April 20, 2018

Public Comments Requested for Limited
Opening of Recreational and Commercial Red
Snapper Fishery in South Atlantic Federal Waters

NOAA Fisheries has requested comments from the public on Amendment 43 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (which includes North Carolina to the Florida Keys). 

Red snapper recreational and commercial seasons would open in South Atlantic federal waters for limited harvest in 2018, and the proposed actions would specify recreational and commercial annual catch limits for red snapper beginning in 2018.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved Amendment 43 after recent information indicated an increase in the red snapper population since 2014.

Per NOAA Fisheries, these recent and independent studies show red snapper abundance has increased in the South Atlantic since 2014, and was highest in 2017. The proposed total annual catch limit equals the landings of red snapper when harvest occurred in 2014, the highest observed landings during the limited openings in 2012-2014.

NOAA Fisheries determined the proposed limited harvest in 2018 is neither expected to result in overfishing, nor prevent continued rebuilding of the population.

The Comment period begins on April 16, 2018, and comments are due by June 15, 2018.


  • The total annual catch limit would be 42,510 fish.
  • The recreational annual catch limit would be 29,656 fish.
  • The recreational bag limit would be one red snapper per person per day.  This applies to private and charterboat/headboat vessels (the captain and crew on for-hire vessels may retain the recreational bag limit).
  • The commercial annual catch limit would be 124,815 pounds whole weight.
  • The commercial trip limit would be 75 pounds gutted weight.
  • There would be no minimum size limit for the recreational or commercial sectors.
  • The opening and closing of the recreational sector would be specified before the recreational season begins and would be weekends only (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).
  • The commercial sector would close when the commercial annual catch limit is projected to be met. 
  • Amendment 43 specifies that the commercial sector would open the 2nd Monday in July and the recreational sector would open the 2nd Friday in July.  If the fishing seasons do not open exactly on these dates, they would open as close to these dates as possible.
  • NOAA Fisheries will announce the opening dates, if the amendment is approved, in a future Fishery Bulletin.

Anglers should note that the timing of the 2018 season is contingent on when the final rule for Amendment 43 is implemented, if approved. 


You may submit comments by electronic submission or by mail.  Comments sent by any other method (such as e-mail), to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.

Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. 

  1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0148.
  2. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields.
  3. Enter or attach your comments.

Mail: Submit written comments to Frank Helies, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

For more information, including a list of FAQs pertaining to the proposed changes, visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishery_bulletins/2018/025/index.html.


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