Monday, March 27, 2017

April 2017 Council Meeting Preview

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet next week at the Hyatt Regency in Birmingham,Alabama. You’re welcome to join us in person or watch a live broadcast of the meeting.

Public comment will be held on Wednesday, April 5 from 1:30 – 5:00 p.m. local time. If you can’t testify in person, visit our proposed amendments page to comment on, and learn about the different issues being considered. Comments received by Tuesday, March 28th will be summarized and presented directly to the Council as each issue is discussed during the meeting.

The meeting agenda and briefing materials will help you prepare. The following is a quick summary of the topics the Council plans to take final action on at this meeting:

Photo: Kathy Hoak
Modifications to Commercial IFQ Programs – Reef Fish Amendment 36A
The Council will review public comments and take final action on Reef Fish Amendment 36A which considers making modifications to the commercial IFQ program. After performing a 5-year review of the red snapper IFQ program, hearing advice from the Ad Hoc Red Snapper IFQ Advisory Panel, and taking the issue to scoping, the Council is considering modifying hail-in requirements for commercially permitted reef fish vessels; returning and redistributing inactivated IFQ shares; retaining allocation before a quota reduction; and dealer notification requirements before offloading IFQ species.

Photo: Troy Frady
Gray Triggerfish Rebuilding Plan – Reef Fish Amendment 46
The Council plans to take final action on Reef Fish Amendment 46 – Gray Triggerfish Rebuilding Plan after reviewing comments received during public hearings. A recent stock assessment indicated that the gray triggerfish stock continues to be overfished and the Council’s scientific advisors revised the acceptable biological catch levels. Along with determining new catch levels for the stock, the Council will consider changes to the recreational bag limits, size limits, and closed season; and commercial trip limit.

Photo: Ryan Rindone

Mutton Snapper ACL and Management Measures and Gag Commercial Size Limit – Framework
After reviewing public comments received, the Council will take final action on a Framework Action that considers modifying mutton snapper annual catch limit, minimum size limit, recreational bag limit, and commercial trip limit. While the mutton snapper stock is neither overfished nor, is it experiencing overfishing, the latest stock assessment indicated that the adult population of mutton snapper is smaller than previously estimated so, a reduction of harvest is necessary to ensure that overfishing does not occur in the future.  The Framework Action also considers increasing the commercial gag minimum size limit so that regulations are consistent with the adjoining South Atlantic regulations and the recreational sector.

Photo: LeAnn Bosarge
Shrimp Yield, Threshold Number of Permits, and Transit Provisions – Shrimp Amendment 17B
The Council will review comments gathered during public hearings and take final action on Shrimp Amendment 17B which considers setting harvest benchmarks, setting a target number of permits, creating a permit pool, and allowing transit through federal waters.

Photo: Walter Stone
Adjust Greater Amberjack ACL – Framework
The 2017 recreational quota was reduced due to a payback of last year’s quota overage. This reduced quota was expected to be met early so, the season was closed on March 24th. The Council is planning to review the results of the most recent greater amberjack stock assessment and hear input from their scientific advisors and the public, in consideration of finding a way to increase this year’s recreational quota.