2023 Federal Gag Grouper Season Delayed in Gulf of Mexico


Senior Fisheman
Jan 10, 2009
Craig, Colorado
Best Catch
2023 Federal Gag Grouper Season Delayed in Gulf of Mexico

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) Fisheries Department has announced a new temporary rule this week for the Gulf of Mexico 2023 gag grouper season. The opening will be delayed from the original June 1st to September 1st this year. Even with the delayed start to the season, the close of the season will still stay the same, November 10, 2023. The closing date is also up in the air, it will only be November 10th if NOAA fisheries doesn’t predict the recreational Annual Catch Limit to be harvested prior to the original season end date. If they do predict the recreational annual catch limit to be exceeded the season will be closed early. This new season-shifting rule is temporary and is effective for 180 days (until October 30, 2023) but can be and is expected to be extended by NOAA Fisheries for up to an additional 186 days (366 days total)

The new season start date is all in part of an effort to reduce the harvest of Gulf gag grouper. This is said to be necessary to reduce the overfishing of gags in 2023 and start the process of rebuilding stocks of gulf gag grouper stocks. Other efforts and plans for the rebuilding of gag grouper stocks will begin starting in 2024.

Key Messages to Gag Grouper Delay:

  • NOAA Fisheries is implementing a Temporary Rule that is intended to reduce overfishing of gag under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). These changes are based on the results of the most recent stock assessment and the recommendations of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s (Council) Scientific and Statistical Committee.
  • The stock assessment used updated data, including data from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) Fishing Effort Survey (FES), which replaced the MRIP Coastal Household Telephone Survey (CHTS). The stock assessment concluded that the population of Gulf gag is too low (overfished) and that too many gag are being caught (overfishing is occurring).
  • These interim measures will become effective today, May 3, 2023.

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