Shallow Water Grouper Amendment 38

NMFS issues this final rule to implement management measures described in Amendment 38 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) prepared by the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) Fishery Management Council (Council). This final rule modifies post-season accountability measures (AMs) that affect the recreational harvest of shallow-water grouper species (SWG), changes the trigger for recreational sector AMs for gag and red grouper, and revises the Gulf reef fish framework procedure. The intent of this final rule is to achieve optimum yield (OY) while ensuring the Gulf reef fish fishery resources are utilized efficiently.

This rule is effective March 1, 2013.

February 1 through March 31 Shallow-Water Grouper Closure

NACO reminds recreational fishers that the February 1 through March 31 shallow-water grouper closure is still in effect. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has recommended that the closure be modified so that it only applies to federal waters seaward of a boundary approximating the 20-fathom depth contour. However, rulemaking to put this modification into effect is still ongoing and will not be complete before the end of this year's closed season. Therefore, the shallow-water grouper closure will be in effect for all Gulf of Mexico federal waters in 2013.


ROV Wraps Up Investigation

Remote operated vehicles (ROV) investigating the recurring sheen near the MC 252 wellhead concluded operations Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. ROVs inspected the sunken Deepwater Horizon Platform wreckage and the surrounding area. For video's and more information please click below. 



Red Snapper Quota Set for 2013

NMFS sets the 2013 commercial and recreational quotas for red snapper in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) through this temporary rule. NMFS has determined that the allowable biological catch (ABC) for red snapper in 2012 has been exceeded. Therefore, NMFS is maintaining the commercial and recreational quotas for red snapper in 2013 at the 2012 level. The intent of this action is to help achieve optimum yield (OY) for the Gulf red snapper resource without increasing the risk of red snapper experiencing overfishing.

This rule is effective January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013, unless NMFS publishes a superseding document in the Federal Register.


5 Year Review of Red Snapper IFQ


The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will convene a meeting of the Socioeconomic Scientific and Statistical Committee.

The meeting will convene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 and conclude at 5 p.m.


Scoping Meetings Regional Management of Red Snapper

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will convene scoping meetings on addressing issues on regional management of recreational red snapper, including locally optimal management measures, allocation, and regional boundaries.

The scoping meetings will be held on January 14, 2013 through January 22, 2013 at seven locations throughout the Gulf of Mexico. The scoping meetings will begin at 6 p.m. and will conclude no later than 9 p.m. For specific dates, click below;


Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resource Trustees Approve Two More Early Restoration Projects For Gulf Coast

Projects in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi will help beach-nesting birds and sea turtles

Additional early restoration projects totaling about $9 million will begin along the Gulf Coast in 2013, according to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees. 

Following a 30-day public comment period on the “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Phase II Early Restoration Plan & Environmental Review,” the NRDA trustees have finalized plans allowing for the initiation of two additional early restoration projects. These Phase II projects will help restore nesting habitats for beach-nesting birds and sea turtles impacted as a result of Deepwater Horizon oil spill response activities.   


Coast Guard: "Unidentified Substance" Leaking From BP's Deepwater Horizon

An "unidentified substance inconsistent with oil" is emitting from several areas of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig wreckage, but no sources of leaking oil were identified. That's according to the Coast Guard, which oversaw BP's recent week-long mission to inspect the undersea wells and wreckage from the 2010 explosion.

Regional Management of Red Snapper

The Council reviewed a scoping document for Reef Fish Amendment 39 – Regional Management for Recreational Red Snapper during its October Council meeting and a series of scoping meetings. The document examines:
• Defining regional boundaries
• Allocation among regions
• Program administration
• Accountability measures
Meetings will be held around the Gulf to get public input on the issues and concerns related to regional management.

The scoping workshop schedule is listed below. All workshops begin at 6 pm and will conclude after public input has ended, but no later than 9 pm.

Changes to 2013 Recreational Gag Season

After reviewing public hearing comments and the actions and alternatives contained in a regulatory amendment to address the 2013 gag season and bag limits, the Council chose to keep the July 1 gag season opening, but allow the season to remain open until the annual catch target has been met. The 2-fish bag limit also remains in effect, giving an estimated season of 133-155 days, compared to the 123 days in 2012.