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Red Snapper News

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

home-1SAFMC, headquartered in Charleston, S.C., is responsible for the conservation and management of fish stocks within the federal 200-mile limit of the Atlantic off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida to Key West.

The role of the council is to develop fishery management plans needed to manage fishery resources within federal waters. The area encompassing federal waters, sometimes referred to as the Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ, extends offshore from state waters (three miles in the South Atlantic) to 200 nautical miles.

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The Briefing Book for the December Council Meeting is now available online and can be found at the link below. If you can, please join us for the meeting (12/4 - 12/8) in Atlantic Beach, NC.

The Public Comment Session during the meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 beginning at 4:30 PM. If you'd like to submit a public comment online, visit the link below.

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11/17/17  ·  

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We have received many questions and messages about the 2017 red snapper season. Thank you for writing us! We'd like to go ahead and clarify some of the recurring questions that we've encountered. Please see the bullets below:

-For starters, the Council is structured so that each state has three representatives: one state agency rep, one recreational rep, and one commercial rep. So each sector from each state has a seat at the table.

-In September, the Council formally requested dates for 2017. And that's what we got. Of course the timing wasn't ideal. But the options were to either have an opening in November of 2017 or keep the fishery closed. The Council, NMFS, and the Secretary of Commerce, under the guidance of a multitude of public comments, pursued an opening.

-The Council did not choose the dates for the 2017 mini season. Those dates were established by NMFS with input from state partners.

-Dr. Roy Crabtree, Regional Administrator for the Southeast Regional Office (a branch of NMFS or NOAA Fisheries), has the authority to change mini season dates due to weather. Typically, this authority applies to severe weather events like hurricanes. That being said, the following statement was issued by Dr. Crabtree's office last week:

"We understand the weather is challenging for the 2017 South Atlantic red snapper season. We are working closely with South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and our state partners to determine if the recreational fishery can reopen in December and will provide notification as soon as possible."

-The Council heard from many members of the fishing community that weather prevented them from participating in the red snapper mini-season. This information was reflected in the MyFishCount angler reports. While 106 reports were submitted for the second weekend of the mini-season, less than 5% of trips were reported as completed. Access to fishing days is important, and angler participation in reporting platforms such as MyFishCount may help to provide this type of essential information not captured in current monitoring programs to fishery managers.

While the MyFishCount pilot reporting platform will close
at the end of this week to the public, MyFishCount will be
modified into a mobile app to improve ease and timeliness of reporting and expanded to include other species. The pilot app will be available for testing in early 2018.

-The Catch 22: Many of you have expressed concerns about reporting and have pointed to one of the biggest problems currently affecting fishermen and fisheries managers in the South Atlantic - and that is the catch 22 of the Recreational Annual Catch Limit. Fishermen from across the region have expressed serious concerns about grouper populations, but the fishery remains open since the ACL has not be met. And if fishermen catch up the ACL for other species, we don't know if that is a result of increased pressure or an abundant, booming population. These issues are concerning for all of us and they showcase some of the challenges we face together. The Councils are REQUIRED by law to apply ACLs to all managed fisheries. ACLs were established in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which is currently up for reauthorization by Congress.

-During the September Council Meeting, the Council formally approved Snapper Grouper Amendment 43, which will likely allow for a season in the summer of 2018. The amendment is now with NMFS. If approved there, it will go to Washington DC to the office of the Secretary of Commerce. Once approved by the Secretary, we expect that the amendment will be implemented by spring of next year.

-Snapper Grouper Amendment 43, which will likely allow for a season in 2018, establishes another mini-season. In order to ensure that fishermen again get access to the red snapper fishery in a more timely manner, the Council scaled back some of the regulations initially outlined in the amendment, including possible measures for barotrauma mitigation. If you are dissatisfied with the mini season structure and would like to see changes to bag limit, we encourage you to stay tuned for Snapper Grouper Amendment 46.

-Snapper Grouper Amendment 46, which is in its very early stages, will be discussed at the December Council Meeting in Atlantic Beach, NC (12/4-12/8). The amendment will address concerns about red snapper season lengths and timing, in addition to requirements for best practices when releasing fish. When further along, it will go to scoping, an opportunity for fishermen to direct some of the alternatives outlined in the document. Want to see the season open at a certain time of year? Tell us during scoping. Want to see a different bag limit? Tell us during scoping. Please join us, participate, and speak up. We will be sure to notify the public when scoping dates are announced in the future.
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11/16/17  ·  

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Having red snapper for dinner? Tell us about your catch at www.MyFishCount.com! ... See MoreSee Less

11/12/17  ·  

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Vision Blueprint

The Vision Blueprint will be used to help guide management of the snapper grouper fishery over the next five to ten years and will...

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