On June 7, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a final rule to adjust the red snapper commercial and recreational sector allocation of annual catch limits, quotas and annual catch targets. This rulemaking action is a consequence of a federal court decision issued earlier this year in a case challenging Amendment 28 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council developed Amendment 28 to reallocate the red snapper harvest consistent with the 2014 red snapper update assessment. Amendment 28 allocated 51.5 percent of the red snapper quota to the recreational sector and 48.5 percent to the commercial sector. The final rule implementing Amendment 28 was published in April 2016.
In Guidon v. Pritzker, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Amendment 28 and ordered NMFS to reinstate the allocations that were in place before Amendment 28 (2017 WL 875775 (D.D.C. March 3, 2017)). The court’s ruling was based on its finding that Amendment 28 placed the commercial sector at a permanent disadvantage to the recreational sector and therefore violated National Standard Four of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that requires the allocation of fishing privileges to be fair and equitable.
Under the new rule, the allocation of red snapper quota is now 51 percent to the commercial sector and 49 percent to the recreational sector. The combined allowable catch of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico for the commercial and recreational sectors in 2017 is 13.74 million pounds. The quota allocation between the sectors is 7,007,000 pounds for commercial and 6,733,000 pounds for recreational.
More information about the final rule is available at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishery_bulletins/2017/032/FB17-032index.html