includes federal waters off Collier and Monroe Counties, Florida (see map).
WHY THIS CLOSURE IS HAPPENING:
• The 2019/2020 commercial gillnet quota is 575,400 pounds. • However, 2018/2019 commercial gillnet landings were 45,357 pounds over the quota of 585,900 pounds for that year. • In accordance with the regulations, NOAA Fisheries is required to subtract any overage of the commercial gillnet quota from the following year’s quota. • Therefore, the 2019/2020 commercial gillnet adjusted quota is 530,043 pounds. • Updated landings data indicate that commercial gillnet harvest of king mackerel is approaching the adjusted quota. • In accordance with the regulations, NOAA Fisheries is required to close this fishery when the quota has been met or projected to be met. The closure is needed to prevent overfishing (too many fish being harvested).
DURING THE CLOSURE:
• No person aboard a vessel with a commercial king mackerel permit with a gillnet endorsement may fish for king mackerel using a run-around gillnet in the closed zone after 12 p.m., local time, on February 25, 2020. • The operator of a vessel that has been issued a federal commercial king mackerel permit with a gillnet endorsement and who is landing king mackerel for sale must have harvested, landed ashore, and sold before 12 p.m., local time, February 25, 2020. • No person aboard a vessel possessing a gillnet with a stretched-mesh size of 4.75 inches (12.1 cm) or larger, may fish for or possess king mackerel in this zone during the closure. • Sale or purchase of gillnet harvested king mackerel in or from federal waters in the Southern Zone after February 25, 2020 is prohibited. • The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to trade in king mackerel that were harvested by gillnet, landed ashore, and sold before 12 p.m., local time, February 25, 2020, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor. • The hook-and-line component of the fishery remains open in this zone at this time. Therefore, only king mackerel caught by hook-and-line in this zone may be purchased, bartered, traded, or sold after 12:01 p.m., local time, on February 25, 2020. • A vessel for which a king mackerel gillnet endorsement has been issued may not retain for sale king mackerel in or from federal waters harvested with any other gear. • Persons aboard commercial vessels with a federal king mackerel permit may fish for and retain the recreational bag and possession limit of king mackerel during the open recreational season, even if commercial fishing for this species is closed in this zone or others.