Commercial harvest of greater amberjack in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) will close at 12:01 am, local time, on June 18, 2023.
Greater amberjack commercial harvest will be closed until the 2024 fishing year begins on January 1, 2024.
Why The Greater Amberjack Commercial Closure Is Happening:
On June 15, 2023, the new commercial catch limits for greater amberjack became effective upon publication of the final rule implementing Amendment 54 to the Fishery Management Plan for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The rule reduced the 2023 commercial greater amberjack annual catch target to 93,930 pounds and annual catch limit to 101,000 pounds.
Landings data indicate that commercial harvest of greater amberjack has exceeded the new annual catch target.
In accordance with the regulations, NOAA Fisheries must close harvest when the commercial annual catch target has been met or is projected to be met.
Therefore, commercial harvest of greater amberjack will close at 12:01 a.m., local time, on June 18, 2023, and will remain closed until 12:01 a.m., local time, on January 1, 2024.
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).
Additionally, current landings data indicate that commercial harvest of greater amberjack has exceeded the new annual catch limit.
In accordance with the regulations, any overage of the annual catch limit will be subtracted from the following year’s annual catch limit with the annual catch target adjusted accordingly.
NOAA Fisheries will publish a separate Federal Register notice reducing the 2024 annual catch limit and annual catch target closer to the start of the 2024 fishing season.
During the Closure:
Any person aboard a vessel for which a federal commercial vessel permit for Gulf of Mexico reef fish has been issued must comply with the closure regardless of where the fish are harvested.
No greater amberjack caught in Gulf of Mexico federal waters after 12:01 a.m., local time, on June 18, 2023, may be purchased, bartered, traded, or sold.
The prohibition of sale does not apply to trade in greater amberjack that were harvested, landed ashore and bartered, traded, or sold before 12:01 a.m., local time, on June 18, 2023, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.