Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 34

Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 34

(Spawning Special Management Zones)

The process to designate SMZs around artificial reefs was established in the Snapper Grouper FMP 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 EEZ off those states as Special Management Zones. The NCDMF requested designation of 30 artificial reef sites in the EEZ off North Carolina. Fishing gear other than handline, rod and reel, and spear would be prohibited within the proposed SMZs. Further, harvest of snapper grouper species with spearfishing gear would be limited to the recreational bag limit for those species.

In South Carolina, 28 artificial reef sites in the EEZ have already been designated as SMZs. Four additional artificial reef sites have been established in recent years and the SCMRD has requested the sites be designated as SMZs with the same restrictions on fishing gear as other SMZs, 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.


Council Process

  • Pre-Scoping:  March 2019
  • Scoping:  June 2019
  • Public Hearing:  August 2019
  • Final Approval:  

NMFS Process

  • Secretarial Review:  
  • Rule Making:  
  • Implementation: