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ASMFC South Atlantic Board Releases Cobia PID for Public Comment
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

ASMFC South Atlantic Board Releases Cobia PID for Public Comment

Arlington, VA – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s South Atlantic State/Federal Fisheries Management Board releases for public comment the Public Information Document (PID) for the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Cobia. As the first step in the FMP development process, the PID provides stakeholders with an opportunity to inform the Commission about changes observed in the fishery and provide feedback on potential management measures as well as any additional issues that should be included in the Draft FMP. Specifically, the PID seeks comment on the management unit; goals and objectives of the plan; commercial and recreational measures; coastwide, regional or state-by-state measures; and other issues.

This action responds to a request by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) for the Commission to consider joint or complementary management of the resource in light of the significant overage of the 2015 recreational annual catch limit (ACL) and the impact of those overages to state management. Further, during most recent years, a majority of recreational landings of cobia along the Atlantic coast occurs in state waters. The Commission considered this request in August and agreed to move forward with the development of a complementary FMP.

Widely distributed throughout the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, cobia are managed as two distinct groups – the Gulf Migratory Group and the Atlantic Migratory Group. The Atlantic Migratory Group, which range from New York to Georgia, is managed by the SAFMC. The east coast of Florida falls under the Gulf Migratory Group. The SAFMC manages the east coast of Florida sub-ACL which is set by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Recreational landings of the Atlantic Migratory Group in 2015 were approximately 1.5 million pounds, 145% over the ACL, resulting in a June 20, 2016 closure of the fishery by NOAA Fisheries. Commercial cobia landings in 2015 were 83,148 pounds, 38% over the ACL. Late landings reports in 2015 precluded a timely closure of the commercial fishery.

Concerns were expressed by some states whose recreational seasons would have been significantly reduced by federal waters closure due to the 2015 quota overage. Instead of following the federal closure, several states developed alternate management strategies to reduce economic impacts to their state fisheries which resulted in differing regulations for federal and state water fishing. An intent of the complementary Cobia FMP is to provide the states the flexibility to respond to changes in the fishery and stock that meet their state fisheries needs without impacting federal fishermen while meeting the goals and objectives of the FMP.

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on the PID either by attending state public hearings or providing written comment. The PID can be obtained at http://www.asmfc.org/files/PublicInput/CobiaPID_PublicComment.pdf or via the Commission’s website, www.asmfc.org, under Public Input. Public comment will be accepted until 5 PM (EST) on January 6, 2017 and should be forwarded to Dr. Louis Daniel, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or at ldaniel@asmfc.org (Subject line: Cobia PID).

It is anticipated states from Delaware through Florida will be conducting hearings over the next couple of months. The details of those hearings will be released in a subsequent press release. The Management Board will meet at the Commission’s 2017 Winter Meeting to review and consider public comment and provide direction to staff for items to be included in the Draft FMP. For more information, please contact Louis Daniel at ldaniel@asmfc.org or 252-342-1478.


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