Recreational harvest of greater amberjack in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) will open at 12:01 am, local time, on August 1, 2023, and close at 12:01 am, local time, on August 25, 2023.
Greater amberjack recreational harvest will be closed until the 2024/2025 fishing year begins on August 1, 2024.
Why The Greater Amberjack Closure Is Happening:
On July 17, 2023, the final rule implementing Amendment 54 will be effective and will reduce the 2023 recreational greater amberjack annual catch target (ACT) to 335,320 pounds whole weight (ww).
Average landings information received from the Southeast Fisheries Science Center and Southeast Regional Office indicates the 2023/2024 recreational ACT of 335,320 pounds ww is projected to be met on August 25, 2023.
In accordance with the applicable regulations, NOAA Fisheries must close harvest when the recreational ACT has been met or is projected to be met.
Therefore, recreational harvest of greater amberjack will close at 12:01 am, local time, August 25, 2023, and remain closed until August 1, 2024, the start of the 2024/2025 fishing year.
This action is necessary to protect the greater amberjack population. This population is currently considered overfished (the population size is too low) and undergoing overfishing (too many fish being harvested).
During The Closure:
During the recreational closure, the bag and possession limit are zero for greater amberjack in or from federal waters of the Gulf.
The prohibition on possession of Gulf greater amberjack also applies in Gulf state waters for a vessel issued a valid federal charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish.
Frequently Asked Questions
How was the date for this closure chosen?
NOAA Fisheries receives recreational data from a variety of sources including the Marine Recreational Information Program, the Southeast Region Headboat Survey, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
There is a delay between when these data are collected and when these data are available for use by scientists and managers.
NOAA Fisheries used a three-year average of final landings during August-September 2019-2021 while also looking at final landings for just the year 2021 to project the date for the recreational greater amberjack closure.
Projections indicate that the annual catch target (ACT) of 335,320 lb ww will be met between August 21 and September 9, 2023. In order to reduce to chance of an annual catch limit overage and to allow fishing for greater amberjack until red snapper also closes, the NOAA Fisheries selected a closure date of August 25, 2023.
Therefore, NOAA Fisheries will close the recreational harvest of greater amberjack on 12:01 a.m., August 25, 2023.
Why is NOAA Fisheries closing recreational greater amberjack when the ACT is projected to be met?
The recreational sector for greater amberjack currently has an inseason accountability measure (AM) that requires the recreational sector to be closed if the ACT is met or projected to be met.
The recreational sector for greater amberjack also has a post season AM where if recreational landings exceed the annual catch limit (ACL) in a given year, the ACL and ACT will be reduced by the amount of the overage in the following year.
Closing when the ACT is projected to be met reduces the chances of an ACL overage and subsequent payback the following year.