NOAA Fisheries is closing federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the recreational harvest of gray triggerfish at 12:01 a.m., local time, February 7, 2015.
Currently, the annual catch limit is 241,200 pounds whole weight (pounds) and the annual catch target is 217,100 pounds. The federal fishing season is closed when the annual catch target is met or projected to be met. However, if the harvest exceeds the annual catch limit during a given year, the amount of the overage is subtracted from the catch limit and catch target the following year.
In 2013, there was a substantial harvest overrun that resulted in the 2014 annual catch target being reduced to 1,658 pounds. NOAA Fisheries closed recreational harvest in federal waters on May 1, 2014. However, several states continued to allow harvest in state waters throughout the remainder of the year. The total recreational harvest of gray triggerfish in 2014 far exceeded the 25,758-pound annual catch limit.
To account for the overage, the 2014 excess catch has been subtracted from the 241,200-pound annual catch limit and 217,000-pound annual catch target, leaving a 2015 catch target of 30,107 pounds.
Gulf of Mexico states may not have regulations allowing simultaneous closures in state waters. Therefore, NOAA Fisheries expects additional harvest to occur in state waters after the federal season closure. This additional catch counts against the catch target. Therefore, NOAA Fisheries is closing gray triggerfish recreational harvest in the Gulf of Mexico at 12:01 a.m. (local time), February 7, 2015.