South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

The South Atlantic Bite

Members of the public wait to submit verbal comment at the September 2022 Charleston Council Meeting.

Newsworthy Notes – September 22th, 2022

September Council Meeting Wraps Up

Final committee reports are now available

The Council’s September meeting in Charleston last week was a busy one, with lots of public input, intense discussions, and progress made on multiple fishery management plan amendments.

news release highlighting the meeting week is available from the Council’s website, but it is impossible to capture everything in a few paragraphs. Additional details are available in the final reports from each committee – Snapper Grouper, Mackerel Cobia, and SEDAR – posted at: Summary Motions and transcripts from the meeting will be posted once they become available.

A total of 1,047 written comments were received as part of the meeting. If you didn’t get a chance to read them all, they remain available on the Council Meeting page. The Council will meet again on December 5-9, 2022 at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Own a boat 35′ or longer? Pay attention:

Comment Deadline Extended for Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Proposed Rule

Proposed speed restrictions would apply to vessels 35′ to 65′ in length along the Atlantic coast

NOAA Fisheries is extending the public comment period for an additional 30 days for the proposed rule to modify North Atlantic right whale vessel speed restrictions. The extension will allow for additional time to gather feedback about the proposed rule. The comment period has been extended until October 31, 2022. Comments may be submitted directly to NOAA Fisheries by clicking here.

video presentation from NOAA Fisheries provides an overview of measures being proposed to expand the protection of the endangered right whales that are extremely vulnerable to vessel strikes due to their migration patterns. A map of the Proposed Seasonal Speed Zones identifies additional areas in the southeast being considered.

A mother and calf Right Whale swim just below a murky, green surface.

Council members received a presentation from NOAA Fisheries during their September meeting and will provide written comments. An overview of the proposed measures, including data on how many South Atlantic-managed, permitted vessels may be affected by the proposed changes is included in the meeting briefing book materials.

Dive in With NOAA Fisheries Podcast Series Highlights Right Whale Issues

Listen to the podcast “Slowing Down to Save North Atlantic Right Whales” detailing a sportfishing vessel strike with a calf and its mother off the coast of St. Augustine, Florida in February 2021, and an interview with Dr. Caroline Good, a prominent whale ecologist with NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources about the proposed speed zone changes. The two-month-old calf, pictured right, was hit hard enough to break a bone, ribs, and part of the skull. The captain of the vessel quickly reported the strike and the vessel sustained substantial damage.

A dead Right Whale stranded on a beach with boat prop gashes on it's stomach.
Photo: FWC

New! Managed Areas Information Available from SAFMC Website

We are continuing to add new content to the Council’s new website. Now users can find detailed information on our managed areas at:

Dedicated pages are available for MPAs, Special Management Zones (SMZs), areas managed for deepwater corals, and gear-specific managed areas. The dedicated pages include specific details on regulations and helpful maps.

The new Managed Areas section of the website also includes interactive maps for users to further identify specific areas such as Spiny Lobster trap gear management areas, longline prohibited areas, and Spawning SMZs where fishing for snapper grouper species is prohibited to protect spawning stocks. Check out the new section of the website for additional information and explore the interactive map!

A screenshot of our managed areas page.

Additional Snippets:

Request for Comments: Changes to Catch Levels, Sector Allocations, Accountability Measures, and Management Measures for Red Porgy

NOAA Fisheries is requesting comments on the notice of availability and proposed rule for Amendment 50 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. The latest stock assessment determined Red Porgy are overfished and undergoing overfishing. If implemented, the amendment would establish a new rebuilding plan for Red Porgy, reduce the commercial trip limitrecreational bag and possession limit, and implement a 2-month recreational fishing seasonComments are due by November 8, 2022. See the Fishery Bulletin for details.

Studying Environmental DNA and Ocean Currents to Locate Fish Aggregations

Marine scientists in Puerto Rico are investigating if water samples can be used to determine what types of fish and other organisms are present in an ocean ecosystem, and how ocean currents play a role in detecting the presence of these organisms. A new documentary video about the pilot project, funded by NOAA’s Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program is now available. See how area fishermen were involved in the collaborative project, where two new aggregations – one for Mutton Snapper and one for Nassau Grouper were discovered. An article from Nortek Products also describes the research. Could this technology be used to identify fish spawning aggregations in other areas? Click the links and learn more!

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!

October 4-5, 2022

Outreach and Communications Advisory Panel Meeting

Town & Country Inn

Charleston, SC 29407

Webinar Registration

October 5-6, 2022

Mackerel Cobia Advisory Panel Meeting

Town & Country Inn

Charleston, SC 29407

Webinar Registration

October 11, 2022

SAFMC Seminar Series – Incorporating Video into Reef Fish Surveys

1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Webinar only

October 12, 2022

Joint Gulf of Mexico and SA Council Modern Fish Act Workgroup Meeting

Hybrid (virtual and in-person)

Tampa, FL

Webinar Registration

October 18-20, 2022

Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel Meeting

Town & Country Inn

Charleston, SC 29407

October 18-20, 2022

Council Coordination Committee Meeting

Washington, DC

October 25-27, 2022

Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) Meeting

Town & Country Inn

Charleston, SC 29407

November 1-3, 2022

Habitat and Ecosystem-Based Management Advisory Panel Meeting

Town & Country Inn

Charleston, SC 29407

December 5-9, 2022

December Council Meeting

Blockade Runner Beach Resort

Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480