11/13/18 – NOAA Fisheries – FB18-077: Request for Comments: Proposed Changes to Atlantic Cobia in Federal Waters of the Atlantic

South Atlantic Fishery Bulletin 
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FB18-077
FISHERY BULLETIN ISSUE DATE: November 9, 2018

CONTACT: Sustainable Fisheries, 727-824-5305

Request for Comments: Proposed Changes to Atlantic Cobia in Federal Waters of the Atlantic
KEY MESSAGE:
NOAA Fisheries requests comments on Amendment 31 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagics (CMP) of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region and a proposed rule for Atlantic group cobia. Atlantic cobia is managed from Georgia through New York.
The proposed action would remove Atlantic cobia from the fishery management plan. If removed, Atlantic cobia would be managed under the purview of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC) because the majority of Atlantic cobia landings are in state waters.
Comments are due by December 10, 2018
SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES:
  • The proposed action would remove Atlanticcobia from the CMP.
  • Most existing management measures in federal waters for commercial and recreational harvest of Atlantic cobia from Georgia through New York would not change through this amendment.
  • For the commercial sector, the minimum size limit is 33 inches fork length and the trip limit is two fish per person per day or six fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive.
  • For the recreational sector, the minimum size limit is 36 inches fork length and the bag and vessel limits are one fish per person per day or six fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive. For both sectors, persons harvesting Atlantic cobia must comply with more restrictive size limits, bag limits, and possession limits in the states where the fish are landed.
  • Regulations in Federal waters would be promulgated through Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act.
  • Fishermen should contact the state for regulations in state waters.
HOW TO COMMENT ON THE AMENDMENT AND PROPOSED RULE:
The comment period is open through December 10, 2018. We will address all comments specifically directed to the amendment and proposed rule in the final rule. You may submit comments by electronic submission or by postal mail. Comments sent by any other method (such as e-mail), to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.
FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 83 FR 48788, published September 27, 2018
Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
3. Enter or attach your comments.
Mail: Submit written comments to Karla Gore, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Why remove Atlantic cobia from the fishery management plan?
  • The majority of Atlantic cobia are caught in state waters.
  • NOAA Fisheries closed the 2016 and 2017 federal recreational fishing seasons because the current recreational accountability measure requires NOAA Fisheries to reduce the length of the fishing season in the year following an annual catch limit overage by the amount needed to prevent a similar overage from occurring.
  • Despite federal closures, recreational landings have still exceeded the annual catch limit and the combined stock annual catch limit.
  • The South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils and NOAA Fisheries have determined that management of Atlantic cobia by the states through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission would be more effective at constraining harvest and preventing overfishing; thereby, offering greater biological protection to the population and decreasing adverse socioeconomic effects to fishermen.
  • The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has implemented an Interstate fishery management plan for Atlantic cobia in state waters.
How would this change the regulations of cobia in Federal waters?
  • Most management measures in federal waters for commercial and recreational harvest of Atlantic cobia in the exclusive economic zone from Georgia through New York would not change.
  • For the commercial sector, the minimum size limit is 33 inches fork length and the trip limit is two fish per person per day or six fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive.
  • For the recreational sector, the minimum size limit is 36 inches fork length and the bag and vessel limits are one fish per person per day or six fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive.
  • For both sectors, persons harvesting Atlantic cobia must comply with more restrictive size limits, bag limits, and possession limits in the states where the fish are landed.
Where can I find more information on the amendment, environmental assessment, and the proposed rule?
  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
By Mail: Karla Gore
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505
By FAX: (727) 824-5308
By Phone: (727) 824-5305
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