NOAA announces fishing rules to protect Gulf of Mexico gag and red grouper in federal waters

December 7, 2010

Gag grouper. Photo courtesy FWC.

Fishing closure in federal waters Jan. 1 – Jun. 30

NOAA Fisheries Service has announced a temporary rule that will prohibit recreational fishing for gag grouper in Gulf of Mexico federal waters. The six-month rule becomes effective on January 1, 2011, and can be extended an additional six months if necessary.

This rule will also reduce the commercial quota from 1.49 million pounds to 100,000 pounds and will prohibit the use of the red grouper multi-use individual fishing quota allocation for harvesting gag grouper. The quota will discourage commercial vessels from targeting gag or from fishing in areas with high accidental catch of gag, while still allowing the retention of some accidentally-caught gag that would otherwise be discarded dead at sea.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council requested NOAA Fisheries Service implement this temporary rule while they explore long-term measures to address the poor condition of the gag grouper population. The Council is expected to recommend these long-term measures sometime next year. NOAA Fisheries Service will provide public comment periods before implementing any final long-term management measures. For more information, please see the Fishery Bulletin.