NOAA Fisheries officials on Monday issued a statement indicating that South Atlantic federal waters would not close to commercial yellowtail snapper fishing as previously planned. The closure has been delayed because commercial fishermen have not fulfilled their annual quota early after all. There never has been a closure of yellowtail fishing before.
Dr. Roy Crabtree, southeast regional administrator for NOAA, said researchers at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center on Virginia Key, Florida reviewed dealer reports of yellowtail catches from around the region late last week and revised catch estimates downward, allowing the fishery to remain open for at least a couple more weeks.
Members of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, based in Charleston, South Carolina, will meet to review a new yellowtail stock assessment prepared by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. The report says basically that yellowtail are in good shape and not in peril of being overfished, which may allow fisheries managers to raise the annual catch limit and keep the fishery open.
“I’m hopeful we’ll avoid a closure,” Crabtree said Monday afternoon.