03/31/15 – SAFMC News Release: Upcoming Meetings Will Address Federal Fisheries Management Issues; Scientists convene in April; Advisory panels provide grass roots input; Spawning SMZ Workshop

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                 

March 31, 2015  

(PDF version)


CONTACT:  Kim Iverson

Public Information Officer

Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10 or 843/571-4366


Upcoming Meetings Will Address Federal Fisheries Management Issues

Scientists convene in April; Advisory panels provide grass roots input; Spawning SMZ Workshop


     Fishermen and others interested in federal fishery management issues may want to mark their calendars for upcoming meetings that will impact snapper grouper, mackerel, and shrimp fisheries, as well as policies affecting essential fish habitat and ecosystem-based management. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold several advisory panel meetings as well as a meeting of the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) in the coming weeks. The meetings begin on April 7th with a meeting of the Habitat Advisory Panel, include a workshop on Spawning Special Management Zones (SMZs) on April 13th, and conclude with a three-day meeting of the SSC April 28-30, 2015.  The meetings will be held in North Charleston, South Carolina and available online via webinar as they occur.

      The Council’s advisory panel members, representing commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, fish house operators and others knowledgeable about fisheries issues, provide grass roots input into the fishery management process.  The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) is responsible for reviewing the scientific basis of Council management plans and actions and developing fishing level recommendations in accordance with national fisheries guidelines.  Members of the SSC include economists, biologists, sociologists, and natural resource attorneys who are knowledgeable about the technical aspects of fisheries in the South Atlantic. 

     Additional information about the advisory panel meetings and Spawning SMZ Workshop listed below, including meeting agendas, overviews, and briefing book materials are posted on the Advisory Panel Meetings page of the Council’s web site at safmc.net/cms.  Additional information on the SSC meeting will be posted on the SSC Meetings page of the website as it becomes available.  Members of the public are invited to attend all meetings. The SSC and advisory panel meetings will also be accessible online via webinar as they occur.  Webinar registration is required and details are posted on the meeting pages of the website.

Advisory Panel Meeting Agenda Highlights

Location: With the exception of the Habitat Advisory Panel, all of the following advisory panel meetings will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, 5265 International Blvd., North Charleston, SC 29405; phone 843/308-9330.

April 7-8, 2015 - Habitat Advisory Panel Meeting 

  • Impacts associated with new and developing fisheries including the calico scallop and cannon ball jelly fisheries
  • Renewable energy and energy exploration including seismic testing in the South Atlantic
  • Impacts and implications of climate variability
  • Updates to existing and developing new Council Essential Fish Habitat  Policy Statements
  • Continued development of the Fishery Ecosystem Plan II

Location: Crowne Plaza, 4381 Tanger Outlet Blvd., North Charleston, SC 29418, phone: 843/744-4422.

April 13-14, 2015 – Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel Meeting and Spawning SMZ Workshop

  • Modifications to the seasonal closure for the commercial black sea bass pot fishery (Regulatory Amendment 16)
  • Joint South Florida Issues Amendment (yellowtail snapper, mutton snapper, and black grouper)
  • Spawning SMZs for snapper grouper species (Amendment 36)  
  • Measures to modify the commercial golden tilefish fishery (Regulatory Amendment 32) 
  • Options for the management of hogfish, changes to the jacks complex, removal of size limits for deepwater  species, modifications to the spawning season closure for shallow water grouper, and changes to size limits for red grouper and bag limits for black sea bass (Amendment 37)
  • Other Items: Proposed electronic reporting requirements for federally permitted charterboats, the Council’s Visioning Project, and a draft System Management Plan for Marine Protected Areas  
  • Spawning SMZ Workshop - will be held in conjunction with the AP meeting on Monday, April 13, 2015  at 5:30 p.m.  Members of the public are encouraged to attend and provide input on areas for consideration.

April 15, 2015 – King and Spanish Mackerel Advisory Panel Meeting

  • Measures for king mackerel including changes to the management boundary and annual catch limits for both Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic king mackerel, an incidental catch allowance for king mackerel in the shark gillnet fishery, and additional changes for Gulf group king mackerel (Mackerel Amendment 26)
  • Update on cobia spawning aggregations in South Carolina
  • Electronic Technology Plan and proposed electronic reporting requirements for federally permitted charterboats

April 16, 2015 – Joint Shrimp Advisory Panel and Deepwater Shrimp Advisory Panel Meeting

  • NOAA Fisheries’ biological opinion for the shrimp fishery and data/procedures for a shrimp stock assessment and bycatch estimates for the fishery
  • Shrimp access area within the Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern currently closed to the fishery

Scientific and Statistical Committee and Socio-Economic Panel Meeting

April 28 – April 30, 2015

     Stock assessments for mutton snapper, hogfish, and blueline tilefish top the agenda for a meeting of the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). Members of the SSC will review the recent stock assessment for mutton snapper and provide fishing level recommendations to the Council. The SSC will also review revised stock assessment projections for hogfish. A recent benchmark stock assessment for hogfish, conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, identified three separate stocks for hogfish, one in the Gulf of Mexico and the other two in the South Atlantic. The SSC will provide input on the projections for the “Southeast/South Florida” stock, identified as overfished and undergoing overfishing in the recent stock assessment. The projections will be used by the Council when making future decisions on management of the stock and may impact current regulations. 

     Members of the SSC, including representatives from the Mid-Atlantic, will address issues concerning the geographic range of the most recent stock assessment for blueline tilefish. The SSC’s input could directly impact regulations for fishermen targeting blueline tilefish in North Carolina and possibly as far north as New England. 

     Committee members will also review several proposed amendments to the Council’s Fishery Management Plans. In addition, the SSC’s Socio-Economic Panel will meet from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.  The Panel will review proposed management measures, the Council’s System Management Plan for Marine Protected Areas, and the Vision Blueprint for long-term management of the snapper grouper fishery, and provide a report to the SSC.  Public comment will be accepted during the SSC meeting.

Meeting location: Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel, 4381 Tanger Outlet Blvd., North Charleston, SC 29418; phone 843/744-4422. To learn more about the Council’s advisory panels and SSC and their role in fisheries management, visit safmc.net/cms