Council Continues Work on Snapper Grouper Management.

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News Release  
March 8, 2006 CONTACT: Kim Iverson
Public Information Officer
(843) 571-4366

Council Continues Work on Snapper Grouper Management

Marine Protected Areas, Individual Transferable Quotas, and Fishery Ecosystem Plan Discussed

Summary Motions from Feb/March 2006 Meeting

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council continued to move forward with snapper grouper management during its meeting last week, discussing alternatives for issues that include the establishment of marine protected areas, stock rebuilding plans, recreational sale, and a consensus to explore the use of Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs) for the commercial fishery in 2007. The Council is also developing a Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) and a Comprehensive Amendment, allowing for a more holistic approach to fisheries management.

The Council met in Jekyll Island, Georgia to refine its list of management alternatives for public hearing drafts of Amendments 14 and 15 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan, and to review preliminary draft actions to include in the FEP Comprehensive Amendment. The Council is scheduled to approve both Amendment 14 and 15 for public hearings during its June 2006 meeting. Public hearings are tentatively scheduled to be held in September 2006.

Measures proposed in Snapper Grouper Amendment 14 include:

  • A total of 8 marine protected areas to protect deepwater species in federal waters along the southeastern coast. Several alternatives are being considered for each site location; and
  • Alternatives for the use of vessel monitoring systems to enhance law enforcement.

The Council has a long history in the development of marine protected areas as proposed in Amendment 14, utilizing input from its advisory panels, Scientific and Statistical Committee, and public input from several rounds of public scoping and informational meetings. A summary of this history will be included in the public hearing draft of the document as well as a plan to establish research and monitoring within the proposed MPAs.

Measures proposed in Snapper Grouper Amendment 15 include:

  • Alternatives for stock rebuilding plans for snowy grouper, black sea bass, and red porgy;
    • Alternatives for addressing the recreational sale of snapper grouper species;
    • Changes in the fishing year for golden tilefish; and
    • Alternatives for commercial permit renewal and transfers.

    During the meeting, Dr. Nancy Thompson, Director for the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami, Florida provided an update on increased efforts to improve data collection. These recent efforts include the addition of port sampling agents, a commitment for the use of large research vessel sampling time to collect fishery independent data in the south Atlantic region, and work to prioritize research needs. In addition, Dr. Thompson has expressed support for cooperative research projects involving fishermen, managers and non-governmental organizations, as well as training workshops geared for fishermen on fisheries management and science.


    "I was extremely pleased by the commitment of NOAA Fisheries to implement measures to address many of the data needs requested by the Council," said Chairman, Dr. Louis Daniel following the meeting. "This is a positive and much needed step and we sincerely appreciate the efforts of Dr. Thompson and everyone involved in supporting better data collection."

    The Council also approved appointments to its advisory panels and to the Scientific and Statistical Committee. Appointments are contained in the list of summary motions above.

    The next meeting of the Council is scheduled for June 12-16, 2006 in Coconut Grove, Florida.


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