2012 Recreational Closure for South Atlantic Golden Tilefish

NMFS implements accountability measures (AMs) for the recreational sector of golden tilefish in the South Atlantic for the 2012 fishing year through this temporary rule. Average recreational landings from 2010 and 2011 exceeded the recreational annual catch limit (ACL) for golden tilefish. To account for this overage and to prevent an overage in 2012, this rule reduces the length of the 2012 recreational fishing season and NMFS closes the recreational sector for golden tilefish on June 8, 2012. This closure is necessary to protect the golden tilefish resource.

This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, June 8, 2012, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the final rule for Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP), (Amendment 17B), the Environmental Assessment for Amendment 17B, and other supporting documentation may be obtained from Catherine Bruger, NMFS, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701; telephone: 727-824-5305.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Catherine Bruger, telephone: 727-824-5305, fax: 727-824-5308, email: Catherine.Bruger@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic, which includes golden tilefish, is managed under the FMP. The FMP was prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and is implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.



    The 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act implemented 

new requirements that ACLs and AMs be established to end overfishing 

and prevent overfishing from occurring. AMs are management controls to 

prevent ACLs from being exceeded, and to correct or mitigate overages 

of the ACL if they occur.

    The final rule for Amendment 17B established ACLs for eight 

snapper-grouper species in the FMP undergoing overfishing, including 

golden tilefish, and AMs to be implemented if these ACLs are reached or 

exceeded (75 FR 82280, December 30, 2010).

    The recreational ACL for golden tilefish, implemented through 

Amendment 17B, is 1,578 fish. In accordance with regulations at 50 CFR 

622.49(b)(1)(ii), if the ACL is exceeded, the Assistant Administrator, 

NMFS (AA) will file notification with the Office of the Federal 

Register to reduce the length of the following fishing season by the 

amount necessary to ensure landings do not exceed the recreational 

sector ACL in the following fishing year. Additionally, in accordance 

with these regulations, the average of 2010 and 2011 recreational 

landings are compared to the ACL. Finalized landings data from the NMFS 

Southeast Fisheries Science Centerindicate that the recreational golden tilefish ACL was exceeded by 

2,805 fish in 2010 and by 8,286 fish in 2011. Therefore, this temporary 

rule implements an AM to reduce the fishing season for the recreational 

golden tilefish component of the snapper-grouper fishery in 2012. NMFS 

used the average landings from the 2010 and 2011 fishing years (5,546 

fish) to determine a reduced recreational season for the 2012 fishing 

year. Only the first two months of Marine Recreational Fisheries 

Statistical Survey (MRFSS) data were available for 2012, with reported 

landings of 1,012 fish. Because average 2010 and 2011 landings exceeded 

the ACL, and 2012 landings are extremely close to the ACL after only 

two months, AMs require the season to be shortened to prevent the ACL 

from being exceeded. As a result of this reduced season, the 

recreational sector for golden tilefish will be closed effective 12:01 

a.m., local time June 8, 2012.

    During the closure, the bag and possession limit for golden 

tilefish in or from the South Atlantic exclusive economic zone is zero. 

The recreational sector for golden tilefish will reopen on January 1, 

2013, the beginning of the 2013 recreational fishing season.