For Immediate Release
October 21, 2022
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took final action on Reef Fish Amendment 54: Modifications to Greater Amberjack Catch Limits and Sector Allocations. The most recent greater amberjack stock assessment (SEDAR 70 2020) determined that greater amberjack is both overfished and experiencing overfishing. The stock is scheduled to rebuild by 2027. The Council is obligated to end overfishing and revise the rebuilding plan for greater amberjack to meet its rebuilding target.
Additionally, new recreational catch estimates collected using the Marine Recreational Information Programs (MRIP) Fishing Effort Survey (FES) indicate that recreational landings are greater than previously estimated. This revises the understanding of historical participation by both sectors and prompts reconsideration of allocations.
The Council chose to revise the allocations between commercial and recreational fishing sectors by using MRIP-FES adjusted average landings during the longest time series 1993-2019. This results in a 20% commercial allocation and 80% recreational allocation. The Council also chose to use a constant catch and reduce the greater amberjack overfishing limit, acceptable biological catch, and annual catch limits based on SEDAR 70. These catch limits represent an 83% reduction from current stock catch limits.
The Council also decided to apply its control rule using the years 2016 – 2019 to revise the buffer between the annual catch limits and annual catch targets for both sectors. This results in a 17% recreational buffer and a 7% commercial buffer.
The resulting catch limits expressed in pounds whole weight are:
Lower annual catch limits will likely require shortened commercial and recreational fishing seasons. The Council is currently working on a Framework Action that considers modifying the recreational season, recreational minimum size limit, and commercial trip limit in effort to rebuild the stock.
Reef Fish Amendment 54 will be transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation as soon as practicable.