Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Meet the Council: Chairman Kevin Anson

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
Do you ever wonder what qualifies members of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to make decisions about our fish? After all, they play an important role in fisheries management, and decisions they make could potentially affect us all. 

Council members are tasked with a very difficult challenge; to balance competing interests in the fishery to make management recommendations that achieve the greatest overall benefit to the nation.

Each Council member is selected to serve because they have personal experience, expertise, and interest in the Gulf fisheries. Lets get to know another member of the Gulf Council so that we can better understand his perspective.

Kevin Anson, the Chairman of the Gulf Council, laughs when asked how he got into fisheries. “To this day my parents joke that my entertainment wasn’t a toy but an aquarium,” he said.

Beginning at about age 2, the fish tank in Kevin’s family home mesmerized him, and he could sit in front of it for hours without losing interest.

Kevin with a Nassau Grouper
Kevin’s passion for marine life grew along with him. During his childhood, Kevin’s family moved around the state of Florida where he was exposed to both salt and freshwater environments. His family spent every spare moment at a vacation home in the lower Florida Keys. Kevin would disappear each morning with a goal to bring home dinner. He spent his days diving for lobster, spearfishing, trolling for Dolphin and mackerel, and bottom fishing.

When it came time to choose a career, Kevin decided to attend Florida Atlantic University to pursue a degree in Ocean Engineering. Within a couple of years he realized engineering was not his passion, and he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. Kevin then attended Auburn University where he earned a Master of Science in Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures.

Kevin in the Florida Keys
For a short time after graduation Kevin worked for the Alabama Cooperative Fish Research unit sampling fish populations living in rivers associated with hydroelectric dams. He moved on to work for a tropical fish hatchery in South Alabama. Kevin even worked for a few years at the company’s aquaculture facilities in Belize growing shrimp, Australian red claw crayfish, and tilapia.

Kevin is currently the Chief Marine Biologist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources/Marine Resources Division. He has been with the Department for 14 years, and has served as Alabama’s representative on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council since 2008.

His passion for fisheries extends beyond his professional life. He lives in coastal Alabama and fishes from his 23-foot walk-around boat. If you want to get in touch with Kevin you are welcome to email him directly at: Kevin.Anson@dcnr.alabama.gov

To conclude our get-to-know-you with Kevin, here are his answers to a few questions about fisheries management in the Gulf:

What do you think is the most important issue in our fishery?
“Improvement of fisheries science is a top priority on everyone’s mind, including mine. I want to make sure that more data about artificial reefs and the fish populations living on them are included into the stock assessments and considered by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee to inform management decisions made by the Council.”

What can the Council do to improve the fisheries management around the Gulf?
“We must continue to enhance our relationships with stakeholders. We need to be sure that information is user-friendly and easy to access, and we need to take every opportunity we can to engage the public in the management process. Bringing the Council into the public arena will make it easier for us to collaborate with, and learn from, the folks who are affected by Council decisions.”

What do you believe is the ultimate goal of fisheries management?
“Fisheries management should maximize people’s enjoyment of our resource now, and in the future. Our fisheries should be protected so that we can enjoy them for future generations. At the same time, when populations are healthy and sustainable, we should strive to provide every opportunity to utilize them.”

Do you have a favorite fishing tale you can share with us?
“Some of my fondest fishing memories involve taking novices out for their first taste of saltwater fishing.

“I took a friend offshore for his first time to catch red snapper. We anchored over a nice artificial reef, baited our hooks, and dropped our lines off opposite sides of the boat. Almost immediately, my buddy hooked into a nice snapper and began to pull her to the surface, and I hooked up as he was mid-fight.

Kevin fighting a Tarpon
“My friend reeled his fish to the surface and decided to wait for me to finish my fight so I could help him boat his fish. As he was waiting, he noticed something dark swimming below the boat. I heard the tone of his voice shift, and he was on the brink of panic as he informed me that a shark was after his snapper.

“I quickly released my fish and went over to help him, only to discover that the “shark” causing my buddy so much distress was actually the biggest cobia I’ve ever seen in my life. After boating his sow and poking a bit of fun at him, I tried every trick I knew to coax that big cobia onto my hook. I never did manage to catch him, but really enjoyed the opportunity to see such a huge cobia.”

Monday, March 18, 2013

Scoping: For-Hire Days-At-Sea Pilot Program

Photo: Ben
Despite annual increases in the recreational red snapper quota, the fishing season has become progressively shorter since 1996. This has negatively impacted both private and for-hire recreational fishermen.

The Council is considering a pilot Days-at-Sea program to address the negative impacts that current management measures have had on the for-hire component of the recreational sector.

This issue is at the scoping phase of the fishery management process. The Council wants your input to help identify potential impacts of the pilot program and suggest reasonable alternatives to solve the problems.

Photo: Mark Miller

There are a couple of ways to get involved.

First, you can learn more about the issues being addressed and the proposed pilot program by reading the full document; reading this handy-dandy guide; or watching this video presentation:

Next, you can send us your thoughts and answers to the questions we pose using this online comment form.

We also invite you to learn more and speak with us directly at one of the following scoping workshops: 

Photo: Barry Baham
March 25, 2013 
Gulfport, Mississippi 
Courtyard Marriott 
1600 E. Beach Blvd. 
Gulfport, MS 39501 
(228) 864-4310

March 26, 2013
Orange Beach, Alabama 

Fairfield Inn & Suites 
3111 Loop Road
Orange Beach, AL 36561 

(251) 543-4444

March 27, 2013
Destin, Florida
Destin Community Center 

101 Stahlman Ave. 
Destin, FL 32541
(850) 654-5184

Photo: Mike Jennings

Naples, Florida
Courtyard Marriott 
3250 US 41 N. 
Naples, FL 34103 
(239) 434-8700

April 1, 2013
Galveston Island, Texas 
Hilton Galveston Island 
5400 Seawall Blvd. 
Galveston Island, TX 77551 
(409) 744-5000

April 2, 2013
St. Petersburg, Florida

Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park 
Photo: Mike Jennings
950 Lake Carillon Drive
St. Petersburg, FL 33716

(727) 540-0050

Corpus Christi, Texas
Hilton Garden Inn
6717 S. Padre Island Drive
Corpus Christi, TX 78412 
(361) 991-8200

April 3, 2013
Kenner, Louisiana
Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport 

2829 Williams Blvd.
Kenner, LA 70062
(504) 467-5611 

* Workshops begin at 6pm and conclude no later than 9pm.

As always, if you have any questions don't hesitate to email us at gulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.org 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Council Seeks New Advisors

Ever want to give the Gulf Council some advice?

Not take a long walk off a short pier kind of advice but actually directly sharing your knowledge of the fishery with the Council.  Would you be interested in reviewing  documents and making suggestions before Council votes on anything? Would you be interested in lending your perspective to the Council? That is exactly what the Council is asking you to help with.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is responsible for making decisions on a wide range of fishery management issues.  Trapping spiny lobster in South Florida, long lining for tilefish in deep water, spearing amberjack near oil platforms, and catching red snapper on a fly rod are just a few examples of the array of fishing activities that take place in the Councils jurisdiction.  While each voting Council member is selected to serve because they have personal experience, expertise, and interest in the Gulf fisheries, it is nearly impossible for a single person to be an expert in all aspects of Gulf of Mexico fishery management.

Fortunately, the Council system was designed to incorporate the expertise of all sorts of people to ensure a well-rounded understanding of each component of the fishery. Along with encouraging public comment at every step of the process, the Council relies upon advisory panels and scientific committees to provide advice on a variety of issues. 

The advisory panels are populated with people like you; recreational and commercial fishermen, for-hire captains, seafood dealers, members of non-governmental organizations, scientists, and concerned citizens.

The Council is currently recruiting applicants to serve on the following advisory panels:

·     Coastal Migratory Pelagics
·      Coral
·      Data Collection
·      Florida/Alabama Habitat Protection
·      Mississippi/Louisiana Habitat Protection
·      Texas Habitat Protection
·      Outreach and Education
·      Red Drum
·      Red Snapper
·      Reef Fish
·      SEDAR NGO
·      Shrimp
·      Spiny Lobster
Advisory panel positions are unpaid, but travel expenses are reimbursed.

The Council is also looking for economists, biologists, sociologists, and natural resource attorneys who are knowledgeable about the technical aspects of the fisheries to serve on the following Scientific and Statistical Committees:

·      Standing
·      Socioeconomic
·      Coral
·      Mackerel
·      Red Drum
·      Reef Fish
·      Shrimp
·      Spiny Lobster
·      Ecosystems Management

Depending on the current management issues, panels and committees meet up to 4 times a year. Appointments last for two years.

If you’re interested in serving on an advisory panel or scientific committee now is the time to apply.  Send us a resume or description of your qualifications along with a letter that details which panels or committees you’re interested in.

Fax: 813-348-1711
Mail: 2203 N. Lois Ave. Suite 1100
           Tampa, FL 33607