For Immediate Release
October 28, 2021
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took final action on Coastal Migratory Pelagic Amendment 32: Modifications to the Gulf of Mexico Migratory Group Cobia Catch Limits, Possession Limits, Size Limits, and Framework Procedure. Cobia is jointly managed with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and all of the selected alternatives will need to be agreed upon by the South Atlantic Council before the management changes are submitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation.
A recent Update Stock Assessment (SEDAR 28 Update) showed that the Gulf Group cobia stock, which includes the Gulf Zone and Florida East Coast Zone, is not overfished but is currently experiencing overfishing. The assessment used the new Marine Recreational Information Program’s Fishing Effort Survey (MRIP-FES) estimates which increased the estimates of recreational catch and effort.
The Council chose to reduce Gulf Group Cobia stock overfishing limit, acceptable biological catch, and annual catch limits with an increasing yield stream for the years 2021-2023. The Council also chose to modify the stock apportionment between Gulf and Florida East Coast Zones to 63% and 37% respectively. The Council chose to modify the Coastal Migratory Pelagic framework procedure to match our current management practices and expand the South Atlantic Council’s responsibilities in managing cobia in the Florida East Coast Zone.
In the Gulf Zone, the Council choose to use its ACL/ACT control rule to calculate the annual catch target buffer. The Council also chose to retain the 36-inch fork length minimum size limit, reduce the daily possession limit to 1-fish per person, and create a 2-fish vessel limit for both commercial and recreational sectors.
In the Florida East Coast Zone, the Council chose to retain the current 8% commercial, 92% recreational allocation and update corresponding catch limits using MRIP-FES landings. The Council chose to use the Gulf Council’s ACL/ACT Control rule to calculate the annual catch target for the recreational sector. The Council also chose to increase the minimum size limit to 36-inches fork length, reduce the daily possession limit to 1-fish per person, and create a 2-fish vessel limit for both commercial and recreational sectors.