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NOAA Seeks Comments on a Proposed Rule to Add Red Snapper Recreational Accountability Measures

Press Release NOAA

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would add long-term recreational accountability measures for red snapper. Accountability measures are measures taken to prevent the harvest from exceeding the quota.

The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on November 21, 2014, with the comment period ending December 22, 2014.

The proposed rule would establish two accountability measures to either mitigate or correct for an annual harvest overage. The first accountability measure would establish a recreational annual catch target. The annual catch target would be 20 percent less than the recreational quota. Projected recreational seasons would be based on the annual catch target rather than the quota. This measure is expected to reduce the probability of exceeding the quota in any given year from 50 percent to 15 percent.

The second accountability measure would be an overage adjustment to apply as long as the population is considered overfished (population is too low). In the event the recreational quota is exceeded, the recreational quota would be reduced in the year following the overage by the amount of the overage. This quota reduction could be modified if the best scientific information available determines that a greater, lesser, or no overage adjustment is necessary. Under this measure, the recreational annual catch target would be set at 20 percent below the adjusted quota.

Similar recreational red snapper accountability measures were put in place for the 2014 recreational red snapper season through an emergency rule following the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Guindon v. Pritzker, (Mar. 26, 2014). The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) requested NOAA Fisheries implement the emergency rule to address the court decision and set the recreational red snapper annual catch target at 20 percent less than the recreational quota. By using the annual catch target rather than the quota to project the season length, the probability of exceeding the quota was reduced.

However, the emergency rule only applied to the 2014 fishing season and does not address the long-term need for further accountability measures identified by the Court. Therefore, the Council requested NOAA Fisheries, through a framework action, to implement a long-term accountability measures and is the basis for this proposed rule.

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