Friday, February 1, 2013

February 2013 Council Meeting Preview

Photo: Mark Miller

We’re getting ready for next week’s Council meeting in Mobile, Alabama.  The meeting will officially start on Tuesday, but the entire day will be closed session (not open to the public) while the Council interviews candidates for the Executive Director position.  The meeting will open to the public on Wednesday morning, and we invite you to join us either in person at the Marriott, or you can listen in live from your computer. Check out the committee agenda and the full Council agenda

An informal question and answer session will be held Wednesday evening after the meeting; this should start around 5:30.

Public comment will be held on Thursday, February 7th from 1:15 to 5:00 p.m.
Join us and let the Council know what you think about current issues.

This meeting will be a bit different because the Council held a special reef fish committee meeting in early January. The committee will meet again next week, but it tackled some big issues in January that await final review by the full Council next week.

Photo: Capt. Murphy
Some highlights from the special meeting:

The reef fish committee was presented with an analysis of the 2013 red snapper season length, including information on what may happen if states make recreational red snapper regulations that are not consistent with the federal season.

The committee requested that staff develop an Accountability Measure that gives NMFS authority to close the federal waters off of a state if that state makes rules that are inconsistent with the federal regulations.  

The committee then reviewed the framework action to modify the 2013 red snapper quotas and recreational bag limit. For Action 1 they chose to make the preferred alternative Alternative 2, which would raise the 2013 commercial red snapper quota to 4,315,000 pounds and the recreational red snapper quota to 4,145,000 pounds. For Action 2 Council chose to make the preferred alternative Alternative 1: No Action; which would maintain the 2 fish per day recreational red snapper bag limit.

Read the full document or watch this video to learn more about the red snapper framework.

The committee then discussed allocation of red snapper. Currently, the total amount of snapper that can be harvested is split 51% commercial and 49% recreational. The committee voted to maximize the available days to recreational fishermen and remove any alternative in the document that would take allocation away from the recreational fishery.

Remember: motions made by the committee are only recommendations to the full Council and do not become official actions unless and until the full Council moves to accept those recommendations.

Next week, in addition to reviewing the reef fish committees recommendations, the Council plans to tackle the following issues:

Framework  addressing Vermilion Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, and Venting Tool requirements.

·      Vermilion Snapper- Is not overfished or experiencing overfishing. The Council is considering changing the Annual Catch Limit for vermilion and revising the recreational bag limit.
·      Yellowtail Snapper- Is not overfished or experiencing overfishing so, the Council is considering adjusting the Annual Catch Limit.
·      Venting Tool Requirements- Current regulations mandate the possession and use of venting tools when targeting reef fish. The Council is considering changing this rule because venting may not always be necessary.

Read the full document and watch this video to learn more about the framework.  

Regional Management of Red Snapper – Reef Fish Amendment 39
The Council is developing a document that explores the idea of managing the recreational red snapper quota in separate regions. At this meeting the Council will review the draft amendment and public comments received during recent scoping workshops.

Read the full scoping document, this quick guide, and watch this video about regional management.

Photo: Capt. Murphy
For-Hire Days-at-Sea Pilot Program
The Council will review a scoping document that explores a possible pilot program that would allow a sample of for-hire fishermen to fish a specified number of days  or trips throughout the year instead of using the recreational season.

Electronic Reporting Requirements for Headboats
Next week the Council will review a document that considers changing the frequency and method with which headboats report their catch.

As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.