- NOAA Fisheries is requesting public comment on an amendment to revise the Gulf of Mexico red grouper sector allocations, sector annual catch limits, and sector annual catch targets.
- Amendment 53 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources in the Gulf of Mexico (Amendment 53) would:
- Modify the allocation of Gulf of Mexico red grouper catch between the commercial and recreational sectors,
- Specify a new overfishing limit and acceptable biological catch, and
- Set sector annual catch limits and sector annual catch targets.
- The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council sent the amendment to NOAA Fisheries to seek public comment and final approval.
- NOAA Fisheries requests your comments regarding the changes this amendment would make to Gulf of Mexico red grouper management in federal waters. Comments are due by February 7, 2022.
- NOAA Fisheries will also publish a proposed rule to implement the annual catch limits and annual catch targets and will send another fishery bulletin to request comments at that time. Comments on both the amendment and proposed rule will be considered in the final rule.
- Although the most recent Gulf of Mexico red grouper population assessment did not show red grouper was undergoing overfishing (too many fish being caught) or overfished (the population is too low), the assessment did find the population was below a level that could support the optimal harvest.
- Additionally, there is evidence the Gulf of Mexico red grouper population has been hurt by recent red tide events along the west Florida shelf.
Summary of Proposed Changes:
- Revise the Gulf of Mexico red grouper allocation from 76% commercial and 24% recreational, to 59.3% commercial and 40.7% recreational,
- Revise the recreational annual catch target buffer from 8% to 9%, and
- Revise the overfishing limit, acceptable biological catch, sector annual catch limits, and sector annual catch targets as indicated in Table 1 below.
Table 1. Current and proposed overfishing limit (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), population (stock) ACL, sector annual catch limits (ACL), and sector annual catch targets (ACT) in million pounds gutted weight. Note that current recreational ACLs and ACTs are in Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) Coastal Household Telephone Survey units and the proposed recreational ACLs and ACTs are in MRIP Fishing Effort Survey (MRIP-FES) units. The reduction shows the percent change in the proposed commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs where recreational values are in MRIP-FES units.
Population (stock) ACL
Commercial ACT (quota)
How to Comment on the Notice of Availability:
The comment period for the notice of availability of the amendment is open now through February 7, 2022. You may submit comments by electronic submission or by postal mail. Comments sent by any other method (such as e-mail), to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.
Formal Federal Register Name/Number: 86 FR 70078, published December 9, 2021.
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
- Go to: https://www.regulations.gov/
- Click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields.
- Enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Peter Hood, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.