In January, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) announced a closure of recreational harvests of cobia in Federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Recreational harvest of Atlantic migratory group cobia (from Georgia to New York) closed at 12:01 a.m. on January 24, 2017. Recreational harvest of cobia will remain closed until January 1, 2018.
The SAFMC announcement explains:
“In 2016, the recreational and total annual catch limits of Atlantic migratory group cobia were exceeded. Therefore, the 2017 recreational season must account for this overage.
When landings of Atlantic migratory group cobia exceed annual catch limits, accountability measures are in place to ensure overfishing (rate of removal is too high) does not occur. If total landings (commercial and recreational) for the Atlantic migratory group cobia exceed the total annual catch, NOAA Fisheries is required to reduce the length of the recreational fishing season in the following fishing year.”
Since recreational harvests of cobia are likely to remain open in some state waters during the federal closure, federal regulators assume that the annual catch limit in 2017 will likely be exceeded as the majority of cobia landings come from state waters. NOAA Fisheries will reevaluate the federal closure if state regulations change in 2017.
2017 Cobia Closure Highlights:
During the closure, recreational harvest of cobia is prohibited in federal waters from Georgia through New York. Cobia off the east coast of Florida are part of the Gulf of Mexico migratory group.
This closure only applies to the recreational sector. The possession limit of two cobia per day remains in effect for Atlantic cobia that are sold in state or federal waters.
Full regulations can be found in the Federal Register. The complete Fishery Bulletin, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is available from the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office website.
source: South Atlantic Fishery Management Council