Recently, the US Congress passed a provision that extended the state water jurisdictions for the management of certain fish from 3 nautical miles to 9 nautical miles offshore for Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Florida and Texas already had this jurisdiction. Below are answers to a few frequently asked questions on this issue.
If you have additional questions contact the Alabama Marine Resources Division at 251-861-2882 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When does the 9 nautical mile provision go in effect?
The 9 nautical mile provision is now in effect.
How long is the 9 nautical mile provision in effect?
The rule is now permanent for Gulf reef fish under the 2017 budget bill.
Which fish are impacted by the 9 nautical mile provision?
The 9 nautical mile provision only applies to fish federally managed by a Gulf Reef Fish Management Plan.
Gulf Reef Fish shall be defined as the fish listed in 50 CFR Part 622 Table 3 of Appendix A and include the following species: Gray Triggerfish, Greater Amberjack, Almaco Jack, Lesser Amberjack, Banded Rudderfish, Hogfish, Red Snapper, Gray Snapper, Lane Snapper, Vermilion Snapper, Cubera Snapper, Silk Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, Queen Snapper, Blackfin Snapper, Wenchman, Goldface Tilefish, Blueline Tilefish, Tilefish, Speckled Hind, Yellowedge Grouper, Red Grouper, Warsaw Grouper, Snowy Grouper, Black Grouper, Yellowmouth Grouper, Gag, Scamp, and Yellowfin Grouper.
All fish species not listed above such as king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and red drum will remain under federal regulations beyond 3 nautical miles from shore.
Where is the 9 nautical mile line?
NOAA charts do not currently have the 9 nautical mile line for states other than FL and TX. Anglers are urged to use caution when determining if they are within the 9 nautical mile line. The line would be 6 nautical miles due south of the current 3 nautical mile line that is displayed on nautical charts. A graphic is provided for general guidance only.
Is an Alabama saltwater fishing license required in the 9 nautical mile limit?
How are charter boats affected?
Vessels that have an Alabama Commercial Party Boat License but do not have a federal Gulf of Mexico charter reef fish permit will be allowed to fish for reef fish out to the 9 nautical mile limit if the species is open to harvest in Alabama state waters. Federal recreational season, size, and bag limits will apply to king and Spanish mackerel, red drum, sharks, or any other species not listed above in the 3-9 nautical mile range. Vessels with federal GOM charter reef fish permits are not allowed to fish for any reef fish in state waters if the adjoining federal waters are closed for the same reef fish.
How are Alabama commercial fishermen affected?
In order to sell reef fish a fisherman must possess a federal commercial GOM reef fish permit. Without this permit, licensed Alabama commercial fishermen cannot fish for and sell reef fish even if caught in state waters. All federal requirements related to species managed under an IFQ program still apply.
Other species such as king and Spanish mackerel are not covered under the 9 nautical mile provision; therefore, they are not allowed to be taken outside of 3 nautical miles unless the fisherman has the appropriate federal permit.