Red Snapper Quota Increased

NMFS issued a final rule that increases the commercial and recreational quotas for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) reef fish fishery for the 2012 fishing year, and for the 2013 fishing year if NMFS determines the acceptable biological catch (ABC) is not exceeded in the 2012 fishing year; eliminates the October 1 closure date of the recreational fishing season; and announces the quota closure date of the 2012 recreational fishing season. Closing date for 2012 is July 10th at 12 PM. This final rule is intended to provide more flexibility in managing recreational red snapper and to help achieve optimum yield (OY) for the Gulf red snapper resource without increasing the risk of red snapper experiencing overfishing.

Florida Sea Grant Applies for Exempted Fishing Permit

Notice of receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit; request for comments.

NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from Florida Sea Grant. If granted, the EFP would exempt Florida Sea Grant agents from regulations at Sec.  622.41(m)(3), requiring the use of venting tools when releasing regulatory discarded fish back to the water from July 1, 2012, through July 1, 2013. This study, to be conducted in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) off Florida, is intended to better document the efficacy and practicality of various recompression gear methods.

Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., eastern time, on June 28, 2012.

Blacktip Sharks

The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering the 

inclusion of Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks in an amendment to the 2006 

Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan that is 

currently under development. This amendment process began in October 

2011 to address the results of recent stock assessments for scalloped 

hammerhead, dusky, sandbar, and blacknose sharks. A new stock 

assessment is ongoing for Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks, and is 

expected to be complete and available before the amendment process is 

completed. Therefore, we are considering including Gulf of Mexico 

blacktip sharks in the amendment to ensure any changes in the shark 

fisheries as a result of recent stock assessments are considered at the 

same time for public clarity and for administrative efficiency.

Atlantic snook and Gulf Amberjack Close in State Waters

The recreational harvest of snook in Atlantic state and federal waters and of greater amberjack in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters closes June 1.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Oil and Gas Lease Sales for Years 2012-2017

On March 15, 2011, BOEM (formerly the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement) published a notice in the Federal Register (76 FR 14040), entitled ``Call for Information and Nominations'' (the Call). Subsequently, on November 15, 2011, BOEM published a ``Call for Information and Nominations: Correction'' in the Federal Register (76 FR 70748) correcting the sale numbers that were identified in the Call. This document describes a revision to the description of the areas not available for leasing in the OCS. BOEM believes the previous descriptions of the areas excluded by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (Pub. L. 109-432 December 20, 2006) could be confusing.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Request an Exempted Fishing Permit; Request for Comments


NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). If granted, the EFP would authorize the applicant to collect and retain red snapper that would otherwise be prohibited from possession and retention. This study, to be conducted in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf), is intended to better document the age structure and life history of fish associated with offshore platforms and artificial reefs in Louisiana coastal waters.

Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., eastern time, on June 22, 2012.

Special Reef Fish SSC Meeting Could Make Recommendations Changing Rules

On Thursday and Friday, June 7-8, 2012, the Standing and Special Reef Fish SSC will meet jointly. The Standing and Special Reef Fish SSC will receive a presentation on methods for setting ABC for stocks that have reliable catch data only (only reliable catch stocks--ORCS). The SSC will also review recommendations from the ABC Control Rule Working Group on possible modifications to the ABC control rule that was adopted as part of the Generic Annual Catch Limits/Accountability Measures Amendment, and may make recommendations on modifications of the ABC control rule to the Council.

Red Snapper Assessment Workshops Scheduled


The SEDAR assessment of the Gulf of Mexico stock of red snapper will consist of a series of three workshops: a Data Workshop, an Assessment Workshop, and a Review Workshop. This series of workshops will be referred to as SEDAR 31.

The Data Workshop will take place August 20-24, 2012; the Assessment Workshop will take place January 28-February 1, 2013; the Review Workshop will take place April 29-May 3, 2013. See below for specific dates and times.

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Postpones Discussions on Limited Access Privilege Program

During its April meeting, the Gulf Council postponed discussions on Reef Fish Amendment 33 - LAPP Program until its June meeting in Tampa, Florida. Those discussions are now postponed until the Council's August meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.  "We have stakeholders who want to participate in these discussions, but they also want to make the most of the 40-day red snapper season," said Bob Gill, Gulf Council Chairman. 
The June Council meeting is June 18 - 21, 2012. The 2012 recreational red snapper season opens June 1, with a proposed closure of July 10. 

Restriction on Harpoon Use on HMS Charter/Headboats and Permit Requirements for Taking Paying Passengers

Recently,the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division has received several inquiries about: 

1) gears authorized for HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels; and 

2) the permit required to take paying passengers on HMS fishing trips.