NOAA seeks comment on amberjack rule

29 Jan 2011

NOAA has published a proposed rule that, if approved and implemented, would establish a 1 June-31 July seasonal closure for recreational harvest of greater amberjack in or from the Gulf of Mexico federal waters

The intended effect of the proposed rule is to maintain the rebuilding plan targets for the overfished greater amberjack resource, reduce the likelihood of exceeding the recreational quota for greater amberjack, minimise in-season quota closures for greater amberjack during peak recreational fishing months, and increase social and economic benefits for Gulf recreational fishers by maximising the number of fishing days available to the recreational sector.

In 2009, the recreational sector exceeded its greater amberjack quota. The recreational sector was closed on October 24 after NOAA Fisheries Service projected the recreational quota was met. Final landings indicated the recreational quota was exceeded by 9 percent. In accordance with established accountability measures, the recreational quota for 2010 was reduced to account for this overage.

In response to this quota closure, the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council developed a regulatory amendment to establish a fixed closed season to the harvest of greater amberjack by the recreational sector. Based on public input, the Council selected to have a seasonal closure during June and July. These are peak recreational harvesting months of greater amberjack; closing federal waters during this time frame is expected to allow recreational fishing for greater amberjack to occur in all other months of the year, without exceeding the quota before year’s end.

This two month closure coincides with the open recreational seasons for other managed reef fish species, including red snapper, and provides recreational fishers the opportunity to fish for at least one of the targeted species year round (provided the recreational quota for greater amberjack is not exceeded). A closed season for Gulf greater amberjack that overlaps with an open season for Gulf red snapper is intended to minimise the social and economic impacts to recreational fishers in the Gulf.

Comments must be received no later than 5pm, eastern time, on 23 February 2011 and can be submitted via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, identified by “0648-BA48”.

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