South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

The South Atlantic Bite

Two black sea bass swim over coral and sponges.

Newsworthy Notes – July 2nd, 2024

SAFMC Seminar Series: Low Recruitment in Some South Atlantic Managed Species

The Council’s scientific webinar series continues in July with a presentation on the importance of recruitment in reef fish fisheries for maintaining healthy stocks. Reef fish of the Southeast U.S. are largely supported by recruitment of young fish into the population.

Stock assessments of multiple reef fishes in the South Atlantic region have demonstrated low recruitment for the past 10-15 years. This presentation will address current research conducted to understand the potential causes of low recruitment. Register now for the webinar, grab a sandwich next week, and learn over lunch!

Missed a presentation? No worries – previous presentations in the series are available from the Council’s website and include topics ranging from fish acoustics to video surveys in fisheries. Visit the Council’s website for more!

Council Seeks Public Input on Proposed Measures for Snapper Grouper Fishery

Public comment is essential to the Council process.

The Council will hold public hearings via webinar for actions being proposed for the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. During the hearings Council staff will provide an overview of the proposed measures and answer clarifying questions. Comments will then be taken from those wishing to provide input. Register now using the links below for the webinars and receive email reminders as the dates approach!

Black and Gag Grouper Vessel Limits, Black Sea Bass Pot Stowage Requirements (Regulatory Amendment 36)

Webinar registration | Wednesday, July 31 and Thursday, August 1 | 6 p.m.

Regulatory Amendment 36 would revise the recreational vessel limits for Gag and Black Grouper and address stowage requirements for black sea bass pots equipped with on-demand gear while transiting closed areas.

To remain consistent with a bag limit of one Gag or Black Grouper, the amendment would change the aggregate recreational vessel limit to two fish of either species. Gag are currently overfished and experiencing overfishing. Visit the Council’s website for additional information.

Scamp, Yellowmouth Grouper, and the Other Shallow Water Grouper Complex (Amendment 55)

Webinar Registration | Tuesday, August 13 and Wednesday, August 14 | 6 p.m.

Scamp and Yellowmouth Grouper are overfished, but overfishing is not occurring. A rebuilding plan is needed to address the overfished status.

Measures proposed in Amendment 55 would establish a Scamp and Yellowmouth Grouper Complex. A rebuilding plan would be established for the new management complex along with catch levels, sector allocations, and accountability measures.

Yellowmouth Grouper would be removed from the Other Shallow Water Grouper Complex and updates made to the reorganized Other Shallow Water Grouper Complex (Rock Hind, Red Hind, Coney, Graysby, and Yellowfin Grouper) through the amendment.

Public hearing materials will be posted on the Council’s website as they become available.

Can You Identify Shallow Water Grouper?

Distinguishing between various grouper, including Black and Gag can sometimes present a challenge. There are 10 different grouper species in the shallow water grouper management complex: Black, Gag, Yellowfin, Scamp, Yellowmouth, Red, Coney, Graysby, Rock Hind, and Red Hind.

The Council’s Citizen Science Program offers a helpful Shallow Water Grouper ID Guide as part of its SAFMC Release Project. The project allows fishermen to provide information on released shallow water grouper and Red Snapper to help fill data gaps. This includes length, depth of release, optional location, shark predation, and use of descending devices via a mobile app! Check out the link to learn more about SAFMC Release and how you can get involved in the project.

Exploring Innovative Strategies to Reduce Red Snapper Discards

Recognizing the ongoing frustration of fishermen with the Red Snapper fishery in the South Atlantic, NOAA Fisheries has recommended nearly $900,000 to fund projects to reduce discards and increase fishing opportunities.

”We understand anglers are frustrated. We as managers are also frustrated and see the need for new, innovative management strategies to reduce snapper-grouper dead discards, including Red Snapper,” said Andy Strelcheck, NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Regional Administrator.

A recent feature story from NOAA Fisheries highlights five projects for funding to explore new, innovative approaches to better understand and reduce Red Snapper dead discards and increase fishing opportunities.

The largest of these projects will be administered by the Florida Fish Wildlife Conservation Commission. The project will test management strategies, using an Exempted Fishing Permit to allow some retention of Red Snapper. Additional details are included in the feature story.

Best Fishing Practices – Know Before You Go!

Before heading offshore on your next bottom fishing trip, take a few moments to ensure you are following regulations and best fishing practices.

Whether you are releasing a fish because it’s too small, out of season, or you have reached your retention limit, following best practices improves the chance the released fish will survive.

When fishing for snapper grouper species in federal waters along the South Atlantic coast, there are requirements for descending devices, dehooking tools, and specific hooks. All of these requirements are designed to help improve survival. Details can be found on the Council’s Best Fishing Practices webpage.

Best Fishing Practices Logo

Additional Snippets:

Are Fish Shrinking? Scientists discover a global phenomenon, but the reasons behind it aren’t clear cut

Global demand for seafood continues to grow. Increased wild-capture fishing efforts have resulted in the decline of numerous fish populations worldwide. But scientists want to know whether sheer numbers of fish are the only problem, or whether other factors are at play in the ability of a fish species to maintain its population. Check out this recent post from NC Sea Grant’s Hook, Line & Science for more!

Coast Guard Presents Charleston Harbor Pilot with Public Service Award (Harbor pilot safely steers runaway ship)

It may not be “fishy”, but this story deserves to be told. On June 5th, Christopher Thorton with the Charleston Branch Pilots Association, safely piloted a runaway ship for over 20 nautical miles, five major turns, and under the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge in Charleston Harbor without major incident.

The container ship, the 979-foot MSC Michigan VII, experienced a loss of engine control causing an uncontrolled acceleration, traveling at nearly twice the normal speed of ships through the harbor. The vessel was safely navigated out of Charleston Harbor and anchored offshore. Mr. Thorton received the USCG Meritorius Public Service Award for his actions. Read more in this press release from the USCG

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 31 and August 1, 2024

Public Hearings – Snapper Grouper Reg Amendment 36

Via webinar

Additional information

August 13 and 14, 2024

Public Hearings – Snapper Grouper Amendment 55

Via webinar

Additional information

August 15, 2024

Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) Meeting

Via webinar

Additional information