NOAA ups observers in commercial snapper-grouper fishery

July 15, 2022 GMT

The federal government plans to increase observation of the commercial snapper-grouper fishery from North Carolina to east Florida, with an eye to improving population assessments.

“Historically the observer data have been lacking from the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division said in a news release Friday.

About 400 vessels a year — up from 92 — will be randomly selected and notified in advance that they will be observed, NOAA Fisheries said. Information gathered will verify coastal logbook catch rates, counts and measurements of discarded fish, and the catch per unit effort for the commercial sector.

The snapper-grouper fishery is made up of 55 species, including snappers, groupers, porgies, triggerfish, jacks, tilefish, grunts, spadefish, wrasses, and sea bass

The agency said it will be checking all types of boats with commercial licenses for those fish. Until now, only those with vertical line gear carried observers.

The increased coverage began July 1, the agency said.

It said the number of fishing days with an observer in the fishery will increase from 52 to 650, or to about 2.75% of the overall effort.