(NEWSLETTER - Winter 2019)
After serving as a Council member for eight years, I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve as the Council Chair and pen this quarterly column to discuss what we are doing and what is coming up next. This year, we are looking forward to tackling some tough issues that are going to make significant changes to how we manage South Atlantic fisheries. And I’m not talking about a single species or group of species, but ALL South Atlantic fisheries. We plan on doing this by revising the Council’s Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) Control Rule and adjusting the accountability measures for recreational fisheries.
You may have missed these topics, which the Council began discussing back in 2017. They’re not headline grabbers like red snapper or cobia. In fact, they are part of fisheries management that doesn’t get much attention from the public. Or at least not until something goes wrong. But the ABC Control Rule and recreational accountability measures play a major role in dictating your opportunities to access fish.
The ABC Control Rule is the Council’s policy for establishing allowable biological catches, or quotas, that are based upon the best scientific information available, scientific uncertainty, and risk tolerance for overfishing. How uncertainty and risk tolerance are managed when setting the ABC directly affects fishing quotas.
Recreational accountability measures, or AMs, are tools the Council uses to keep harvest to the quota and to address quota overages if they occur. Currently, AMs vary widely by species. The Council intends to revise the AMs to be more consistent for all species and we are considering removing AMs that would cause in-season recreational closures.
The changes being considered by the Council to the ABC Control Rule and recreational AMs will have a direct effect on the fisheries you enjoy, and we believe it will be for the positive. Please take a moment to visit our website and learn more about these topics: https://safmc.net/amendments-under-development/. You can also use this link to send us your thoughts. If you have any questions about these or other items, the Council staff is available to talk to you and can be reached at: 843-571-4366.
I look forward to working with you on the management of our important fisheries and hope to see you on the water.