Monday, August 3, 2015

Council Meeting Preview: August 2015

Photo: Primofish
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet next week at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans, Louisiana.

You’re welcome to join us in person or watch a live broadcast of the meeting. This agenda will help you figure out when the Council will be discussing the fisheries issues that interest you and, here are all the documents you'll need to follow along. 

Public comment will be held from 1:00 pm  – 5:30 pm on Wednesday, August 12th. Below is a quick review of some of the issues the Council plans to address.





Hint: The Council reviews many different drafts of the same document before taking final action, and afterwards there are even more steps before a rule is implemented. This
thermometer shows how a document progresses through the Council process.





Red Snapper
The Council plans to take final action on Amendment 28: Red Snapper Allocation – which considers reallocating a portion of the commercial red snapper quota to the recreational sector. We encourage you to watch this quick video and send us your comments so the Council can consider your input before making a final decision.

The Council will also finalize a framework action to withhold a portion of the commercial red snapper quota in 2016. This framework will ensure that the commercial allocation that the Council intends to shift to the recreational sector is available in 2016 even if the amendment isn’t implemented until after individual fishing quota is distributed among commercial fishermen.  

The Council will review revised alternatives in Amendment 39: Regional Management – which 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 also review a draft of Amendment 41 - which considers creating a management plan for federally permitted for-hire vessels fishing for red snapper. The options paper includes both charter vessels and headboats fishing under the for-hire component of the recreational red snapper allocation.


Data Collection
The Council will review a public hearing draft of an amendment being developed jointly between the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils, that considers modifying the frequency and method of reporting for charter and headboats fishing for reef fish and coastal migratory pelagics in the Gulf of Mexico, and snapper, grouper, dolphin, wahoo, and coastal migratory pelagics in the South Atlantic.

Reef Fish
The Council will look at a draft framework action that considers modifying the circle hook requirement for commercial yellowtail snapper fishing to address inconsistencies between Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Council regulations.

The Council will also review an options paper for Amendment 42 - which considers creating a management plan for federally permitted headboats fishing for reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The document considers which species to include, and how to manage the fishery.

Mackerel
At its June meeting, the Council reviewed input received during the scoping workshops for coastal migratory pelagic Amendments 26 and 28. Next week, the Council will review the options papers developed using the input from those workshops. Amendment 26 considers making modifications to allocations, stock boundaries and sale provisions of king mackerel, and Amendment 28 considers separating permits for Gulf and Atlantic king and Spanish mackerel.

Shrimp
The Council will review a draft options paper for Shrimp Amendment 17 – which considers what to do about the pending expiration of the federal shrimp permit moratorium.


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.