Regulation Changes Proposed for Vermilion Snapper and Red Porgy

Assessments show overfishing ended for vermilion snapper and limits may increase
Several fishery management issues will be reviewed by members of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council during its week-long meeting in St. Simons Island, Georgia in March. There is good news for vermilion snapper fishermen, with an increase in the Annual Catch Limit slated as a result of the recent stock assessment update. For red porgy, the news was not as positive, with the update showing the stock still overfished. The Council will address measures for both species in Amendment 18 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan.

Additional measures affecting fishermen targeting species in the snapper grouper complex are scheduled for approval by the Council in March through Amendment 27, including bag limits for for-hire captains and crew. King mackerel, Spanish mackerel and cobia management issues will be on the table during a joint meeting of the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Mackerel Committees on Monday afternoon, but no final actions are scheduled. Bycatch and data reporting top the agenda during the Ad Hoc Data Collection Committee meeting on Thursday, March 7th.

 

The Council will take public comment during the March meeting before making final decisions. The Council is considering the following two amendments to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan for approval during its March meeting:
Proposed actions:
• Revisions to the Annual Catch Limit (ACL) for vermilion snapper that could result in an increase in the ACL for both the commercial and recreational fishery.
• Revisions to the ACL (including sector ACLs) for red porgy that could result in a decrease in the ACL for both the commercial and recreational fishery.
• Modifications to the commercial fishing seasons and trip limits for vermilion snapper.
• Removal of the recreational closed season. Stock assessment updates were completed in October 2012 for both vermilion snapper and red porgy through the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) stock
assessment program. The updates show that overfishing has been ended for vermilion snapper, allowing for an increase in the Annual Catch Limit (ACL). The increase may allow for a removal of the current recreational seasonal
closure (November 1 through March 31) as well as other measures for both commercial and recreational fisheries. While red porgy is not undergoing overfishing, the assessment update concluded the stock is still overfished and reductions in the ACL are necessary.

Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 18 includes management actions for both vermilion snapper and red porgy, based on recommendations from the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee that include new
catch levels for both species. The Council is scheduled to approve the amendment for submission to the Secretary of Commerce during its March meeting. Written comments on the amendment are being accepted until
March 4, 2013. E-mail SGRegAm18Comments@ safmc.net; Fax: 843/769-4520 or Mail: SAFMC, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC, 29405.

Snapper Grouper Amendment 27 Captain and crew bag limit retention, crewmember numbers, framework actions, and measures for Nassau grouper and blue runner
Proposed Actions:
• Extend management responsibility of Nassau grouper to the SA Council in Gulf of Mexico waters.
• Increase the number of allowable crew members on dualpermitted snapper grouper vessels.
• Address captain and crew bag limit retention of snapper groupe.r
• Modify framework procedures.
• Modify management measures for blue runner.

Snapper Grouper Amendment 27 addresses a variety of management measures, beginning with extension of management responsiblity for Nassau grouper at the request of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, to management options for blue runner, a popular bait fish commonly caught in conjunction with the commercial Spanish mackerel gill net fishery. The amendment also includes options to allow an increase the number of crew members allowed on dual-permitted snapper grouper vessels to address safety concerns for commercial divers, as well as alternatives for allowing captain and crew members on for-hire vessels to retain their bag limits of certain snapper grouper species. The Council held a series of public hearings on the amendment in January 2013 and will review the public comments during its March meeting. The Council is scheduled to approve the amendment for submission to the Secretary of Commerce.