Red Snapper Quota Set for 2013

NMFS sets the 2013 commercial and recreational quotas for red snapper in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) through this temporary rule. NMFS has determined that the allowable biological catch (ABC) for red snapper in 2012 has been exceeded. Therefore, NMFS is maintaining the commercial and recreational quotas for red snapper in 2013 at the 2012 level. The intent of this action is to help achieve optimum yield (OY) for the Gulf red snapper resource without increasing the risk of red snapper experiencing overfishing.

This rule is effective January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013, unless NMFS publishes a superseding document in the Federal Register.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cynthia Meyer, telephone  727-824-5305; email: Cynthia.Meyer@noaa.gov.

 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef fish fishery under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP). The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

On May 30, 2012, NMFS published a final rule (77 FR 31734), that in part, set the 2012 commercial quota at 4.121 million lb (1.869 million kg), round weight, and the 2012 recreational quota at 3.959 million lb (1.796 million kg), round weight. NMFS also set the 2013 commercial quota at 4.432 million lb (2.010 million kg), round weight, and the 2013 recreational quota at 4.258 million lb (1.931 million kg), round weight. However, the 2013 quota increases are contingent on the ABC not being exceeded in the 2012 fishing year.

NMFS has determined that the 2012 ABC has been exceeded, therefore, NMFS is maintaining the 2012 commercial and recreational quotas in the 2013 fishing year.

The Council is currently developing a 2013 red snapper regulatory amendment, which could revise the commercial and recreational quotas for red snapper. Any increase in the commercial and recreational quotas would be released during the 2013 fishing year. This means that if the commercial quota is increased, additional pounds of allocation would be released to participants in the Gulf red snapper individual fishing quota (IFQ) program. If the recreational quota is increased, recreational fishermen could see an increase in the length of the 2013 recreational fishing season. If the 2013 regulatory amendment results in a decrease to the commercial and recreational quotas for red snapper, the decrease wouldn't become effective until the 2014 fishing year.