The Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Fisheries Council wants to limit the Greater Amberjack Season for this year and the coming year due to new numbers that have come in. They have announced that the Greater Amberjack season will not reopen in August, but be pushed back one month and open in September in the Gulf of Mexico fishery if their request is approved. Greater Amberjacks have been under a rebuilding program for the past decade, but still has not progressed far enough to not be considered overfished yet. Now, with the new data coming in, it looks like in addition to the shortening of the 2022 fall season for Greater Amberjacks, there will be new adjustments for the 2023 seasons.
Going by the most recent numbers from the amberjack stock assessment (SEDAR 70 2020), it has been determined that greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili) stocks are not making adequate rebuilding progress. Simultaneously, they are still considered both overfished and experiencing overfishing. Along with this info, new data of recreational catch estimates that have been generated using the Marine Recreation Infomation Program’s Fishing Effort Survey indicates that historical recreational landings are actually greater than previous estimates.
The Gulf of Mexico Council is obligated to end the overfishing of and revise the stock rebuilding plan for the greater amberjack. The GoM Council is currently developing an amendment to the plan that considers modifying greater amberjack catch levels and the commercial and recreational allocations. This new amendment is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022 with implementation anticipated to be in 2023.
“The GoM Council is concerned that the recreational sector could overharvest the recreational greater amberjack annual catch target in the fall 2022 season. This could result in a total closure for the 2023/2024 recreational fishing year. Thus, the Council requested that NOAA Fisheries implement an Emergency Rule to modify to the 2022/2023 recreational fishing season to reduce the chances of recreational overharvest this year and subsequent paybacks in the 2023/2024 recreational fishing season. The Council requested that the greater amberjack recreational season be modified so that it is open in September and October of 2022. If the Secretary of Commerce approves this request, the recreational sector will not open for greater amberjack harvest in August 2022.”