Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spiny Lobster- Amendment 11 Public Hearings

The Gulf and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils are working together to develop Amendment 11 to the Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan. In this amendment the Councils are considering:

  • Creating new closed areas to reduce the impacts of lobster traps on protected coral species
  • Using trap line marking requirements to improve identification of trap lines that entangle protected species. 

This amendment is being developed to addresses a recent Biological Opinion of the spiny lobster fishery that concludes that spiny lobster trap fishing activities put sea turtles, smalltooth sawfish, and staghorn and elkhorn corals at risk. The Biological Opinion specifies ways to minimize the impact of the spiny lobster trap fishery on these protected species and sets requirements for the terms and conditions under which action must be taken.

A guide to Amendment 11 can be downloaded here, and comments can be submitted here.
The public hearing schedule for Spiny Lobster Amendment 11 is as follows:

January 23, 2012                            January 24, 2012
Marathon Government Center             Harvey Government Center
2798 Overseas Highway                      1200 Truman Avenue
Marathon, FL                                     Key West, FL  
305-289-6036                                    305-295-4385

The full amendment for each plan will soon be posted on the Council web site -

Monday, December 19, 2011

Greater Amberjack- Amendment 35 Public Hearings

The Gulf Council is considering making some changes to the greater amberjack rebuilding plan by modifying:
Photo: Mike Jennings

  • The Annual Catch Limit
  • Recreational seasons and minimum size limit
  • Commercial season and trip limits

The Gulf Council has scheduled a series of public hearings for Reef Fish Amendment 35. Send us written comments by January 23rd because the amendment is scheduled for final action during the January/February Council meeting in Mobile, Alabama. 

Download a guide to the amendment here, and submit written comment here.
Watch online presentation on the Council's YouTube channel by clicking the icon below.


Come talk directly to us at the public hearings for Reef Fish Amendment 35 which are scheduled as follows:
 All public hearings begin at 6:00 p.m. local time, and will conclude at the end of public comment, but no later than 9:00 p.m.

January 9, 2012 
Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore
2225 North Lois Avenue
Tampa, Florida
     January 12, 2012
     Four Points Sheraton
     940 Beach Boulevard
     Biloxi, Mississippi

January 11, 2012
Hilton Garden Inn Orange Beach
23092 Perdido Beach Boulevard
Orange Beach, Alabama
     January 17, 2012
     Hilton San Luis
     5400 Seawall Boulevard
     Galveston, Texas

January 11, 2012
Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport
2829 Williams Boulevard
Kenner, Louisiana
     January 18, 2012
     Plantation Suites & Conference Center
     1909 Highway 361
     Port Aransas, Texas

January 12, 2012
Hilton Garden Inn Panama City
1101 U.S. Highway 231
Panama City, Florida

If you have any questions don't hesitate to email us at:

Monday, November 14, 2011

October 2011 New Orleans Gulf Council Meeting Overview

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met in New Orleans last week to talk fish. The following is an overview of what was discussed at the meeting. I will follow up and post documents and dates for the public hearings that will be conducted on amberjack, red snapper, spiny lobster, and more. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at
Your Chum,
Emily Muehlstein
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council

Grouper Allocation:
The Council has asked for analysis of existing allocations and alternatives for reallocation for gag, red grouper, and black grouper. Allocation is the division of Total Allowable Catch for each fish stock between the commercial and recreational fishing sectors. Council will be presented with results of the analysis (by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center) in April 2012 and decide whether or not to move forward with development of new allocation options at that time.

Photo: Troy Frady
The last greater amberjack stock assessment determined that the stock continues to be overfished and undergoing overfishing. In response, the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee adjusted the Acceptable Biological Catch level for 2012 -2014. In Reef Fish Amendment 35 Council considers options that will adjust the current annual catch limit so that it is no higher that the new Acceptable Biological Catch level.

The Council has selected preferred alternatives for the actions in this amendment, and public hearings will be scheduled for sometime in January 2012.

Stay tuned for more info on the upcoming amberjack public hearings. Documents will be posted along with meeting dates and times as soon as arrangements are made.

Red Snapper:
Fall Season Options and 2012 Total Allowable Catch:
The Council is developing an amendment that may change the structure of the red snapper season and possibly increase the 2012 total allowable catch. Preferred alternatives have been selected for some of the actions in this proposed amendment, and the Council is expected to take final action in February. Documents will be posted as soon as possible.

Restrict Individual Fishing Quota Transfer:
When the red snapper Individual Fishing Quota Program was established it included a provision that would allow any U.S. Citizen or permanent resident alien to buy and sell shares beginning in 2012. The Council is developing an amendment that may limit the transfer of red snapper IFQ shares and allocation to commercial reef fish permit holders. Public hearings will be held to gather public opinion on this amendment sometime next year.

Spiny Lobster:
To minimize impacts the spiny lobster fishery has on endangered sea turtles, smalltooth sawfish, and elkhorn and staghorn corals, the Council is drafting an amendment that considers:
  1. Creating closed areas to reduce the destruction of corals. – the Council’s preferred alternative would prohibit spiny lobster trapping in areas near endangered coral colonies.
  2. Using trap line marking requirements to reduce species interactions with gear – the Council’s preferred alternative takes no action on this item.
Dates, locations, and documents for Public hearings will be made available as soon as arrangements are made.

Goliath Grouper:
The harvest of Goliath Grouper has been prohibited since 1990. The Gulf Council has decided to convene a panel with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to explore methods to move the goliath grouper fishery beyond moratorium and find ways to collect information that will help analyze stock status.

Vermillion Snapper:
The latest vermillion snapper stock assessment found that the stock is neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing. As a result, the Council is preparing a framework action that would increase the 3.42 million pound whole weight vermillion snapper catch limit that was proposed in the Generic Annual Catch Limits/Accountability Measures Amendment.

Crew Size and Income – Reef Fish Amendment 34
The Council reviewed a public hearing draft and chose preferred alternatives that:
  1. Eliminate the income requirement for Gulf Commercial Reef Fish Permits.
  2. Increase the maximum crew size to four for dual-permitted vessels.
The Council plans to take final action on Amendment 34 during its January/February meeting in Mobile, Alabama.

Sector Separation:
The Council discussed issues relative to possible management scenarios that would separate the recreational sector into sub-sectors. The Council asked staff to develop a scoping document on sector separation and present it to the Council during the April 2012 Council meeting in Corpus Christi, Texas. The draft document will consider alternatives for allocation decisions and how those decisions translate into Annual Catch Limits and Annual Catch Targets.