The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took final action to reduce the buffer between the annual catch limit and the annual catch target for federal for-hire red snapper to 9%.

The buffer is in place to account for management uncertainty. Seasons are set based on the annual catch target and the buffer reduces the chances that the annual catch limit will be overrun.

In response to a 2014 lawsuit, the council established a 20% buffer for the entire recreational sector for red snapper. Since then, the for-hire component of the recreational sector has not exceeded its component annual catch limit.

A previous framework action modified the buffer by reducing it from 20% to 9% for 2019 only. Reducing the buffer for the for-hire component on a more permanent basis is expected to allow greater harvest while continuing to constrain landings to the annual catch limit. The action does not address the private angling component, because private anglers are being managed by the individual states.

The council will submit this recommendation to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation.