South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

The South Atlantic Bite

Newsworthy Notes – July 7, 2023

SAFMC Seminar Series: Larval Dispersal from Spawning Special Management Zones

Tuesday, July 11, 2023 1 p.m.- 2:30 p.m. via webinar

The Council’s Seminar Series continues in July with a presentation from Gulf of Maine Research Institute staff entitled “Simulated larval dispersal of snapper-grouper species to evaluate the efficacy of spawning Special Management Zones”. The presentation involves five Spawning Special Management Zones (SMZs) designated off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

These are marine protected areas that were explicitly designated to increase the spawning and recruitment of species in the snapper grouper complex by protecting important spawning areas from fishing pressure. Each location was chosen as a potential source of high recruitment for the broader region. However, at the time of designation, it was unclear if the oceanographic conditions around the spawning SMZs favored recruitment success.

Register now to attend the seminar to see how larval dispersal via ocean currents was simulated for several species from each SMZ and whether they can effectively serve as sources of recruitment for the snapper grouper population.

No Floaters! Best Fishing Practices Help Support the Future of Fisheries

Summer fishing season is in full swing and it is more important than ever to use Best Fishing Practices. These practices may help to reduce the number of fish you release (by avoiding non-targeted species) and improve the survival of released fish. Using best practices begins before you leave the dock. Know the regulations and requirements. Have gear ready for use and know how to identify the signs of barotrauma – and when a descending device should be used.

Need one-stop shopping? Visit the Council’s Best Fishing Practices webpage! Here you will find the information you need for planning your next offshore trip – regulations and requirements, recognizing barotrauma, instructional videos on the use of descending devices (and how to make your own), and powerful video demonstrating the effectiveness of descending devices.

SAFMC Release

Data may be collected on fish that make it back to the dock, but information is also needed on fish you release. It is difficult to sample fish being released on the water, but the easy-to-use mobile app, SciFish, allows fishermen to log crucial information on their released shallow-water grouper and Red Snapper. Learn more about SAFMC Release and sign up today!

Best Fishing Practices Logo

Women in Fishing Podcast Focuses on Best Fishing Practices and Citizen Science

Join host Chris Woodward, the Council’s own Meg Withers, Citizen Science Project Coordinator (top right), and Angela Collins from Florida Sea Grant as they discuss best fishing practices and the importance of citizen science. The latest Women in Fishing podcast (Episode #18) is now available from Sport Fishing Magazine.

The podcast features insight from these experienced women, including helpful information and videos for your next fishing trip! The direct YouTube link:

Photo: Sport Fishing Magazine

Miss a Meeting? Council Meeting Reports Available Online

If you missed the South Atlantic Council’s June meeting in St. Augustine, there are individual Committee Reports and reports from meetings of the Full Council available from the Council’s website at:

Committee and Full Council Reports are added to the webpage following each Council meeting along with a news release summarizing the meeting events. Public comments are available online for the public as well as Council members to view as they are posted. Online public comments must be submitted by Friday afternoon of each meeting.

The Council generally meets in person four times each year. Meetings are scheduled a year in advance, with the March meeting held in Georgia, the June meeting held in Florida, the September meeting in South Carolina, and the December meeting in North Carolina. Web pages are created for each Council meeting. Meeting materials are posted two weeks prior to each meeting along with an online public comment form. The online agenda includes links to meeting documents.

Meeting Archives

Looking for archived Council meeting materials? They’re now available online (in addition to other meeting archives) at:

Updating the archived meeting materials is an ongoing project. Please contact Nick Smillie at with any questions you may have about locating posted materials.

The Council will meet again September 11-15, 2023 at the Town and Country Inn in Charleston, SC.

U.S. Regional Fishery Management Council Report Finds More than 72% of Federal Waters Classified as “Conservation Areas”

The nation’s eight regional fishery management councils (Councils) have released a first-ever synthesis of conservation areas in federal waters of the United States. The report, located on, identifies hundreds of conservation areas covering nearly three quarters of federal waters. These findings demonstrate that a large portion of federal waters is protected from fishing activities that could negatively impact the environment.

The report was developed with the goal of identifying conservation areas that should be included in the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas (Atlas). Development of the Atlas is one component of the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful Initiative, which aims to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. According to the Biden Administration, the Atlas will be a “tool through which to measure the progress of conservation, stewardship, and restoration efforts across the United States”. The Council Coordination Committee (CCC), consisting of leadership from the eight fishery management councils, formed an Area-Based Management Subcommittee in May 2021 to identify conservation areas in federal waters.

“Our subcommittee produced a first-of-its-kind, groundbreaking, and highly detailed analysis of the conservation areas developed by all eight regional fisheries management councils under our authority mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act,” said Eric Reid, Chair of the CCC Area-Based Management Subcommittee. “These conservation areas are designed to maintain the productivity and biodiversity of marine ecosystems and balance fishery access to a wide variety of user groups.”

See the complete press release for additional details. Visit to learn more about the eight regional fishery management councils, the Council Coordination Committee, and Council efforts regarding Area Based Management.

Additional Snippets:

Request for Comments: Changes to Catch Levels and Management Measures for South Atlantic Greater Amberjack

NOAA Fisheries is requesting comments on the notice of availability and proposed rule for Amendment 49 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. The amendment and proposed rule would respond to the latest assessment indicating the South Atlantic Greater Amberjack population is neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing. The amendment would increase the acceptable biological catch, optimum yield, and annual catch limits, modify sector allocations, reduce the commercial minimum size limit, increase the commercial trip limit for Season 2 (September through February) and revise the April spawning season closure. Details on the proposed changes are available from the Fishery Bulletin from NOAA Fisheries. Comments are due by August 21, 2023.

Webinar Series: Developing Offshore Wind in U.S. Waters Part 1 – The Planning and Regulatory Framework

The NOAA National MPA Center and the Open Communications for the Oceans (OCTO) will host a webinar on Wednesday, July 19, 2023 beginning at 12:00 noon EST focusing on ocean wind in U.S. waters. Part 1 of the webinar series will explore the historical and policy background and framing behind the U.S. wind energy transition, including an introduction to the planning and regulation processes and the players involved. This webinar will set the groundwork for future discussions exploring offshore wind energy, its future in US waters, and its compatibility and interactions with marine protected areas and other ocean uses. Learn more and register here.

Request for Comments: Changes to Catch Levels, Sector Allocations, and Recreational Accountability Measures and Fishing Season for Snowy Grouper in the South Atlantic

NOAA Fisheries is requesting comments on the notice of availability and proposed rule for Amendment 51 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. The latest population assessment determined South Atlantic Snowy Grouper are overfished and undergoing overfishing. Details on the proposed changes are available from the Fishery Bulletin issued by NOAA Fisheries. Comments are due by July 21, 2023.

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!

July 25-27, 2023

SAFMC Public Hearings via webinar

Commercial Electronic Logbook Amendment

Public Hearing Information

July 27, 2023

Scientific and Statistical Committee Meeting

via webinar

Meeting information

July 31 – August 2, 2023

SAFMC Public Scoping Meetings via webinar

Snapper Grouper Amendment 55 (Scamp and Yellowmouth Grouper)

Scoping Information

September 11-15, 2023

SAFMC Meeting

Charleston, SC

Meeting information