The SAFMC made this change at the same time they announced the black sea bass closure. Because of this combined with the vermilion snapper, red snapper and grouper closures, they have accomplished their same agenda without the political pressure that was generated from the bottom fishing ban. In doing so, they have put all the commercial fishermen and head boat operators up and down the entire east coast out of business and with gas prices going up, how many recreational fishermen are going to make the long run offshore just to catch triggerfish? Also going into affect January 31, is amendment 17b which indefinitely closes, speckled hind, Warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, blueline tilefish, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, queen and silky snapper in 240’ or deeper waters. In the same breath, they are looking for ways to control the fishermen who target Dolphin and Wahoo.
Unless we can get the “Flexibility in Fishing” changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, this is only the beginning. Death by 1000 cuts.
Reprinted from: The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s South Atlantic Update - winter 2011
AREA CLOSURE DEEMED UNNECESSARY
Red Snapper Fishery Remains Closed
Updated stock assessment shows improvement in stock status
Fishermen from southern Georgia to Cape Canaveral, Florida breathed a slight sigh of relief as the Council reached agreement in December that the harvest moratorium in place for red snapper was sufficient to meet the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to end over fishing and rebuild the red snapper stock. While some fishermen opposed a continued closure of the red snapper fishery in federal waters, many others were pleased to hear that a large area closure where fishing for all snapper grouper species would be prohibited is not necessary.
Both the 2008 and 20 1 0 stock assessments for red snapper indicated the stock is undergoing over fishing and is over fished. However the results of the most recent assessment indicate that the stock biomass has benefited from two recent strong recruitment years and that the stock, while still over fished, is in better condition that what was estimated in 2008. In addition, the magnitude of over fishing is less than indicated in the previous assessment.
The area closure is included in Amendment 17A to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. The amendment, approved by the Secretary of Commerce in October 2010, continues the moratorium on the harvest of red snapper, requires the use of non-stainless steel circle hooks when fishing for snapper grouper species in federal waters north of 28 degrees N. Latitude beginning March 3, 2011, and contains a measure to prohibit on the harvest and retention of most snapper grouper species in a 4,827 square mile area. However, the effective date of the closed area was delayed until June 2011, giving the Council time to consider the new red snapper stock assessment.
After reviewing the assessment and advice from its scientific advisors, the Council approved Regulatory Amendment 10 during its December meeting. The amendment contains alternatives to reduce the size/ shorten the time length of the snapper grouper area closure or to eliminate it, but will not change the red snapper harvest moratorium. The Council is requesting the large area closure be eliminated. The Secretary of Commerce must approve the amendment. The moratorium on harvest of red snapper will continue throughout federal waters in the South Atlantic region.
An updated stock assessment for red snapper is scheduled for 2013. The Council will continue to receive updates on monitoring activities from NOAA Fisheries.
After reviewing an updated stock assessment for red snapper, the Council agreed that the current moratorium on the harvest of red snapper is sufficient to end over fishing and approved Regulatory
Amendment 10 for submission to the Secretary of Commerce. The intent of the amendment is to eliminate implementation of a large area closure from southern Georgia to Melbourne, Florida that would prohibit the harvest of all snapper grouper species in order to help protect red snapper.
The moratorium on the harvest of red snapper continues in federal waters throughout the South Atlantic region. The Council may take action to modify the moratorium as the stock continues to rebuild.
New Circle Hook Requirement:
The use of non-stainless steel circle hooks in the snapper grouper fishery in federal waters north of 28 degrees N. Latitude (approximately Sebastian Inlet. Florida) is required beginning March 3, 2011.
See the Final Rule for Amendment 17 A on the Council’s website http://www.safmc.net for details.
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