National Marine Fisheries Service

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Local commercial fishermen have until Saturday to harvest snowy grouper.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service announced Monday the commercial harvest of snowy grouper in federal waters of the South Atlantic, including those waters off North Carolina, will close at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. During the closure, all sale or purchase of snow grouper is prohibited. Harvest or possession of snowy group in or from federal waters is limited to the recreational bag and possession limits while the recreational sector is open.

The closure is happening because commercial landings are projected to reach the increased July through December commercial catch limit. According to the accountability measure, commercial harvest must close to prevent the catch limit from being exceeded.

The 2020 July through December commercial catch limit is 46,181 pounds gutted weight. The unused portion of the catch limit from the January through June season was added to the catch limit for the July through December season, and the increased catch limit is used to project the closure.

The closure applies in state and federal waters for vessels that have a federal commercial permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper. The prohibition on sale or purchase during a closure for snowy grouper does not apply to fish that were harvested, landed ashore and sold prior to 12:01 a.m. Dec. 12 and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.

The 2021 January through June commercial fishing season for snowy grouper in the South Atlantic will open Friday, Jan. 1 with a catch limit of 107,754 pounds gutted weight.

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