Proposed Rule


Title: Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region; Framework Amendment 4

Docket ID: NOAA-NMFS-2016-0167

Agency: NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service

Comments Close: March 23, 2017


This proposed rule is designed to slow the harvest rate of Atlantic cobia and reduce the likelihood that landings will exceed the commercial and recreational annual catch limits (ACL). The primary goal of this rule is to provide equitable access for all recreational participants of the coastal Atlantic cobia fishery.


In 2015, recreational landings for Atlantic cobia exceeded the 2015 recreational ACL. Therefore, the 2016 recreational season for Atlantic cobia in Federal waters closed on June 20, 2016. Because the recreational closure occurred during months of high recreational effort for cobia, the early closure had negative social and economic impacts on recreational anglers, charter vessel and headboat (for-hire) businesses, for-hire clients, and associated businesses such as tackle shops. This regulation falls under NMFS' jurisdiction according to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Regulation Actions

All actions in the proposed rule apply to the commercial and recreational harvest of Atlantic cobia in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the United States from Georgia through New York.

Recreational Fishery: The following modifications would result in a recreational harvest reduction, and are expected to slow the rate of recreational harvest and thereby reduce the likelihood of exceeding the annual catch limits for cobia.

(1) increase the recreational minimum size limit for the Atlantic cobia recreational sector to 36 inches (91.4 cm), fork length.

(2) establish a recreational bag limit of one fish per person per day or six fish per vessel, whichever is more restrictive.

(3) The proposed recreational accountability measures would require that if the recreational ACL and the stock ACL are exceeded, then during the following fishing year, recreational landings will be monitored for a persistence in increased landings, and, if necessary, the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the recreational vessel limit, to no less than 2 fish per vessel to ensure recreational landings achieve the recreational annual catch targets, but do not exceed the recreational ACL in that fishing year. Any reduction to the proposed recreational vessel limit would only apply for the fishing year in which it is implemented. Additionally, if the reduction to the vessel limit is insufficient to ensure that recreational landings will not exceed the recreational ACL, then the length of the recreational fishing season would also be reduced to ensure recreational landings do not exceed the recreational ACL in that fishing year

Commercial Fishery: The proposed rule would establish a commercial trip limit for Atlantic cobia of two fish per person per day or six fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive.


Contributor: PhD. Candidate, Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences