NOAA Fisheries Service has published a final rule to establish a June 1 through July 31 seasonal closure for recreational harvest of greater amberjack in or from the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) federal waters.
The intended effect of the rule is to maintain the rebuilding plan targets for the overfished greater amberjack resource, reduce the likelihood of exceeding the recreational quota for greater amberjack, minimize the length of in-season quota closures for greater amberjack during peak recreational fishing months, and increase social and economic benefits for Gulf recreational fishers by maximizing the number of fishing days available to the recreational sector.
In response to this quota closure, the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council (Council) developed a regulatory amendment to establish a fixed closed season to the harvest of greater amberjack by the recreational sector. Based on public input, the Council selected to have a seasonal closure during June and July.
These are peak recreational harvesting months of greater amberjack; closing federal waters during this time frame is expected to allow recreational fishing for greater amberjack to occur in all other months of the year, without exceeding the quota before year’s end.
This two month closure coincides with the open recreational seasons for other managed reef fish species, including red snapper, and provides recreational fishers the opportunity to fish for at least one of the targeted species year round (provided the recreational quota for greater amberjack is not exceeded).
A closed season for Gulf greater amberjack that overlaps with an open season for Gulf red snapper is intended to minimize the social and economic impacts to recreational fishers in the Gulf.
Copies of the final rule are available by contacting NOAA Fisheries Service’s Southeast Regional Office at 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701.
The final rule can be obtained in electronic form from the Federal Register Web site:
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html (use advanced search for final rules using “BA48” as a keyword).