FB17-025 NOAA Fisheries Announces the Opening of the Western, Northern, and Southern (Gillnet component) Zones to Commercial King Mackerel Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico on May 11, 2017

King Mackerel
King Mackerel. Illustrations by Diane Rome Peebles


NOAA Fisheries announces the re-opening of the western, northern, and southern (gillnet component only) Gulf of Mexico zones to commercial king mackerel fishing at 12:01 a.m. local time, May 11, 2017.  NOAA Fisheries will publish a closure notice for each zone when the respective quota is projected to be reached.



  • A final rule effective on May 11, 2017, increases the quota for each zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The western, northern, and southern zones are currently closed because landings reached the old quotas.
  • The increase in the quotas allows additional harvest for the 2016/2017 fishing year, thus NOAA Fisheries is re-opening the zones in the Gulf of Mexico which have available remaining quota to commercial king mackerel fishing.
  • The landings for the southern zone hook-and-line component exceeded the original quota and are at 100 percent of the new quota; thus, only the western, northern, and southern (gillnet component only) zones will re-open.
  • Beginning May 11, hook-and-line fishing will be prohibited in the Florida Keys, which will now be part of the southern zone in the Gulf year round, and thus is subject to the Gulf of Mexico southern zone hook-and-line component closure.
  • Additional quota information for the 2016/2017 season is as follows:
  Pounds landed Old quota Old quota % New quota New quota % Pounds left
Western 1,114,278 1,071,360 104.00 1,180,000 94.43 65,722
Northern 289,641 178,848 161.95 531,000 54.55 241,359
Southern Hook and Line 619,544 551,448 112.35 619,500 100.01 0
Southern Gillnet 534,892 551,448 97.00 619,500 86.34 84,608



Why aren’t all of the zones re-opening?

  • Zones are only re-opening if there is sufficient available quota to harvest
  • NOAA Fisheries determined that the southern zone hook-and-line component does not have sufficient quota available to allow for a re-opening and a timely closure to prevent exceeding their quota.
  • Therefore, the southern zone hook and line sector will not be re-opening for the 2016/2017 fishing year when the final rule becomes effective May 11.
  • Because the Florida Keys will now be part of the southern zone in the Gulf year round, harvest of hook-and-line fishing there for king mackerel is prohibited when the southern zone is closed.


What will the quotas be in later fishing years?

  • Quota for years up to the 2019/2020 fishing years are listed below.
Year Western Northern Southern Hook and Line Southern Gillnet
2016/2017 1,180,000 531,000 619,500 619,500
2017/2018 1,136,000 511,200 596,400 596,400
2018/2019 1,116,000 502,200 585,900 585,900
2019/2020 1,096,000 493,200 575,400 575,400



What is the status of the king mackerel population in the Gulf of Mexico?

  • A 2014 assessment determined that the Gulf of Mexico king mackerel population is not undergoing overfishing (too many fish being harvested) nor is it considered to be overfished (too few fish).
  • The assessment indicates that catch levels for the population can be increased.


Related Links and Information can be found on NOAA Fisheries Website:    http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_sa/cmp/2016/am%2026/index.html





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