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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Meet the Council: Chairman Doug Boyd (Chair from 2012 -2014)


Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is responsible for making some pretty important decisions. So who is this group of people? And, what qualifies them to make fishery management decisions?

It’s about time we get to know the members of the Gulf Council a little better. After all, they’re responsible for balancing different perspectives, and sometimes competing interests, to make regulations that affect us all.

Each Council member is selected to serve because of their personal experience, expertise, and interest in the Gulf fisheries. Let’s pull back the curtain and introduce them to you so that you can better understand their perspectives, and perhaps find a connection with the folks who share your passion for the fishery.

We’ll start this series by introducing the Chairman of the Gulf Council, Doug Boyd. He’s a dynamic and hard working guy with numerous interests and hobbies, including fishing. Over the years, Doug has invested a significant amount of time and effort representing recreational anglers on different government advisory panels and advocacy groups. His expertise and familiarity serving on advisory boards helped launch him into the position of Chairman during his first term as a member of the Gulf Council.

Doug’s first passion in life was not found underwater; quite the opposite in fact. He was drawn to the airfields where he did manual labor in exchange for flying time. Doug eventually washed enough planes and changed enough oil to complete his lessons and become a commercial pilot. When the Vietnam War began, Doug took a civilian contract with the U.S. Air Force working as an instructor pilot teaching primary flight training to Vietnamese student pilots.

After completing his contract with the U.S. Air Force, Doug spent 30 years working as a banker in San Antonio, Texas. He has since retired and now owns a small construction company that builds custom residential properties. Doug has also found an excuse to pursue his passion for antiques by partnering with a home décor company to share a small storefront where he sells antiques from his collection.

Doug and fellow Council members reading their Oath
In addition to being a businessman, husband, and father, Doug found time to get involved with fisheries advocacy and management. He joined the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), a recreational fishing advocacy group, in the early 1980’s. Doug has since become a board member for CCA Texas where he serves as the Vice President. and he sits on CCA’s national board. Doug is a longtime member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council responsible for conserving, restoring, and enhancing aquatic resources for recreational fishing and boating. Doug also sits on the Shrimp Advisory Panel for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Doug currently lives in the Texas hill country in a town called Boerne. He also owns a little fish camp down in Port O’Connor, Texas. If you want to get in touch with him you can connect with him directly at: douglassboyd@yahoo.com

Finally, to close our get-to-know-you with Doug, I asked him a few questions about fisheries management in the Gulf. Here’s what he had to say:

What motivates you to serve on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council?
“I want to try and preserve the critters and keep the fisheries a viable resource for us and for the people who come after us. The world is not ours, we are caretakers put here for a generation, and we don’t want to misuse the resource that has been given to us. Don’t get me wrong, I want to fish and I want to eat fish, I just want to be sure that is possible for everyone that comes after me, too.”

What do you think is the most important issue in our fishery?
“Right now, improving the accuracy and timeliness of our fisheries science is the most important thing for us to focus on. With improved data we can make better management decisions that allow us to be more accurate in utilizing the resource to its full potential without harming the future of the fishery.”

How do you hope to improve the fisheries science?
“I want to work collectively with the Council’s science advisors (the Scientific and Statistical Committee) and the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Science Center to make sure that the fisheries science we already have is useful and accurate. I want everyone to constantly double check that we’re doing things as accurately and thoroughly as possible. We need to keep working to improve the data, even if we get to the point where we think it’s good enough we need to always look forward and anticipate how we can do better.”

Do you have a favorite fishing tale you can share with us?
“Two of my most memorable fishing moments in the recent past involve unexpected encounters.

I was wade fishing a flat for redfish in Port Mansfield, Texas in crystal clear water. I was standing about waist deep and noticed towards the shore in the shallows there was a massive fish running after bait. This animal repeatedly chased bait to the shore where it would break the surface and little fish would explode out of the water. Of course it piqued my interest, and I wanted a chance to catch whatever was feeding, so I moved towards the action. The closer I got to the shore the further I got from the safety of my anchored boat. When I got within casing distance I realized that the feeding fish was actually a tiger shark, and a hungry one at that. It was a beautiful sight, but I didn’t stick around to watch what happened next.

A few months later, I had an opportunity to fish some unfamiliar waters at the mouth of Mobile Bay in Fort Morgan, Alabama. I went wading on the beach and made my way to the second sandbar in waist deep water. I had to practically swim through the deeper channels to get to my spot, but it paid off because fish were everywhere. I was playing around catching skipjacks one after another until I noticed a huge dark shadow slowly moving towards me and the school of fish I was catching. I took off as the shadow approached closer and closer and retreated back to the first sandbar. That’s when I realized that I was being stalked by nothing more that a curious manatee.”

Friday, October 26, 2012

October Meeting Preview


Ahoy,
We’re gearing up for another Council meeting that’s taking place next week (October 29 – November 1) at the Marriott Courtyard in Gulfport, Mississippi.

If you’re interested in what we plan to discuss you can find the schedule here, and all the briefing materials can be found here.

As always, Dr. Roy Crabtree, the Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries will host an informal question and answer session on Tuesday after the meeting concludes.

We’ll be hosting  a public comment session starting at 1:45 on Wednesday afternoon.

Below is a quick list of issues that we plan to address next week. If you have any questions or want any more information don’t hesitate to contact us.

Photo: Mark Miller

Gag and Shallow-Water Grouper
Last week we traveled the coast gathering input from anglers about a framework action that may change grouper fishing seasons and bag limits. Next week the Council will decide what the 2013 gag bag limit and season will be, and figure out whether or not it’s appropriate to change or eliminate the February – March shallow-water grouper closure.

Gray Triggerfish
After reviewing the input we gathered during public hearings the Council will take final action on Amendment 37. The amendment is being developed to end overfishing  of gray triggerfish and rebuild the overfished stock to a healthy size by the 2017 deadline. The amendment considers:
  • ·      Changing the current rebuilding plan
  • ·      Establishing a commercial closed season
  • ·      Establishing a commercial trip limit
  • ·      Establishing a recreational closed season
  • ·      Establishing a triggerfish–specific recreational bag limit
  • ·      Allowing NOAA Fisheries to close the recreational fishery if the Annual Catch Target is reached 
Photo: Mark Miller

For-Hire Reporting Requirements
The Council will review a scoping document that looks into the possibility of changing the method and frequency of fishery data reporting by federally permitted charter and headboat vessels.

Vermillion Snapper
The Council will look at a draft of a document that considers increasing the vermillion snapper harvest limits and changing the recreational bag limit for vermillion snapper.  The current Annual Catch Limit for vermillion snapper is set at 3,420,000 pounds. A stock assessment that was completed in 2011 suggested that the vermilion snapper harvest could increase because the stock was not overfished or experiencing overfishing.  The Council’s scientific advisors  (the Scientific and Statistical Committee) have increased the Acceptable Biological Catch for the next few years:
So, the Council is considering increasing the Annual Catch Limits so that they correspond with the newly increased Acceptable Biological Catch.

Regional Management of Red Snapper
The Council will also go over a scoping document that begins to analyze the possibility of managing red snapper regionally.  They will look at defining regions, allocating among those regions, administration of the regional management system, and possible accountability measures to help mitigate and control overages to each separate regions allocation                      
Photo: Jason Whitaker
    
  Other Red Snapper Stuff
  •       Council will review the preliminary draft of the 5-year review of the Individual Fishing Quota program.  The document contains analysis of the social, economic, and biological impacts that the program has had on the fishery., and recommendations for changes to the program that have been made by a variety of different advisory groups.
  •       Council will review a paper that evaluates the economic efficiency of  this years red snapper allocation.
  •       Council will hear a presentation about non-compliance of the states and the 2013 red snapper season.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gray Triggerfish Rebuilding Plan


Photo: Capt. Troy Frady

We want to know what you think about a few gray triggerfish regulation changes that are being considered. In the next few weeks we are hosting public hearings where you will have an opportunity to share with us what management options you prefer.

Last year, an assessment of the gray triggerfish stock concluded that the population was not as healthy as we had hoped. It was determined that gray triggerfish is:
  •          Overfished- there are not enough fish
  •          Experiencing overfishing- we are catching fish faster than they can reproduce


Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this news about gray triggerfish. A 2006 stock assessment told us the same thing and back then, we developed a management plan that aimed to rebuild the gray triggerfish stock by 2013. However, the most recent assessment is telling us that the stock is not rebuilding as it was expected to, so we’re considering making some changes to help the stock grow to a healthy size.
Photo: Steven Cone

In this amendment we’re considering:
  • ·      Changing the current rebuilding plan
  • ·      Establishing a commercial closed season
  • ·      Establishing a commercial trip limit
  • ·      Establishing a recreational closed season
  • ·      Establishing a triggerfish–specific recreational bag limit .
  • ·      Allowing NOAA Fisheries to close the fishery if the Annual Catch Target is reached


If you would like to learn more about the proposed changes read this short guide to Amendment 37 or watch this video presentation:



We value your opinions and hope you can join us at one of these public hearing meetings:

October 15, 2012
Destin, Florida
Country Inn & Suites
4415 Commons Dr. E.
Destin, FL 32541
(850) 650-9191


Naples, Florida
Courtyard Marriott
3250 Tamiami Trail N.
Naples, FL 34103
(239) 434-8700

October 16, 2012
St.Petersburg, Florida
Sirata Hotel
5300 Gulf Boulevard
St. Petersburg, FL 33706
(727) 363-5100


Gulf Shores, Alabama
Holiday Inn Express
160 W. Commerce Blvd.
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
(251) 948-6191

October 17, 2012
D’Iberville, Mississippi
Courtyard Marriott
11471 Cinema Drive
D'Iberville, MS 39540
(228) 392-1200


Galveston, Texas
Hilton Galveston
5400 Seawall Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77551
(409) 744-5000

October 18, 2012
Corpus Christi, Texas
Harte Institute
6300 Ocean Dr., Rm 127
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
(361) 825-2000


Kenner, Louisiana
Crowne Plaza Airport
2829 W. Williams Blvd.
Kenner, LA 70062
(504) 467-5611
*All meetings begin at 6pm

If you don’t think you’ll be able to make it in person please send us a comment using this electronic comment form.

Thanks for taking the time to help us make these important fishery management decisions. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gag Season and Bag Limit & Shallow-Water Grouper Closed Season


Photo: Capt. Frady
We’ve been working on developing some different grouper management options and we’d like you to let us know which of the possible options suit you best, and why.

First, we’re reconsidering the recreational 2013 gag season and bag limit. We are not reducing the amount of gag that can be harvested, we are simply considering different season and bag options at the request of fishermen and the State of Florida. 

The current recreational gag regulations are:
  • Open season from July 1 through October 31
  • 2 fish bag limit
Although the current season provides the most fishing days, fishermen have asked us to consider shifting the season to days when there is greater demand for gag fishing. We’re also considering a 1-fish bag limit to increase the number of fishing days available.

Photo: FSU


Second, we’re reconsidering the February through March shallow-water grouper closed season.

The current shallow-water grouper regulations are:

  • Closed season February 1 – March 31 for gag, red grouper, black grouper, yellowmouth grouper, scamp, and yellowfin grouper


Changes in grouper management and changes to fish stocks have led fishermen and scientists to question the need for the shallow-water grouper closure. We’re considering whether we should remove or modify this closed season, and we’d like your input.

If you’d like to know a bit more about the possible changes, read this guide and/or watch this short video presentation:



Your comments are important to us, and we hope you can join us at one of these public hearings:

October 15, 2012
Destin, Florida
Country Inn & Suites
4415 Commons Dr. E.
Destin, FL 32541
(850) 650-9191


Naples, Florida
Courtyard Marriott
3250 Tamiami Trail N.
Naples, FL 34103
(239) 434-8700

October 16, 2012
St.Petersburg, Florida
Sirata Hotel
5300 Gulf Boulevard
St. Petersburg, FL 33706
(727) 363-5100


Gulf Shores, Alabama
Holiday Inn Express
160 W. Commerce Blvd.
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
(251) 948-6191
October 17, 2012
D’Iberville, Mississippi
Courtyard Marriott
11471 Cinema Drive
D'Iberville, MS 39540
(228) 392-1200


Galveston, Texas
Hilton Galveston
5400 Seawall Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77551
(409) 744-5000

October 18, 2012
Corpus Christi, Texas
Harte Institute
6300 Ocean Dr., Rm 127
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
(361) 825-2000


Kenner, Louisiana
Crowne Plaza Airport
2829 W. Williams Blvd.
Kenner, LA 70062
(504) 467-5611

**All meetings begin at 6pm

If you don’t think you can make it in person please send us a comment using this electronic comment form.

Thanks for taking the time to help us make these important fishery management decisions. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sector Allocation - Amendment 28 Q&A


What is Sector Allocation?
Photo: Doug Gregory
Sector allocation considers setting allocations for gag, red grouper, black grouper, and red snapper. While allocation has traditionally been set between commercial and recreational sectors, this document considers sub-dividing the recreational allocation into private, for-hire, and possibly headboat sectors.

How far along is the Council in making decisions?
The Council began its initial analysis of the issues and was presented with a scoping document during the August 2012 Council meeting. After reviewing over 4000 comments, the Council decided to table discussions until after the red snapper benchmark stock assessment is complete. The assessment was completed in the summer of 2013.

What is allocation?
Allocation is the division of the Annual Catch Limit between fishing sectors. The Annual Catch Limit is the amount of fish that can be harvested from a fish stock each year. The current allocations are:


Commercial
Recreational
Gag
39%
61%
Red Grouper
76%
24%
Black Grouper
73%
27%
Red Snapper
51%
49%
Photo: Mike Miglini

What is sector separation?
Sector separation is the splitting of the recreational fishing sector into two or three sub-sectors; private, charter for-hire, and possibly headboat. If the recreational sector is split into sub-sectors, then the recreational Annual Catch Limit would be divided among the sub-sectors. Each sub-sector could then pursue different management schemes to constrain its Annual Catch Limit by using fishing regulations tailored specifically for that fishing sector.

Why is the Council considering allocation?
The Council’s allocation policy requires a review of allocations at intervals of no less than five years. None of the species allocations being considered in this amendment have ever been formally reviewed. In 2006, the Council set interim allocations for gag and red grouper, and the black grouper allocation was set for the first time in 2011. Red snapper allocation was set in 1990.

Why is the Council considering sector separation?
For a number of years a group of charter for-hire fishermen have been asking the Council to manage them differently than private recreational fishermen. These captains assert that their businesses are not viable under the current recreational management scheme.

How will the Council decide on allocations?
The Council developed a fishery allocation policy to help guide the allocation process.  Allocation decisions  are made using a combination of  historical landings data, and economic and social analysis of different allocation scenarios. You can read the Council’s allocation policy here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Pre-meeting Study Guide


It’s that time again… The Gulf Council is gearing up to meet next week - August 20th- 23rd - in New Orleans, Louisiana to work on a number of different fishery management issues.

Check out the committee schedule and the full Council schedule to see when Council plans to discuss issues that are important to you.

Photo: Capt. Jennings
If you can’t attend in person, we encourage you to tune in to Gulf Council T.V. and watch the meeting live. You should also visit our proposed amendments page and submit comment on any of the issues that interest you.

 If you can make it, you may want to consider attending the:
·      Question and answer session - Tuesday, August 21 at 5:00 PM the Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries will answer any questions you have regarding fishery management in the Gulf.
·      Public Comment session - Wednesday, August 22 at 1:15 PM you can share your fishery management comments with the Council.

Below is a quick summary of what the Council will be working on during the meeting next week. If you have any questions contact me at Emily.Muehlstein@gulfcouncil.org

Louisiana Management Proposals
The Council will have a discussion with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries regarding their proposal for regional management of red snapper and extension of the state boundary line in the Gulf.

Sector Allocations
The Council continues work on a document that explores the allocation of gag, red grouper, black grouper, and red snapper. Allocation is the division of an Annual Catch Limit between fishing sectors.

The current allocations are:

Commercial
Recreational
Gag
39%
61%
Red Grouper
76%
24%
Black Grouper
73%
27%
Red Snapper
51%
49%

The scoping document that will be presented to the Council at this meeting considers the possibility of setting new allocations for each species, and splitting allocation into commercial, recreational, and for-hire fishing sectors.


Vermilion Snapper
A recent stock assessment determined that vermillion snapper is neither overfished or experiencing overfishing. The Council is considering raising the Annual Catch Limit for vermilion snapper to reflect the fact that the population can sustain a higher level of harvest than is currently allowed.

Commercial Reef Fish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program-
In April of this year the Council suspended work on an amendment that would consider establishing an Individual Fishing Quota Program for:
Photo: Kathy Hoak
  • ·      red porgy
  • ·      vermillion snapper
  • ·      greater amberjack
  • ·      lesser amberjack
  • ·      almaco jack
  • ·      banded rudderfish
  • ·      gray triggerfish


The Council requested that the public submit comments to advise the Council of the potential benefits or drawbacks of using an Individual Fishing Quota system for those species. At this meeting the Council will review the comments that have been received and will determine whether to move forward with the development of Reef Fish Amendment 33.


Gray Triggerfish
The Council will continue work on Reef Fish Amendment 37, which considers:
  •               Shortening the current rebuilding plan
  •               Increasing the commercial minimum size limit
  •               Establishing a commercial closed season
  •               Establishing a commercial trip limit
  •               Increasing the recreational minimum size limit
  •               Establishing a recreational closed season
  •               Establishing a triggerfish–specific recreational bag limit
  •               Allowing NOAA Fisheries to close the fishery if the Annual Catch Target is reached


This amendment is being developed because the triggerfish stock is overfished (population is too low) and experiencing overfishing (rate of removals is too high).


Shallow-Water-Grouper Accountability Measures
The Council is expected to make a final decision regarding changing an accountability measure that shortens the following years entire shallow-water-grouper season if the gag or red grouper Annual Catch Limit is exceeded.


2013 Recreational Gag Season
The Council will continue to work on an amendment that considers splitting the recreational season for gag. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) requested that the Gulf Council consider alternative season options that would allow for fishing in both the spring and fall. Opening the season at a different time may reduce the number of fishing days, but will allow for gag fishing at a more desirable time of year.


Seafood Dealer Permit and Reporting Requirements
The Council is expected to take final action on an amendment that aims to improve the accuracy, consistency, and timelines of data reported by seafood dealers in order to reduce the likelihood that Annual Catch Limits will be exceeded.


Essential Fish Habitat – Petroleum Platforms and Artificial Reefs
Council will continue work on an amendment that considers designating petroleum platforms and other artificial reefs as Essential Fish Habitat.