6/30/2017 – NOAA Fisheries – FB17-035: Actions to Implement Spawning Special Management Zones in Federal Waters of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 36)

South Atlantic Fishery Bulletin

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CONTACT: Frank Helies, 727-824-5305, frank.helies@noaa.gov

Actions to Implement Spawning Special Management Zones in Federal Waters of the South Atlantic Region



NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule for Amendment 36 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 36). The actions in Amendment 36 and the final rule will implement spawning special management zones (SMZ) to protect spawning, or reproducing, fish and their habitat.



  • Regulations will be effective July 31,


 The final rule for Amendment 36 will implement the following management measures:

  • Implement five spawning SMZs in federal waters of the South Atlantic region off North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida (see map and coordinates below).
  • Inside of the spawning SMZs, fishing for, retention, and possession of fish species in the snapper-grouper complex will be prohibited year-round by all
  • Anchoring inside all the spawning SMZs, except Area 51 and Area 53 off South Carolina, will be
  • Transit through the spawning SMZs with snapper-grouper species onboard will be allowed if gear is properly
  • Most spawning SMZs would automatically go away in 10 years unless they are reauthorized.
  • Modify the SMZ procedure in the fishery management plan to allow for the designation of spawning SMZs. In addition, modify the framework procedure to allow spawning SMZs to be established or modified through the framework process, rather than through plan
  • Move the existing Charleston Deep Artificial Reef Marine Protected Area to match the boundaries of the permitted

Figure 1: Spawning SMZs implemented through Amendment 36.

  • North Carolina
South Cape Lookout

(Corner Coordinates)

North Latitude West Longitude
33° 53.040’ 76° 28.617’
(5.10 sq mile) 33° 52.019’ 76° 27.798’
33° 49.946’ 76° 30.627’
33° 51.041’ 76° 31.424’
  • South Carolina
Devil’s Hole /

Georgetown Hole

North Latitude West Longitude
32° 34.311’ 78° 34.996’
(3.03 sq mile) 32° 34.311’ 78° 33.220’
32° 32.748’ 78° 33.220’
32° 32.748’ 78° 34.996’
Area 51 32° 35.250’ 79° 28.600’
32° 35.250’ 79° 27.000’
(2.99 sq mile) 32° 33.750’ 79° 27.000’
32° 33.750’ 79° 28.600’
Area 53 32° 22.650’ 79° 22.250’
32° 22.650’ 79° 20.500’
(2.99 sq mile) 32° 21.150’ 79° 20.500’
32° 21.150’ 79° 22.250’
  • Florida
Warsaw Hole North Latitude West Longitude
24° 22.277’ 82° 20.417’
(3.60 sq mile) 24° 22.277’ 82° 18.215’
24° 20.932’ 82° 18.215’
24° 20.932’ 82° 20.417’


FORMAL FEDERAL REGISTER NAME/NUMBER: 82 FR 29772, published June 30, 2017.


This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.



What are the fishing regulations associated with the spawning special management zones (SMZs)?

  • All fishing for, retention, and possession of snapper-grouper species in the spawning SMZs will be prohibited. Trolling for pelagic species, such as dolphin, wahoo, tuna, and coastal migratory pelagic species will be
  • In the spawning SMZs, transit with snapper-grouper species aboard a vessel will be allowed when fishing gear is appropriately
  • Anchoring by fishing vessels in the spawning SMZs will be prohibited, except in Area 51 and Area

What species are considered “snapper-grouper”?

  • The snapper-grouper complex consists of 55 species including snappers (red, vermilion, yellowtail, etc.), groupers (gag, scamp, snowy, etc.), sea bass, jacks, triggerfish, and others.
  • Snapper-grouper species are primarily associated with reef and high relief bottom habitat in both shallow and deep

What is the definition of “fishing gear appropriately stowed”?

  • Terminal gear (e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or bait) used with an automatic reel, bandit gear, buoy gear, handline, or rod and reel must be disconnected and stowed separately from such fishing gear. Sinkers must be disconnected from the downrigger and stowed separately.

Why is protection of these areas necessary?

  • Closing areas to bottom fishing has the potential to reduce bycatch and bycatch mortality of reproducing snapper-grouper species, including speckled hind and warsaw grouper. The spawning SMZs implemented by this final rule are expected to result in positive economic effects by increasing future stock size and

When implemented, how long would the spawning SMZs be in effect?

  • All the spawning SMZs, except for Area 51 and Area 53, will sunset/expire 10 years after implementation, if not
  • There are no sunset/expiration dates for Area 51 and

How would the spawning SMZs be monitored and evaluated in the future?

  • The spawning SMZs may be monitored by methods such as citizen science and fishery independent
  • Citizen science is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or non- professional scientists and fishery-independent data are collected by non-fishermen such as
  • Monitoring efforts will help evaluate the effectiveness of the spawning SMZs. Information collected may include spawning activity and changes to fish
  • Monitoring details are specified in a document called a System Management Plan (SMP). The SMP can be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office Website: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2016/am36/documents/pdfs/sa_s pdf

What are the coordinates of the Charleston Deep Artificial Reef Marine Protected Area (MPA) and why are the boundaries being moved?

  • The Charleston Deep Artificial Reef MPA was created in
  • The goal of the MPA is to protect fish attracted to artificial reef material placed in the area by prohibiting fishing for snapper-grouper
  • The Corps of Engineers, working with the State of South Carolina, modified the boundary of the permitted site to include some additional material that was recently sunk in the area. The State of South Carolina requested the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council shift the boundary of the MPA 1.4 miles to the northwest to match the revised boundary of the permitted
Charleston Deep Artificial Reef North Latitude West Longitude
NW 32° 9.65’ 79° 9.2’
NE 32° 7.155’ 79° 5.595’
SW 32° 2.36’ 79° 9.975’
SE 32° 5.04’ 79° 13.575’


Where can I find more information on Amendment 36?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office


By Mail: Frank Helies

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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