Releases – August 17, 2017
NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule to change the following management measures for Atlantic Cobia (Georgia through New York): (1) increase the recreational minimum size limit; (2) reduce the recreational bag limit; (3) establish a recreational vessel limit; (4) establish a commercial trip limit; and (5) modify the recreational accountability measure.
The management measures will be effective September 5, 2017.
For the Atlantic cobia recreational sector, the minimum size limit will increase from 33 inches fork length to 36 inches fork length.
The recreational bag limit will be modified to one fish per person per day, or six fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive.
The rule will also modify the accountability measure for the recreational sector. If the recreational and total catch limits (commercial and recreational combined) are exceeded, NOAA Fisheries will reduce the vessel limit, and if necessary, shorten the following season.
For the Atlantic cobia commercial sector, the rule will implement a commercial trip limit of two fish per person per day, or six fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive.
This final rule is the result of Framework Amendment 4 recommended to NOAA Fisheries by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. These actions are expected to reduce the likelihood of exceeding the recreational and commercial Atlantic cobia catch limits in future years. These regulations apply to the Atlantic group cobia, which extends from Georgia through New York.
These changes are needed because:
(1) In 2015 and 2016, recreational landings for Atlantic cobia exceeded the recreational catch limit and the total annual catch limit. The current accountability measure reduces the length of the following recreational season by the amount necessary to ensure recreational landings achieve the recreational annual catch target, but do not exceed the recreational catch limit.
(2) Based on the accountability measure, the recreational Atlantic cobia sector was closed in federal waters on June 20, 2016, and January 24, 2017.
(3) The actions in Framework Amendment 4 are intended to reduce the likelihood of exceeding the total annual catch limit and triggering the accountability measures in the future, thus preventing or minimizing future recreational fishery closures.
More information on Framework Amendment 4 and these new Atlantic cobia regulations can be found by contacting NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505.
Or you can get more information by fax at (727) 824-5308 or by phone at (727) 824-5305.
Framework Amendment 4 may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_sa/cmp/2016/framework_am4/index.html.
Additional information on management of cobia in the South Atlantic may be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_sa/cmp/index.html.
NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule to allow fishing for and retaining the recreational bag and possession limits of king and spanish mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf), South Atlantic, and Mid-Atlantic on a vessel with a federal commercial permit for king or spanish mackerel when commercial harvest of king or spanish mackerel in that zone or region is closed.
The final rule will be effective on August 31, 2017.
Previous regulations prohibited a person aboard a vessel with a federal commercial permit for king or spanish mackerel from recreationally fishing for king or spanish mackerel in federal waters if commercial harvest for the species is closed.
An exception allowed a person aboard a vessel with both a valid coastal migratory pelagic charter vessel/headboat permit and a valid federal commercial permit for king mackerel or spanish mackerel to recreationally fish when the commercial season is closed, if the vessel is operating as a for-hire vessel.
No such restriction exists for any other species in the Gulf or South Atlantic.
This rule removes the restriction entirely, allowing vessels with commercial king or spanish mackerel permits to fish recreationally for king or spanish mackerel when the commercial season is closed, regardless of whether they are fishing in a private or for-hire capacity.
Why was the prohibition to restrict commercial vessels from retaining recreational bag limits originally implemented?
The regulations were originally considered necessary when the Gulf migratory group of king mackerel was thought to be overfished (population too low) in the early 1990s, as a means of controlling fishing effort.
Why is this prohibition changing?
The most recent population assessments of king and spanish mackerel indicated that both Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups are not overfished and not experiencing overfishing (too many being caught each year). These regulations are now consistent with other species in the Gulf or South Atlantic.
More information on Framework Amendment 5 may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_sa/cmp/2017/framework_am5/index.html.
Additional information on management of king and spanish mackerel can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_sa/cmp/index.html.
Recreational angling stakeholders gathered on Capitol Hill on July 19 for a Congressional Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy Luncheon along with coordinated congressional office visits. Event sponsors included American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Marine Manufacturers Association, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
This “Weigh-in on the Hill” provided a forum for members of Congress, congressional staff, conservation and industry partners, and recreational anglers to discuss current disparities between recreational and commercial fishery management. Specifically, this forum addressed how the current management approach under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) and the simple adjustments to MSA found in the Modern Fish Act (H.R. 2023 and S. 1520) would improve public access to America’s federal waters, promote conservation of our natural marine resources, and spur economic growth.
“Bottom line is the Modern Fish Act is not about recreational anglers versus commercial fishermen. It is about making a few adjustments to the Magnuson-Stevens Act that allows for the same emphasis on recreational fisheries management as the Act does for commercial fisheries management,” said CSF Fisheries Program Director Chris Horton.
Featured speakers included: Scott Deal of Maverick Boats, Dr. Larry McKinney of Harte Research Institute, Nick Cicero of Folsom Corporation, Mark Mathews of Superior Bait and Tackle, and Ricky Gease of Kenia River Sportfishing Association.
“Recreational and commercial fishing are completely different endeavors and should be managed differently,” said Deal. He continued, “We need commercial fisheries to be healthy, and we need recreational fisheries to be healthy for businesses like mine.”
“The solution is not rocket science; it is not even difficult fisheries science. We currently have the tools and knowledge to improve management for these recreationally important species but are constrained by the Magnuson-Stevens Act that was developed for larger commercial fisheries based on biomass extraction and not for access–what recreational fisheries need,” said Dr. McKinney. “Fisheries should be managed to the best interest of the nation, and one important aspect of that interest is economic benefit and job creation.”
The Standard Commercial Fishing License Eligibility Board to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will meet at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 28 at the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Wilmington District Office, 127 North Cardinal Drive Extension, Wilmington.
The board will consider applications deemed complete and submitted by Aug. 14.
The board meets two to three times a year to consider license applications. For directions on applying for a commercial fishing license, go to http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/commercial-fishing-license-information and click on the Eligibility Pool Application link.
For more information, contact division License Eligibility Clerk Ann Bordeaux-Nixon at (910) 796-7261 or Ann.Bordeaux-Nixon@ncdenr.gov.