Comment period ends August 29, 2013

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would increase the commercial and recreational quotas for Gulf of Mexico red snapper and potentially re-open the recreational season for 2013. The proposed rule will publish in the Federal Register on August 14, 2013.

The rule would increase the total allowable catch for harvest of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico from 8.46 million pounds (mp) to 11.0 mp. The commercial quota would be 5.61 mp and the recreational quota would be 5.39 mp. The quotas can be increased because a recent stock assessment for red snapper showed the stock can support higher catches.

The red snapper commercial sector is managed with an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program. The increase of 1.295 mp to the commercial quota would be distributed to IFQ shareholders on or shortly after the effective date of the final rule.

The 1.245 mp increase to the recreational quota could allow a supplemental red snapper recreational fishing season, if unused quota is available. The supplemental season would open October 1, 2013, and preliminary projections show fishing could be supported for 21 days, but only if landings did not exceed the previous quota during the June season. The final projections will be received in mid-August. If quota is available, the official dates of the supplemental season will be announced in the final rule for this action.

For more information please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions on the NOAA Fisheries Web site.

Request for Comments
The comment period on this proposed rule will open on August 14, 2013. NOAA Fisheries must receive comments no later than August 29, 2013. We will address all comments specifically directed to the framework action or the proposed rule in the final rule. You may obtain electronic copies of the proposed rule and the framework action from the NOAA Fisheries Web site or the e-Rule Making Portal www.regulations.gov.

How to Submit Comments
You may submit comments on this document, identified by "NOAA-NMFS-2013-0115", by one of the following methods:

All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible.

About Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional Fishery Management Councils established by the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Council prepares fishery management plans, which are designed to manage fishery resources within the 200-mile limit of the Gulf of Mexico.


CCA Florida Repsonse:

August --, 2013

Ms. Susan Gerhart,
Southeast Regional Office, NMFS
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701.


Dear Ms. Gerhart:

I am taking this opportunity to offer the support of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) for the proposed rule that would re-open the recreational red snapper season beginning in October.  We understand that the season length may extend for 21 days and believe that allowing this opportunity for accessing this rapidly expanding resource to Gulf of Mexico anglers should be a first step towards affirming the economic and social potential of recreational fishing in the federal waters of the Gulf.

Understanding that the rule would also increase the 2013 TAC from 8.46 to 11 million pounds we concur with the increase, but take the position that the increases allowed in commercial harvest manifested by this change are effective for this single year and do not represent an action that affects the Gulf Council's current deliberation over changes in red snapper allocation.  CCA firmly believes that a major re-allocation of harvest privileges between the commercial and recreational sectors will be the only action that will allow this red snapper resource to generate its full potential economic benefits to this nation.

We urge the NMFS to firmly establish the duration of the October season as rapidly as possible so as to allow the angling public to prepare for the season in advance.

Thank you for this opportunity to express our views on this important issue.


Regards,


Chester Brewer, Chairman
CCA National Government Relations Committee