September 20, 2016
Council approves reduced cobia bag limits to extend season
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.
measures were approved by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
during its meeting this week in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The council
says the new regulations 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.
regulations as proposed in Coastal Migratory Framework Amendment 4
would reduce the recreational bag limit from two fish to one fish per
person per day, implement a vessel limit of six fish, and raise the
recreational minimum size limit to 36 inches, fork length.
commercial trip limit of two fish per person per day, with no more than
six fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive, would be
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.
early closure for 2016 was required because of an overage of
recreational annual catch limit of Atlantic cobia in 2015 and the
accountability measure currently in place that requires a shortened
season in the subsequent year. Framework Amendment 4 would also modify
the accountability measure.
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.
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.
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," she added.
council is also working with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries
Commission to develop a complementary plan to allow additional
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.