Updates from the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Last week, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved Amendment 31 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Fishery Management Plan.

This amendment will remove Atlantic cobia from the current federal management plan and transfer management responsibility to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The amendment is designed to prevent inconsistent regulations in state and federal waters and improve flexibility in the management of Atlantic cobia from Georgia northward to New York. The vast majority of cobia are landed in state managed waters, with the exception of Georgia and the southern coast of South Carolina where fishing for cobia primarily occurs in federal waters. If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the amendment would allow the fishery north of Florida to be managed solely by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), an interstate management body that manages shared migratory fisheries.

Also in the South Atlantic, Amendment 43 to the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan is currently before the Secretary of Commerce for review.

Approved last year by the Council, Amendment 43 would allow for a series of mini-seasons beginning in 2018. Since 2014, the complete closure of the red snapper fishery in federal waters of the South Atlantic has hindered the ability to conduct effective stock assessments under the current quota management model due to the lack of fishery-dependent data. If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, NOAA Fisheries indicated the red snapper season could open in August, with a recreational bag limit of 1 fish per person/day, no minimum size limit.

The comment deadline on the proposed rule ended on June 18, and CSF submitted comments in support of Amendment 43 and opening a limited red snapper season in the South Atlantic.

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