Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 30
The recent red grouper assessment (SEDAR 53) indicated that the stock is undergoing overfishing and is not making adequate progress towards rebuilding, which is supposed to take place by 2020 under the current rebuilding plan. The Council was formally notified of the red grouper stock status via a letter from NMFS dated September 17, 2017.
The Council has moved to end overfishing through the revised ABC and ACL for red grouper that will be implemented via Abbreviated Framework Amendment 1 but has not yet revised the red grouper rebuilding plan. Hence, the Council will need to begin development of an amendment to revise the current rebuilding plan before the next red grouper assessment is completed (currently scheduled as a standard assessment in 2021) in order to meet the statutory deadline of September 17, 2019.
At their March 2018 meeting, the Council directed staff to begin work on a framework amendment to revise the red grouper rebuilding schedule. The Council discussed options at their June 2018 meeting and directed staff to consolidate actions addressing red grouper into Regulatory Amendment 30. Hence, actions to modify the seasonal closure of red grouper in the EEZ off the Carolinas were moved over from the Visioning Amendments (Regulatory Amendments 26 & 27). In addition, the Council added an action to consider a trip limit for red grouper.
Public hearings for this amendment were held during the rescheduled September 2018 meeting. At this meeting, the Council approved the purpose and need statements, selected or reconfirmed preferred alternatives, added a sub-alternative to extend the spawning season closure for red grouper off of the Carolinas through June, and voted to consider the amendment for final approval at the December 2018 meeting.
Due to delays in the availability of 2017 commercial landings data, analyses were not completed in time for the December 2018 meeting. The SSC was scheduled to provide additional guidance on red grouper fishing levels based on the updated assessment that incorporates revised recreational landings estimates (MRIP revisions). The SSC met via webinar and identified potentially problematic aspects of the revised MRIP data that went into the new stock assessments. This webinar did not occur in time for the March 2019 meeting and thus the amendment could not be prepared for formal review. The amendment was scheduled for final review in June 2019 and used the projections from SEDAR 53 to revise the rebuilding schedule for red grouper.
The Council approved the amendment for Secretarial review at the June 2019 meeting.
GET INVOLVED –
- Pre-Scoping: March 2018
- Scoping: June 2018
- Public Hearing: October 2018
- Final Approval: June 2019
- Secretarial Review: September 2019
- Rule Making: October 2019
- Implementation: March 9, 2020