NOAA bolsters observers in commercial snapper-grouper fishery

The federal government plans to increase observation of the commercial snapper-grouper fishery from North Carolina east to Florida to improve population assessments.

“Historically, observer data has been lacking on the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Division said in a news release Friday.

About 400 vessels per year – up from 92 – will be randomly selected and notified in advance that they will be observed, NOAA Fisheries said. The information collected will allow verification of inshore logbook catch rates, discard counts and measurements, and catch per unit effort for the commercial sector.

The snapper-grouper fishery is made up of 55 species, including snappers, groupers, snappers, triggerfish, trevallies, tiles, grunts, spadefish, wrasse and bass.

The agency said it would check all types of boats with trade licenses for these fish. Until now, only those equipped with vertical line gear carried observers.

The increased coverage began July 1, the agency said.

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

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