South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

The South Atlantic Bite

Newsworthy Notes – August 25, 2022

SAFMC Public Hearings: Management Measures Proposed for Snowy Grouper, Tilefish

Tuesday, Sept 6 and Wednesday, Sept 7 @ 6 p.m. via webinar

Snowy Grouper, Golden Tilefish, and Blueline Tilefish are popular targets when fishing deepwater reefs and sand bottoms along the South Atlantic coast. New measures are being proposed for these species and public hearings are scheduled to provide an overview and to get your input.

The Council is soliciting input on proposed measures to adjust catch levels for Snowy Grouper following the latest stock assessment update. The assessment found the stock remains overfished and is experiencing overfishing. A reduction in harvest of approximately 43% is needed to achieve the updated catch levels for Snowy Grouper. Amendment 51 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan will adjust catch levels, and contains alternatives to modify allocations between sectors, and modify the current recreational season (May 1 through August 31 with 1 per vessel/day) and recreational accountability measures for Snowy Grouper.

Snapper Grouper Amendment 52 adjusts catch levels for Golden Tilefish based on the latest stock assessment. Golden Tilefish are not overfished nor experiencing overfishing so an increase in catch levels is being considered. The amendment also includes changes to recreational management measures and accountability measures for Blueline Tilefish.

Photo credit: NOAA/NURC

Register now to attend a public hearing webinar for Amendments 51 and 52 and receive email reminders as the date approaches. Presentations and background documents are now available along with an online public comment form:

A New Greater Amberjack Tagging Study?! Find Out How to Help Science and Get Paid!

This informative blog post from Sea Grant Agent Michael Sipos provides information on the new tagging study, how to participate, and helpful info about amberjacks for your next trip offshore…

Reef donkeys, amber tuna and AJs are all titles you may have heard for the greater amberjack (GAJ) but if you can’t remember this species’ name, you sure will remember the first time you caught one as these fish provide legendary fights that often result in winded fishermen, gear tangles and a heck of a story.

To be sure we can continue to share some epic angling tales around a bowl of smoked AJ dip, researchers need your help reporting tagged greater amberjack in an effort to collect data which may lead to better estimates about population abundance and life history of this species. Plus! The reward for catching and reporting a tagged greater amberjack in this study pays out $250!

With gas prices as high as they are, reporting one of these tagged fish can help the fuel bill and science at the same time. To learn more about the tagging component of this project and how to collect your reward check out this link.

[Continue reading Michael’s blog post]

Photo credit: Dr. Michael Dance, Louisiana State University and Dr. Marcus Drymon, Mississippi State University

Reminder! NOAA Fisheries Rule to Amend Vessel Speed Regulations for North Atlantic Right Whale – Comment Period Open Until September 30, 2022

Photo credit: FWC (with NOAA Permit)

NOAA Fisheries recently announced proposed changes to the North Atlantic right whale vessel speed rule that would expand mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots or less to include most vessels 35–65 feet in length. It would also broaden the spatial boundaries and timing of seasonal speed restriction areas along the U.S. East Coast. 

“Collisions with vessels continue to impede North Atlantic right whale recovery. This proposed action is necessary to stabilize the ongoing right whale population decline, in combination with other efforts to address right whale entanglement and vessel strikes in the U.S. and Canada,” said Janet Coit, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries.

Information about the proposal, including area maps of Seasonal Management Areas for the Carolinas, Georgia and northeast Florida are available on the NOAA Fisheries website. An additional map providing an overview of current and proposed seasonal areas is available here. Provide comments directly to NOAA Fisheries by clicking this link.

Please note these measures are being proposed by NOAA Fisheries and comments on the Proposed Rule are due by September 30, 2022.

Additional Snippets:

Public Comment Open for Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Restoration Blueprint

Virtual public comment session August 30 and in-person meetings scheduled

In order to gather public input on proposed measures and a draft revised management plan, NOAA will host several meetings in the next two months. Informative videos on proposed changes to wildlife management areas, sanctuary preservation areas, habitat expansion, and restoration and conservation areas are available along with additional details and how to provide public input and the registration link:

NOAA Fisheries’ Announces Call for Applications – American Fisheries Advisory Committee

NOAA Fisheries recently announced the call for applications for the new American Fisheries Advisory Committee to make recommendations for Saltonstall-Kennedy priorities and grant award funding. The committee will consist of 22-members with three representatives from each of six regions. Members will represent seafood sectors, including processors, recreational and commercial fishermen and seafood farmers, fisheries scientists, and regional fishery management council members. Additionally, there will be four at-large members, including one representative each from the retail and marketing sector, commercial fisheries, recreational fisheries, and NOAA Fisheries. Learn more

The Science of Sandcastles

With the last days of summer approaching, we’re hoping you can squeeze a few more days at the beach and perhaps build a sandcastle or two. Check out this article on sandcastle engineering (by a geotechnical engineer) explaining how water, air and sand creates solid structures. After reading this feature from The Conversation, you may see sandcastle building in a new light. Enjoy!

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!

September 6 & 7, 2022

6 p.m. (via webinar – 2 sessions)

Public Hearing: Snapper Grouper Amendment 51 (Snowy Grouper) and Amendment 52 (Golden Tilefish and Blueline Tilefish)

September 12-16, 2022

SAFMC September Meeting

Town & Country Inn

Charleston, SC 29407

September 21, 2022

SAFMC Meeting: FL Keys National Marine Sanctuary Proposed Rule and WECAFC

Webinar only