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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Greater Amberjack


Greater Amberjack
The Council took final action on Amendment 35 to the Reef Fish Management Plan. This amendment, if approved and implemented by NOAA Fisheries, will:

Photo: Walter Stone
    Set the Annual Catch Limit at 1,780,000 pounds and the Annual Catch Target at 1,539,000 pounds.
     Retain the recreational 30’’ minimum size limit and June-July season closure.
     Establish a 2000 pound commercial trip limit and retain the March-May commercial season closure.

This amendment was developed after the stock assessment showed that amberjack is both overfished (population is too low) and experiencing overfishing (rate of removals is too high).

The Gulf Council’s scientific advisors recommended that the greater amberjack Acceptable Biological Catch be set at 1,780,000 pounds whole weight. As a rule, an Annual Catch Limit cannot be higher than the Acceptable Biological Catch, so the current stock Annual Catch Limit of 1,870,000 million pounds whole weight had to be adjusted.

Council held public hearing meetings and solicited comments online asking the public what types of management measures would suit them best and, as usual, opinions varied across the Gulf. You can check out the comments that were submitted between August 2011 and February 2012 here, and view comments received between February 2012 and April 2012 here.  

Greater amberjack is in the 9th year of its rebuilding plan, which is scheduled to end in 2012. Management measures in this amendment are expected to reduce overfishing but, until a new stock assessment is completed, it is unknown if greater amberjack will meet its rebuilding schedule. 

If you have any questions about greater amberjack don't hesitate to contact me: emily.muehlstein@gulfcouncil.org