Thursday, April 3, 2014

April Council Meeting Preview

It’s that time again. The Gulf Council meets next week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to work on some fisheries issues that might interest you.

You’re welcome to join us at the meeting or you can listen from your computer.
The committee agenda and full Council agenda will help you figure out when the Council plans to discuss the topics that you’re interested in.

Don’t forget to join us for public comment, which will be held on Wednesday, April 9, from 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm.

Below you’ll find a brief description of some highlights the Council plans to address at next weeks meeting:

Photo: Emily Muehlstein
·      The Council plans to take final action on Mackerel amendment 20B – which addresses boundaries, season opening dates, and transit provisions for the commercial mackerel fishery.
·      The Council plans to take final action on Framework Amendment 1 that considers increasing the Spanish mackerel annual catch limit. Watch this brief video and send us your comments online.

Red Snapper
Photo: Jason Whitaker
·      The Council will review the legal and policy aspects of allocation, consider the public comments received during public hearings for red snapper allocation, and discuss the final draft of the red snapper allocation amendment. You’re welcome to read the amendment, watch this quick video, read the amendment guide, send us an online comment, or review the comments we’ve received on the issue so far.
·      The Council will also discuss possible modifications to the red snapper individual fishing quota program.
·      The Council will discuss the Texas shrimp closure for 2014 and review a draft of an options paper for Shrimp Amendment 16, which considers adjusting the annual catch limit and accountability measures for royal red shrimp.

For-Hire Fishing
·      The Council will discuss the details of the definition of for-hire fishing.
·      The Council plans to review an options paper for Reef Fish Amendment 40 that considers separating the recreational sector into private and for-hire components.
·      The council will also review a white paper on the Development of a Charter For-hire Electronic Reporting Program.

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Meet the Council: Dr. Bob Shipp - Reef Fish Committee Chairman

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is made up of people that have experience, expertise, and interest in the fishery. The chairman of the Council’s Reef Fish Committee is no exception. In fact, he is one of the most well known fisheries scientists across the Gulf coast.

Dr. Bob Shipp has spent his life researching and appreciating the fish of the Gulf of Mexico. His passion for the ocean was ignited at the early age of 4 by his grandfather with whom he enjoyed countless hours of surf fishing from the shores of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. As he grew a bit older he and his cousins spent summers snorkeling jetties and piers collecting fish and invertebrates for aquariums. Eventually, Bob got into SCUBA diving when it was first becoming a recreational activity.

During his childhood Dr. Shipp moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where he began his academic pursuit of fisheries. He focused on marine biology as much as he could, making it the topic of every school project possible. Dr. Shipp explains “My friends from those days joke with me now for being the only one of the group that followed through with my harebrained teenage career dreams.”

After graduating from Spring Hill College, Dr. Shipp attended Florida State University where he earned his master’s degree and PhD. Shortly thereafter he began working for the University of South Alabama teaching anatomy and physiology. He quickly moved into a fisheries biology position where his career flourished. He chaired the biology department and served as the acting director at the Sea Lab on Dauphin Island. He recently retired after serving 20 years as the chairman of the Department of Marine Sciences.

In addition to his work with the university, Dr. Shipp served for 12 years as the Director for the Alabama chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association. He has also been a judge for the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo since 1982. He authors articles for multiple magazines and scientific papers, and he published “Dr. Bob Shipp’s Guide to Fishes of theGulf of Mexico.”
Dr. Bob Shipp answered a few questions to give us some insight on his perspective of our Gulf fishery.

What is the most important issue in our fishery right now?
“I’m concerned that federal fishery law (the Magnuson-Stevens Act) prevents the Council from trying innovative fishery management techniques. Requiring species to be managed using quotas prevents the use of tools like Marine Protected Areas to manage our fish. Our hands are tied by the Act and it shows – the red snapper stock is healthier than it’s ever been, and we still have shorter and shorter fishing seasons – we obviously need the freedom to try something different.”

What can the Gulf Council do to improve management?
“The Council’s options are very few. Under the current system we can only tweak things rather than solve problems. The idea of Regional Management, for example, still only allows the Council to change some minor management measures like seasons and bag limits, while the major problems still remain.”

Where do you see fisheries management in the Gulf 10 years from now?
“There are two alternatives for our future; either Congress frees the hands of NOAA Fisheries so they have the freedom to manage properly, or the states will take more control. Either way, we can’t manage effectively if things remain as they are.”

Do you have a favorite fishing story to share?

“I have a group of close friends that I went to high school with who wanted to experience some yellowfin tuna fishing. They are mostly freshwater fishermen and had not had the opportunity to spend much time off-shore. We all got together for a weekend after 41 years apart, and spent the day 100 miles out catching yellowfin. I had so much fun watching them experience such an amazing day on the water. We used kite baits, and at one point the tuna were leaping 8 feet out of the water. The excitement really transported us all back to our giddy 15-year-old selves again, and for that reason we now make the trip an annual event. It’s always one of my favorite outings of the year.”

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October Council Meeting Preview

Photo: Mark Miller

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet next week in New Orleans, Louisiana to work on some fishery issues that may interest you. You are welcome to attend the meeting in person or you can listen fromyour computer.

The committee agenda and full Council agenda will help you figure out when the Council plans to discuss the topics that you’re interested in.

Join us for public comment, which will be held on Wednesday, October 30th from 1:30 – 4:30 pm. We also invite you to an informal question and answer session that will be held on Tuesday night immediately after Council adjourns for the day.

Read on for a brief description of some of the issues that Council will discuss next week:

Coastal Migratory Pelagics

Photo: Emily Muehlstein
The Council plans to take final action on two amendments that have been developed jointly with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Amendment 20A (formerly Amendment 19) addresses the recreational sale of mackerel, elimination of inactive commercial king mackerel permits, and income requirements. Amendment 20B (formerly Amendment 20) addresses commercial trip limits, seasons, transit, and the annual catch limit for cobia. To learn more about these amendments visit this link for videos, amendment guides, and public comments.

Definition of For-Hire Fishing
The Council will review a draft framework action that considers clearly defining for-hire (charter/headboat) fishing trips. This framework aims to enhance enforcement of permit requirements by eliminating the ability of private vessels to exchange fees, goods, or service in exchange for for-hire fishing activities.  

Photo: Scott Hickman
Recreational Red Snapper Regional Management
The Council expects to take final action on Amendment 39, which considers dividing the federal recreational red snapper quota among different regions in the Gulf. This will give each region more flexibility to choose fishing regulations that best suit local needs. If you’re interested in learning more about regional management you can read this guide or watch this video.

Sector Separation
After tabling discussions a year ago, the Council will resume consideration of sub-dividing the recreational allocations into private, for-hire, and possibly headboat sectors. For more information on allocation and sector separation read this Gulf Currents Blog.

For-Hire Permit Conditions
Photo: Emily Muehlstein
Vessels with federal for-hire reef fish permits must comply with the more restrictive of state or federal reef fish regulations when fishing in state waters. The Council is considering revising this requirement to allow federally permitted for-hire vessels to fish during state seasons when state regulations are inconsistent with federal regulations.

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