NOAA’s Fisheries Service has announced that it will extend the ban of commercial and recreational fishing for the red snapper in federal waters off North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and the Atlantic coast of Florida.
The prohibition takes effect, December 3, 2010, replacing a temporary fishing prohibition due to expire December 5. The final rule authorizing the action filed in the Federal Register.
The final rule also includes an area closure off southern Georgia and northeastern Florida, which would prohibit commercial and recreational fishing for snappers, groupers, and some other bottom fish species to reduce bycatch of red snapper.
According to NOAA, the additional area closure will be delayed until June 1 to allow time to consider the results of a new scientific assessment that the red snapper population may be in better condition than was previously estimated.
The assessment was completed after the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council submitted its request for NOAA’s Fisheries Service to implement the final rule. By delaying the area closure, the agency is providing additional time for the council to review the new scientific assessment and reconsider the area closure.
The final rule also requires fishermen to use non-stainless steel circle hooks, which can reduce hook-related injuries, when fishing for snapper-grouper species with natural bait in federal waters north of the 28 degrees north latitude. The circle hook requirement becomes effective March 3.
The South Atlantic Council is scheduled to review the new assessment and discuss the area closure at its December meeting in North Carolina.
source: NOAA press release