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Snapper-Grouper Closure Area in the South Atlantic to Open?



Send in your comments by January 19, 2012.

NOAA is seeking public comments on a proposed rule that would eliminate the

240-foot (40 fathom) Snapper-Grouper Area Closure in the South Atlantic. The official name of the proposed rule is Amendment 11 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. Florida Sportsman first reported on the closure reversal in August 2011.

Regulatory Amendment 11 would eliminate the 240-foot closure previously approved in Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on December 20, 2011, with the comment period ending January 19, 2012.

The 240-foot (40-fathom) closure, implemented on January 31, 2011, prohibited the possession of six deepwater snapper-grouper species, including snowy grouper, blueline tilefish, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, queen snapper, and silk snapper, in federal-water depths greater than 240 feet (40 fathoms). The purpose of the 240-foot closure approved in Amendment 17B was to reduce discards of speckled hind and warsaw grouper. However, recent data analyses suggest speckled hind and warsaw grouper rarely co-occur with snowy grouper, blueline tilefish, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, queen snapper or silk snapper.

The purpose of possibly re-opening snowy grouper, blueline tilefish, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, queen snapper or silk snapper is to reduce the negative socio-economic effects expected from Amendment 17B while maintaining the biological protection to speckled hind and warsaw grouper in the South Atlantic. The decision to eliminate the snapper-grouper area closure through Amendment 11 would not affect taking and possessing speckled hind and warsaw grouper. It remains unlawful to possess speckled hind and warsaw grouper in the South Atlantic.

Comments on this proposed rule must be received no later than January 19, 2012, to be considered by NOAA Fisheries Service. Find the Addresses section on the official news release to send comments to NOAA Fisheries Service.

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