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Federal Fishery Managers to Meet in Charleston, South Carolina

Snapper and Grouper Fishermen Face Increases in Regulations

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will meet September 19-23, 2005 in Charleston, South Carolina. Fishery managers will focus on management regulations affecting the snapper and grouper fishery in the South Atlantic region. The Council is developing a regulatory amendment to its Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan to address overfishing for four species; snowy grouper, golden tilefish, vermilion snapper, and black sea bass. Both snowy grouper and golden tilefish are predominately harvested by commercial fishermen, while vermilion snapper and black sea bass are economically important species to commercial, recreational, and charter/headboat fishermen. Regulations are being considered that would reduce current quotas and trip limits for the commercial fishery. Recreational fishermen face reductions in aggregate bag limits, possible closed seasons, and increases in size limits for some species. The regulatory amendment also includes management alternatives to allow for a moderate increase in harvest of red porgy, a species that has seen recent recovery in numbers due to strict regulations currently in place.

The Council will review the various management options for the regulatory amendment during its September meeting and is scheduled to approve the document for public hearings to be held later this fall. Hearings will be conducted in each of the southeastern states and a complete schedule will be publicized as soon as it becomes available. Following the public hearings, the Council will meet with members of its Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel during its December 5-9, 2005 meeting in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Advisory Panel members, consisting of both recreational and commercial fishermen as well as charter captains, headboat operators, wholesale distributors, and representatives from conservation organizations, will provide additional recommendations to the Council. The Council is scheduled to approve a final version of the amendment for Secretarial review in December. It is anticipated that regulations proposed in the amendment would become effective in spring of 2006.

Other Agenda Items

During the week the Council will hold meetings of various committees to address fisheries issues. In addition to the regulatory amendment, the Snapper Grouper Committee will also address the timing and development of Amendment 13B to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan that addresses management parameters for all of the 73 species in the management complex. Committee discussions will include possible inclusion of marine protected areas in the Amendment. The Controlled Access Committee will discuss goals and objectives of limited access privilege programs and will receive a presentation from Dr. Seth Macinko with the Department of Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island, on the topic of “Who Owns America’s Fisheries”. The Committee is gathering information regarding various limited access privilege programs to evaluate whether such programs would benefit fisheries in the South Atlantic.

Additional agenda items include development of the Council’s comments regarding the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and comments on proposed regulations for Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish and billfish being proposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Council will also review applicants and make necessary appointments to its advisory panels and the Scientific and Statistical Committee.

Meetings will be held at the Town and Country Inn, 2008 Savannah Highway, Charleston, S.C. Phone: 843/571-1000 or 800/334-6660. For a complete meeting agenda, visit the Council’s Web site at www.safmc.net or contact the Council office.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, one of eight regional councils, conserves and manages fish stocks from three to 200 miles offshore of North and South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida.

Kim Iverson
Public Information Officer
South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
One Southpark Circle, Suite 306
Charleston, SC 29407-4699
843/571-4366 or toll free 866/SAFMC-10
Fax 843/769-4520
www.safmc.net
 
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