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Florida Commercial Fishing Season Advisories
Florida’s Spiny Lobster Season Begins
Florida’s commercial harvest season for spiny lobster opens August 6, 2013, and will close March 31, 2014.
Gray Trigger Fish in Gulf Waters Opens
The commercial harvest of gray triggerfish opens in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters August 1, 2013. When the gray triggerfish season reopens, new bag and trip limits will also be in effect. The commercial limit will be 12 fish per trip. The minimum commercial size limit for gray triggerfish in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters is 14 inches fork length, which is measured from the tip of the fish’s closed mouth to the center of the fork in the tail.
Closure of the Commercial Gulf of Mexico Aggregated Large Coastal Shark and Gulf of Mexico Hammerhead Shark Management Groups
Commercial shark dealer reports indicate that the landings for the commercial Gulf of Mexico aggregated large coastal shark (LCS) management group have exceeded 80 percent of the available quota. As required by the regulations at 50 CFR 635.28(b)(2), National Marine Fisheries Service is closing the commercial Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS and Gulf of Mexico hammerhead shark fisheries. The closure is effective 11:30 p.m. local time July 17, 2013. The closure will remain in effect until an additional quota is available and the season is reopened.
Commercial Harvest of Jacks in South Atlantic Closes on June 18, 2013
NOAA Fisheries Service has determined the 2013 catch limit of 193,999 pounds whole weight for jacks in the South Atlantic commercial sector has been reached. With that action, the commercial harvest of jacks in South Atlantic waters will close, at 12:01 a.m. local time on June 18, 2013. Commercial harvest will reopen at 12:01 a.m. local time on January 1, 2014. The jacks complex is comprised of the following species: almaco jack, banded rudderfish, and lesser amberjack. During the closure: harvest or possession of jacks is limited to the recreational bag and possession limits; sale and purchase of jacks is prohibited; the closure applies in both state and federal waters and, the bag limit is zero for captain and crew on charter vessels and headboats.
Commercial Oyster Harvest Period Shortened
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has established a temporary rule shortening the commercial oyster harvest on the summer oyster bars of Apalachicola Bay waters. This rule will shorten the harvest from seven to five days a week starting June 1. Commercial harvest of oysters will be closed on Fridays and Saturdays. This temporary rule was established via executive order of the FWC to help conserve oyster resources throughout the summer harvesting season and serve as a proactive measure to balance availability of harvestable oysters with efforts to restore oyster populations. The temporary rule will expire August 31 when the summer bars close and the winter oyster bars reopen for harvest. All other bag limits, seasons and size limits remain unchanged. Apalachicola Bay includes all waters within St. George Sound, East Bay, Apalachicola Bay, St. Vincent Sound in Franklin County and Indian Lagoon in Gulf County. This change does not apply to active oyster leases or recreational harvest.
Commercial Harvest of Black Sea Bass in South Atlantic Opens June 1
The commercial black sea bass fishery opens on June 1, 2013 in federal waters from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina southward along the east coast of Florida.
2013 Commercial Quota for Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Increases
NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule for Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper. The rule sets the 2013 quotas for commercial red snapper harvest. The agency is increasing the quota because the population is growing. Effective immediately, the commercial red snapper quota in the Gulf of Mexico will increase from 4.121 million pounds whole weight for 2012 to 4.315 million pounds whole weight for 2013.
Update: Yellowtail Snapper Catch Limit Increase
Effective May 6, 2013, NOAA Fisheries is extending a temporary rule that increased the commercial annual catch limit for yellowtail snapper from 1,142,589 pounds whole weight to 1,596,510 pounds whole weight. Extending the temporary increase of the commercial annual catch limit will reduce the probability of triggering an in-season closure in the commercial sector. The recreational sector annual catch limit is not affected by this temporary rule extension. NOAA Fisheries is extending the temporary rule for an additional 186 days beginning May 6, 2013 and extending through November 8, 2013. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has submitted Regulatory Amendment 15 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region to NOAA Fisheries for review, which would make the increased annual catch limit permanent. Regulatory Amendment 15 should become effective sometime in fall 2013. For more information on this temporary rule click here.
Commercial Harvest of Golden Tilefish Closed in the South Atlantic Federal Waters
NOAA Fisheries has determined the 2012 commercial quota of 541,295 pounds gutted weight of golden tilefish will be reached by May 5, 2013. With that action, the commercial harvest of golden tilefish in the South Atlantic federal waters is closed, effective 12:01 a.m. local time May 5, 2013, until 12:01 a.m. local time January 1, 2014.
Commercial Harvest of Shallow-Water Grouper in South Atlantic Opens May 1
The harvest of shallow-water groupers (including gag, black and red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin, yellowmouth and tiger grouper) will reopen on May 1, 2013 in all state and federal South Atlantic waters.
Commercial King Mackerel Hook-and-Line Fishing Closure
In the Southern Florida West Coast Subzone, commercial fishing for Gulf group king mackerel in the Florida southern subzone is closed effective 12:01 a.m., local time, March 17, 2013, for commercial hook-and-line vessels. NOAA Fisheries has determined the 2012-2013 commercial quota of 607,614 pounds of king mackerel from this subzone will be reached by this date. The closure will remain in effect through the end of the fishing year, June 30, 2013. From November 1 through March 31, the southern subzone is that part of the Florida west coast zone off Collier and Monroe counties. This is the area south and west from a line directly east from the Miami-Dade/Monroe County boundary on the east coast of Florida to a line directly west from the Lee/ Collier County boundary on the west coast of Florida. Beginning April 1, the boundary between Atlantic and Gulf groups of king mackerel shifts south and west from the Flagler/Volusia County boundary on the Florida east coast to the Monroe/Collier County boundary on the Florida west coast. Therefore, beginning April 1, the closed southern subzone is reduced to the area off Collier County and Monroe County reopens to commercial king mackerel fishing for Atlantic group king mackerel.
Closure of Vermilion Snapper Harvest in South Atlantic Waters
The January-June catch limit of 315,523 pounds gutted weight of vermillion snapper in South Atlantic waters is expected to be met by February 13, 2013. With that action the commercial harvest of vermilion snapper in state and federal waters of the South Atlantic will close, at 12:01 a.m. local time February 13, 2013 and reopen at 12:01 a.m. local time on July 1, 2013.
King Mackerel Trip Limit Increases for Commercial Hook-And-Line Vessels Fishing in the Florida East Coast Subzone
Based on landings data, NOAA Fisheries determined that less than 75 percent (or 911,421 pounds) of the 1,215,228-pound quota will be harvested in the Florida East Coast Subzone before February 1, 2013. With that action, the daily vessel trip limit increases from 50 to 75 fish beginning 12:01 a.m., February 1, 2013, for commercial hook-and-line vessels fishing for king mackerel in federal waters of the Florida east coast subzone. The daily vessel trip limit increases from 50 to 75 fish beginning 12:01 a.m., February 1, 2013, for commercial hook-and-line vessels fishing for king mackerel in federal waters of the Florida east coast subzone. The 75-fish daily trip limit will remain in effect until March 31, 2013, unless the subzone's quota is reached and the fishery is closed before the end of the fishing year. From November 1 through March 31 annually, the Florida east coast subzone for Gulf group king mackerel is the area north of a line directly east from the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary (25° 20.4' N. lat.), and south of a line directly east from the Volusia/Flagler County, Florida, boundary (29° 25' N. lat.). There is no provision authorizing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to similarly increase the trip limit in state waters. Therefore, the daily trip limit for king mackerel harvested in state waters off the east coast of Florida will remain at 50 fish.
NOAA Fisheries Announces New Regulations for Gulf of Mexico Greater Amberjack
On October 4, 2012, NOAA Fisheries approved Amendment 35 to the Fishery Management Plan for Reef Fish Resources in the Gulf of Mexico. This rule adjusts the annual catch limits and annual catch targets for the greater amberjack population in the Gulf of Mexico and establishes a 2,000-pound commercial trip limit. Commercial Fishing Trip Limit and Season: The rule establishes a commercial trip limit of 2,000 pounds throughout the fishing year. The trip limit will allow for a longer fishing season for the commercial sector. The commercial fishing season reopens on January 1, 2013. The 2013 commercial closed season will be March 1 through May 31, and will reopen on June 1 as long as the annual catch target has not been exceeded or is projected to be exceeded. Annual Catch Targets: The council established annual catch targets, which act as quotas for the commercial sector. The catch target provides a buffer for management uncertainty, intended to keep landings less than the annual catch limits. Until a future stock assessment is completed, or the annual catch limit is exceeded, the commercial quota will be 409,000 pounds. The 2013 commercial quota will be reduced by the 2012 landing overage after those numbers have been finalized.
Individual Fishing Quota Program in the Gulf of Mexico: End of Year Landing Transactions
NOAA Fisheries will shut down the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) online system for maintenance beginning 6 p.m. EST December 31, 2012, through 2 p.m. EST January 1, 2013. Dealers and IFQ fishermen are reminded that all electronic transactions for the 2012 fishing year must be completed before this time. Online IFQ functions will resume at 2 p.m. EST on January 1, 2013. You may still submit an advanced notice of landing during the 20-hour maintenance window by using your vessel's vessel monitoring system or by calling IFQ Customer Service at 1-866-425-7627 (Option 1), however, only landing transactions completed by 6 p.m. EST will count against your 2012 quota allocation. For complete details download the Southeast Fishery Bulletin (PDF).
Reminder of Boundary Shifts and Commercial Quotas and Trip Limits for King Mackerel
King mackerel is divided into two migratory groups: Gulf and Atlantic. The groups are divided into zones and subzones, and each group, zone, and subzone may have a separate quota and trip limit. The boundary between the Gulf and Atlantic groups shifts north on November 1 and south on April 1 of each year. In addition, new quotas are effective for the 2012-2013 fishing season.
- Western Zone: The Western zone includes waters off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and remains the same area year-round. This zone has a trip limit of 3,000 pounds per day. This zone closed August 22, 2012, and will reopen July 1, 2013.
- Florida East Coast (Mixing Zone): On the east coast of Florida, from November 1 through March 31, fish harvested south of the Flagler/Volusia County line to the Miami-Dade/Monroe County line are considered to be Gulf group king mackerel. The trip limit for this Florida East Coast subzone during this time period is 50 fish per day, until February 1, when the trip limit may increase to 75 fish per day, if 75 percent of the quota has not been reached.
- Florida West Coast: The west coast is divided into Northern and Southern subzones. The Northern subzone extends north and west from the Lee/Collier County line to the Florida/Alabama state line and remains the same area year-round. This subzone closed October 5, 2012, and will reopen July 1, 2013. From November 1 to March 31, the Southern subzone extends south and east from the Lee/Collier County line to the Miami-Dade/Monroe County line. With the April boundary shift between the Gulf and Atlantic groups to the Monroe/Collier County line, the Southern subzone for the Gulf group king mackerel is reduced to the area off Collier County, and Monroe County becomes part of the Atlantic group. The quota for Gulf group king mackerel in the Southern subzone is divided equally between the hook-and-line and gillnets sectors. The hook-and-line sector remains open at this time. The gillnet sector will open January 22, 2013. Both the Northern and Southern subzones have a hook-and-line trip limit of 1,250 pounds per day until 75 percent of the quota is reached. After that, the trip limit is 500 pounds per day until the end of the fishing season or the quota is met. The gillnet sector in the Southern subzone has at trip limit of 25,000 pounds per day.
- For more details, maps and quota charts please visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishery_bulletins/documents/pdfs/2012/fb12-080_mackerel_regulations_reminder.pdf
New Commercial Fishing Safety Requirement Takes Effect, October 16, 2012
The Coast Guard urges commercial fishing vessel owners and operators to take advantage of voluntary dockside safety examinations prior to the enforcement of a new requirement October 16, 2012. The new requirement mandates that all commercial fishing, fish tender and fish processing vessels that operate or transit beyond 3 nautical miles of the U.S. territorial sea, regardless of whether your vessel is state registered or federally documented, demonstrate full compliance with all existing commercial fishing vessel safety regulations during a dockside safety examination. To demonstrate compliance with this new requirement, commercial fishing vessel owners and operators are encouraged to contact Coast Guard fishing vessel safety examiners to schedule an exam and obtain a commercial fishing vessel safety decal. Additionally, fishing vessel owners and operators are encouraged to use the interactive Commercial Fishing Vessel Checklist Generator to find out what equipment is required for issue of the decal. The checklist generator is available at http://www.uscg.mil/d13/cfvs/DocksideExams/vFinal.swf The examination requirement is one of several new mandates established by the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. The act requires a mandatory safety examination for fishing vessels that operate beyond three nautical miles of the baseline regardless of whether the vessel is state-registered or federally documented. More information about this change and methods for achieving compliance can be viewed at www.fishsafe.info. To schedule a vessel examination in your area visit: www.fishsafe.info/docksideexamrequest.htm. For additional information download the Notice of CFVS Examination Requirements (PDF) or you may also contact the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Office at (904) 564-7664 or (904) 564-7665.
NOAA Fisheries Announces New Regulations for Golden Tilefish in the South Atlantic
NOAA Fisheries will publish a final rule on October 9, 2012, which increases annual catch limits 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 commercial catch limit at 541,295 pounds gutted weight. Commercial harvest of golden tilefish will reopen 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.
Commercial Harvest of Yellowtail Snapper Did Not Close on September 11, 2012
Updated landings data indicate the commercial annual catch limit for yellowtail snapper has not been reached. Therefore, the previously scheduled commercial closure has been canceled. The commercial sector of the snapper-grouper fishery may continue harvesting yellowtail snapper until the annual catch limit has been met.
NOAA Fisheries Service Announces New Regulations for Spiny Lobster in the Florida Keys
The new regulations, designed to protect threatened corals, prohibits commercial spiny lobster trap fishing in certain areas of the Florida Keys. The regulations become effective August 27, 2012. Staff from NOAA Fisheries Service and the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fisheries Management Councils worked with fishermen, scientists, and managers to choose areas that would protect the most coral without overly restricting fishing. In total, 60 closed areas were chosen that cover 5.9 square miles. Maps and coordinates of the closed areas can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
Florida's commercial harvest season for spiny lobster opens August 6, 2012, and will close March 31, 2013.
NOAA Fisheries Service Announces New Regulations for South Atlantic Black Sea Bass
Effective July 1, 2012, the final rule includes: The commercial fishing season for black sea bass in South Atlantic waters opens July 1, 2012; an endorsement program for the commercial black sea bass pot segment of the snapper-grouper fishery, where only endorsement holders who meet certain landings criteria and also have a valid Unlimited South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Permit are allowed to use pot gear to harvest black sea bass; a limit of 35 black sea bass pot tags issued to each endorsement holder each permit year; a requirement to bring black sea bass pots back to shore at the end of each trip; a 1,000 pounds gutted weight (1,180 pounds whole weight) commercial trip limit for the black sea bass commercial sector; an increase to the commercial minimum size limit for black sea bass from 10 inches total length (TL) to 11 inches TL. For information, contact Kate Michie at (727) 824-5305.
Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Quota Increases for 2012 and 2013.
NOAA Fisheries Service published a final rule increasing the commercial quota for Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper (77 FR 31734). The rule sets the 2012 and 2013 quotas for commercial red snapper harvest. The quota has been increased because recent red snapper population assessments show overfishing has ended. The 2012 commercial quota for red snapper is 4.121 million pounds, whole weight. The 2013 commercial quota for red snapper is 4.432 million pounds, whole weight.
NOAA Fisheries Service Eliminates the 240-Foot (40-Fathom) Snapper-Grouper Area Prohibition in the South Atlantic
NOAA Fisheries Service has announced the 240-foot (40-fathom) snapper-grouper prohibition in South Atlantic federal waters has been eliminated. The 240-foot (40-fathom) prohibition, implemented on January 31, 2011, prohibited the possession of the following deepwater snapper-grouper species snowy grouper, blueline tilefish, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, queen snapper, and silk snapper, in or from the South Atlantic federal waters in depths greater than 240 feet (40 fathoms). This elimination of this rule is effective May 10, 2012.
Atlantic Group Spanish Mackerel Trip Limit Reduced
NOAA Fisheries Service has determined 75 percent of the adjusted quota for Atlantic group Spanish mackerel has been harvested. With that action, the daily vessel trip limit for commercial vessels fishing for Atlantic group Spanish mackerel in federal waters of the southern zone is adjusted to 1,500 pounds, effective 6:00 a.m. local time, January 27, 2012. This 1,500-pound-per-day commercial trip limit applies to Spanish mackerel in the southern zone through February 29, 2012, unless changed by further notification in the Federal Register. Beginning March 1, 2012, the trip limit will increase to 3,500 pounds per day. The southern zone extends from a line directly east from the Georgia/Florida boundary and a line directly east from the Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Florida, boundary.
Red Grouper Quota Increase in Gulf of Mexico
NOAA has announced a final rule increasing the 2011 red grouper commercial harvest quota in the Gulf of Mexico from the existing 4.32 million pounds to 5.23 million pounds. The rule also sets the red grouper quotas for 2012-2015, which incrementally increase from 5.37 million pounds in 2012 to 5.72 million pounds in 2015. This rule takes effect on November 2, 2011. For fishermen holding red grouper individual fishing quota (IFQ) shares, additional allocation for 2011 will be posted to their accounts by the close of business on November 2. Reminder to red grouper IFQ shareholders: Additional red grouper allocation will be issued to your shareholder account, not your vessel account. To harvest your additional 2011 red grouper allocation, you must transfer allocation from your shareholder account to your vessel account prior to your landing notification. Directions for transferring allocation to your vessel account can be found in the IFQ Trouble Shooting Guide which can be found at https://ifq.sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/ifqgt/main.html.
Harvesting of Reef Fish
Beginning June 1, 2008 commercial fishermen will be required to use non-stainless steel circle hooks, d-hooking and venting devices when using natural baits to harvest reef fish in Gulf of Mexico federal waters. Reef fish species include all snappers, groupers, sea bass, amberjacks, triggerfish, hogfish, red porgy and tilefish. For more information, please call the Gulf Council at 888-833-1844.
Contact Us About Florida Commercial Fishing Season Advisories
Division of Marketing and Development
Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing
The Collins Building, Innovation Park
2051 East Dirac Drive
Tallahassee, Florida 32310
(850) 617-7281 Fax