Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 2016 Council Meeting Preview

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meets next week at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama to make some important decisions about our fishery.

The Council plans to take final action on a number of different issues - regional management of recreational red snapper, shrimp, and electronic reporting for for-hire vessels. Development of amendments on hogfish, yellowtail, triggerfish, and red snapper management for charter vessels and headboats will also be discussed.

You’re welcome to join us in person or watch a live broadcast of the meeting. This agenda will help you figure out when the Council plans to discuss the topics that interest you. Here are all the background materials available you’ll want to follow along.

Photo: Mark Miller
Public comment will be held from 1:30 – 5:30 on Wednesday, January 27.

Below you’ll find a quick explanation of some of the topics that will be addressed next week.

Regional Management of Recreational Red Snapper
The Council plans to take final action on Reef Fish Amendment 39, which considers dividing the recreational red snapper quota among different regions in the Gulf to allow for the creation of different management measures that best suit each area.  The Council will hear summaries of the comments received during public hearings held in December before making final management decisions. Watch this video tutorial on the amendment if you’re interested in knowing more.

Electronic Charter Vessel Reporting Amendment
The Council is scheduled to take final action on this amendment, which considers modifying the frequency and method of reporting for charter and headboats fishing for reef fish and coastal migratory pelagics in the Gulf of Mexico. Before making any decisions, the Council will review the comments that have been submitted. Check out this quick video if you would like to learn more about what’s being considered.

Expiration of the Shrimp Permit Moratorium and the Future of the Royal Red Endorsement
In October of this year, the moratorium on issuing new shrimp permits is scheduled to expire. In Shrimp Amendment 17A, the Council is expected to make a final decision on whether to end or extend the moratorium. The Council will also decided whether to continue requiring shrimpers to hold a Royal Red Shrimp Endorsement to harvest royal reds.

Red Snapper Management for Federally Permitted Charter Vessels
The Council will review the input received from the public during scoping workshops on Reef Fish Amendment 41 which considers creating a red snapper management plan for federally permitted for-hire vessels fishing under the for-hire component of the recreational red snapper allocation. The Council will discuss the latest draft of the amendment and make suggestions on how to move forward.

Federal Reef Fish Headboat Management
The Council will review scoping comments on Reef Fish Amendment42 which considers creating a management plan for federally permitted headboats fishing for reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The Council will discuss how to move forward and consider which species to include, and how to manage the fishery.

Photo: Emily Muehlstein
Hogfish Annual Catch Limit, Minimum Size Limit, and Stock Definition
The most recent hogfish stock assessment determined that there are three separate stocks throughout the Gulf and South Atlantic Council jurisdictions. The Gulf Council is considering taking responsibility for the western stock, which is located entirely in the Gulf of Mexico jurisdiction. The Council is also considering setting an annual catch limit and increasing the minimum size limit for hogfish.

Recreational Red Snapper Annual Catch Target
The annual catch target is a level of harvest set below the annual catch limit. The annual catch target provides a buffer to ensure the annual catch limit is not exceeded. Currently the annual catch target for recreational red snapper is set 20% below the catch limit. Since the recreational sector has not met the annual catch limit in recent years, the Council is considering reducing the buffer to allow for a greater level of harvest before the season is closed.

Photo: Chris Phillips
King Mackerel
The Council will review a draft of Amendment 26 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics fishery management plan, which considers changing allocations, stock boundaries, and sale provisions for king mackerel in the Gulf and South Atlantic. Stay tuned, public hearings will be scheduled for February.