Friday, July 1, 2011

SAFMC News: Fishery Managers Make Decisions Affecting Both S. Atlantic and GOM Fisheries

Members of both the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils recently met in Key West, FL to approve measures impacting species managed by both councils. They approved regulations for spiny lobster, king and Spanish mackerel and cobia. Below are the approved regulations:

The Councils approved Spiny Lobster Amendment 10 for submission to the Secretary of Commerce, establishing Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs) as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Several changes were made during the joint committee meeting, based on input from the council’s Spiny Lobster Advisory Panels and testimony from the public received during public hearings held in April. Important changes include: increasing the Annual Catch Target to 6.6 million pounds (previously 6 million pounds); and delaying action on proposed closed areas for lobster trap fishing as well as new requirements to mark trap lines. Area closures and gear markings would help protect threatened Acropora corals and other protected resources. The protection measures, which are required by law for the lobster fishery, will be addressed in a later amendment. This will allow more time to work with the commercial industry and representatives from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in order to improve alternatives to better protect the corals.

The two councils moved forward with measures to establish ACLs and AMs for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia through Amendment 18 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan. For Atlantic Migratory Group king mackerel, the amendment would establish an ACL of 10.46 million pounds, with a commercial quota of 3.88 million pounds, up slightly from the current 3.71 million pounds. A recreational ACL of 6.58 million pounds was established, allowing current size and bag limits to remain in place. However, for Spanish mackerel the proposed ACL of 5.69 million pounds represents a decrease in the current total allowable catch of 7.04 million pounds. The South Atlantic Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee will review the numbers for Spanish mackerel in July. The amendment would also set an ACL of 1,571,399 million pounds for cobia and establish an allocation of 92% recreational and 8% commercial. The current bag limit of two fish per person per day would remain the same. Final approval of the amendment for submission to the Secretary of Commerce is scheduled for August.

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