Hogfish can be caught on hook and line, as seen here, and also caught by spear.

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on proposals to change the regulations for hogfish in federal Atlantic waters (Amendment 37 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region).

Comment Period Ends on August 1, 2016

According to the Key West Citizen newspaper, in one possible alternative, “Recreational fishermen could be limited to a four-month season harvest season, with a one-hogfish-per-day limit, under a preferred alternative crafted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.”

“For the Florida Keys-East Florida population, assessment results showed the [hogfish] population is undergoing overfishing and is overfished, and therefore is in need of a rebuilding plan,” says a council fact sheet.

At its June meeting, the federal council voted to seek public comment on the slate of proposals, known as Amendment 37 to the agency’s Snapper-Grouper Fishery plan. A 16-inch minimum size limit is recommended, along with a recreational season limited to July through August.

Additionally, one alternative for commercial hogfish includes a 25-pound commercial trip limit for hogfish in federal waters off the Keys and East Florida. According to the Citizen, this alternative has been recommended by federal staff. In the federal council’s report, the preferred alternative could include a Florida quota of 36,449 pounds of hogfish before a harvest closure.

NOAA Fisheries is proposing to manage hogfish in the South Atlantic as two populations: Georgia through North Carolina and Florida Keys/East Florida. A population assessment determined that the Florida Keys/East Florida population is undergoing overfishing and is overfished and, therefore, in need of a rebuilding plan. The overfishing and overfished status of the Georgia/North Carolina population is unknown, and that population of fish will be managed differently.

The draft environmental impact statement for Amendment 37 analyzes a range of alternatives for actions, which include:

* Modifying the management unit for hogfish.

* Establishing a rebuilding plan for the Florida Keys/East Florida population to increase hogfish biomass to sustainable levels.

* Specifying commercial and recreational annual catch limits and accountability measures for the Georgia/North Carolina and Florida Keys/East Florida populations of hogfish.

* Modifying or establishing fishing regulations for both populations of hogfish, including minimum size limits, commercial trip limits, recreational bag limits, and a recreational fishing season.

You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2016-0068, by either of the following methods:

ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0068.

2. Click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields.

3. Enter or attach your comments.

MAIL: Submit written comments to Nikhil Mehta, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

INSTRUCTIONS: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.

For more information, please see the frequently asked questions section at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2015/am37/index.html

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