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240-Foot Snapper-Grouper Prohibition in South Atlantic Eliminated

US - NOAA Fisheries Service is eliminating the 240-foot (40-fathom) snapper-grouper prohibition in South Atlantic federal waters.

The 240-foot (40-fathom) prohibition, implemented on 31 January, 2011, prohibited the possession of six deepwater snappergrouper species (snowy grouper, blueline tilefish, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, queen snapper, and silk snapper) in or from the South Atlantic federal waters in depths greater than 240 feet (40 fathoms).

The purpose of the 240-foot (40-fathom) prohibition approved in Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region is to reduce bycatch of speckled hind and warsaw grouper.

However, there is evidence, from both public comments and new analysis of data, that the prohibition is not effective at its stated purpose and comes at a higher economic cost to fishermen than originally anticipated. A new analysis of landings data following the implementation of the prohibition indicates that different management measures are likely more effective.

Therefore, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is currently developing an amendment to further protect speckled hind and warsaw grouper.

That amendment considers additional measures to reduce bycatch of speckled hind and warsaw grouper, including the expansion of existing, and establishment of new, closed areas.

The decision to eliminate the 240-foot (40-fathom) prohibition through Regulatory Amendment 11 to the Fishery Management Plan for the SnapperGrouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region does not affect the prohibition on harvest and possession of speckled hind and warsaw grouper in the South Atlantic. It remains unlawful to harvest or possess speckled hind and warsaw grouper.

Lucy Towers

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