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NOAA Fisheries Announces New Regulations for Gulf of Mexico Greater Amberjack

24 December 2012

US - On October 4, 2012, NOAA Fisheries approved Amendment 35 to the Fishery Management Plan for Reef Fish Resources in the Gulf of Mexico. This rule adjusts the annual catch limits and annual catch targets for the greater amberjack population in the Gulf of Mexico and establishes a 2,000-pound commercial trip limit.

A final rule implementing these regulations published in the Federal Register on November 13, 2012 (77 FR 219), with an effective date of December 13, 2012.

Commercial Fishing Trip Limit & Season

The rule establishes a commercial trip limit of 2,000 pounds throughout the fishing year.

The trip limit will allow for a longer fishing season for the commercial sector.

The commercial fishing season re-opens on January 1, 2013. The 2013 commercial closed season will be March 1 through May 31, and will re-open on June 1st, as long as the annual catch target has not been exceeded or is projected to be exceeded.

Recreational Fishing Season No changes were implemented for the 2013 fishing season that opens on January 1, 2013, and will remain open through May 31, 2013.

The annual recreational fishing season closure will occur as scheduled from June 1, 2013, through July 31, 2013, and the fishing season will re-open on August 1 st , as long as the annual catch target has not been exceed.

Annual Catch Limits

In response to a 2010 update stock assessment, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) recommended a new annual catch limit equal to the acceptable biological catch at 1,780,000 pounds, which is less than the current annual catch limit of 1,830,000 pounds whole weight (pounds).

Annual Catch Targets

The Council established annual catch targets, which act as quotas for the commercial and recreational sectors. The catch target provides a buffer for management uncertainty, intended to keep landings less than the annual catch limits.

The commercial allocation is 27 per cent and the recreational allocation is 73 per cent of the allowable catch. Until a future stock assessment is completed, or the annual catch limit is exceeded, the commercial quota will be 409,000 pounds, and the recreational quota will be 1,130,000 pounds.

The 2013 commercial quota will be reduced by the 2012 landing overage after those numbers have been finalised.

TheFishSite News Desk

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