Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 34
(SMZs in North and South Carolina)
The process to designate SMZs around artificial reefs was established in the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan in 1983 with the main intent being to create incentive to create artificial reefs and fish attraction devices that will increase biological production and/or create fishing opportunities that would not otherwise exist.
In March 2019, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and the South Carolina Marine Resources Division submitted requests to the Council to designate artificial reefs located in the Exclusive Economic Zone off those states as Special Management Zones. The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries requested designation of 30 artificial reef sites in the Exclusive Economic Zone off North Carolina. Fishing gear other than handline, rod and reel, and spear would be prohibited within the proposed Special Management Zones. Further, harvest of snapper grouper species with spearfishing gear would be limited to the recreational bag limit for those species.
In South Carolina, 29 artificial reef sites in the Exclusive Economic Zone have already been designated as System Management Zones. Four additional artificial reef sites have been established in recent years and the South Carolina Marine Resources Division has requested the sites be designated as Special Management Zones with the same restrictions on fishing gear as other Special Management Zoness, namely limiting angling activities to handheld hook and line gear and spearfishing gear (excluding powerheads). In addition, the use of fish traps, longlines, gill nets, and trawls would be prohibited, and harvest of snapper grouper species would be limited to the applicable recreational bag limits.
In June 2019 the Council directed staff to begin development of an amendment, with the intent to hold public hearings in the fall and consider the amendment for final approval in December 2019. At the September 2019 meeting, the Council revised the timeline for developing this amendment. Public scoping was held during fall 2019 and the Council reviewed public input and provided guidance to staff at the March 2020 meeting. Public hearings were held via webinar in early May, 2020. The Council reviewed comments from those hearings and the most recent version of the amendment at the 2020 June Council Meeting. At the meeting, they approved the amendment for formal secretarial review.
The amendment was submitted to NOAA Fisheries on August 11, 2020. A proposed rule for this amendment was published on November 16, 2020 with a comment period through December 16, 2020.
Myra Brouwer (email@example.com)
Final Amendment & Public Comments
- Scoping: October 2019
- Public Hearing: May 2020
- Final Approval: June 2020
- Secretarial Review: August 2020
- Rule Making: November 2020