South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

The South Atlantic Bite

We’re Getting a New Look!

New SAFMC Website Launches Next Week

Anyone visiting the Council’s website soon discovers there is a lot of information within its pages, but navigating them can be a challenge. We’re excited to announce that the Council is transitioning to a new website, with launch day scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 19th. The new website is designed to be more user-friendly and provide faster access to items most often used. We think you’ll like the new look too!

Have the website bookmarked? No worries. There are no changes to existing URLs for the website, so items you have bookmarked now will continue to work.

Development of the new site involved a deliberative “Discovery Process” that included input from fishermen, agency personnel, Council members, advisory panel members, and other stakeholders. The Discovery Process guided design of the new website, including identifying user traffic and realigning the site structure to improve access and navigation.

While the majority of content will be available with the initial launch, migration will continue through the end of 2022. Please contact the Council office if you have any questions or specific needs.

Spring Fishing? Make Best Fishing Practices Standard on Every Trip

Descending devices are now required on all vessels targeting snapper grouper species.

With the opening of shallow water grouper season on May 1st each year, odds are good that you will need to release a few fish before catching that keeper grouper. Using best fishing practices will help improve the likelihood those released fish survive to bite another day.

Before hitting the water, know the rules. If you plan to bottom fish, remember that a descending device is required to be on board and ready for use when targeting snapper grouper species in federal waters (greater than 3 miles offshore). A dehooking tool is also required, along with the use of specific hooks, depending on your location. North of 28 degrees (just north of Vero Beach, FL), non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits.

These gear requirements are designed to improve the survival of released fish. There are additional best practices to use during your fishing trip as well. Do your best to avoid areas where lots of fish will need to be released. Understand correct fish handling techniques to better avoid injury. Learn how to identify the signs of barotrauma and when to use the descending device on board.

Videos on how to make your own descending device, identifying signs of barotrauma, details on gear requirements, and other helpful best practice information is available from the Best Fishing Practices page of the Council’s website.

Check out the website and know before you go!

Charter Captains and Local Retailer Team Up to Support Best Fishing Practices and Citizen Science

There was a packed house as fishermen and others interested in bottom fishing techniques crowded into Haddrell’s Point Tackle and Supply in Mt. Pleasant, SC in April. Owner Mike Abel Jr. and charter captains Mark Phelps and Chuck Griffin kicked off the Responsible and Effective Bottom Fishing Seminar, talking with the more than 50 people gathered to increase their knowledge and sharpen their fishing skills. In addition to sharing tips on finding the best spots and choosing the right baits and gear, both captains also emphasized the importance of using best fishing practices.

“I’ve been using descending devices on fish with signs of barotrauma for several years now,” said Captain Mark Phelps following a video demonstration. “I can tell you personally – they work.” Captain Griffin agreed, stressing the importance of correctly handling fish when they are released. “There are more and more fishermen out there and we should all be doing our part to protect the resource.” Captain Griffin serves on the Council’s Mackerel Cobia Advisory Panel (AP) and Captain Phelps is a member of the Outreach and Communications AP.

Sea Grant fellow, Ashley Oliver was on hand to provide additional information on best fishing practices along with the Council’s Citizen Science Program Manager, Julia Byrd to introduce attendees to the Council’s SAFMC Release project. The citizen science project involves the use of a mobile app for fishermen to provide information on the lengths, descending device usage and other data on released shallow water grouper, and was recently expanded to include Red Snapper.

Interested in hosting a seminar in your area? Contact Ashley Oliver at

Community Workshops Help Scientists Cast a Wider Net

Collaborative project focuses on Dolphin and Wahoo fisheries

Managing a fishery isn’t just about the fish; it’s also about the people who depend on having a healthy population of fish. Whether for food, recreation, income, or to support a healthy ecosystem as a whole, it’s important to understand how all of these objectives are interconnected.

In 2020 and 2021, NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center worked with the South Atlantic Council to better understand the Dolphinfish and Wahoo fisheries in the Southeast, including the physical, biological, social, economic, and institutional aspects of the fisheries. The work included a series of workshops.

“One of the things we heard at the workshops was that Dolphinfish and Wahoo play very different roles in the fisheries across the South Atlantic jurisdiction,” said Matt McPherson, NOAA social scientist. “We have to recognize that not everyone has the same end goals – and find ways to account for these differing objectives as we develop management guidance.”

Read the recent feature article from NOAA Fisheries to learn more about the project. Additional information, including the Dolphin Wahoo Participatory Workshops Final Report, is currently available from the Council’s website.

Stay Up to Date with the Latest Regulations

Download the free Fish Rules mobile app to keep up with the latest regulations. Saltwater fishing regulations are available for both federal and state waters from Maine to Texas to Hawaii. Fish Rules uses your phone’s GPS and calendar to show the regulations you need. Out to sea with no signal? Manually select your fishing location to see relevant regulations. The app includes crisp illustrations and photos to help identify your catch. A commercial version is now available!

Additional Snippets:

NOAA Fisheries Seeks Public Comment: Establishment of a Shrimp Fishery Access Area within the Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern

NOAA Fisheries requests comments on the notice of availability for Amendment 10 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hard Bottom Habitats of the South Atlantic region (Coral Amendment 10). If implemented, Coral Amendment 10 would establish an approximately 22 square mile shrimp fishery access area along the eastern boundary of the northern extension of the Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern (OHAPC) where fishing for and possessing rock shrimp is currently prohibited. Comments to NOAA Fisheries are due by June 29, 2022. See the Fishery Bulletin for details, including an FAQ.

N2022 Recreational Fisheries Summit Brings Together Fishing Community to Focus on Key Issues

NOAA Fisheries and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission co-hosted the 4th National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Summit in March 2022. The 2-day Summit brought together members of the recreational fishing community to discuss and collaborate around the most pressing issues facing marine anglers across the country. Read the feature story from NOAA Fisheries to see what those issues are and learn more about the Summit.

Corals and Sea Anemones Turn Sunscreen into Toxins – Understanding How Could Help Save Coral Reefs

Sunscreen bottles are frequently labeled as “reef-friendly” and “coral-safe”. These claims generally mean that the lotions replaced oxybenzone – a chemical that can harm corals – with something else. But are these other chemicals really safer for reefs than oxybenzone? This article from The Conversation focuses on a new study that may lead to safer sunscreens. Food for thought as the summer season approaches.

Mark Your Calendar

Keep track of meetings scheduled by the Council from 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