For Immediate Release
October 26, 2023
After hearing a summary of public comment received, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took final action on a Framework Action that considers modifying the recreational closed season and the commercial trip limit. The Council chose to modify the recreational season so it opens on September 1 and remains open through October 31 unless the annual catch target is projected to be met earlier. The Council also chose to reduce the commercial trip limit to 7-fish which is equivalent to about 210 pounds gutted weight.
These changes are being made to extend both commercial and recreational seasons while simultaneously ensuring that harvest is constrained to catch limits that were recently reduced in Reef Fish Amendment 54 to allow the greater amberjack stock to rebuild by 2027. This Framework Action will be transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation as soon as practicable.
In anticipation that this rule may not be implemented before the beginning of the 2024 commercial fishing year, the Council requested that NOAA Fisheries implement an emergency rule to reduce the commercial trip limit to 7-fish at the start of the year. Since Amendment 54 reduced catch limits by about 83% and the 2023 commercial annual catch limit was exceeded, a payback provision will reduce the 2024 commercial annual catch target to 56,661 pounds. Under the current 1000-pound trip limit, the commercial fishing season is expected to be incredibly short and may increase discards through the remainder of the year.