Comment On South Atlantic Red Grouper Plan

NOAA seeks comments on a Rebuilding Plan for red grouper in the South Atlantic

Recreational red grouper catches like this "fire truck" caught off Northeast Florida will be affected by Amendment 24 to the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan.

NOAA Fisheries Service is seeking public comment on Amendment 24 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 24). Comment period ends April 27, 2012.

Amendment 24 would establish a rebuilding plan for red grouper in the South Atlantic. The red grouper stock of the South Atlantic was assessed in 2008 through the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review Process (SEDAR). Their assessment determined red grouper to be overfished (population too low) and undergoing overfishing (rate of fish removal too high).  NOAA Fisheries Service notified the Council of the stock status on June 9, 2010. According to the Council, Amendment 24 would implement a plan that would have an 81-percent probability of stock recovery in 10 years.

Actions in Amendment 24 consider:

• Implementation of red grouper annual catch limits for the commercial and recreational sectors. The sector annual catch limits are based on the Council’s proposed allocations of 44 percent commercial and 56 percent recreational.

• Implementation of red grouper accountability measures for the commercial and recreational sectors. Accountability measures are management controls to prevent annual catch limits from being exceeded and to correct overages of the catch limits if they do occur. The accountability measures would close each sector when the sector annual catch limit is projected to be met. If a sector annual catch limit is exceeded, the Regional Administrator would publish a notice to reduce the sector annual catch limits in the following season by the amount of the overage.

• Elimination of the commercial and recreational aggregate annual catch limits and accountability measures for black grouper, gag, and red grouper.

• Revision of the following management benchmarks for red grouper: Maximum sustainable yield; optimum yield; and minimum stock size threshold.

Comments on the amendment must be received no later than April 27, 2012, to be considered by NOAA Fisheries Service. See the Addresses section for information on where and how to submit comments.

Addresses

Electronic copies of Amendment 24 may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Service website, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal or the Council’s website. If you would like the files in a different format (such as hard copies), please submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the NOAA FOIA Office.

You may submit comments by the following methods:

• Electronic Submission: Federal e-Rulemaking Portal (select “Submit Comment,” then type in NOAA-NMFS-2011-0298 in the “Keyword or ID” box). All comments received are part of the public record and will generally be posted without change.

• Mail

Southeast Regional Office: NOAA Fisheries Service Sustainable Fisheries Division c/o Rick DeVictor

263 13th Avenue South

St. Petersburg, Florida 3370