Calling Cobia Anglers: Addendum II

Cobia have built a loyal following of anglers along the Atlantic Coast, especially with the evolving community of anglers obsessed with the sight-fishing opportunities the species often creates. Widely known as an extremely powerful and marquee recreational target, there has been a large uptick in recreational fishing pressure that has led to a need to revise regulations to ensure proper management of the stock.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) manages Atlantic cobia from Rhode Island to the Georgia/Florida line in state waters (<3 miles from shore) and has done so through the Interstate Fishery Management Plan since 2017. Although Florida has a declared interest in the fishery, their cobia fisheries are managed as part of the Gulf of Mexico Migratory Group Cobia, which is not managed by the Commission, due to the cobia stock boundary at the Georgia-Florida border.

In October 2023, the Board initiated Addendum II to address the reallocation of recreational Atlantic cobia quotas. Recreational data uncertainties, shifting distribution, and structural management deficiencies are some of the issues frustrating cobia management, and what Addendum II seeks to address. Cobia by the ASMFC through Amendment 1, which utilizes a quota strategy to maintain the sustainability of the stock.

Atlantic Cobia landings by sector over the last 40 years. (ASMFC)

However, because the fishery is overwhelmingly recreational, monitoring quotas and developing new management measures can be very challenging. The Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) has its flaws, and recreational catch and effort of Atlantic cobia expose all the limitations of our data collection program, which is in part what Addendum II hopes to address. 

Cobia have become a popular target for anglers who prefer to sight-cast fish. Photo: Blane Chocklett

Draft Addendum II considers new allocations schemes for the recreational sector, such as moving from a state-by-state scheme to regional or coastwide harvest targets, which would be better suited to utilize the recreational fishing data we have now. In addition, the addendum includes other alternatives which could give managers more tools to respond to new stock assessments and make better use of the available fisheries data.

This document is open for public comment until 11:59 PM EST on July 8th 2024.

Interested in taking a deeper dive into the cobia management conundrum? Learn more in Episode 146 of The Guidepost, where ASGA’s Will Poston sits down with Emilie Franke of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to discuss Draft Addendum II for Atlantic Cobia. 

Episode 146 is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

The public is encouraged to submit comments regarding the proposed management options in this document until the comment deadline at end of day, July 8, 2024. Comments can be submitted to [] with the subject line [Cobia Draft Addendum II]. Additional information can be found on the ASMFC public comment page.

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