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Amendments to the U.S. Caribbean Reef Fish, Spiny Lobster, and Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates Fishery Management Plans: Timing of Accountability Measure-Based Closures
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    Accountability measure (AM) regulations in U.S. Caribbean federal waters require the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to shorten the length of the fishing season for a fishery management unit (FMU) (i.e., species/species complex) for which the annual catch limit (ACL) has been exceeded. The fishing season is shortened in the year following an overage determination (which is determined based on the average of the last three years of available landings data), by the amount necessary to constrain landings to the ACL. These AM-based reductions in the length of the fishing season, for any FMU (e.g., goatfish, parrotfish) for which the ACL has been exceeded1 currently end on December 31st of the closure year and extend backward into the year for the number of days necessary to achieve the required reduction in landings. The timing of these AM-based closures may result in negative socioeconomic impacts to U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico fishers. Therefore, this amendment to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Reef Fish Fishery of Puerto Rico and the USVI (Reef Fish FMP), the FMP for the Spiny Lobster of Puerto Rico and the USVI (Spiny Lobster FMP), and the FMP for the Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates FMP 1 See Section 1.5 for more information about AMs in federal waters of the U.S. Caribbean and their applicability. (Coral FMP) evaluates alternative timeframes for the implementation of fishery closure dates, designed to minimize, to the extent practicable, such socioeconomic impacts in the event a species or species complex exceeds its assigned ACL. This amendment aims to minimize such socio-economic impacts to the extent practicable while constraining harvest to the applicable ACL and preventing overfishing, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 2007 (Magnuson Stevens Act).

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