Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 2014 Council Meeting Preview

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet next week in Mobile, Alabama to work on some issues that might be of interest to you. You’re welcome to join us at the meeting or you can listen live from your computer.

The Committee agenda and full Council agenda will help you figure out when the Council plans to discuss the topics that interest you.

We’ll be hosting public comment Wednesday, October 22, from 2:30 pm – 7:30 pm, with a scheduled break between 5:00 pm and 5:30 pm.

Photo:  iStock
Some of the important issues that the Council plans to address during the meeting are described below.

Recreational Red Snapper Sector Separation
The Council is scheduled to review the most recent comments received and take final action on Reef Fish Amendment 40, which considers Recreational Red Snapper Sector Separation. Please watch this video tutorial on the amendment and send us your comments online before midnight, Tuesday, October 14.

Photo: NOAA

Recreational Red Grouper Seasons and Bag Limits
The Council plans to take final action on a Framework Action that considers adjusting bag limits and fixed closed seasons to avoid in-season quota closures like the one we’re currently experiencing. The framework also reconsiders the automatic bag limit reduction accountability measure that occurs after the Annual Catch Limit is exceeded.  The Council would like your input on the options that have been developed. Watch this video, read the amendment guide, join us on our webinar public hearing scheduled for the evening of Thursday, October 16, and/or send us your comments online.

Photo: Karen Hoak
The Council plans to take final action on two shrimp amendments:
·      Shrimp Amendment 15 – which considers revising the overfished/overfishing status of brown, white, and pink shrimp to ensure that they are consistent with the new model used to determine stock status.  Watch this video and send us your comments.
·      Shrimp Amendment 16 – which considers adjusting the annual catch limit and accountability measures for royal red shrimp. Watch this video and send us your comments.

The Council will also look at a scoping document for Shrimp Amendment 17 that considers what action to take regarding the pending expiration of the moratorium on federal shrimping permits.

Red Snapper Allocation
In June, the Council chose to defer action on Reef Fish Amendment 28 – which considers adjusting the allocation of red snapper between the commercial and recreational sectors, until after Amendment 40 – Sector Separation- is completed. The Council plans to revisit the red snapper allocation document during its meeting next week.  For more information, watch this video tutorial on the amendment.

Red Snapper Regional Management
The Council plans to resume discussions on Reef Fish Amendment 39 – Regional Management of Recreational Red Snapper, which considers dividing the federal recreational red snapper quota among states and giving them authority to set some of their own management measures. The Council postponed work on the document in February of this year pending progress on decisions regarding the allocation of quota among regions.

Photo: Scott Hickman

Greater Amberjack
This summer, the Councils scientific advisors reviewed a stock assessment and determined that greater amberjack is overfished, experiencing overfishing, and did not meet the 10-year rebuilding plan that ended in 2012.  As a result, the Council plans to review an options paper that considers adjusting the Annual Catch Limit and commercial and recreational management measures to ensure that the stock is rebuilt and the mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Act are met.

Art by Diane Peebles
A stock assessment completed this summer discovered that the gag stock is not overfished or experiencing overfishing. The Council planned to increase the Acceptable Biological Catch from 2,820,000 pounds to 3,120,000 pounds this year. However, scientists are concerned that a large red tide event occurring this summer may negatively impact the stock. The Councils scientific advisors reviewed the assessment and recommended the Acceptable Biological Catch be increased for 2015 to a more conservative 3,070,000 pounds until the full effects of the red tide are understood.

Photo: Emily Muehlstein
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission completed a hogfish stock assessment using the federal SEDAR process. The assessment determined that there are three distinct hogfish stocks. The Gulf of Mexico stock is neither overfished or experiencing overfishing. The stock in the Florida Keys and along the east coast of Florida is overfished and experiencing overfishing, and the status of stock off the coast off Georgia and the Carolinas is experiencing overfishing and nearly overfished. The Council will hear a report on the assessment and decide what, if any, action to take. 

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