Modifications to the Gulf of Mexico Greater Amberjack Commercial Trip Limit and Boundary between State and Federal Waters for Reef Fish Management
NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule modifying the greater amberjack commercial trip limit in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and adjusting the state/federal boundary of several areas for reef fish management.
WHEN THIS RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:
Regulations will be effective May 14, 2020.
WHAT THIS MEANS:
The greater amberjack commercial trip limit will be 1,000 lb gutted weight.
When 75 percent of the quota has been landed, the greater amberjack commercial trip limit will be reduced to 250 lb gutted weight.
The coordinates for the Gulf reef fish stressed area, the reef fish longline and buoy gear restricted area, and the recreational shallow-water grouper closure now align with the 9-nautical mile (nm) reef fish management boundary specified in the Department of Commerce 2016 and 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Acts.
FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 85 FR 20611, published April 14, 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is the commercial trip limit changing?
The change in the current commercial trip limit is expected to extend the Gulf greater amberjack commercial fishing season.
The 1,000-lb trip limit will still allow for targeted trips for the species.
What are the current commercial greater amberjack management measures, including when this rule is effective?
Fishing Year: January 1 – December 31
Seasonal Closure: March 1 – May 31
Size Limit: 36 inch fork length
Accountability Measures: inseason closure and payback of any overage of the annual catch limit
Trip Limit: 1,000 lb gutted weight with a step-down to 250 lb gutted weight when 75 percent of the quota has been landed
2020 annual catch limit if no payback*: 484,380 lb whole weight
2020 annual catch target if no payback*: 421,411 lb whole weight
*2019 commercial greater amberjack landings are still being finalized. A payback, if any, will be published in the Federal Register after final commercial landings are complete.
Why are the coordinates of the reef fish management areas being changed?
Generally, the state/federal boundary for all fisheries management in the Gulf is 3 nm off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and 9 nm off the coasts of Texas and Florida.
The Consolidated Appropriations Acts of 2016 and 2017 changed the state/federal boundary for purposes of management under the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan to 9 nm off the coasts of all of the Gulf states.
As a result, some existing federal reef fish management areas now extend into state managed areas.