South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

The South Atlantic Bite

Newsworthy Notes – March 28th, 2024

SAFMC Seminar Series: Fish Acoustic Detection Algorithm Research

The Council’s Seminar Series continues in April with a presentation by staff from Florida Atlantic University – Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute on Fish Acoustic Detection Algorithm Research (FADAR). The seminar will focus on FADAR, a method to identify grouper and other fish potentially spawning or communicating. Attendees will learn how this method has been used to identify Nassau grouper in the South Atlantic region and is being applied in other areas.

A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation. Note that these seminars are for informational purposes only and no management actions will be taken. Learn more about this and other seminars in the series by visiting the Council’s website.

April 9, 2024

1 – 2 p.m. via webinar

Webinar registration

Reminder! 2024 King and Spanish Mackerel Port Meetings Begin Next Week in North Carolina

Fishermen and others interested in the King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel fisheries will have a unique opportunity to share their perspectives and vision for the future of these fisheries as a series of port meetings kicks off in North Carolina next week.

Members of the Council’s Mackerel Cobia Advisory Panel requested the Council hold a series of port meetings along the Atlantic coast to gather more information and take a focused look at the fisheries given changing environmental conditions that alter fishery dynamics.

A series of port meetings is being hosted by the Council, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and state partners along the Atlantic coast throughout 2024. Attendees will have the chance to actively discuss their perspectives with other fishery participants and local Council members.

North Carolina Port Meetings

Port meetings begin Monday, April 1st in Wilmington, April 2nd in Morehead City, April 3rd in Hatteras and Thursday, April 4th in Manteo. The meetings will be held from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Details about these and other Mackerel Port Meetings scheduled for 2024 are available from the Council’s website. Please sign up now if you plan to attend a meeting in North Carolina.

Council Seeks Applicants for Open Advisory Panel Seats – Apply Now!

Interested in federal fisheries management and want to get more involved? Apply now for open seats on the Council’s advisory panels.

The Council’s advisory panels (APs) inform and advise the Council in development of federal fishery management plans and amendments. Members include recreational, commercial and for-hire fishermen, seafood dealers and processors, scientists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as environmental groups and fishing organizations, and concerned citizens.

Seats on APs may be allotted by state and fishery sector, with others considered “at large” and open to any interested person. Seats are currently available on the following advisory panels: Habitat and Ecosystem; Law Enforcement; Mackerel Cobia; Shrimp; Deepwater Shrimp; and Snapper Grouper. See the recent news release for details.

Learn more about all of the Council’s advisory panels and access the online application form by visiting the Council’s website. Applications must be received by Friday, April 26, 2024 for the Council to consider during its June 10-14, 2024 meeting in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida.

Amy W. Dukes Appointed to Council as SCDNR Marine Resources Division Representative

Amy Whitaker Dukes, Regional Fisheries Manager with the Marine Resources Division of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, was recently appointed to serve as the agency’s representative on the South Atlantic Council. Amy assumes the seat following the retirement of former Council member Mel Bell as the Director of the Office of Fisheries Management at the Division.

Amy is no stranger to the Council and the fishery management process. In her position at SCDNR’s Marine Resources Division, she is responsible for managing the state’s commercial and recreational marine fisheries-dependent data collections and ensuring data collected are complete, accurate, and timely. Amy has over 17 years of experience working on a variety of projects and programs related to the collection of fishery-dependent data, both at the state and federal level. She also serves as the Program Director for the SC Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.

Learn more about Amy and her fisheries management philosophy as well as other members of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

Council Member, Amy Dukes.

SAFMC’s Best Fishing Practices Master Volunteer Program

Workshops Scheduled in SC and GA in April and May

Do you fish for snapper grouper species in federal waters? Key members of the fishing community are invited to learn and discuss ways to spread valuable information designed to improve the fishery. The number of fish being released is increasing due to regulatory measures combined with growing fishing efforts, especially in the recreational fishery. Using Best Fishing Practices is more important than ever!

Plan now to attend an in-person two-hour workshop in your area and be a part of the Council’s Best Fishing Practices (BFP) Master Volunteer Program (MVP). The workshops will focus on best practices that aid in the survival of released fish and how to get involved in the Council process, including Citizen Science projects.

Upcoming Workshops (all held from 6-8pm)

April 25, 2024

SCDNR Outdoor Classroom

412-418 Fort Johnson Road

Charleston, SC

May 7, 2024

Bass Pro Shops Classroom

10177 N. Kings Hwy

Myrtle Beach, SC

May 8, 2024

Port Royal Maritime Center

310 Okatie Hwy

Okatie, SC

May 29, 2024

GA Southern University Armstrong Campus

11935 Abercorn Street

Savannah, GA

Registration is encouraged due to limited seating. Please register here.

Additional 2024 workshops are planned in Florida and North Carolina. Learn more about the BFP Master Volunteer Program by visiting the Council’s website. Questions? Contact Ashley Oliver at

These Angling Practices Are Vital to a Pressured Catch-And-Release Fishery

Fish are under pressure – a lot of it.

Over the past several decades, the fishing industry has undergone a remarkable transformation. Whether it be the use of GPS-controlled self-anchoring trolling motors, the widespread adoption of multiple outboards on offshore rigs, or event the use of sophisticated sonars, technology has skyrocketed in the industry, allowing anglers, new and old, more access to fisheries than ever before.

Read the complete article by David Hugo, South Atlantic Reef Fish Extension and Communications Fellow, recently published in Keys Weekly. David shares his personal perspectives and experiences with Best Fishing Practices while onboard a headboat out of Key West earlier this year.

Additional Snippets:

Reduction of the 2024 Commercial Gag Catch Limit in Federal Waters of the South Atlantic Region

NOAA Fisheries recently released a Fishery Bulletin announcing that effective April 26, 2024, the 2024 commercial annual catch limit for Gag grouper in federal waters off the South Atlantic is 62,922 pounds gutted weight. The harvest reduction is effective for the commercial gag fishing season, which opens May 1, 2024. Gag are overfished and current catch limits implemented on October 23, 2023 were exceeded.

NOAA Fisheries Announces the Length of the 2024 Recreational Fishing Season for Gag in the South Atlantic Region

The recreational fishing season for Gag in federal waters of the South Atlantic will open on May 1, 2024 and end on June 15, 2024. NOAA Fisheries estimates that recreational landings will reach the 2024 recreational annual catch limit of 133,075 pounds gutted weight by June 15th. NOAA Fisheries must reduce the length of the 2024 season because recreational landings exceeded the 2023 annual catch limit. See the Fishery Bulletin for details.

Emergency Response Effort for Endangered Sawfish

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is documenting reports of abnormal fish behavior, including spinning and whirling, in the Lower Florida Keys. Along with this abnormal behavior, there have also been reports of fish deaths in these areas, including more than 28 smalltooth sawfish as of March 24. The Commission is leading an effort to investigate the abnormal behavior and cause of death. Efforts to collect and analyze samples are underway. Read more from NOAA Fisheries. A recent article on this phenomenon is also featured in National Geographic.

Mark Your Calendar

Keep track of meetings scheduled by the Council from the Meetings page of the website and register for meeting webinars as information becomes available. Register early and receive email reminders as the meeting date(s) approach!

March 26-28, 2024

Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel Meeting

Charleston, SC

Meeting Information

April 9, 2024

Snapper Grouper Rec Permitting and Reporting Advisory Panel Meeting

Via webinar

Meeting Information

April 15 – 16, 2024

SSC Socio-Economic Panel Panel Meeting

Charleston, SC

Meeting Information

April 16 – 18, 2024

Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) Meeting

Charleston, SC

Meeting Information

April 22 -23, 2024

Habitat and Ecosystem Advisory Panel Meeting

Charleston, SC

Meeting Information

April 24 -25, 2024

Joint Shrimp and Deepwater Shrimp Advisory Panels Meeting

Charleston, SC

Meeting Information

May 7, 2024

Snapper Grouper Private Angler Advisory Panel Meeting

Via webinar

Meeting Information

May 22, 2024

Citizen Science Operations Committee Meeting

Via webinar

Meeting Information