NOAA Fisheries Announces New Regulations for Golden Tilefish in the South Atlantic

NOAA Fisheries published a final rule on October 9, 2012, which increases annual catch limits and modifies recreational accountability measures for golden tilefish in the South Atlantic.   

A new assessment indicates the golden tilefish stock is healthy and annual catch limits can be increased. The rule sets the annual catch limit at 541,295 pounds gutted weight for the commercial sector, and 3,019 fish for the recreational sector.

NMFS closed the recreational sector for golden tilefish on June 4, 2012, because the recreational ACL was projected to have been reached by that date (77 FR 32914, June 4, 2012). NMFS has determined that the increased recreational ACL, implemented through this final rule, has been harvested. Therefore, NMFS is not reopening the recreational sector for golden tilefish for the current fishing year.

This final rule also modifies the AMs for the golden tilefish recreational sector of the snapper-grouper fishery. If recreational landings for golden tilefish reach, or are projected to reach the recreational ACL, NMFS will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to close the recreational sector for the remainder of the fishing year. Additionally, if the ACL is exceeded, then during the following fishing year, recreational landings will be monitored and, if necessary, the length of the following recreational fishing season will be reduced by the amount necessary to ensure recreational landings do not exceed the recreational ACL in the following fishing year.

Commercial harvest of golden tilefish will re-open on October 9, 2012, and will close if the annual catch limit of 541,295 pounds gutted weight is met or projected to be met before December 31, 2012. The commercial trip limit will be 300 pounds gutted weight. The recreational season will not re-open in fishing year 2012 because the annual catch limit was met earlier in the year.

The final rule modifies the accountability measures for the golden tilefish recreational sector. The recreational sector would close when the annual catch limit is projected to be met, and recreational landings would be monitored in the year following an overage. If high landings persist, the fishing season would be shortened as necessary. More information, including Frequently Asked Questions, can be found online at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.