FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Chris Smith
FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO GAG, BLACK GROUPER, AND RED GROUPER FISHERIES POSTPONED
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service announced today that there will be no prohibition on the sale of gag, black and red grouper from Feb. 15 to March 15, 2000 but the proposal to do so in future years remains under review. The minimum size limit for gag and black grouper will remain at 20 inches until further notice and the proposal to establish two areas in the eastern Gulf that would be closed to all fishing remains under review.
On Jan. 26, 2000, NOAA Fisheries published a proposed rule that included measures intended to prevent overfishing of gag, black grouper, and red grouper. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council requested these measures in a regulatory amendment submitted to NOAA Fisheries for review. The proposed rule would: (1) increase the recreational minimum size limits for gag and black grouper from 20 inches to 22 inches immediately and by one inch each subsequent year until 24 inches is reached; (2) increase the commercial minimum size limit for gag and black grouper from 20 inches to 24 inches; (3) prohibit the sale of gag, black grouper, and red grouper harvested from Gulf federal waters from Feb. 15 to March 15; and (4) establish two areas in the eastern Gulf that would be closed to all fishing.
At the close of the proposed rule's comment period (February 10, 2000), NOAA Fisheries had received more than 600 lengthy comments on this proposal and does not anticipate a final rule being effective prior to March 15, 2000. Since NOAA Fisheries has made no decision to approve or disapprove these measures, current regulations remain in effect.
The original Southeast Fishery Bulletin that announced this proposed rule can be found on NOAA Fisheries' Southeast Regional home page at: