The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold a series of public hearings beginning in November to solicit public comment on two amendments to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan for the South Atlantic.

Amendment 15A addresses rebuilding of snowy grouper, black sea bass, and red porgy stocks.  Amendment 15B contains actions to prohibit the sale of recreationally-caught snapper grouper species, reduce the effects of incidental hooking on sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish, change the commercial permit renewal period and transferability requirements, implement a plan to monitor and assess bycatch, and establish management reference points, such as Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) and Optimum Yield (OY) for golden tilefish.  Amendment 15B will also establish allocations between commercial and recreational fishermen for snowy grouper and red porgy.

Stocks of snowy grouper, black sea bass and red porgy have been identified as overfished by the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) stock assessment process.  In response, the Council is developing Amendment 15A to establish rebuilding plans for these three economically important species in the snapper grouper management complex. Over the years 2001 – 2005, snowy grouper, red porgy, and black sea bass represented an average of 21% of the total annual commercial landings of snapper grouper in the South Atlantic valued at $7.73 million dollars.

Regulations were implemented in October 2006 to end overfishing for snowy grouper and black sea bass, and allow for a moderate increase in the harvest of red porgy.  These factors will be considered in the rebuilding plans.

Through Amendment 15B, the Council is considering options to prohibit the sale of recreationally caught snapper and grouper. Recent restrictions on commercial quotas have raised concerns that these recreationally harvested fish are being included in the commercial landings, and fish may be double counted with current recreational reporting methods.  Allocations for snowy grouper and red porgy are also being addressed in Amendment 15B in order to establish commercial quotas and recreational allocations.  A complete listing of all actions is contained in each amendment.

Written comments for Amendments15A are being accepted by the Council until 5:00 pm, December 3, 2007.   Written comments for 15B are due by 5:00 p.m. on January 11, 2008.  Copies of the Public Hearing Documents will be posted on the Council's web site at www.safmc.net, and may also be obtained from the Council office. 

Comments should be addressed to: Bob Mahood, Executive Director, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, Charleston, SC 29405. Email Amendment 15A comments to: SG15A@safmc.net and comments for Amendment 15B to: SG15B@safmc.net.

SNAPPER GROUPER AMENDMENTS 15A/15B PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULE
Hearings Begin at 6:00 p.m. except for 12/3/07*

* November 13, 2007, Sombrero Cay Club, 19 Sombrero Boulevard, Marathon, FL  33050, Phone: 305-743-2250

* November 14, 2007, Sheraton Yankee Clipper Hotel, 1140 Seabreeze Boulevard (A1A), Fort Lauderdale, FL  33316, Phone: 954-524-5551

* November 15, 2007, Radisson Resort at the Port, 8701 Astronaut Boulevard, Cape Canaveral, FL  32920, Phone: 321-784-0000

* November 16, 2007, Comfort Inn Oceanfront, 1515 North 1st Street, Jacksonville Beach, FL  32250, Phone: 904-241-2311

* November 27, 2007, Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, 175 Bourne Avenue, Pooler, GA  31322, Phone: 912-748-8888

* November 28, 2007, Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Airport, 5265 International Boulevard, North Charleston, SC 29418, Phone: 843-308-9330

* November 28, 2007, Avista Resort, 300 N. Ocean Boulevard, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582, Phone: 843-249-2521

* November 29, 2007, Shell Island Resort, 2700 Lumina Avenue, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480, Phone: 910-256-0418

* November 30, 2007, NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island, 374 Airport Road, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-3494

* December 3, 2007 (*Begins at 7:00 p.m.), Sheraton Atlantic Beach, 2717 W. Fort Macon Road, Atlantic Beach, NC, 28512, Phone: 252-240-1155


The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, one of eight regional councils, conserves and manages fish stocks from three to 200 miles offshore of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida.