NACO comment letter to south atlantic fishery management council

On behalf of the members of the National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO), I wish to comment on the proposed commercial catch share EFP you will be discussing at your next meeting.  NACO members are for hire charter boat owners and operators from across the United States, including the Great Lakes and Hawaii.  NACO opposes any form of sector separation, catch shares and limited entry in any fishery, especially in the for hire charter fishery.

NACO took the lead in opposing and fighting against sector separation of and the use of catch shares in the recreational fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.  After almost 10 years of opposing sector separation in the Gulf and with overwhelming comments by thousands of stakeholders to the Gulf Council in person and by electronic media, the Gulf Council, encouraged by the NMFS, approved sector separation and is now working to institute catch shares in the for hire charter fishery.  This effort being pushed by the NMFS, in particular Dr. Crabtree (RA) and his staff, is being moved forward at every meeting of the Council even though the vast majority of the for hire charter fleet is in clear opposition to any form of catch shares.

As most know and understand the whole catch share initiative was brought to the NMFS by the Environmental Defense Fund.  Their efforts, both financial and logistical, with forming several commercial and charter associations and with their substantial influence on the NMFS creates an atmosphere of stakeholder support.  This support is generated by a small number of catch share recipients and others who seek to receive fishery shares but due to the EDF financial support and constant propaganda that they represent the majority, a false sense of fishermen support for catch shares is heard.  As you should have heard from the many who oppose catch shares the vast majority of fishermen oppose catch shares in any form.

On behalf of our members I encourage you to ignore the push by the NMFS, Dr. Crabtree, and the EDF and refuse to support the proposed EFP.  You should not only refuse to support the EFP but as a Council you should send a clear message to the NMFS, Dr. Crabtree, and EDF that you will not consider any form of catch shares, sector separation, or limited entry for any fishery within your region.  It is past time for a Council to stand up for the majority of stakeholders and refuse to implement any program that only serves to eliminate fishermen, supporting businesses, and small family jobs. 


Capt. Robert F. Zales, II



NOAA - South Atlantic- Red Snapper Data Collection 2014

NOAA Fisheries and State Partners Request Help from Fishermen to Collect Information on South Atlantic 
 Red Snapper During the 2014 Season

NOAA Fisheries and state partners from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida are preparing for the 2014 South Atlantic red snapper commercial and recreational seasons. These agencies are looking to fishermen for help with red snapper data collection during the openings. Data collected will provide information needed for future red snapper population assessments. Data collection is scheduled to happen in a number of ways, and at a number of locations throughout each state. A summary of data collection efforts is provided below, and more details on the data collection efforts, and how the data will be used are available on the following NOAA Fisheries Web page:

How to Contribute to the Data Collection Process

Dockside Sampling

Each state will conduct recreational and commercial sampling dockside to collect catch information and biological data (i.e., length of fish caught, fish ear bones for determining the age of the fish, etc.). Fishermen are encouraged to participate in dockside surveys and allow state and federal fishery biologists to collect biological data from their catch.  

Specialized Catch and Effort Surveys in Florida

The state of Florida will conduct specialized surveys designed to provide precise estimates of recreational red snapper landings during the Atlantic season. State biologists will be conducting vessel counts at major inlets and in-person interviews at boat ramps and marinas on the Atlantic coast to collect vital statistics on the numbers of vessels targeting red snapper and numbers of red snapper harvested and released during recreational trips. These estimates have been used in previous years to more precisely estimate recreational landings.

Carcass Drop Off Locations

The states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina will have freezers on docks, at marinas, and at bait shops where recreational anglers can drop off fish carcasses. To access the sites, use the website link in the first paragraph of this bulletin or check your state fisheries websites. Florida will also accept carcasses from the public at sites to be determined and advertised on the Fish and Wildlife Commission's Website.  Some drop-off locations will also have catch cards for fishermen to complete when providing carcasses. The catch cards are intended to provide data and information about a fisherman's trip, such as date and length of trip. State biologists will collect the carcasses, measure the length of the carcass, and remove the ear bones to determine the fish's age.

Online Surveys

Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are providing private anglers an opportunity to contribute catch and fishing effort information during the seasons through online surveys. The online surveys will be used to obtain information about an angler's fishing trip, including date, length, and location of a trip, as well as the number and size of fish landed and/or released. To access the surveys, use the website link in the first paragraph of this bulletin or check your state fisheries websites.

 Charter and Headboat Logbooks

Charter for-hire vessel captains in South Carolina, and headboat captains from North Carolina through Florida are required to submit logbooks summarizing catch and effort information from each fishing trip. Headboats are required to report logbooks electronically on a weekly basis.

Charter Telephone Surveys

Each week, charter vessel operators in Georgia and the Atlantic coast of Florida will be contacted by phone during the recreational red snapper fishing season to collect information on red snapper catch and fishing trips taken during the prior weekend. Charter vessel operators will receive a letter in advance of the opening to notify them that they are selected for weekly phone calls. They will also be provided with a log sheet that they may use to record information that will be collected during phone interviews. This information will be used to estimate charter for-hire landings for the 2014 season.

Commercial Quota Monitoring

NOAA Fisheries will monitor the commercial red snapper quota through electronically submitted dealer reports. Currently, federally permitted dealers must report red snapper purchases every two weeks. Beginning on August 7, 2014, federally permitted dealers must report online, at least once per week. More details on the changes to the dealer reporting may be found here: 

It is very important that red snapper purchases be reported by dealers in a timely manner as NOAA Fisheries will be monitoring the commercial landings in-season and will end the season when the annual catch limit is met or is projected to be met. Also, as a reminder, all dealers must include federal dealer permit numbers on all submitted reports.

Commercial Logbooks

All fishermen whose vessel has a commercial, federal Snapper-Grouper vessel permit must complete trip reports using the Southeast Coastal Fisheries Trip Report logbooks. Logbooks collect catch and effort information from commercial trips throughout the U.S. South Atlantic. In addition, selected fishermen must also report discarded fish through a supplementary logbook.

How This Information Will Be Used

Survey information collected will be used to estimate landings and fishing effort during the season. Biological samples will be used to determine the age, size, and growth of red snapper in the population. All information collected will be made available for future red snapper population assessments. Population assessment participants, which include fishermen, state and federal fishery biologists, academics, and other entities, will determine the applicability of the information for assessing the status of the population.

Details of the Season

The commercial red snapper season opens at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 14, 2014. The commercial season will end when the annual catch limit is projected to be met; NOAA Fisheries will announce the closure in another Fishery Bulletin. During the open commercial season, the daily trip limit is 75 pounds gutted weight, and there is no minimum size limit for red snapper.

The recreational fishing season will open for eight days. The days are two weekends made up of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and one weekend made up of Friday and Saturday. The dates and times for the recreational red snapper season are listed in the table below. During the open recreational season, the bag limit is one fish per person per day, and there is no minimum size limit for red snapper.



Recreational Opening Date/Time

Recreational Closure Date/Time

Weekend 1

Friday, July 11

(at 12:01 a.m.)

Monday, July 14  

(at 12:01 a.m.)

Weekend 2

Friday, July 18

(at 12:01 a.m.)

Monday, July 21  

(at 12:01 a.m.)

Weekend 3

Friday, July 25

(at 12:01 a.m.)

Sunday, July 27  

(at 12:01 a.m.)


How You Can Help Reduce Discard Mortality

Many saltwater fish, such as red snapper, suffer from "barotrauma" following release. Barotrauma is a build-up of gases in the swim bladder that makes it difficult or impossible for fish to go back down into the water. The key to improving the survival of these released fishes is to return them to the depth from which they are caught as quickly as possible. A variety of recompression tools are on the market, including descending devices, release weights, release baskets, and others. For other tips and tactics, check out:

Through a program called FishSmart, anglers and NOAA Fisheries are looking for ways to make sure more of those released fish survive. Learn more at:





Amendment 13

NMFS implements management measures described in a regulatory amendment (Regulatory Amendment 13) to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP), as prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). 

This final rule revises the annual catch limits (ACLs), including sector ACLs, for 37 snapper-grouper species based on updated landings data. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that the ACLs are based on the best scientific information available, and to prevent unnecessary negative socio-economic impacts to participants in the snapper-grouper fishery and fishing community that could occur if the ACLs are not revised, in accordance with the provisions set forth in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).

This rule is effective July 17, 2013.


Atlantic Sharpnose and Bonnethead Sharks Assessment

The SEDAR 34 assessment of HMS Atlantic Sharpnose and Bonnethead sharks will consist of an in-person workshop and a series of webinars. This notice is for the webinars associated with the assessment portion of the SEDAR process. 

The SEDAR 34 Assessment Workshop webinars will be held on: July 18, 2013; July 30, 2013; and September 5, 2013. All webinars are scheduled from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., Central Standard Time (CST).


Black Sea Bass Catch Limits Proposed to Double

Fishermen targeting black sea bass may have a much longer season this year as a recent scientific review shows the stock is rebuilt. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has proposed to more than double the current annual catch limit of 847,000 pounds (whole weight) to 1,814,000 pounds.  NOAA Fisheries is reviewing this request and expects to publish a proposed rule for public comment this summer.  The black sea bass fishery opens for both commercial and recreational fishermen on June 1, 2013 in federal waters from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina southward along the east coast of Florida.

Golden Tilefish Closing for Recreational Harvest

Recreational harvest of golden tilefish in the South Atlantic waters will close, at 12:01 a.m. (local time) June 3, 2013.  Recreational harvest will reopen at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on January 1, 2014. The recreational annual catch limit is 3,019 fish. The accountability measure for golden tilefish requires that recreational harvest of golden tilefish is closed if recreational landings reach or are projected to reach the annual catch limit. In addition, the 2013 fishing season is shortened if the 2012 recreational landings exceed the annual catch limit. Reports indicate the 2012 landings exceeded the annual catch limit, and 2013 landings are approaching the annual catch limit. The annual catch limit is projected to be met on June 3, 2013.

Atlantic Snook to Close in State and Federal Waters

The recreational harvest of snook in Atlantic state and federal waters closes June 1.

Snook will reopen for harvest in Atlantic federal, state and inland waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, on Sept. 1. Snook remains closed for harvest in Gulf of Mexico state waters, including Everglades National Park and Monroe County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will decide at its June meeting in Lakeland whether to allow the Gulf snook harvest to reopen Sept. 1.

Yellowtail Snapper

NMFS proposes regulations to implement Regulatory Amendment 15 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP), as prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). Regulatory Amendment 15 would revise the optimum yield (OY) and the annual catch limit (ACL) for yellowtail snapper. If implemented, this rule would increase the commercial and recreational ACLs and recreational annual catch target (ACT) for yellowtail snapper harvested in or from the South Atlantic exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This rule would also modify the commercial ACL and the accountability measure (AM) for gag that requires a closure of all other South Atlantic shallow-water grouper (SASWG) when the gag commercial ACL is met or projected to be met. This rule also proposes several administrative changes to regulatory text, which are unrelated to the measures contained in Regulatory Amendment 15. The intent of this rule is to provide socio-economic benefits to snapper-grouper fishermen and communities that utilize the snapper-grouper resource, while maintaining fishing mortality at sustainable levels according to the best scientific information available.

Written comments must be received on or before June 24, 2013.

South Atlantic Council Meetings

In addition to a Council Member Visioning Workshop, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a joint meeting of the Ecosystem-Based Management Committee and Habitat & Environmental Protection Committee as well as meetings of the: Dolphin Wahoo Committee; Southeast Data, Assessment and Review Committee (partially CLOSED SESSION); Snapper Grouper Committee; King & Spanish Mackerel Committee; Advisory Panel Selection Committee (CLOSED SESSION); Scientific & Statistical Selection Committee (CLOSED SESSION); Law Enforcement Committee (CLOSED SESSION); Executive Finance Committee; Protected Resources Committee; Data Collection Committee; and a meeting of the Full Council. The Council will take action as necessary. The Council will also hold an informal public question and answer session regarding agenda items and a formal public comment session.

The Council meeting will be held from 9 a.m. on Monday, June 10, 2013 until 1:30 p.m. on Friday, June 14, 2013.

Recreational Harvest of Snowy Grouper Closing to Vessels Fishing in the South Atlantic Federal Waters on May 31, 2013

Recreational harvest of snowy grouper in the South Atlantic waters will close, at 12:01 a.m. (local time) May 31, 2013. Recreational harvest will reopen at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on January 1, 2014. The 2013 recreational annual catch limit is 523 fish. The accountability measure for snowy grouper requires that the 2013 fishing season be shortened if the average 2010-2012 recreational landings exceed the annual catch limit. Reports indicate the average 2010-2012 landings exceeded the annual catch limit; therefore, the recreational harvest of snowy grouper should close by May 31, 2013, to protect the snowy grouper resource.