4/2/15 – SAFMC News Release: Council Seeks Public Input on Spawning Special Management Zones

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                 

April 2, 2015  

Download PDF version here

CONTACT:  Kim Iverson

Public Information Officer

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


Council Seeks Public Input on Spawning Special Management Zones 

Workshop and public hearings scheduled in April; public comment at June Council meeting

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is holding a series of public hearings and a workshop to solicit public input on areas that could be considered for designation as Spawning Special Management Zones in federal waters (ranging from 3 to 200 miles offshore) off the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia, and the east coast of Florida. The Spawning Special Management Zones (SMZs) are being considered in Amendment 36 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. This will be the first round in a series of public hearings on measures in the amendment.  A second round in the series will be scheduled for August 2015. The amendment includes alternatives to identify and protect important spawning habitat for snapper grouper species through the designation of Spawning SMZs. The amendment would specify a process for identifying spawning sites/aggregations of snapper grouper species, including speckled hind and warsaw grouper, based on the characteristics of sites important for spawning such as bottom topography, current systems, etc.  The Spawning SMZs would provide protection to designated areas by prohibiting fishing for or possession of species in the snapper grouper management unit. Trolling for pelagic species such as tuna, dolphin, and wahoo would be allowed within the Spawning SMZs.

Fishermen, divers, and other interested members of the public are encouraged to suggest sites that could be considered for Spawning SMZs. Eight sample sites are currently in the Amendment 36 Public Hearing Document, including the Malchase Wreck off of North Carolina, “Devil’s Hole” off the coast of South Carolina, “Daytona Steeples” off the central east coast of Florida and “Warsaw Hole” in the Florida Keys. The amendment also includes alternatives to reconfigure an existing Deepwater Marine Protected Area off the coast of Georgia and allows for the boundary of the Charleston Deep Artificial Reef MPA off the coast of South Carolina to be moved to accommodate recently deployed artificial reef material. The amendment includes alternatives for anchoring and transit provisions.

Spawning SMZ Workshop

A Spawning SMZ Workshop will be held on Monday, April 13, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. in conjunction with a meeting of the Council’s Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel. Council staff will provide an overview of Amendment 36, demonstrate an online mapping tool, and Dr. Will Heyman will present cooperative research results.  Questions will be answered and then participants will break into small groups to discuss and gather input. The advisory panel meeting and workshop are open to the public and will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, 5265 International Blvd., North Charleston, SC 29418. 

Public Hearings via Webinar and Public Comment Stations

Members of the public will have two options for participating in the public hearings.

Option 1Participate via webinar – The public can register for a live webinar and listen to Council staff present an overview of Amendment 36 and answer questions.  Public comment will be accepted during the webinar.  Webinar registration is required and registration links are available on the Public Hearing and Scoping meeting page of the Council’s website at safmc.net/cms.

Option 2: Participate in person at a comment station – Persons may also attend a hearing at specified public comment stations to listen to the webinar, ask questions, and provide comment. An area Council member will be present at each comment station to moderate questions and accept public comment.

Details on the public hearing schedule and locations for the comment stations are listed below. Any maps, graphics, or other visual items that are part of the public comment should be emailed to mike.collins@safmc.net prior to the hearing.

Written comments are also being accepted and should be addressed to: Robert Mahood, SAFMC, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, North Charleston, SC 29405 or by FAX at 843/769-4520. Email comments may be submitted to mike.collins@safmc.net with a reference to “Snapper Grouper Amendment 36” included in the Subject line of the email.  Written comments will be accepted until 5:00 PM on May 1, 2015. Copies of the public hearing document are available on the Council’s website on the Public Hearing and Scoping Meeting page at safmc.net/cms and available by contacting the Council office at 843/571-4366 or Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10.

Workshop and Public Hearing Schedule for Snapper Grouper Amendment 36

(Spawning Special Management Zones)

The April public hearings are available via webinar on the following dates and times.  If preferred, the public can attend the hearing in person at the following public comment stations:

Spawning SMZ Workshop

Monday, April 13 at 5:30 p.m.

Hilton Garden Inn

5265 International Blvd.

N. Charleston, SC

Monday, April 20 at 6:00 p.m.

(2 locations)

S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources

Marine Resources Research Institute


217 Ft. Johnson Road

Charleston, SC 29422-2559

Holiday Inn Express

722 Highway 17

Little River, SC 29566

Tuesday, April 21 at 6:00 p.m.

NC Division of Marine Fisheries

Central District Office

5285 Highway 70 West

Morehead City, NC 28557

Wednesday, April 22 at 6:00 p.m.

(2 locations)

GA DNR Coastal Resources Division

One Conservation Way

Brunswick, GA 31520-8687

Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery

110 Hatchery Drive

Richmond Hill, GA 31324

Thursday, April 23 at 6:00 p.m.

Hampton Inn Daytona Speedway

1715 W. International Speedway Blvd.

Daytona Beach, FL 32114

Wednesday, June 10 at 5:30 p.m.

(In conjunction with the Council meeting)

Doubletree Grand Key Resort

3990 S. Roosevelt Blvd.

Key West, FL 33040

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, one of eight regional councils, conserves and manages fish stocks from three to 200 miles offshore of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida.