Stone Crab Management Plans
The Fishery Management Plan for the Stone Crab Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) was implemented on September 30, 1979 (44 FR 53519). The FMP resolved an armed conflict over competing gear use between stone crab and shrimp fishermen operating in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off southwest Florida and extended Florida's rules regulating the fishery into the EEZ. The management area of the FMP is limited to the EEZ seaward of the west coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). The FMP has been amended six times.
Amendment 1 was implemented on November 8, 1982 (47 FR 41757), and specified a procedure for modifying the zoned area to resolve the gear conflict.
Amendment 2 was implemented on August 31, 1984 (49 FR 30713), and established procedures for resolving gear conflicts in central west Florida.
Amendment 3 was implemented on September 25, 1986 (51 FR 30663), and included management measures to enhance survival of crabs held on board vessels and prohibited harvest of egg-bearing female crabs. It also rescinded the logbook reporting provision and substituted the Florida trip ticket system.
Amendment 4 was approved on February 21, 1991 (56 FR 6837), and contained provisions for adding a scientifically measurable definition of overfishing and an action plan to arrest overfishing, should it occur, as required by the Magnuson Act National Standards (50 CFR 602), a section on vessel safety considerations, and a revised habitat section as required by the Magnuson Act.
Amendment 5 was implemented on April 14, 1995 (60 FR 13918) and placed a three-year moratorium on registration of stone crab vessels by the Regional Administrator (RA) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). This was done for the period, April 15, 1995 - June 30, 1998, because the Florida Legislature proposed a state moratorium on issuance of permits while the industry considered development of a limited access system. Amendment 5 also included a protocol and procedure (framework measure) under which the RA could approve for implementation in the EEZ certain types of rules proposed by the state of Florida after review by the Advisory Panel (AP), Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council).
Amendment 5 also updated the description of the fishery habitat and the factors affecting this habitat. The Council published a control date effective July 24, 1995 (60 FR 37868) for the commercial fishery; the effect of which was to notify fishermen entering the fishery after this date that they may not be allowed to participate in the fishery if that date is used in a limited access program to limit entry.
Amendment 6 extended the moratorium on the issuance of registration of stone crab vessels by NMFS through June 30, 2002.
Amendment 7 creates a trap reduction program for the EEZ that complements a similar program for the Florida fishery. Trap certificates issued will be reduced when transferred. Certificates can be bought, sold, and transferred.
This was the Council's Generic Amendment addressing the establishment of Tortugas Marine Reserves.