News Details

NOAA Fisheries Announces Recreational Closure of Red Grouper



Event Start Date: 2024/04/30


Recreational harvest of red grouper in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico will close at 12:01 am, local time, on July 1, 2024.
The seasonal closure is expected to be effective through the end of the red grouper fishing year on December 31, 2024.
However, NOAA Fisheries will analyze landings data through June 2024 when they become available (likely in mid-to-late August 2024). If these data indicate that the annual catch target was not fully harvested by July 1, 2024, and NOAA Fisheries determines that it is appropriate to reopen red grouper to recreational harvest, NOAA Fisheries will announce the dates of the new season at that time.
Why The Red Grouper Closure Is Happening:
Landings information indicates the 2024 recreational annual catch target of 1,840,000 pounds gutted weight is projected to be met on June 30, 2024. In accordance with the regulations, NOAA Fisheries must close harvest when the recreational annual catch target has been met or is projected to be met. Therefore, this closure will begin on July 1, 2024.
During The Closure:
During the recreational closure, the bag and possession limits are zero for red grouper in or from federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The prohibition on possession of Gulf of Mexico red grouper also applies in Gulf of Mexico state waters for a vessel issued a valid federal charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf of Mexico reef fish.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How was the date for this closure chosen?
NOAA Fisheries receives recreational data from a variety of sources including the Marine Recreational Information Program, Southeast Region Headboat Survey, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The closure date is based on projected harvest rates using recreational landings from 2021 through 2023, and the evaluation of four scenarios that generated predicted closure dates ranging from July 13, 2024, to August 2, 2024.
NOAA Fisheries chose to be conservative by selecting an earlier closure date than the projection scenarios because the red grouper annual catch limit was exceeded by 72% in 2021, 35% in 2022, and 25% (preliminary estimate) in 2023.
Why is NOAA Fisheries closing recreational red grouper when the annual catch target is projected to be met?
If red grouper recreational landings exceed the annual catch limit in a given year, the length of that following year’s recreational fishing season will be reduced to ensure that the recreational annual catch target not exceeded in that following year.
Because the recreational annual catch limit was exceeded last year, regulations require NOAA Fisheries to close the recreational sector in 2024 if the annual catch target is met or projected to be met.
This closure will reduce the likelihood of the 2024 annual catch limit being exceeded.