Snapper Grouper

King Mackerel

The fishery management plan (FMP) for the snapper grouper resource was first implemented in 1983.  Because of its mixed species nature, this fishery offers the greatest challenge for the Council to manage successfully.  Initially, FMP regulations consisted of minimum sizes, gear restrictions and a provision for the designation of special management zones (SMZs).  Early attempts to develop more effective management measures were thwarted by lack of data on both the resource and the fishery.  The condition of many of the species within the snapper grouper complex was, and still is, unknown.  Improved data collection (in terms of quantity and quality) has provided more management information on some of the

more commercially and recreationally valuable species, but lack of basic management data on many of the species still remains the major obstacle to successful management. See list of species in Snapper Grouper Management Complex.

Snapper grouper management is also difficult because many of these species are slow growing, late maturing and long lived, so rebuilding efforts for some species will take years to produce full recovery.  Strict management measures, including prohibition of harvest in some cases, have been implemented to rebuild overfished species in the snapper grouper complex.  For example, both Goliath grouper (since 1990) and Nassau grouper (since 1992) are protected from any harvest and strict limits have been implemented for speckled hind and warsaw grouper.  In addition, the Council has used traditional management tools such as bag limits, size limits, trip limits, commercial quotas, and spawning season closures to help rebuild stocks.  The Council also approved Amendment 14 to create a system of 8 deepwater marine protected areas to help further protect deepwater snapper grouper species and their associated habitat.

To address overcapitalization in the fishery, the Council established a program to limit effort.  Beginning in 1998, anyone wishing to enter the commercial fishery must buy two transferable vessel permits in order to qualify for a newly issued permit, thus eliminating one permit each time a new person enters the fishery. Known as the "2 for 1" program, this management measure has been effective in reducing participation in the fishery and pressure on the resource.  This program will continue until the number of permits has been reduced to an optimum level to be determined based on the long-term yield of the fishery.  More recently, the Council has explored the use of Limited Access Privilege (LAP) Programs for the snapper grouper fishery, but are not being considered at this time.  Endorsement programs for the commercial black sea bass pot fishery and commercial golden tilefish fisheries are under development.

The 2006 Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act includes mandates to end overfishing by providing authority to the Scientific and Statisical Committee to set Overfishing Levels (OFLs) and an Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) that can not be exceeded by managers.  The Council has met the requirements of the reauthorized Act to establish Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs)  for species designated as undergoing overfishing by 2010 and for all species managed by the Council by 2011 through implementation of recent amendments to the FMP (see below).

Fishery Management Plan / Amendments

Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (1983)
Included provisions to prevent growth overfishing in thirteen species in the snapper grouper complex and established a procedure for preventing overfishing in other species; Established minimum size limits for red snapper, yellowtail snapper, red and Nassau groupers, and black sea bass, and a 4" trawl mesh size to achieve a 12" minimum size for vermilion snapper; Also included additional harvest and gear limitations.
Source Document for the Snapper Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (1983)


Regulatory Amendment 1 (1987)
Prohibited fishing in SMZs except with hand-held hook-and-line and spearfishing gear. Prohibited harvest of goliath grouper in SMZs.Implemented Special Management Zones (SMZ) off SC and GA.


Regulatory Amendment 2 (1989)
Established two artificial reefs off Ft. Pierce, FL as SMZs.


Amendment 1 (1989)
Prohibited use of trawl gear to harvest fish in the snapper grouper fishery south of Cape Hatteras, NC and north of Cape Canaveral, FL; defined directed snapper grouper fishery as a vessel with trawl gear and less than or equal to 200-lbs of snapper grouper species onboard; and established assumption that vessels with snapper grouper species onboard harvested these fish in the EEZ.
Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Regulatory Amendment 3 (1989)
Established an artificial reef at Key Biscayne, FL as an SMZ in Dade County, FL; prohibited fish trapping, bottom longlining, spearfishing and harvesting of Goliath grouper in SMZ.


Amendment 2 (1990)
Prohibited harvest or possession of jewfish (goliath grouper) in or from the EEZ in the South Atlantic; and defined overfishing for snapper grouper species according to NMFS 602 guidelines.
Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Amendment 3 (1991)
Established a management program for the wreckfish fishery which: added wreckfish to the snapper grouper management unit; defined OY and overfishing; required an annual permit to fish for, land or sell wreckfish; established a control date of March 28, 1990 for the area bounded by 33° and 30° N. latitude; established a fishing year beginning April 16; established a process whereby annual quotas would be specified; implemented a 10,000 pound trip limit and a January 15 – April 15spawning season closure.
Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Amendment 4 (1992)
Prohibited the use of various gear, including fish traps, the use of bottom longlines for wreckfish, and powerheads in Special Management Zones off SC; established bag limits and minimum size limits for several species; established income requirements to qualify for permits; and required that all snapper grouper species possessed in South Atlantic federal waters must have heads and fins intact through landing.
Notice of Availability   Final Rule


Amendment 5 (1992)
Established ITQ management program for the wreckfish fishery.
Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Regulatory Amendment 4 (August 1993)
Modified definition of black sea bass pots; allowed for multi-gear trips and the retention of incidentally caught fish.


Regulatory Amendment 5 (December 1993)
Established eight additional Special Management Zones (SMZs) off the coast of South Carolina.


Amendment 6 (1994)
Established commercial quotas for snowy grouper, golden tilefish; established commercial trip limits for snowy grouper, golden tilefish, speckled hind, and warsaw grouper; included golden tilefish in grouper recreational aggregate bag limits; prohibited sale of warsaw grouper and speckled hind; created the Oculina Experimental Closed Area; specified data collection needs for evaluation of possible future IFQ system.
Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Amendment 7 (1995)
Established size limits and bag limits for hogfish and mutton snapper; specified allowable gear; prohibited the use of explosive charges, including powerheads, off SC; and required dealer, charter and headboat federal permits.
Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Regulatory Amendment 6 (May 1995)
Includes provisions to rebuild and protect hogfish by implementing a recreational bag limit of 5 per person off Florida; cubera snapper by implementing a recreational bag limit of 2 per person for fish 30" total length or larger off Florida; and gray triggerfish by implementing a minimum size limit of 12 inches off Florida.


Amendment 8 (July 1997)
Established a limited entry system for the snapper grouper fishery.
Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Regulatory Amendment 7 (1999)
Established 10 SMZs at artificial reefs off South Carolina.


Amendment 9 (1999)
Increased the red porgy minimum size limit from 12" TL to 14" TL for both recreational and commercial fishermen, established a recreational bag limit of 5 red porgy per person per day, prohibit harvest and possession in excess of the bag limit during March and April, and prohibited purchase and sale during March and April. Increased the black sea bass minimum size limit from 8" TL to 10" TL for both recreational and commercial fishermen, and established a recreational bag limit of 20 black sea bass per person per day. Required escape vents and escape panels with degradable fasteners in black sea bass pots. Established measures for greater amberjack that: reduced the recreational bag limit from 3 to 1 greater amberjack per person per day, maintained the prohibition on harvest and possession in excess of the bag limit during April, established a quota at 63% of 1995 landings (quota=1,169,931 pounds), began the fishing year on May 1, prohibited sale of fish harvested under the bag limit when the season is closed, and prohibited coring. Increased the recreational vermilion snapper minimum size limit from 10" to 11" TL and retained the current 10-fish bag limit. Increased the gag grouper minimum size limit from 20" TL to 24" TL for both recreational and commercial fishermen, prohibited harvest and possession in excess of the bag limit during March and April, and prohibited purchase and sale during March and April. Increased the black grouper minimum size limit from 20" to 24" TL for both recreational and commercial fishermen, prohibited harvest and possession in excess of the bag limit during March and April, and prohibited purchase and sale during March and April.  Specified that within the 5-fish aggregate grouper bag limit (which currently includes tilefish and excludes jewfish and Nassau grouper), no more than 2 may be gag grouper or black grouper (individually or in combination). Established an aggregate recreational bag limit of 20 fish per person per day inclusive of all snapper grouper species currently not under a bag limit, excluding tomtate and blue runners (there would be no bag limit on tomtate and blue runners). Specified that vessels with bottom longline gear aboard may only possess snowy grouper, warsaw grouper, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, golden tilefish, blueline tilefish, and sand tilefish.
Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Amendment 10 (2000)
Identified Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and EFH - Habitat Areas of Particular Concern for species in the snapper grouper management unit.


Amendment 11 (1999)
Amended the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) as required to make definitions of MSY, OY, overfishing and overfished consistent with "National Standard Guidelines"; identified and defined fishing communities and addressed bycatch management measures.


Regulatory Amendment 8 (2000)
Established 12 SMZs at artificial reefs off Georgia; revised boundaries of seven existing SMZs off Georgia to meet CG permit specs; restricted fishing in new and revised SMZs.


Amendment 12 (2000)
Set regulatory limits for red porgy implementing a recreational bag limit of 1 red porgy per person per day, a commercial incidental catch limit of 50 pounds per trip, established a recreational and commercial size limit of 14 inches TL and permitted the transfer of the 225-pound trip limited commercial permit to another vessel (not another person) regardless of vessel size.
Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Amendment 13A (2004)
Extended regulations within the Oculina Experimental Closed Area off the east coast of Florida that prohibit fishing for and retention of snapper grouper species for an indefinite period with a 10 year re-evaluation by the Council.  The Council will review the configuration and size of the area within 3 years of publication of the Final Rule (March 26, 2004). The rule became effective on April 26, 2004.
Notice of Availability Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Amendment 13C (2006)
Amendment 13C to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan became effective October 23, 2006. The amendment addressed overfishing for snowy grouper, golden tilefish, black sea bass and vermilion snapper.  The amendment also allowed for a moderate increase in the harvest of red porgy as stock continues to rebuild. See Fishery Bulletin for more information.  
Notice of Availablity   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Amendment 14 (2007)
Established a series of deepwater marine protected areas in the South Atlantic Exclusive Economic Zone. The amendment was approved by the Council during its June 2007 meeting and submitted to NOAA Fisheries for approval by the Secretary of Commerce on July 18, 2007.  The Amendment was approved on January 13, 2009 and became effective February 12, 2009. See Fishery Bulletin for more information.
Notice of Availablity   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Amendment 15A (2008)
The amendment: 1) updated management reference points for snowy grouper, black sea bass, and red porgy; 2) modified rebuilding schedules for snowy grouper and black sea bass; 3) defined rebuilding strategies for snowy grouper, black sea bass, and red porgy; and 4) redefined the minimum stock size threshold for the snowy grouper stock.  The amendment was approved by the Secretary of Commerce and became effective on March 14, 2008.
Notice of Availability  Notice of Agency Action  (Fishery Bulletin stating final action)


Amendment 15B (2008)
Amendment 15B was approved by the Council for review and submission to the Secretary of Commerce during the Council's June 2008 meeting.  Public hearings were held in November/December 2007 and the public comment period was open until January 11, 2008.  A Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for Amendment 15B was developed in April 2008 to address the availability of additional economic information.  The Amendment includes actions to: 1) prohibit sale the sale of bag-limit caught snapper grouper species, 2) reduce the effects of incidental hooking on sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish, 3) change the commercial permit renewal period and transferability requirements, 4) implement a plan to monitor and address bycatch, and 5) establish management reference points, such as MSY and OY for golden tilefish. Amendment 15B also established allocations between recreational and commercial fishermen for snowy grouper and red porgy.  Final Amendment 15B/FEIS  (Appendices available upon request). The amendment was approved by the Secretary of Commerce on November 16, 2009 and became effective on February 15, 2010. See Fishery Bulletin for more information.

Notice of Availability  Proposed Rule  Final Rule


Amendment 16  (2009)
The Final Rule for Amendment 16 was published June 29, 2009.  Approved by the Council for submission to the Secretary of Commerce in September 2008, the amendment includes measures to end overfishing for gag grouper and vermilion snapper.  These include: For gag grouper - 1) define interim allocations based on landings at 51% commercial and 49% recreational; 2) establish a January through April spawning season closure for gag grouper for both commercial and recreational sectors where no fishing for and/or possession of gag would be allowed.  In addition, during the closure no fishing for and/or possession of the following species would be allowed - black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, yellowmouth grouper, tiger grouper, yellowfin grouper, graysby, and coney; 3) establish a directed commercial quota of 352,940 pounds (gutted weight); 3) reduce the current 5-grouper aggregate recreational bag limit to a 3-grouper aggregate bag limit and reduce the existing bag limit from 2 gag or black grouper to 1 gag or black grouper combined; and 4) exclude the captain and crew on for-hire vessels from possessing a bag limit for groupers.  For vermilion snapper - 1) define interim allocations based on landings of 68% commercial and 32% recreational; 2) establish a commercial quota of 315,523 pounds gutted weight January through June; and 302,523 pounds gutted weight July through December; 3) reduce the recreational bag limit from 10 fish to 5 fish, 4) establish a recreational closed season November through March.  Amendment 16 also requires the use of dehooking tools to reduce bycatch mortality.

NOTE:  The amendment includes provisions to modifiy managment measures for vermilion snapper as necessary by the Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Service based on a SEDAR stock assessment for vermilion snapper that was completed in late 2008. Those modifications are reflected above in italics.

* The Council received a letter from NOAA Fisheries Service on March 25, 2009 stating Amendment 16 has been partially approved.  See letter.   The Final Rule implementing regulations in Amendment 16 was published June 29, 2009, and regulations became effective July 29, 2009. See Fishery Bulletin for more information.

Notice of Availability   Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Interim Rule - Red Snapper (2009)
The Final Rule implementing interim measures to reduce overfishing of red snapper in the South Atlantic published in the Federal Register on December 4, 2009 and became effective January 4, 2010. NOAA Fisheries Service published the Final Rule which establishes a prohibition on recreational and commercial harvest of red snapper in federal waters off of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The Interim Rule was extended for another 186-day period until December 5, 2010. See Fishery Bulletin for more information.  Final Rule


Amendment 19 (2009)
This amendment was included under the Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 1 (CE-BA 1) and included measures to provide presentation of spatial information for Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and EFH-Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (EFH-HAPC) designations under the Snapper Grouper FMP; and designation of deepwater coral HAPCs. The amendment was approved by the Secretary of Commerce and implemented on July 22, 2010.


Amendment 17A  (December 2010)  
Appendices
Amendment 17A addresses management measures to end overfishing of red snapper and rebuild the stock, including Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures. The Council approved Amendment 17A for submission to the Secretary of Commerce during their meeting in June, 2010.  The Council received a letter of Secretarial approval for Amendment 17A on October 27, 2010.  The Final Rule was announced on December 3, 2010, extending the prohibition of red snapper in federal waters throughout the South Atlantic EEZ effective immediately. The implementation of an area closure extending off the coasts of southern Georgia and north/central east coast of Florida where fishing for all snapper grouper species would be prohibited to address high mortality associated with discards was delayed.  The Council approved Regulatory Amendment 10 for submission to the Secretary of Commerce during its December 2010 meeting in order to eliminate the area closure based on updated stock assessment information for red snapper (see listing below).   Amendment 17A also includes a regulation requiring the use of non-stainless circle hooks north of 28 degrees N. latitude is effective March 3, 2011.   See the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Fishery Bulletin  and the Final Rule for details. 
Notice of Availability      Proposed Rule   Final Rule


Amendment 17B  (2010)
The Council approved Amendment 17B for submission to the Secretary of Commerce during their meeting in December, 2009 and received notice of approval by the Secretary of Commerce on December 21, 2010.  Measures in the amendment were effective January 31, 2011 (See Fishery Bulletin). The amendment established Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs) and addressed overfishing for nine species in the snapper grouper management complex currently listed as undergoing overfishing: golden tilefish, snowy grouper, speckled hind, warsaw grouper, black grouper, black sea bass, gag, red grouper, and vermilion snapper. Measures in Amendment 17B included a deepwater closure (240 ft. seaward) for deepwater species to help protect warsaw grouper and speckled hind, two deepwater species extremely vulnerable to overfishing. (See the Final Rule below for details). Additional measures in the amendment include a reduction in the snowy grouper bag limit to one fish per vessel per trip; establishment of a combined ACL for gag, black grouper, and red grouper of 662,403 lbs (gutted weight) for the commercial fishery, and 648,663 lbs (gutted weight) for the recreational fishery; an allocation of 97% commercial and 3% recreational for the golden tilefish fishery based on landings history; and establishment of accountability measures as necessary.  
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)        Notice of Availability    Proposed Rule     Final Rule


Regulatory Amendment 10 
Appendices (2010) 
The Council voted to approve Regulatory Amendment 10 during its December 2010 meeting for submission to the Secretary of Commerce, with the preferred management alternative to eliminate the large area closure in Amendment 17A for all snapper grouper species off the coasts of southern Georgia and north/central Florida. The regulatory amendment modified measures implemented in Amendment 17A to end overfishing for red snapper.  The amendment is based on updated stock assessment information for red snapper (SEDAR 24) and was approved by the Secretary of Commerce in April 2011.  The Final Rule was effective May 31, 2011      Proposed Rule  Final Rule


Regulatory Amendment 9 (2011)
Regulatory Amendment 9 was approved by the Council in March 2011.  The Final Rule was published June 15, 2011.  The amendment reduced the bag limit for black sea bass from 15 fish per person to 5 fish per person (effective June 22, 2011), established trip limits on vermilion snapper and gag (effective July 15, 2011), and increased the trip limit for greater amberjack (effective July 15, 2011).   Proposed Rule     Final Rule


Regulatory Amendment 11 (May 10, 2012)
Regulatory Amendment 11 was approved by the Council in August 2011 for submission to the Secretary of Commerce.  The Final Rule approving the Amendment was published on May 10, 2012 with an effective date the same day. See Fishery Bulletin. The amendment eliminates a current restriction on the possession or harvest of some deepwater snapper grouper species in waters greater than 240 feet deep.  The deepwater species closure was implemented in January 2011 to help protect speckled hind and warsaw grouper; however, data indicate that the closure may not significantly reduce bycatch of these species while the socioeconomic impacts of the closure are significant in some areas.  The Council will re-address measures to reduce bycatch of speckled hind and warsaw grouper in Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 3.     Reg Amendment 11 Appendices


Amendment 25 - Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment (2012)
The Comprehensive ACL Amendment was approved by the Secretary of Commerce in January 2012 and the measures effective on April 16, 2012.  The amendment meets the 2011 mandate deadline of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to establish Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs) for species managed by the Council that are not undergoing overfishing.  The amendment addresses a number of species in the snapper grouper management complex, as well as dolphin (mahi-mahi), wahoo, and golden crab.  In addition to establishing ACLs for dolphin, the amendment prohibits the sale of bag limit dolphin by fishermen with a federal For-Hire (charter) Permit. ACLs for other species, including king and Spanish mackerel, cobia, and spiny lobster are being addressed in separate amendments.       Comp ACL Appendices     Comp ACL SUMMARY     Proposed Rule (published Dec 1, 2011)     Amended Proposed Rule (published Dec 30, 2011)     Final Rule


Amendment 24 (2012)
The amendment proposed measures to end overfishing and establish a rebuilding plan for red grouper.  The amendment also implemented or reviseed parameters such as Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), Minimum Stock Size Threshold (MSST), Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs) and specified allocations for the commercial and recreational sectors.  Note: The current management measures, including a 4-month spawning season closure for shallow water grouper, may be sufficient to keep the recreational fishery below the proposed ACL.  The commercial ACL, however, may result in an early closure of the commercial fishery once measures are implemented in 2012. The Council approved Amendment 24 during its December 2011 meeting.  The Amendment was approved by the Secretary of Commerce in June 2012.  The Final Rule is effective July 11, 2012.   Amendment 24 Appendices   Final Rule


Amendment 23 – Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 2 (2011)
This amendment was included under the Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 2 (CE-BA 2) and included measures to designate the Deepwater MPAs as EFH-HAPCs; limit harvest of snapper grouper species in SC Special Management Zones to the bag limit; and modify sea turtle release gear. The Secretary of Commerce approved the amendment in 2011 and the regulations became effective on January 30, 2012.


Amendment 20B
This amendment is still in progress and will update the wreckfish ITQ according to the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act


Amendment 18A (2012)
Amendment 18A includes management actions to limit participation and effort in the black sea bass fishery.  Measures include establishment of an endorsement program and other modifications to the commercial black sea bass pot fishery; establishment of a commercial trip limit (all gear-types) for black sea bass; and increasing minimum size limits for both commercial and recreational black sea bass fisheries. The Council approved the amendment during its December 5-9, 2011 meeting.   The amendment was approved by the Secretary of Commerce and measures became effective July 1, 2012.    Notice of Intent (NOI)      Proposed Rule      Appendices   Final Rule


Amendment 20A (2012)
Amendment 20A pertains to the wreckfish fishery.  Wreckfish are currently managed through an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) program.  Proposed measures would: define and revert inactive shares within the ITQ program; redistribute reverted shares to active shareholders; establish a share cap; and implement an appeals process.  The Council approved the amendment for formal review during its December 2011 Council meeting. The Amendment was approved by the Secretary of Commerce in September 2012. The final rule is effective October 26, 2012. Amendment 20A Appendices     Notice of Availability (NOA)     Proposed Rule     Final Rule


Regulatory Amendment 12 (2012)
The regulatory amendment was approved by Council in 2012 for submission to the Secretary of Commerce and the rule became effective on October 9, 2012. Actions implemented through regulatory amendment 12 include: Adjust the Annual Catch Limit (ACL) and Optimum Yield (OY) for golden tilefish; specifying a commercial Annual Catch Target (ACT); and revise recreational Accountability Measures (AMs) for golden tilefish.


Amendment 18B
Amendment 18B addresses management of golden tilefish. Actions included in the amendment are: An endorsement program for the longline sector of the golden tilefish component of the snapper-grouper fishery; Establishment of landings criteria to determine who will receive endorsements. Only golden tilefish fishermen who meet certain landings criteria and also have a valid Unlimited South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Permit will receive an endorsement and be allowed to use longline gear to harvest golden tilefish; An appeals process for the golden tilefish endorsement program;  Establishment of a procedure to allow transferability of golden tilefish endorsements;  Allocation of 75% of the commercial annual catch limit to the longline sector and 25% to the hook-and-line sector;  Modification of the golden tilefish trip limits to remove the 300 pound gutted weight trip limit when 75% of the commercial annual catch limit is caught;  Establishment of a 500 pound gutted weight trip limit for those who do not qualify for a golden tilefish endorsement. The Council approved Amendment 18B in June 2012 for submission to the Secretary of Commerce for review and final approval. The final rule was published on April 23, 2013 and became effective on May 23, 2013. Fishery Bulletin (final rule)

  Appendix A: Considered but Rejected Alternatives and Sub-alternatives
  Appendix B: Glossary
  Appendix C: Essential Fish Habitat and Move to Ecosystem Based Management
  Appendix D: Draft Golden Tilefish Limited Access Privilege (LAP) Program Exploratory Workgroup Report
  Appendix E: Bycatch Practicability Analysis
  Appendix F: History of Management
  Appendix G: Tilefish P*=0.35 Projections
  Appendix H: Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
  Appendix I: Regulatory Impact Review
  Appendix J: Fishery Impact Statement
  Notice of Availability
  Proposed Rule
  Final Rule

Amendment 26 (under development)
Amendment 26 is included in the Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 3 (CE-BA 3) and will address modifications to bycatch and discard reporting for commercial and for-hire vessels.


Regulatory Amendment 13
In Regulatory Amendment 13, the Council took action to revise the acceptable biological catch estimates, annual catch limits (including sector annual catch limits), and recreational annual catch targets for 37 un-assessed snapper-grouper species. The revisions incorporate updates to the recreational data for these species, as per the new Marine Recreational Information Program, as well as revisions to commercial and for-hire landings. Regulatory Amendment 13 is necessary to avoid triggering accountability measures for these snapper-grouper species based on annual catch limits that were established by the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment in April 2012, using recreational data under the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey system. NOAA Fisheries no longer uses the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey and now estimates recreational landings using the Marine Recreational Information Program. The 37 species affected by Regulatory Amendment 13 are 31 species in the deepwater, jacks, snappers, grunts, shallow water groupers, and porgies complexes; as well as six individual stocks. The Council approved the amendment for submission to the Secretary of Commercs in December 2012. The final rule was published on June 17, 2013 with the regulations becoming effective on July 17, 2013.  Fishery Bulletin (final rule)


Regulatory Amendment 14
In Regulatory Amendment 14, the Council is considering actions to modify the fishing year for greater amberjack; revise the minimum size limit measurement for gray triggerfish; increase the minimum size limit for hogfish; modify the commercial and recreational fishing year for black sea bass; adjust the commercial fishing season for vermilion snapper; modify the aggregate grouper bag limit; and revise the AMs for gag and vermilion snapper. The Council approved the amendment for public hearings at their June 2013 meeting and approved the amendment at the September 2013 meeting. Notice of Intent (April 17, 2013)

Amendment & Appendices  
Proposed Rule April 25 2014
Final Rule November 7, 2014
Implementation Effective December 8, 2014

Regulatory Amendment 15 
In Regulatory Amendment 15, the Council is considering actions to: Modify the existing specification of optimum yield and annual catch limit for yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic; Modify existing regulations for yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic; and -Modify the existing gag commercial annual catch limit and/or accountability measure for gag that requires a closure of all other shallow water groupers (black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, graysby, coney, yellowmouth grouper, and yellowfin grouper) in the South Atlantic when the gag commercial annual catch limit is met or projected to be met. The Council approved this amendment for submission to the Secretary of Commerce at the December 2012 meeting.   The final rule was effective on September 12, 2013. Final Rule


Regulatory Amendment 16 (under development)
The amendment was developed to consider ways to prevent derby conditions from developing in the golden tilefish longline fishery.  In June 2013, the Council made a motion to discontinue development of this amendment.  Instead, the document will be re-drafted to include an action to remove the prohibition on the use of black sea bass pots that is being implemented through Regulatory Amendment 19.The current amendment is considering removal and/or modification of the prohibition on the use of black sea bass pots annually from November 1 through April 30 that was implemented through Regulatory Amendment 19 and became effective on October 23, 2013.  The goal of the action in Regulatory Amendment 16 is to minimize adverse socio-economic impacts to black sea bass pot endorsement holders while maintaining protection to whales in the South Atlantic region listed under the Endangered Species Act. An additional action was added in 2014 to address golden tilefish longline endorsement issues.


Amendment 27 
This amendment assumes management of Nassau grouper in the Gulf of Mexico; modifies the crew size restriction for dual-permitted vessels (those with a Snapper Grouper Unlimited or 225-Pound Permit and a Charter/Headboat Permit for Snapper Grouper); considers modifications to the bag limit retention restriction for captain and crew of for-hire vessels; proposes changes to the existing snapper grouper framework procedure to allow for more timely adjustments to ACLs; and modifies management measures for blue runner.  The Council approved this amendment for submission to the Secretary of Commerce at their March 2013 meeting.  A  for this amendment published in the Federal Register n September 27, 2013. 

Amendment  
Proposed Rule September 27, 2013
Final Rule December 27, 2013
Implementation January 27, 2014

Amendment 28 (2013)
Amendment 28 establishes (1) a process to determine if a red snapper fishing season will occur each year, which would include specification of the allowable harvest for both sectors and season length for the recreational sector; (2) an equation to determine the annual catch limit amount for red snapper for each sector; and (3) management measures if fishing for red snapper is allowed.  The amendment was approved for submission to the Secretary of Commerce in March 2013.  The final rule for Amendment 28 published in the Federal Register on July 24, 2013.  Proposed Rule / Final Rule /  Fishery Bulletin; For more information, see: 
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2013/am28/index.html​


Amendment 30
The Comprehensive Ecosystem-based Amendment 3 (CE-BA 3) initially included an action to consider requiring VMS for all commercial snapper grouper vessels.  During the December 2012 meeting, however, the Council chose to extract that action from CE-BA 3 and address it in a separate amendment.  Some Council members expressed concern that fishermen needed more time to learn about the implications of this proposed action and the capabilities of a VMS.  Fishermen and the public in general associate VMS only with enforcement activities and are unaware of its data collection capabilities and other features.  Hence, Snapper Grouper Amendment 30 was taken out to public hearings in May 2013.  At their June 2013 meeting, the Council voted to not submit the amendment for Secretarial review.


Regulatory Amendment 18 
Stock assessment updates for vermilion snapper and red porgy were conducted in 2012 and new ABCs were recommended as a result.  This amendment would adjust the ACL (and sector ACLs) for vermilion snapper and red porgy based on the recently completed stock assessment updates for those two species.  In addition, the amendment proposes the removal of the annual recreational closure for vermilion snapper.  The Council approved this amendment for submission to the Secretary of Commerce at their March 2013 meeting.  The final rule was effective September 5, 2013. Final Rule


Regulatory Amendment 19 
The 2013 update to the black sea bass stock assessment indicated the stock was neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing and was rebuilt.  Hence, at their March 2013 meeting, the Council requested development of Regulatory Amendment 19 to adjust the black sea bass harvest limits based on the results of the assessment.  Because the increase to the ABC/ACL was substantial, there was concern that this could extend fishing with pots into the calving season for right whales and create a risk of entanglement for large migratory whales during the fall months.  To minimize this risk, the amendment also proposed a closure to black sea bass pot gear from November 1 to April 30.  The Council approved the amendment for submission to the Secretary at a special Council meeting held via webinar in May 2013. The final rule published on September 23, 2013. The ACL increase for black sea bass in the South Atlantic was effective September 23, 2013. The annual prohibition on the use of black sea bass pots from November 1 through April 30  became effective October 23, 2013.  


Amendment 29 (under Secretarial Review)
At the June 2013 Council meeting, the SSC presented to the Council their recommended changes to the ABC Control Rule. In addition, the SSC provided ABC recommendations for "Only Reliable Catch Stocks".  To implement these recommendations, the Council requested development of Amendment 29.  Work on this amendment will commence in 2014. At the September meeting, Council removed blue line tile fish; included a 3-year review provision for the ORCS species; and requested to add actions related to gray trigger fish.

Public hearings were held in January 2014 and the Council will reviewed public hearing comments at the March 2014 Council meeting. The Council revised the Purpose and Need, the range of alternatives for each action, and selected preferred alternatives. The Council reviewed the amendment at their June 2014 meeting and requested some changes to alternatives to address concerns about scamp grouper. Council took public comment on the amendment at their Septebmer 2014 meeting and approved the amendment for Secretarial review. 


Regulatory Amendment 17 
This amendment would consider alternatives for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that would help diminish bycatch of speckled hind and warsaw grouper.  The Council initially convened a group of experts and held an MPA Expert Workgroup meeting in Pooler, GA in May 2012.  The Workgroup comprised scientists with expertise in deepwater groupers and/or MPAs and commercial and recreational fishermen with extensive experience in the South Atlantic.  The Workgroup produced a report that was presented to the Council in June 2012 and contained recommendations for both re-orientation of existing deepwater MPAs as well as options for new MPAs.  The Council stated their intent to initially only consider re-orientation of some of the existing deepwater MPAs, however, they approved a motion at the December 2012 meeting to consider other areas.  The MPA Expert Workgroup was convened again in February 4-6, 2013 in Charleston to provide further advice to the Council.  In March 2013 the Council requested that staff review the Purpose and Need for this amendment and bring it back for discussion at the September 2013 meeting. 

NOTE: At their June 2014 meeting, the Council decided to stop development of Regulatory Amendment 17 and focus instead of development of Amendment 36 based on recommendations from the Snapper Grouper AP and public input received through the Visioning Project.


Regulatory Amendment 21
This amendment would prevent snapper-grouper species with low natural mortality rates (red snapper, blueline tilefish, gag, black grouper, yellowtail snapper, vermilion snapper, red porgy, and greater amberjack) from being unnecessarily classified as overfished. For these species, even small fluctuations in biomass due to natural conditions rather than fishing mortality may cause a stock to be classified as overfished.   Modifying the minimum stock size threshold definition (used in determining whether a species is overfished) would help prevent red snapper, blueline tilefish, gag, black grouper, yellowtail snapper, vermilion snapper, red porgy, and greater amberjack from being classified as overfished unnecessarily.

Amendment  
Proposed Rule  
Final Rule October 7, 2014
Implementation November 6, 2014