NOAA Increases South Atlantic Black Sea Bass Catch Limits

NOAA Fisheries is increasing catch limits for black sea bass in the South Atlantic (effective September 23, 2013) and implementing an annual prohibition on the use of black sea bass pots from November 1 through April 30 (effective October 23, 2013). The actions are specified in the final rule for Regulatory Amendment 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Regulatory Amendment 19).

Catch Limits
This rule increases the commercial and recreational annual catch limits as indicated in the table below.

Fishing Year (1)2013-20142014-20152015-20162016-2017 (3)
Commercial annual catch limit (2)
780,020
780,020
780,020
755,274
Recreational annual catch limit (2)
1,033,980
1,033,980
1,033,980
1,001,177

(1) The fishing years are from June 1 through May 31.
(2) Values are in pounds whole weight.
(3) The annual catch limits for 2016-2017 will remain in place until modified.

According to a 2013 population assessment, the black sea bass population is not undergoing overfishing (fish being removed too quickly), is not overfished (too few fish in the population), and is rebuilt. The assessment results suggest the black sea bass catch levels may be increased without jeopardizing the health of the population.

Harvest Prohibition Using Pot Gear
This rule also prohibits the use of black sea bass pots annually from November 1 through April 30. The prohibition is a precautionary measure to prevent interactions between black sea bass pot gear and whales listed under the Endangered Species Act during large whale migrations and the right whale calving season off the southeastern coast.

More information, including Frequently Asked Questions for Regulatory Amendment 19, may be found online at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2013/reg_am19/index.html

Additional information on management of black sea bass in the South Atlantic may be found at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/bsb/index.html.