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Marine Fisheries - News Release Archives - Oct 2011

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News Release Archives - Oct. 2011

Release: Immediate
Contact: Nikhil Mehta
Phone: 727-824-5305
Date: Oct. 20, 2011 

NOAA Fisheries Service Seeks Public Comment on the South Atlantic Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment

Comment Period Ends December 19, 2011
NOAA Fisheries Service is seeking public comment on the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment for the South Atlantic Region. The notice of availability for the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment was published on October 20, 2011 (76 FR 65153), with a comment period ending on December 19, 2011.

The Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment proposes to establish annual catch limits and accountability measures for species in the Snapper-Grouper, Dolphin-Wahoo, and Golden Crab Fishery Management Plans not subject to overfishing (rate of removal is too high). Annual catch limits are set at levels that prevent overfishing from occurring. Accountability measures are management controls to prevent annual catch limits from being exceeded, and to correct overages of annual catch limits if they occur.

Other actions contained within the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment include:

  • Changes to the species managed by the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan, including removing some species from the Fishery Management Plan, designating ecosystem component species, and grouping some species together.
  • Specification of an acceptable biological catch for species in Fishery Management Plans for snapper-grouper, dolphin-wahoo, golden crab, and Sargassum. Acceptable biological catch is the level of a stock or stock complex’s annual catch that accounts for scientific uncertainty.
  • Annual catch targets to account for management uncertainty for dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper species.
  • Allocations: Jurisdictional (between South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico) for black grouper, mutton snapper, and yellowtail snapper; and Sector (between commercial and recreational sectors) for dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper species.
  • Management measures for wreckfish and dolphin.

Request for Comments

Comments on this amendment must be received no later than December 19, 2011, in order to be considered by NOAA Fisheries Service. See the Addresses section for information on where and how to submit comments.


Electronic copies of the amendment may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Service Web site, or the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal:

To request a CD of the amendment, contact:

Sustainable Fisheries Division
Southeast Regional Office
NOAA Fisheries Service
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5505
Phone: 727-824-5305

You may submit comments by the following method:
Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: After selecting “submit a comment,” enter the following docket number into the “Search” box: NOAA-NMFS-2011-0087. All comments received are part of the public record and will generally be posted to without change. All personal identifying information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NOAA Fisheries Service will accept anonymous comments. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Comments received through means not specified in this bulletin may not be considered.

Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Oct. 20,  2011

Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting Set

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will meet Nov. 2-4 at the Coastal Education and Visitor’s Center at Fort Macon State Park, 2300 East Fort Macon Road, Atlantic Beach.

The meeting is open to the public.

The commission is slated to review public comments and advisory committee recommendations on options to end overfishing in the spotted seatrout fishery. A 2010 stock assessment found that a 57.1 percent reduction in fishing mortality is needed to end overfishing of spotted seatrout within two years of final adoption of the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan. One of several options for reaching this target in the recreational fishery includes reducing the bag limit to two fish per day. There are also several options for reaching the target in the commercial fishery, including reducing the trip limit to 50 fish per day with a weekend closure.

The commission also plans to further discuss provisions of a proposed limited entry license system for the commercial Atlantic Ocean striped bass fishery. The commission adopted a proposal for limited entry at its September meeting. The proposal includes a long-term plan to add hook and line as an allowable commercial gear in the fishery.

The full agenda and briefing booklet can be found on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries website at

The meeting begins with a public comment session at 6 p.m. Nov. 2. Anyone who wishes to speak to the commission on a fisheries-related matter may do so then or at 9:15 a.m. Nov. 3. Due to time constraints, the commission chairman asks individuals to speak only once, either Nov. 2 or Nov. 3, but not during both public comment periods.

The business sessions of the meeting begins at 9 a.m. Nov. 3 and 8:30 a.m. Nov. 4.


Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Oct. 20,  2011

Tips for a Healthy and Environmentally Responsible Oyster Roast

MOREHEAD CITY – Nothing says fall on the coast of North Carolina like the beginning of oyster season, when people pull out the fire grates and steamer pans, and get ready to slurp them down.

But those pearl of delights need to be properly stored and chilled to ensure a healthy eating experience. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries offers the following safety tips regarding oysters:

  • Only purchase oysters from licensed dealers. These dealers are inspected and required to keep oysters under refrigeration and keep sanitation records.
  • Once you have purchased oysters, keep them cold. Shell oysters need to be kept at or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Thoroughly wash oysters prior to cooking. Remove all mud and dirt from the outside of the oyster, using a stiff brush and pressurized water.
  • Store oysters away from other contaminants. Oysters are living animals when you purchase them, so they can become contaminated by placing them on wet floors, splashing them with dirty water or dripping raw fish and other foods.
  • Prior to cooking or raw consumption, discard dead oysters. Dead oysters will have slightly gaping shells that will not close when tapped. Once cooked or roasted oyster shells will naturally open.
  • Those with compromised immune systems should fully cook all oysters before consumption. People with liver disease, alcoholism, diabetes, cancer, stomach or blood disorders or those on medication that weakens the immune system are at risk for a potentially serious or even fatal illness from the naturally occurring bacteria Vibrio vulnificus.

Of course, the consumer’s responsibility with oysters does not end with the roasting.

After eating oysters, take the shells to one of the division’s Oyster Shell Recycling Program drop-off centers. A list of public oyster shell recycling sites and restaurants that participate in the program can be found on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries website at

The Oyster Shell Recycling program returns the oyster, clam, conch and mussel shells to coastal waters where they will provide numerous benefits to the environment.

When oysters spawn, the larvae need a hard substrate on which to attach and grow. Oysters will attach to many kinds of surfaces, but they prefer shell material. Additionally, oysters clean pollutants from the water. One adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, and oyster reefs provide habitat for fish and other marine life.

For more information on the proper handling and chilling of shellfish, contact Patti Fowler, who works with the division’s Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section, at (252) 808-8147 or

For more information, contact N.C. Oyster Shell Recycling Coordinator Sabrina Varnam at (252) 726-7021 or (800) 682-2632 or


Release: Immediate
Contact: Kim Iverson
Phone: 1-866 SAFMC-10 or 843 571-4366
Date: Oct. 18, 2011 

Public Hearings Scheduled for Black Sea Bass, Red Grouper
and Wreckfish Fisheries

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold a series of seven public hearings beginning November 14, 2011 to solicit public input on management measures impacting federal fisheries for black sea bass, red grouper, and wreckfish. Amendments are being developed to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan in order to: address overcapacity in the commercial black sea bass pot fishery and reduce the rate of harvest for both commercial and recreational sectors; end overfishing and rebuild the red grouper stock; and address the current Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) program for wreckfish.

Black Sea Bass Restrictions: Amendment 18A
Annual Catch Limits (in numbers of pounds) have been established by the Council for black sea bass as mandated in the Magnuson-Stevens Conservation and Management Act to end overfishing and help rebuild the stock. Increased restrictions on the harvest of other species in the snapper grouper complex have led to an increase in fishing effort for black sea bass.  As a result, the catch limits have been reached earlier by both commercial and recreational fishermen, resulting in closures. The 2011/2012 fishing year for black sea bass began June 1, 2011. The commercial fishery met its ACL in just 45 days and the fishery was closed.  After NOAA Fisheries Service accounted for overages in landings by the recreational sector during the 2010/2011 season, it was announced the recreational fishery had met its adjusted ACL of 341,747 pounds for this fishing year.  The recreational black sea bass fishery closed on October 17, 2011 and reopens June 1, 2012. Amendment 18A is being developed to limit the commercial black sea bass pot fishery and reduce harvest rates for both commercial and recreational sectors. A new stock assessment for black sea bass is currently underway and the Council will receive the results of the assessment during its December 5-9, 2011 meeting in Raleigh, NC.

Measures Included in Amendment 18A:

  • For the commercial black sea bass pot fishery: limit participation through an endorsement program, limit the number of pots used during a permit year, and other measures to limit harvest and reduce bycatch
  • Establish commercial trip limits (all gear types)
  • Increase size limits (commercial and recreational)
  • Establish a spawning season closure (for both commercial and recreational sectors)
  • Modify the current rebuilding strategy to allow for an increase in the Annual Catch Limit as the stock continues to rebuild,
    based on the results of the most recent stock assessment.
  • Improve commercial and for-hire data reporting requirements

Ending Overfishing and Rebuilding Red Grouper: Amendment 24
A stock assessment conducted in 2010 identified the red grouper stock in the South Atlantic region as overfished and undergoing overfishing.  Amendment 24 will set Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures, establish a rebuilding plan, and revise certain population parameters for red grouper to end overfishing and rebuild the stock. The amendment also establishes allocations between recreational and commercial sectors.

Wreckfish ITQs: Amendment 20A
Wreckfish, a deepwater species in the snapper grouper management complex, is currently harvested through an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) program.  With an anticipated reduction in the Annual Catch Limit for wreckfish, the Council is considering measures to adjust the distribution of wreckfish shares in order to remove inactive effort and allow the commercial sector’s ACL to be harvested effectively.

Public hearings for the amendments will take place from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM unless otherwise noted. Note: some hearings will be held on concurrent dates.  Council staff will provide an overview of each amendment and be on hand to answer questions.  Local Council representatives will take formal comments on the public hearing documents any time between those hours.  The Council is accepting written and email comments from October 21, 2011 until 5:00 p.m. on November 21, 2011. Copies of the public hearing documents with details on how to submit written comments will be posted on the Council’s web site at and available by contacting the Council office at 843/571-4366 or Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10.

Public Hearing Schedule

Monday, November 14
Avista Resort
300 N. Ocean Boulevard
Myrtle Beach, SC 29582
Phone: 843 249-2521

Tuesday, November 15
Jacksonville Marriott
4670 Salisbury Road
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Phone: 904 296-2222 

*Tuesday, December 6
Holiday Inn Brownstone
1707 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27605
Phone: 919 828-0811

Monday, November 14
Hampton Inn Savannah/Midtown
20 Johnston Street
Savannah, GA 31405
Phone: 912 721-3700

Wednesday, November 16
Radisson Resort at the Port
8701 Astronaut Blvd.
Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
Phone: 321 784-0000

*Hearing in conjunction with the December 5-9 Council meeting and begins at 5:30 PM

Tuesday, November 15
(5:30 – 7:30 PM)
Charleston Marriott Hotel
170 Lockwood Boulevard
Charleston, SC 29403
Phone: 843 723-3000

Thursday, November 17 
Key Largo Bay Marriott
103800 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL 33037
Phone: 305 453-0000



Release: Immediate
Phone: 727-824-5305
FAX: FAX 727-824-5308
Date: Oct. 10, 2011

NOAA Fisheries Service Announces Closure Date for the South Atlantic Recreational Black Sea Bass Fishery

NOAA Fisheries Service has determined that the 2011-2012 recreational annual catch limit of 341,747 pounds for black sea bass has been reached. As a result, the recreational sector for black sea bass in federal waters of the South Atlantic from 35°15.19' N. latitude, (the latitude of Cape Hatteras Light, N.C.) to Key West, Fla., will close, effective 12:01 a.m. (local time) October 17, 2011, through 12:01 a.m. June 1, 2012.

For vessels with a valid federal charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic Snapper-grouper, the closure applies to state and federal waters. The operator of a vessel that has a federal for-hire permit for snapper-grouper must land any black sea bass harvested from either state or federal waters prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, October 17, 2011.

Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region implemented annual catch limits and accountability measures for nine species in the snapper-grouper complex. Accountability measures are actions intended to prevent the annual catch limit from being exceeded. If the recreational annual catch limit is projected to be met, the recreational sector would be closed. If the recreational annual catch limit is exceeded, the annual catch limit for the following fishing year will be reduced by the amount of the overage. A determination on a reduction of the annual catch limit will be made before the following fishing year begins.

Black sea bass are overfished (population is too low), and experiencing overfishing (rate of removal is too high). The commercial quota is 309,000 pounds. The recreational annual catch limit was adjusted to 341,747 pounds from 409,000 pounds to account for the recreational overage during the 2010-2011 fishing year. Harvest levels must be kept below these levels to prevent fish from being removed too quickly, and to rebuild the black sea bass population.

Commercial Sector:
Commercial harvest of black sea bass closed on July 15, 2011, because NOAA Fisheries Service projected landings would reach the quota by that time. It remains closed until June 1, 2012.



N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • (252) 726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632

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