NOAA Seeks Public Input For Greater Amberjack Fishing Season

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NOAA Fisheries Service has published a proposed rule that, if approved and implemented, would establish a June 1 through July 31 seasonal closure for recreational harvest of greater amberjack in or from the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) federal waters. The intended effect of the proposed rule is to maintain the rebuilding plan targets for the overfished greater amberjack resource, reduce the likelihood of exceeding the recreational quota for greater amberjack, minimize in-season quota closures for greater amberjack during peak recreational fishing months, and increase social and economic benefits for Gulf recreational fishers by maximizing the number of fishing days available to the recreational sector.Background: In 2009, the recreational sector exceeded its greater amberjack quota. The recreational sector was closed on October 24 after NOAA Fisheries Service projected the recreational quota was met. Final landings indicated the recreational quota was exceeded by 9 percent. In accordance with established accountability measures, the recreational quota for 2010 was reduced to account for this overage.In response to this quota closure, the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council (Council) developed a regulatory amendment to establish a fixed closed season to the harvest of greater amberjack by the recreational sector. Based on public input, the Council selected to have a seasonal closure during June and July. These are peak recreational harvesting months of greater amberjack; closing federal waters during this time frame is expected to allow recreational fishing for greater amberjack to occur in all other months of the year, without exceeding the quota before year?s end.This two month closure coincides with the open recreational seasons for other managed reef fish species, including red snapper, and provides recreational fishers the opportunity to fish for at least one of the targeted species year round (provided the recreational quota for greater amberjack is not exceeded). A closed season for Gulf greater amberjack that overlaps with an open season for Gulf red snapper is intended to minimize the social and economic impacts to recreational fishers in the Gulf.Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., eastern time, on February 23, 2011. You may submit comments, identified by ?0648-BA48?, by any one of the following methods:
  • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal //www.regulations.gov.
  • Mail: Rich Malinowski, Southeast Regional Office, NOAA Fisheries Service, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701.
Instructions for electronic submissions: No comments will be posted for public viewing until after the comment period is over. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to //www.regulations.gov 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.To submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, enter ?NOAA-NMFS-2010-0281? in the keyword search, then check the box labeled ?Select to find documents accepting comments or submissions,? then select ?Send a Comment or Submission.? NOAA Fisheries Service will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous).Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.Comments received by February 23, 2011, will be considered by NOAA Fisheries Service in its decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve the proposed action. Comments received after that date will not be considered by NOAA Fisheries Service in this decision. All comments received by NOAA Fisheries Service will be addressed in the final rule.For another NOAA initiative seeking public comment, click here.

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