Extending the temporary increase of the commercial annual catch limit will reduce the probability of triggering an in-season closure in the commercial sector. The recreational sector annual catch limit is not affected by this temporary rule extension.
The state of Florida completed a new population assessment for yellowtail snapper, which indicates the stock is neither overfished (too few fish in the population) nor undergoing overfishing (fish being removed too quickly). This assessment indicates harvest can be increased without jeopardising the health of the population.
Based on these results, NOAA Fisheries issued a temporary rule in November 2012, which increased the commercial annual catch limit for yellowtail snapper in the South Atlantic. The temporary rule can be extended for an additional 186 days.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has submitted Regulatory Amendment 15 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region to NOAA Fisheries for review, which would make the increased annual catch limit permanent. Regulatory Amendment 15 should become effective sometime in fall 2013.
The new commercial annual catch limit will continue uninterrupted through the extension of the initial temporary rule, which is effective from 7 November, 2012, through 6 May, 2013. NOAA Fisheries is extending the temporary rule for an additional 186 days beginning 6 May, 2013.