South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

The South Atlantic Bite

Reminder – Council Meeting Begins Next Week in Key West

Register now to attend via webinar and for public comment; meeting materials available

Next week’s meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will be a busy one, as Council members address federal fishery issues ranging from ways to reduce release mortality in the Snapper Grouper fishery to evaluating the Council’s Citizen Science Program.

The meeting will take place at the Marriott Beachside Hotel in Key West, Meetings of the Council’s Snapper Grouper, Dolphin Wahoo, and Citizen Science Committees will be held during the middle of the week. The Council will meet in full session on Monday and again Thursday afternoon and Friday, ending at noon.

Register now to attend the meetings each day via webinar as they occur. Meetings are also open to the public.

Public Comment

Tuesday, June 14. 5 p.m. until 6 p.m.

The Council will host an in-person, informal Question and Answer Session for the public with representatives from NOAA Fisheries and the Council.

Wednesday, June 15. Beginning at 4 p.m.

Hybrid Public Comment Session – this public comment session allows for both in-person and remote (via webinar) verbal public comment. Individuals intending to provide verbal public comment remotely may sign up HERE. Members of the public intending to provide verbal public comment in person will be asked to sign in at the meeting.

Online Public Comment

An online public comment form is available now for written comments. These comments are accessible to the public, part of the administrative record of the meeting, and immediately available to Council members.

Additional Information Additional meeting information, including meeting agendas, overviews, and briefing book materials is available from the Council’s website at:

Council to Consider Options for Dolphin Management During June Meeting

Dolphin may arguably be one of the most popular offshore sport fish along the Atlantic coast. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is responsible for management of Dolphin in federal waters from Maine to the Florida Keys. Given the broad management area, migratory nature of Dolphin, and relatively short life history, management of Dolphin presents a unique challenge.

On May 2, 2022, new regulations for Dolphin were implemented through Amendment 10 to the Dolphin Wahoo Fishery Management Plan. Among several measures, the amendment reduced the recreational vessel limit from 60 to 54 Dolphin and set sector allocations at 93% recreational and 7% commercial.

Public comment received during the development of Amendment 10, as well as public concern over a relative lack of Dolphin abundance, particularly in the South Florida area, led the Council to consider additional management options through Regulatory Amendment 3. Options include extending the applicable geographic range of the minimum size limit for Dolphin (the minimum size limit in federal waters off of SC, GA and east Florida is 20 inches fork length), and reducing the recreational daily bag limit (10 fish per person), recreational vessel limits, and captain/crew retention limits onboard charter vessels.

The Council’s Dolphin Wahoo Advisory Panel met in April and provided management recommendations for the Council’s consideration. The AP members also developed an updated Fishery Performance Report for Dolphin, providing their experience and observations on the water and highlighting the diversity in the fishery. Fishery Performance Reports are provided by advisory panels on various species managed by the Council and complement scientific and landings data. The Council’s Dolphin Wahoo Committee will consider the AP input as well as public comments received as it continues to consider management options during the June Council meeting.

Harvest Reductions Proposed for Snowy Grouper

Council continues exploring options for management of the snapper grouper complex

The latest stock assessment update for Snowy Grouper indicates the stock is overfished and undergoing overfishing. In response, the Council is developing management measures to end overfishing and continue to rebuild the stock. A reduction in harvest of approximately 43% is needed to achieve updated catch levels. The measures are being developed through Snapper Grouper Amendment 51.

In addition to modifying the Acceptable Biological Catch and Annual Catch limits, the amendment addresses sector allocations using updated recreational landings, considers reductions to the current 200-pound gutted weight commercial trip limit, and modifies the recreational season (May 1 – August 31). Amendment 51 also includes measures to modify recreational accountability measures.

The Council will consider recommendations from its Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel and public comment on the draft amendment during next week’s Council meeting. If approved, public hearings for Amendment 51 will be held later this summer. Written public comments may also be submitted using the online comment form for the June Council meeting.

Reducing Release Mortality in the Snapper Grouper Fishery

The number of released fish continues to grow as fishing pressure increases and measures to end overfishing are implemented. The Council is considering options to reduce encounters with fish that cannot be retained and reduce release mortality for Red Snapper and other species in the snapper grouper management complex. The Council will consider feedback from its Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel and its Scientific and Statistical Committee as it considers options currently in draft Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 35 during the June Council meeting.

Additional Snippets:

Fishing Smart around Essential Fish Habitats in the Southeast

The Southeast U.S. is world famous for its fishing opportunities. Year-round fishing, relatively moderate weather, and a wide variety of fish species make the region truly special. One reason for the diversity and abundance of fish in the region – it is home to many types of productive marine habitats. See this recent feature article from NOAA Fisheries on how anglers can help keep these habitats safe by using best practices around coral reefs, sea grass beds and mangroves.

Who you gonna call? NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Develops Comprehensive 2022 Contact List

Looking for information on federal permits or permit renewal? Need customer support for for-hire reporting requirements, or have a question about a marine mammal stranding? NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office now offers a comprehensive contact list for stakeholders, providing information on the offices you need most often. See the Fishery Bulletin for details, including links to helpful website information.

Bioluminescence – Long Story Shorts Series from Hakai

Lots of organisms in the ocean can glow. But what is bioluminescence? How is it used? Take less than 2 minutes to check out this informative and entertaining video from the Hakai Institute’s Long Story Shorts series about bioluminescense (and spell that three times quickly)!

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!

June 13-17, 2022

SAFMC June Meeting

Marriott Beachside Hotel

Key West, FL

Webinar registration

June 28, 2022

1 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Wreckfish Shareholders Meeting

Key Largo, FL

Webinar registration

June 29, 2022

8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Spiny Lobster Advisory Panel Meeting

Key Largo, FL

Webinar registration

June 30, 2022

8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Golden Crab Advisory Panel Meeting

Key Largo, FL

Webinar registration