NOAA Fisheries requests your comments on a proposed rule for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Comments are due by March 30, 2023.
Summary Of Proposed Changes:
- The proposed rule would increase the red snapper total annual catch limit from 15,400,000 pounds (lb) whole weight (ww) implemented in the recent framework adjustment to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (January 1, 2023) to 16,310,000 lb ww (Table 1).
- This proposed rule would increase the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) from 7,854,000 lb ww to 8,318,100 lb ww.
- This proposed rule would increase the recreational annual catch limit from 7,546,000 lb to 7,991,900 lb ww.
- This proposed rule would increase the Federal For-Hire ACL from 3,191,958 lb ww to 3,380,574 lb ww and increase the Federal For-Hire annual catch target (ACT) from 2,904,682 lb ww to 3,076,322 lb ww.
- This proposed rule would increase the Private Angling ACL from 4,354,042 lb ww to 4,611,326 lb ww and increase the Private Angling ACT from 3,483,234 lb ww to 3,689,061 lb ww.
- This proposed rule would increase the State Private Angling ACLs as outline in Table 1 below.
|Catch Limit Type||Current Catch Limits||Proposed Catch Limits|
|(Overfishing Limit) OFL||25,600,000||18,910,000|
|(Acceptable Biological Catch) ABC||15,400,000||16,310,000|
|Federal For-Hire ACL||3,191,958||3,380,574|
|Federal For-Hire ACT||2,904,682||3,076,322|
|Private Angling ACL||4,354,042||4,611,326|
|State Private Angling ACLs*|
*All State Private Angling ACLs are in the units in which each state monitors landings.
How To Comment On The Proposed Rule:
The comment period is open now through March 30, 2023. 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: 88 FR 12642, published February 28, 2023.
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
- Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document/NOAA-NMFS-2022-0123-0001.
- Click the “Comment” icon, complete the required fields.
- Enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Daniel Luers, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why would the catch limits be increased?
- On January 1, 2023, NOAA Fisheries implemented catch limit increases based on several new indices and subsequent Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) and Council Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) recommendations.
- NMFS set the OFL at 25,600,000 lb based on results of the Great Red Snapper Count, which indicated that red snapper biomass in the Gulf was approximately three times what had been estimated previously.
- NMFS set the ABC at 15,400,000 lb based on the NMFS bottom longline index and other indices that, in contrast to the Great Red Snapper Count, did not indicate large increases in red snapper abundance. The Council and SSC recommended a smaller increase in the ABC in order to manage the red snapper resource more conservatively due to the seemingly conflicting results of the indices.
- After making recommendations to implement these increases in the red snapper catch limits, the Council and the SSC received updated information that revised their estimate of the Gulf red snapper stock. This updated information included:
- A revised estimate of red snapper abundance in waters adjacent to Louisiana that was considered by the SSC to be more telling of red snapper abundance than the Great Red Snapper Count,
- A post-stratified re-analysis of Great Red Snapper Count data for Florida using different depth bins than what were originally used in the Great Red Snapper Count.
- The updated information for Florida and Louisiana was used in concert with the Great Red Snapper Count data for Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas in order to obtain a revised estimate of red snapper abundance. The revised abundance for Gulf red snapper was estimated to be 85.6 million fish.
- Based on this new estimate, The SSC determined the interim analysis suitable for providing catch advice and recommended decreasing the overfishing limit from 25.6 million pounds to 18.91 million pounds based on the lower revised estimate of abundance relative to the Great Red Snapper count.
- Also based on the revised estimate, the SSC recommended that the ABC be increased from 15.4 million pounds to 16.31 million pounds based on the 5-year average from the Council’s harvest control rule. This increase reflects decreased scientific uncertainty in the new estimates, which allowed the SSC to recommend an increase in the ABC despite the large decrease in the OFL.
- The Council recommended the stock ACL be set equal to the ABC, which resulted in the sector and component catch limits proposed in this rule.
Where can I find more information on the Red Snapper Catch Limits Framework?
- Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Daniel Luers
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505
By FAX: (727) 824-5308
By Phone: (727) 824-5305
The Red Snapper Catch Limits Framework may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/modification-catch-limits-gulf-mexico-red-snapper