Thursday, September 15, 2016

Meet The Council - Dr. Tom Frazer

Photo: Credit University of Florida
Do you ever wonder who makes fishery management decisions in the Gulf? The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council uses the best scientific information available and balances competing interests to make fishery management recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce. Each member of the Council is appointed to serve because they possess intimate knowledge and experience of some aspect of the fishery. Our newest Council member, Dr. Tom Frazer, the Director of the School of Natural Resources and Environment for the University of Florida, certainly fits the bill.
 Tom’s extensive passion for marine fisheries began in the waves off the coast of Southern California. As a surfer, Tom’s passion for the ocean developed at an early a
ge. He spent countless hours contemplating the beauty and complexity of the ocean while waiting to catch the next wave. Tom also grew-up an avid fisherman, targeting mostly largemouth bass from freshwater lakes and occasionally catching tuna on saltwater trips.
 When it came time to choose his career path, Tom decided to turn his passions into a career. He attended Humboldt State University, the only school in California to offer a degree program in marine fisheries. While there, he spent his free days honing his fishing skills in search of steelhead and salmon and spearfishing for ling cod. By night, he worked as a fishery biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor the Indian gill-net fishery on the Klamath River.

 Tom then moved to Florida and began working as a biologist for the University of Florida where he focused on manipulating artificial reef structures to enhance productivity and maximize their ecological benefits. He also earned his Master’s degree in fisheries and aquatic sciences, while continuing his work with Gulf species including stone crabs, sea bass and triggerfish.
Photo Credit: Florida Sea Grant
Tom returned to California to earn his doctoral degree and studied the effects of climate change on ice dynamics and the ecology of larval krill in the Antarctic. According to Tom: “My graduate studies really opened my eyes to the issue of scale as it relates to environmental matters,” and thus motivated him to return to the Gulf after completing his Ph.D., to figure out what factors influence fisheries productivity in the Gulf of Mexico.
 Upon his return to Florida, Tom discovered that some very basic information about primary production (the bottom of the food chain) was lacking for large parts of the Gulf region. In an effort to better understand the drivers of primary production and a healthy ocean ecosystem,  he designed and implemented a water quality sampling program along the central Gulf coast of peninsular Florida.
 Over the years, Tom researched and worked his way to the top of the food chain at the University of Florida’s School of Natural Resources and Environment where he currently serves as Director. His recent research activities are focused on coral reef ecosystems.  He has spent the last several years working specifically with invasive lionfish in an effort to provide information that will help limit impacts on key fishery species and other living marine resources.


 Dr. Frazer answered some questions to give us insight into his perspective as the newest manager of our Gulf fishery:
Photo Credit: Florida Sea Grant

 What motivates you to serve on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council?“I’m incredibly excited to serve on the Council and hope to play a key role in ensuring that knowledge generated as part of the scientific process is effectively translated into reasonable and logical management measures that ensure the health of the ecosystem and sustain our fishing communities.”
 What is the most important issue in the fishery today?“One of the biggest issues we’re facing at the moment is uncertainty in fisheries data and how it’s dealt with. If we can find ways to reduce uncertainty in our fisheries independent data as well as our harvest data, then we can manage fishery resources in the Gulf with more confidence.
 Another issue we face is a decline in fishing opportunities. I would like to explore novel solutions that maximize access to the resource without compromising sustainability.  I think that we are all in this for the long haul.”
 Can you share a favorite fishing moment with us?”Well….I’ve fallen off a boat more than a few times in my life, but only intentionally followed a rod into the water once and ONLY to learn that a large shark was attached to the business end of the gear.  Probably shouldn’t have done that, but I still have the rod!”


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August 2016 Council Meeting Preview

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meets next week at the Astor Crowne Plaza in New Orleans, Louisiana. You’re welcome to join us or watch a live broadcast of the meeting.

Public comment will be held on Wednesday, August 17 from 2:15 – 5:00 pm CST. If you can’t testify in person, visit our proposed amendments page to learn about the different issues we’re currently working on and submit your comments.

The meeting agenda and briefing materials should help prepare you for the meeting. The following is a quick look at some of the hot topics the Council will address next week:

Data Collection
The Council will take another look at an amendment that considers making modifications to Charter Vessel and Headboat Reporting Requirements. The Council will consider modifying the frequency and mechanism of data reporting, requiring trip notification, and discuss hardware/software requirements and the potential for location tracking.

Coral/Habitat Protection
The Council will hear a summary of a recent meeting of the Shrimp and Coral Advisory Panels and the Coral Scientific and Statistical Committee.  The Council will also discuss a comment letter on the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Expansion Draft Environmental Impact Statement and take comment on the issue.


Triggerfish
Photo: Capt.Frady
The Council will review the most recent draft of Amendment 46, which considers modifying the gray triggerfish rebuilding plan.  A recent stock assessment indicated that the triggerfish stock continues to be overfished and the Council’s scientific advisors revised the acceptable biological catch levels. Along with determining new catch levels for the stock, the Council will consider changes to the recreational bag limits, size limits, and closed season; and commercial closed season and trip limit.

Red Snapper Management for Federally Permitted Charter Vessels
The Council will discuss the latest draft of Reef Fish Amendment 41, which considers creating a red snapper management plan for federally permitted for-hire vessels fishing under the for-hire component of the recreational red snapper allocation.

Federal Reef Fish Headboat Management
The Council will review a draft of Reef Fish Amendment 42, which considers creating a management plan for for-hire vessels with individual catch history fishing for reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Mackerel
Photo: Capt. Jennings
The Council will continue to discuss Coastal Migratory Pelagic Amendment 29, which considers allocation sharing strategies between recreational and commercial sectors and associated accountability measures for Gulf migratory group king mackerel.




After the Council meeting we’ll be hosting a wrap-up webinar. Please join us at 6 p.m. EST on Wednesday, August 24 for a quick presentation followed by a question and answer session.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June Council Meeting Preview

Photo: Primofish
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meets next week at the Hilton in Clearwater Beach, Florida to discuss some important fisheries issues.  You’re welcome to join us. Since it’s not always practical to travel to a meeting, you can watch this live broadcast from the comfort of your home or office if you prefer.

Public comment is set for Wednesday, June 22 at 1:45 pm. If you can’t testify in person, visit this page to submit comments and learn about the different fisheries management issues we’re currently working on.

You can also check out this the meeting agenda and briefing materials to prepare for the meeting. The following is a quick look at some of the issues the Council will address next week:

Hogfish
Photo: EmilyMuehlstein
After hearing a summary of the comments received during public hearings, the Council plans to take final action on Reef Fish Amendment 43, which considers changes to hogfish management. A recent stock assessment prompted the Council to consider changing the jurisdictional boundary of the hogfish stock in the Gulf and revise hogfish annual catch limits. The Council is also considering increasing the commercial and recreational minimum size limits for hogfish.

Red Snapper Sector Separation Sunset Provision
After hearing a summary of the comments received during public hearings, the Council plans to take final action on Amendment 45, which considers changing the sunset provision that will end the separate management of private anglers and federally permitted charter boats at the end of 2017.

Spiny Lobster
Photo: Emily Muehlstein
The Council is considering increasing the spiny lobster annual catch limit. This proposed revision is triggered by two factors; the combined commercial and recreational spiny lobster harvest has exceeded the annual catch limit in two of the past four years, and the Gulf Council’s scientific advisors increased the spiny lobster acceptable biological catch level.

Triggerfish
A recent stock assessment indicates that the triggerfish stock remains overfished. The Council’s scientific advisors revised the acceptable biological catch levels and the Council needs to consider developing a new rebuilding plan for the stock.  Along with determining new catch levels for the stock, the Council will also consider changes to the recreational bag limits, size limits, and closed season; and commercial closed season and trip limit.

Red Snapper Management for Federally Permitted Charter Vessels
The Council will discuss the latest draft of Reef Fish Amendment 41, which considers creating a red snapper management plan for federally permitted for-hire vessels fishing under the for-hire component of the recreational red snapper allocation.

Photo: Emily Muehlstein
Federal Reef Fish Headboat Management
The Council will review the input received from its Ad Hoc Reef Fish Headboat Advisory Panel and discuss a revised draft of Reef Fish Amendment 42 which considers creating a management plan for federally permitted headboats fishing for reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. 

After the Council meeting we’ll host a wrap-up webinar to review what happened. Please join us at 6 p.m. EST Wednesday, June 29, for a quick presentation followed by a question and answer session.


As always, if you have any questions you’re welcome to email us.