Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Council Meeting Preview: June 2015

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meets at the Marriot Beachside in Key West, Florida next week to discuss a number of fisheries issues.

You can watch a broadcast of the meeting live. Check out the committee and full Council agenda and briefing materials to figure out when the Council will be discussing the items that interest you. Public comment is scheduled from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 10.

On Thursday, the Gulf Council will meet jointly with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort inKey West, Florida to address fisheries issues that effect both Councils. Consult this agenda for the joint meeting schedule and briefing materials.

Here is a quick description of some of the things that will be addressed at next weeks meeting.

Mackerel
·      The Council plans to take final action of on the King Mackerel Gillnet Framework Action that considers changing the trip limit, accountability measures, reporting requirements, and inactive permits for the king mackerel gillnet fishery. Watch this quick video and send us your comments so Council can consider your input before making its final decision.

·      The Council will hear a summary of the input received during scoping on Amendment 26: Modifications to Allocations, Stock Boundaries, and Sale provisions of King Mackerel and Amendment 28: Separating Permits for Gulf and Atlantic Migratory Groups of King Mackerel.

Photo: Mary Ochello Jackson
Red Snapper
·      The Council will review an updated draft of Amendment 28: Red Snapper Allocation – that considers reallocating a portion of the commercial red snapper quota to the recreational sector. The Council will also review a framework action to withhold a portion of the commercial red snapper quota in 2016. This framework will allow the allocation that the Council intends to shift to the recreational sector to be available in 2016 even if the amendment isn’t implemented until after individual fishing quota is distributed amongst commercial fishermen.  

·      The Council will review revised alternatives in Amendment39: Regional Management – that considers dividing the recreational red snapper quota among different regions in the Gulf to allow for the creation of different management measures that best suit each area.

·      The Council will take another look at the scoping document for Red Snapper IFQ Modifications before moving forward with an options paper.
Photo: Emily Muehlstein 
Gag
The Council will review a framework action that considers adjusting the annual catch limits, annual catch targets, and recreational season for gag. Last year, a stock assessment concluded that the gag stock was no longer overfished or experiencing overfishing.

Shrimp
The Council will review an options paper for Amendment 17 that addresses the expiration of the shrimp permit moratorium and is expected to take final action on Shrimp Amendment 15. This amendment looks at adjusting the status determination criteria, such as the overfishing threshold, for brown, white, and pink  shrimp. It also considers changing the shrimp management plans’ framework procedure. If you’re interested in the proposed amendment watch the video, read the guide, and sendus your comments.

South Florida Management
The Gulf Council, South Atlantic Council, and State of Florida have been working on a fisheries management plan that aims to streamline regulations in South Florida, particularly off of the Florida Keys.  The Council will review an options paper that considers modifying the management structure and some management measures for yellowtail snapper, mutton snapper, black grouper and shallow-water grouper, to make fishing regulations less complicated for commercial and recreational fishermen in the area.

Photo: Emily Muehlstein
Hogfish

The Council will review the recommendations by its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) relative to hogfish. The latest hogfish assessment determined that there are three distinct hogfish stocks. The western Florida stock is neither overfished or experiencing overfishing. The stock in the Florida Keys and along the east coast of Florida is overfished and experiencing overfishing, and the status of stock off the coast off Georgia and the Carolinas is experiencing overfishing and nearly overfished. The Council’s SSC reviewed the stock assessment and set an acceptable biological catch level for the west Florida stock. The SSC also recommended that the Gulf Council allow the South Atlantic Council to set the acceptable biological catch level for the Florida Keys stock.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Red Snapper: Higher Harvest Limits on the Horizon

Photo: Joseph Cawthon
Lately, much of the buzz about red snapper management has been less than positive. With sector separation, ever shortening seasons, and allocation on the roster, it’s easy to overlook the good news.

Here it is: The red snapper stock is getting healthier every year; fishermen, scientists, and managers alike know it, and when that happens, harvest limits can be raised.

In January, the Council’s scientific advisors (the Scientific and Statistical Committee) met to review a red snapper update stock assessment. Although the assessment was completed before 2014 landings data were available, results of the assessment suggest good news. The Council could increase allowable harvest by two million pounds for 2015 and beyond. An increase from 11,000,000 pounds to 13,000,000 pounds would bring the allowable harvest to its highest level in history.

Photo: David Payne
But wait, there’s more. Preliminary landings data from 2014 was reported to the Gulf Council during its most recent meeting in Alabama. The provisional landings estimates for 2014 indicate that the catches last year were lower than they were in 2013.  This means that more fish were left in the water in 2014 to spawn and contribute to stock biomass levels. The stock assessment scientists reviewed the 2014 provisional landings and reported that the acceptable biological catch could potentially be increased by nearly a million more pounds. However, the Council cannot use these increased projections to set 2015 quotas until its scientific advisors review the projections and approve new acceptable biological catch levels.

Photo: Kale Reynolds

In an effort to ensure the highest catch levels possible for this year, the Council has scheduled some special meetings to make the changes necessary to increase the 2015 red snapper annual catch limit.

On February 19, 2015, from 2-4 pm EST, the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee will meet via webinar to review the provisional 2014 landings and formally suggest overfishing limits and annual catch limits for 2015 and beyond. You’re welcome to listen to that meeting live.


Then, on March 3, 2015, from 1-4 pm EST, the Council will meet via webinar to review the scientific advisors’ recommendations and decide on an annual catch limit for this year and potentially future years. The Council will host public testimony during that meeting; you’re welcome to listen live andgive testimony.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Council Meeting Preview: January 2015

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meets at the Grand Hotel Marriott in Point Clear, Alabama next week to discuss a number of interesting fisheries issues.

You’re welcome to watch a live broadcast of the meeting. Check out the Committee agenda and Full Council agenda to figure out when the Council will be discussing things that are of interest to you.

Below is a quick description of some of the issues that will be address at next weeks meeting.

Red Snapper
·      Framework Action to Adjust Recreational For-Hire Red Snapper Management Measures - The Council plans to take final action on a framework that considers changing management measures for the for-hire component of the recreational fishery. The first action considers reducing the for-hire bag limit to extend the length of the for-hire fishing season. A second potential action, suggested by the Ad-Hoc Red Snapper For-Hire Advisory Panel, considers creating a split season for the for-hire fishery. Watch this quick video and send us your comments so that the Council can consider your thoughts before making its final decision.
 
·      Amendment 39: Recreational Regional Management – The Council plans to reinitiate discussion on the amendment, which considers dividing the recreational red snapper quota among the regions to allow for the creation of different management measures that best suit each area. Public hearings were hosted in the summer of 2013 and the Council has already selected preferred alternatives for most of the actions being proposed. However, action was postponed on the document until progress was made on the allocation of quota among regions.

·      Amendment 28: Red Snapper Allocation – The Council will review a revised draft of the amendment, which considers reallocating a portion of the commercial quota to the recreational sector. After holding public hearings on the issue the Council postponed action on the amendment until after Amendment 40 – Sector Separation was completed.

Gag
Last year, a stock assessment concluded that the gag stock was neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing. The Council increased the 2015 acceptable biological catch to a conservative level because scientists were concerned that a large red tide event that occurred over the summer would have a negative impact on the stock. The Council’s scientific advisors recently reviewed the effects of the red tide and the Council is expected to reevaluate catch limits for 2015 and 2016.

Greater Amberjack
This past summer, it was determined that greater amberjack is overfished, experiencing overfishing, and did not meet the 10-year rebuilding plan that ended in 2012.  As a result, the Council plans to review an options paper that considers adjusting the Annual Catch Limit and commercial and recreational management measures such as seasons, size limits, and trip limits, to ensure that the stock is rebuilt and the mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Act are met.

As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.