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.



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How Was The Recreational Red Snapper Season Calculated?

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council does not set the red snapper season length. Season length is calculated by scientists from National Marine Fisheries Service and is based on landings from previous fishing years. The Council does decide on regulations such as size limits, season openings, and allocation among the different components of the fishery, but the amount of time it will take to harvest the annual catch target of any fish is not a political decision, it’s a scientifically based calculation.

This year’s Gulf-wide red snapper recreational annual catch target is 5,753,600 pounds. The private recreational red snapper quota is 3,319,827 pounds and the federal for-hire red snapper quota is 2,433,773 pounds.

Let’s take a look at how the season length is calculated.. 

To estimate how many days it will take to harvest the annual catch target, scientists use catch rates and average fish size from previous years to project what will happen this year. In fact, 10 different scenarios, or models, are used to make the prediction. Five of the models use catch rates and average weights from recent years and simply apply them directly to this year. The other five scenarios are based on regression models that forecast catch rates and average weights based on historical trends.  All the projection scenarios incorporate the differences by state or region (i.e., eastern and western Gulf) and differences between mode of fishing (i.e. private and for-hire).

The results of these models are applied directly to the federally permitted charter for-hire component of the fishery. The resulting 2016 projected for-hire red snapper season is 46 days (range: 38-56 days).

The private recreational season calculation is a bit more complicated. Fish that are harvested in state waters count against the federal quota, so the private recreational red snapper quota must be reduced by the amount of fish harvested during the state seasons. (The federal for-hire quota is not reduced by the state water season because federally permitted vessels are not allowed to fish state seasons so, there are no state season fish harvested by federally permitted vessels.)


This year, the effect that state seasons have on the federal private recreational season length will be greater because Florida is proposing a state season that is 8 days longer than last year, and the state waters in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama were extended from 3 to 9 nautical miles for the purposes of red snapper management. Without historical data on how extended state waters will change things, scientists are forced to make assumptions oh how the changes will affect landings. To calculate this year’s private recreational red snapper season length scientists examined the impacts of increases in state water catch rates on federal private season length and 

projected a Gulf-wide 2016 federal private recreational red snapper season of 9 days (range: 6-9 days).

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Council Meeting Preview: April 2016

Photo: Joseph Cawthon
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meets next week at the Doubletree Hotel in Austin, Texas to discuss some important decisions for our Gulf of Mexico fisheries. One of the hottest topics on the agenda is a presentation from National Marine Fisheries Service on this year's recreational red snapper season projection. 

You’re always welcome to join us in person but, since it’s not always practical to travel for a meeting, you can also watch a live broadcast of the meeting. This agenda and the background materials will help you be prepared for what the Council is addressing.

Public comment will be held on Wednesday, April 6th at 1:45 pm. If you can’t make it to the meeting to testify, visit this page on our website to submit comments and learn about all of the fisheries management issues we’re currently working on.

Here’s a quick look at some of the issues the Council will address next week: 

Modifications to Charter Vessel and Headboat Reporting 
The Council is working on an amendment that considers modifying the frequency and method of reporting for charter vessels and headboats fishing for reef fish and coastal migratory pelagics in the Gulf of Mexico. In January, the Council requested that the Southeast Fishery Science Center develop a flowchart illustrating alternatives for implementing electronic reporting for federally permitted for-hire vessels. During the April meeting, the Council will review the alternatives outlined in the flowchart and hear an update on the commercial electronic reporting pilot program. 

Photo: George Niles
King Mackerel
The Council is scheduled to take final action on Amendment 26 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics fishery management plan. Amendment 26 considers changing allocations, stock boundaries, and sale provisions for king mackerel in the Gulf and South Atlantic. 

Red Snapper Management for Federally Permitted Charter Vessels
The Council will review the input received from the its Ad Hoc Red Snapper Charter-for-Hire Advisory Panel on 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. The Council will also discuss the latest draft of the amendment and decide how to move forward.

Federal Reef Fish Headboat Management
The Council will also review 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. 

Photo: Ava Lasseter
Framework Action - Modify Red Grouper Annual Catch Limit
Based on its science advisors’ conclusions, the Council is considering whether to increase the ACL, which can be set below or equal to the acceptable biological catch (ABC).  The Council is scheduled to take final action on this Framework Amendment. 

Shrimp Amendment 17B
The Council will discuss Shrimp Amendment 17B which considers shrimp permit issues such as setting a minimum threshold number of Gulf shrimp vessel permits and whether to create a Gulf shrimp vessel permit reserve pool, specification of optimum yield, and issues about transiting in federal waters. The Council recently convened a working group to estimate the aggregate maximum sustainable yield and optimum yield for all shrimp species, and a summary report of that meeting will be provided to the Council.

Photo: Emily Muehlstein
Hogfish Annual Catch Limit, Minimum Size Limit, and Stock Definition
The Gulf Council is will review a public hearing draft of an Amendment that considers taking responsibility for the western stock of hogfish, which is located entirely in the Gulf of Mexico jurisdiction. The Council is also considering setting an annual catch limit and increasing both the commercial and recreational minimum size limit for hogfish. 






As always, if you have any questions or concerns contact us at gulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.org