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NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments on Proposed Actions for Red Snapper in the South Atlantic

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on proposed actions in Amendment 28 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 28). The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on April 29, 2013 (78 FR 25047). Comments must be submitted by May 29, 2013.

The actions in Amendment 28, if implemented, would establish (1) a process to determine if a fishing season will occur each year, which would include specification of the allowable harvest and season lengths for the commercial and recreational sectors; (2) an equation to determine the annual catch limit amount for each sector; and (3) management measures if fishing is allowed. It is important to note that the proposed actions, if they are implemented, only specify a process to determine if a season would occur.

Process to Determine if a Season is to Occur

If NOAA Fisheries determines that the estimated landings and dead discards that occurred in the previous year are equal to or greater than the acceptable biological catch for the current year, no harvest would be allowed and the annual catch limit would remain equal to zero. However, if NOAA Fisheries determines that the previous year’s estimated landings and dead discards are less than the acceptable biological catch, then the annual catch limit would be set to the amount of harvest that may be allowed for the current year.

Equation to Determine the Allowable Harvest

If a season is allowed, NOAA Fisheries would calculate the season length for each sector based on an evaluation of historical harvest levels and fishing effort. The proposed equation is contained in Section 2.0 of the amendment.

Management Measures

If a red snapper season is allowed, Amendment 28 proposes the following measures for the commercial sector:

• Opening date of second Monday in July. The season would end when the annual catch limit is projected to be met.

• Elimination of the current 20 inch total length minimum size limit during the fishing season.

• Commercial trip limit of 75 pounds gutted weight.

If a red snapper season is allowed, Amendment 28 proposes the following measures for the recreational sector:

• Opening date of second Friday in July. The season would only consist of weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). The end date would be announced at the same time the opening day is announced.

• Elimination of the current 20 inch total length minimum size limit during the fishing season.

• A recreational bag limit of one fish per person per day.

Request for Comments

Comments on the proposed rule for Amendment 28 must be received no later than May 29, 2013, to be considered by NOAA Fisheries.

How to Submit Comments

You may submit comments either electronically or through mail. Comments received through other means may not be considered.

Electronic Submissions:

Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.* Go to:
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0040
* Click on “Comment Now!”. Complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
* Attachments to electronic comments (up to 10 MB) will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

Mail:

Rick DeVictor
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505

All comments will be part of the public record, and generally posted for public viewing to www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter, may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. Anonymous comments will be accepted.

More information, including Frequently Asked Questions for Amendment 28, can be found online at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/SASnapperGrouperHomepage.htm