The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is soliciting public input through a series of public hearings on proposed measures that could affect federally permitted charter ("6-pack") vessels along the Atlantic coast.
For-hire vessels (charter and headboats) operating more than three miles offshore in federal waters must have specific federal permits to legally target dolphin and wahoo, Coastal Migratory Pelagics (mackerel and cobia), and snapper grouper species. The Council is considering alternatives that would require electronic reporting for charter vessels with those federal permits, ranging from weekly reporting to daily reporting, through development of the Atlantic Generic Charterboat/Headboat Reporting Amendment.
Improved data reporting could reduce the likelihood that annual catch limits are exceeded and accountability measures are triggered. Accountability measures may include in-season closures, shorter fishing seasons the following year, reduced bag limits, and other measures to reduce harvest. The harvest from charter vessels and headboats contributes to recreational landings that count towards the recreational annual catch limits and quotas. Charter vessel landings and discards are currently monitored with NOAA Fisheries' Marine Recreational Information Program using a voluntary dockside intercept survey. Fishing effort is calculated based on a monthly phone sample (10%) of federally permitted charter vessels in the Council's jurisdiction.
Weekly electronic reports have been required for headboats holding these permits since Jan. 2013. The amendment would also slightly modify the weekly headboat reporting requirements to reduce reporting lag-time and align the due dates with commercial reporting. See details below for hearing schedules and how to submit comments.
Other Proposed Measures Open for Comment
Snapper Grouper Amendment 37: Hogfish
Following a recent stock assessment for hogfish, the Council is proposing measures for hogfish that include designating two stocks in the South Atlantic and the following measures to rebuild the "Florida Keys/East Florida" stock: increase the minimum size limit; establish a commercial trip limit; reduce the bag limit; and establish a recreational season.
Coastal Migratory Pelagic Amendment 26: King Mackerel
The amendment includes management actions for Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic migratory group king mackerel, including: boundary modifications; revisions to annual catch limits, an incidental catch allowance for the shark gill net fishery; split seasons, and other measures. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will also hold public hearings in Feb.. For additional information, visit www.gulfcouncil.org.
Snapper Grouper Amendment 41: Mutton Snapper (Scoping)
The Council is considering options affecting the recreational fishery for mutton snapper following a recent stock assessment. Options include: modifying the current bag limit of 10 fish per person/day with further reductions during the spawning season.
Note: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is holding a series of public workshops to gather input on the management of mutton snapper in state waters. Workshops will be held in conjunction with selected public hearing/scoping meetings in Florida (see schedule below). Learn more at:
Learn More - Question & Answer Webinars
Beginning at 6:00 p.m.
- Weds., Jan. 20, 2016: For-Hire Reporting Amendment and Mackerel Amendment 26
- Thurs., Jan. 21, 2016: Snapper Grouper Amendment 37 (hogfish) and Amendment 41 (mutton snapper)
Join Council staff as they review actions proposed in each amendment and answer your questions. Registration for the webinars is required. Information is available from the Public Hearing and Scoping Meeting page of the Council's website at www.safmc.net. Summary documents for each amendment will also be available by Jan. 15, 2016. Note:Formal public comment will not be accepted during the Q&A webinars.