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Marine Fisheries - SAFMC Hogfish

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Contact: Kim Iverson
Date: Sept. 19, 2016
Email: Kim.Iverson@safmc.net

Council Approves Measures to Extend Atlantic Cobia Season;
End Overfishing for Hogfish

Discussion continues on options for allowing harvest of red snapper;
limited entry for the for-hire sector


If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, new regulations will be implemented in 2017 for Atlantic cobia in federal waters offshore from Georgia to New York. The measures, approved by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council during their meeting this week in Myrtle Beach, S.C., are designed to help extend the season for both recreational and commercial fishermen and help ensure consistent and stable fishing opportunities for the migratory stock. New regulations as proposed in Coastal Migratory Framework Amendment 4 would reduce the recreational bag limit from 2 fish to 1 fish per person per day, implement a vessel limit of 6 fish, and raise the recreational minimum size limit to 36" fork length. A commercial trip limit of 2 fish per person per day, with no more than 6 fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive, would be established.

The recreational fishery for Atlantic cobia in federal waters closed on June 20, 2016. The closure occurred during the peak cobia season off the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia impacting both private anglers and charter captains targeting the popular species. The early closure for 2016 was required due to an overage of recreational annual catch limit of Atlantic cobia in 2015 and the accountability measure currently in place that requires a shortened season the subsequent year. Framework Amendment 4 would also modify the accountability measure.

"The Council considered numerous comments received during public hearings held in August, as well as comments received during a Q&A session held in May, public input during its June meeting, written comments, and comments from fishermen attending this week's meeting," said Council Chair Dr. Michelle Duval. "We heard from fishermen about the negative economic impacts of the Atlantic cobia closure, particularly off the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia. We've worked diligently, looking at various combinations of changes to bag limits, vessel limits and size limits, to help maximize fishing opportunities and to have new regulations in place in time for next year's season," said Dr. Duval. "A new Cobia sub-panel to the Council's Mackerel Cobia Advisory Panel will allow for additional input and expertise from fishermen on cobia management issues as we move forward." The Council is also working with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to develop a complementary plan to allow additional management flexibility. The majority of cobia landings occur in state waters off the northeast coast of North Carolina and Virginia. Both states implemented additional restrictions in harvest in state waters following the federal closure in June. The Atlantic cobia annual catch limit includes landings from both state and federal waters.

Hogfish
The Council also approved measures for hogfish in federal waters that would establish two separate management units, a Florida Keys/East Florida stock and a Georgia/North Carolina stock and implement new regulations through Snapper Grouper Amendment 37. Hogfish are primarily harvested off the coast of Florida and a popular target for both divers and hook-and-line fishermen. A recent stock assessment found the Florida Keys/East Florida stock overfished and undergoing overfishing. Measures proposed to end overfishing and rebuild the stock include substantial reductions in the annual catch limits and limits to harvest...

Read the complete news release

For additional details about actions taken by the Council, view the September Council Meeting Interactive Story Map and read the Meeting Report.

SAFMC 091916

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

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