Friday, February 4, 2011

NOAA Fisheries Service Announces Closure Date for the South Atlantic Recreational Black Sea Bass Fishery

Information from Southeast Fishery Bulletin FB11-005:
NOAA Fisheries has determined that the 2010-2011 recreational annual catch limit (ACL) of 409,000 pounds for black sea bass has been reached. As a result, the recreational sector for black sea bass in federal waters of the South Atlantic from Cape Hatteras Light, NC to Key West, FL will be closed effective 12:01 am February 12, 2011 through 12:01am June 1, 2011. For vessels which have a valid federal charter vessel/heaboat permit for South Atlantic Snapper-grouper, the closure applies to state and federal waters.
Black sea bass are overfished (population is too low) and undergoing overfishing (rate of removals is too high). Harvest levels must be kept below the 309,000 pounds gutted weight commercial quota and 409,000 pounds gutted weight recreational allocation to prevent fish from being removed too quickly, and to rebuild the black sea bass population.
Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region, which became in effect on January 31, 2011, retains these values as the respective commercial and recreational ACLs. Amendment 17B also includes black sea bass accountability measures (AMs), which are actions intended to prevent the ACL from being exceeded. If the ACL is projected to be met, the recreational fishery would be closed (which is what is occurring now). If the ACL is exceeded, the ACL for the following fishing year will be reduced by the amount of the overage. That determination will be made before the next fishing year begins.
Commercial harvest of black sea bass closed on October 7, 2010, because NOAA Fisheries Service projected landings would reach the quota by that time. However, an updated report indicated that less fish were landed than expected so the commercial sector was reopened from 12:01am December 1, 2010 until 12:01am December 15, 2010. Currently, it remains closed until June 1, 2011.
For more information visit the South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils website at or the NOAA Fisheries Service Southeast Region website at