Migratory Pelagics Management Plans
The Fishery Management Plan for Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (FMP) and Environmental Assessment (EA), approved in 1982 and implemented by regulations effective in February of 1983, treated king and Spanish mackerel each as one U.S. stock. Allocations were established for recreational and commercial fisheries, and the commercial allocation was divided between net and hook-and-line fishermen.
Amendment 1 and its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), implemented in September of 1985, provided a framework procedure for pre-season adjustment of total allowable catch (TAC), revised king mackerel maximum sustainable yield (MSY) downward, recognized separate Atlantic and Gulf migratory groups of king mackerel, and established fishing permits and bag limits for king mackerel. Commercial allocations among gear users were eliminated. The Gulf commercial allocation for king mackerel was divided into eastern and western zones for the purpose of regional allocation.
Allowed charter boats to obtain commercial permits. For the 1986/87 season (July 1 - June 30) the amendment set TAC for Gulf group king mackerel at 2.9 MP with 0.93 MP commercial quota and 1.97 MP recreational allocation. The king mackerel bag limit was set at 2 fish for persons fishing from boats without a captain and crew and 3 fish for persons fishing from boats with a captain and crew (i.e., for-hire boats), the crew excluded. The commercial quota was allocated 6% for purse-seines, 64.5% for eastern zone (Florida) and 29% for western zone (AL-TX). The amendment also provided that the recreational and commercial fisheries would be closed when their allocation was taken.
For the 1987/88 season (July 1 - June 30) the amendment reduced TAC for Gulf group king mackerel to 2.2 MP with commercial quota of 0.7 MP and recreational allocation of 1.5 MP. The purse-seine allocation was set at zero. TAC for Gulf group Spanish mackerel was set at 2.5 MP with a commercial quota of 1.4 MP and recreational allocation for 1.1 MP. The bag limit for Spanish mackerel was set at 3 fish.
Amendment 2 with EA, implemented in July of 1987, revised Spanish mackerel MSY downward, recognized two migratory groups, and set commercial quotas and bag limits. Charterboat permits were required, and it was clarified that TAC for overfished stocks must be set below the upper range of acceptable biological catch (ABC). The use of purse seines on overfished stocks was prohibited.
For the 1988/89 season the amendment set TAC for Gulf group king mackerel at 3.4 MP with commercial quota of 1.1 MP and recreational allocation 2.3 MP. The commercial quota was allocated 69% to eastern zone (FL) and 31% to western zone (AL-TX). The TAC for Gulf group Spanish mackerel was increased to 5.0 MP allocated 43% to recreational sector and 57% to commercial sector. The Spanish mackerel bag limit was set at 4 fish off Florida and 10 fish off AL-TX.
Amendment 3 with EA, was partially approved in 1989, revised, resubmitted, and approved in 1990. It prohibited drift gill nets for coastal pelagics and purse seines for the overfished groups of mackerels.
Amendment 4 with EA, implemented in 1989, reallocated Spanish mackerel equally between recreational and commercial fishermen on the Atlantic group with an increase in TAC.
For the 1989/1990 season the amendment increased TAC for Gulf group king mackerel to 4.25 MP with commercial quota 1.36 MP and recreational allocation 2.89 MP. The bag limit remained unchanged. The TAC for Gulf group Spanish mackerel was increased to 5.25 MP. The allocation ratio between commercial (57%) and recreational (43%) remained unchanged as did the bag limit.
Amendment 5 with EA, implemented in August 1990, made a number of changes in the management regime which: Extended the management area for Atlantic groups of mackerels through the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's (MAFMC) area of jurisdiction; Revised problems in the fishery and plan objectives; Revised the fishing year for Gulf group Spanish mackerel from July-June to April-March; Revised the definition of "overfishing"; Added cobia to the annual stock assessment procedure; Provided that the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) will be responsible for pre-season adjustments of TACs and bag limits for the Atlantic migratory groups of mackerels while the Gulf Council will be responsible for Gulf migratory groups; Continued to manage the two recognized Gulf migratory groups of king mackerel as one until management measures appropriate to the eastern and western groups can be determined;
Redefined recreational bag limits as daily limits; Deleted a provision that specified that bag limit catches of mackerel may be sold; Provided guidelines for corporate commercial vessel permits; Specified that Gulf group king mackerel may be taken only by hook-and-line and run-around gill nets; Imposed a bag limit of two cobia per person per day for all fishermen; Established a minimum size of 12-inch (30.5 cm.) fork length (FL) or 14-inch (35.6 cm.) total length (TL) for king mackerel and included a definition of "conflict" to provide guidance to the Secretary.
For the 1990/91 season the amendment left the TAC (4.25 MP) and bag limit for Gulf group king mackerel unchanged. The TAC (5.25 MP) for Gulf group Spanish mackerel was unchanged. The bag limits for Spanish mackerel were changed to 4 fish off FL, 3 fish off TX, and 10 Fish off AL-LA at the request of the states.
For the 1991/92 season the amendment increased TAC for Gulf group king mackerel to 5.75 MP with a 1.84 MP commercial quota and 3.91 MP recreational allocation. The king mackerel bag limit was modified to 2 fish off Florida and 2/3 AL-TX (See 1986/87 regulatory amendment for description). The TAC for Gulf group Spanish mackerel was increased to 8.6 MP and the bag limit modified to 3 fish off TX, 5 fish off FL, and 10 fish off AL-LA. The amendment also set the overfishing thresholds at 30% SPR (SSBR).
For the 1992/93 season the amendment increased TAC for Gulf group king mackerel to 7.8 MP with commercial quota of 2.50 MP and recreational allocation of 5.3 MP. The king mackerel bag limit was reduced to 2 fish per person including captain and crew of charter and head boats for the entire Gulf EEZ. The TAC for Gulf group Spanish mackerel remained at 8.6 MP. The bag limits were increased to 7 fish off TX, and 10 fish off FL-LA. The amendment deleted the requirement that the bag limits for Gulf group king and Spanish mackerels revert to zero when the allocations were projected to be harvested and the fisheries be closed. Emergency action added 259,000 pounds under 25-fish trip limit.
Amendment 6, implemented in November of 1992, made the following changes: Identified additional problems and an objective in the fishery; Provided for rebuilding overfished stocks of mackerels within specific periods; Provided for biennial assessments and adjustments; Provided for more seasonal adjustment actions, including size limits, vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas, and gear restrictions; Allowed Gulf group king mackerel stock identification and allocation when appropriate; Provided for commercial Atlantic Spanish mackerel possession limits; Changed commercial permit requirements to allow qualification in one of three preceding years; Discontinued the reversion of the bag limit to zero when the recreational quota is filled; Modified the recreational fishing year to the calendar year; and Changed the minimum size limit for king mackerel to 20 inches FL, and changed all size limit measures to fork length only.
For the 1993/94 season the TAC and bag limits remained the same for Gulf group king mackerel. For the eastern zone (FL) commercial hook-and-line fisheries the trip limit for the FL east coast zone (FECZ) was set at 50 fish until 50% of the subquota was taken and then was reduced to 25 fish until the quota was taken. For the FL west coast zone (FWCZ) there was no trip limit until 75% of the subquota was taken then was reduced to 50 fish. The TAC and bag limits for Gulf group Spanish mackerel remained unchanged.
For the 1994/95 season the TAC and bag limits remained unchanged for Gulf group king mackerel. Commercial gill net boats fishing king mackerel in the eastern zone were limited to 25,000 pounds per trip. The TAC and bag limits for Gulf group Spanish mackerel remained unchanged. FECZ modified to 50 fish until 25% of subquota is taken. Emergency action added 300,100 pounds under 125-fish trip limit.
Amendment 7, implemented in September 1994, equally divided the Gulf commercial allocation in the Eastern Zone at the Dade-Monroe County line in Florida. The suballocation for the area from Monroe County through Western Florida is equally divided between commercial hook-and-line and net gear users.
For the 1995/96 season the TAC and bag limits remained unchanged for Gulf group king and Spanish mackerels. The hook-and-line trip limit for the FWCZ of the eastern zone was set at 125 fish until 75% of the subquota was taken, then it became 50 fish.
For the 1996/97 season the TAC and bag limits remained unchanged for Gulf group king mackerel, except that the bag limit for captain and crew of charter and head boats was set at zero. The commercial hook-and-line trip limit for the FWCZ was set at 1,250 pounds per trip until 75% of the subquota was taken and then changed to 500 pounds per trip. FECZ set at 750 pounds then to 500 pounds when 75% taken. TAC for Gulf group Spanish mackerel was reduced to 7.0 MP and the bag limits remained unchanged.
For the 1997/98 season the TAC was increased to 10.6 MP for Gulf group king mackerel. The zero bag limit for captain and crew of charter and head boats was rescinded. The commercial hook-and-line trip limit for the FECZ was changed to 50 fish until the subquota was taken. The TAC and bag limits remained unchanged for Gulf group Spanish Mackerel.
For the 1998/99 season the amendment proposes to retain the TAC for the Gulf group king mackerel, but to set the bag limit for captain and crew of charter and head boats at zero. The size limit for king mackerel would increase to 24 inches (FL). The commercial king mackerel hook-and-line trip limit for the western zone (AL-TX) would be set at 3,000 pounds per trip.
Amendment 8, implemented in March 1998, made the following changes to the management regime: Clarified ambiguity about allowable gear specifications for the Gulf group king mackerel fishery by allowing only hook-and-line and run-around gill nets. However, catch by permitted, multi-species vessels and bycatch allowances for purse seines were maintained; Established the Council's intent to evaluate the impacts of permanent jurisdictional boundaries between the GMFMC and SAFMC and separate FMPs for coastal pelagics in these areas; Established a moratorium on commercial king mackerel permits until no later than October 15, 2000, with a qualification date for initial participation of October 16, 1995;
Increased the income requirement for a king or Spanish mackerel permit to 25 percent of earned income or $10,000 from commercial sale of catch or charter or head boat fishing in 1 of the 3 previous calendar years, but allowed for a 1-year grace period to qualify under permits that are transferred; Legalized retention of up to 5 cut-off (barracuda damaged) king mackerel on vessels with commercial trip limits; Set an optimum yield (OY) target at 30 percent static SPR; Provided the SAFMC with authority to set vessel trip limits, closed seasons or areas, and gear restrictions for Gulf group king mackerel in the North Area of the Eastern Zone (Dade/Monroe to Volusia/Flagler County lines); Established various data consideration and reporting requirements under the Framework Procedure. Modified the seasonal framework adjustment measures and specifications (see Appendix I).
Amendment 9, would: Reallocate the percentage of the commercial allocation of TAC for the North Area (Florida east coast) and South/West Area (Florida west coast) of the Eastern Zone to 46.15% North and 53.85% South/West and retain the recreational and commercial allocations of TAC at 68% recreational and 32% commercial. Subdivide the commercial hook-and-line king mackerel allocation for the Gulf group, Eastern Zone, South/West Area (Florida west coast) by establishing 2 subzones with a dividing line between the 2 subzones at the Collier/Lee County line. Establish regional allocations for the west coast of Florida based on the 2 subzones with 7.7% of the Eastern Zone allocation of TAC being allowed from Subzone 2 and the remaining 92.3% being allocated as follows: 50% - Florida east coast; 50% - Florida west coast; 50% - Net Fishery; 50% - Hook-and-Line Fishery.
Establish a trip limit of 3,000 pounds per vessel per trip for the Western Zone. Establish a moratorium on the issuance of commercial king mackerel gill-net endorsements and allow re-issuance of gill-net endorsements to only those vessels that: (1) had a commercial mackerel permit with a gill-net endorsement on or before the moratorium control date of October 16, 1995 (Amendment 8), and (2): had landings of king mackerel using a gill net in one of the two fishing years 1995-96 or 1996-97 as verified by NMFS or trip tickets from the FDEP; allow transfer of gill net endorsements to immediate family members (son, daughter, father, mother, or spouse) only; and prohibit the use of gill nets or any other net gear for the harvest of Gulf group king mackerel south of an east/west line at the Collier/Lee County line. Increase the minimum size limit for Gulf group king mackerel from 20 inches to 24 inches fork length. (FL) Allow the retention and sale of cut-off (damaged) legal-sized king and Spanish mackerel.
The regulatory amendment for the 1999-2000 season proposed to retain TAC for Gulf group king mackerel at 10.6 million pounds. It also proposed to establish a 2-fish per person per day bag limit on Gulf group king mackerel for the captain and crew of for-hire vessels and retain this 2-fish bag limit for all other recreational fishermen; however, the captain and crew bag limit was rejected by NMFS. The fishing season for the commercial gill net fishery for Gulf group king mackerel was changed to open at 6 a.m. eastern standard time (EST) on the Tuesday following the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, with the following weekend open as long as the quota has not been taken and all subsequent weekends and holidays would be closed as long as the season remains open. Weekend and holiday closures would be from 6 a.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Monday EST (or Tuesday if a Monday holiday is involved), and during this period boats with a net on board must be tied to the dock. The TAC for Gulf group Spanish was changed from 7.0 million pounds to 9.1 million pounds, and the bag limit for Gulf group Spanish was increased from 10 to 15 fish per person per day.
Amendment 10 incorporated essential fish habitat (EFH) provisions for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC).
The 2000-2001 regulatory amendment, implemented on April 30, 2001, reduced TAC from 10.6 MP tp 10.2 MP, provided a 2-fish bag limit for the captain and crew of for-hire vessels, and revised the trip limit for Gulf migratory group king mackeral in the northern area of the Eastern Zone (Miami-Dade through Volusia Counties, Florida) to remain at 50 fish until February 1. If the quota is not 75 percent filled as of February 1, then the trip limit will increase to 75 fish; if the quota is 75 percent filled or greater, then the trip limit will remain at 50 fish.
Amendment 11 included proposals for mackerel in the SAFMC's Comprehensive Amendment Addressing Sustainable Fishery Act Definitions and other Provisions in Fishery Management Plans of the South Atlantic Region.
Amendment 12 proposes to extend the commercial king mackerel permit moratorium from its current expiration date of October 15, 2000 to October 15, 2005, or until replaced with a license limitation, limited access, and/or individual fishing quota or individual transferable quota system, whichever occurs earlier.
Amendment 13, implemented August 19, 2002, established two marine reserves in the EEZ in the vicinity of the Dry Tortugas, Florida known as Tortugas North and Tortugas South in which fishing for coastal migratory pelagic species is prohibited. This action complements previous actions taken under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
Amendment 14, implemented 7/29/02, established a 3-year moratorium on the issuance of charter vessel and head boat permits unless sooner replace by a comprehensive effort limitation system. The control date for eligibility was established as March 29, 2001. Also includes other provisions for eligibility, application, appeals, and transferability.
Amendment 15 to the CMP FMP in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico proposes to establish two actions. Action 1 establishes an indefinite limited access program for the king mackerel fishery in the exclusive economic zone under the jurisdiction of the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. Establishment of a limited access system that caps participation at the current level provides for long-term social and economic stability in the mackerel fisheries. Action 2 changes the fishing season to March 1 through February 28/29 for the Atlantic groups of king and Spanish mackerel. Beginning the fishing year on March 1 ensures the mackerel fisheries in the Atlantic are open during March when several other fisheries are closed.
Coastal Migratory Pelagics Amendment 16
The 2003 regulatory amendment, implemented on May 14, 2003, establishes definitions of maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), the overfishing threshold, and the overfished condition for Cobia and Gulf grouper king and Spanish mackerel.
Establishes a limited access system on for-hire reef fish and CMP permits. Permits are renewable and transferable in the same manner as currently prescribed for such permits. The Council will have periodic review at least every 10 years on the effectiveness of the limited access system.
Establishes annual catch limits and accountability measures for Gulf group cobia, king mackerel, and Spanish mackerel. The amendment was implemented December 29, 2011 and became effective January 30, 2012. It also removes cero, little tunny, dolphin, and bluefish from the fishery management plan, revises the framework procedure, and separates cobia into Atlantic and Gulf migratory groups.