Monday, July 31, 2017

August 2017 Council Meeting Preview

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meets next week at the Marriott Plaza in San Antonio. You’re welcome to join us in person or watch a live broadcast of the meeting.

Public testimony will be held on Wednesday, August 9 from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. local time. If you can’t come to submit comment in person, visit our “Amendments Under Development” page to comment on, and learn about, different issues being considered.

The meeting agenda and materials will help you prepare for the meeting and decide when to listen in. The following is a quick summary of topics the Council plans to address:

Greater Amberjack Framework Action
Photo: Paul Borowski
The most recent greater amberjack stock assessment (SEDAR 33) indicated that amberjack continues to be overfished and experiencing overfishing. The stock has been considered to be overfished and experiencing overfishing since 1998 despite numerous rebuilding plans that aimed to constrain harvest and allow the stock to rebound to a healthy level. As a result of the most recent assessment, the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee provided new Acceptable Biological Catch levels for 2018-2020. The Council plans to take final action on a Framework Action that considers modifying the rebuilding timeline, annual catch limits and targets, and recreational season for greater amberjack.

Reef Fish Management for Headboat Survey Vessels
The Council will discuss the criteria that participants must meet in order to vote in the referendum to determine if Amendment 42 will be accepted. Amendment 42 considers creating an allocation-based program to manage reef fish harvest on headboat survey vessels.

Allocation-Based Management for Federally Permitted Charter Vessels
The Council will review a revised draft of Reef Fish Amendment 41 which considers establishing an allocation based program to manage reef fish for federally permitted charter vessels. The Council plans to discuss the criteria that participants must meet to vote in the referendum to determine if the Amendment will be accepted.

Modifications to Federal For-Hire and Private Angler Red Snapper Annual Catch Targets
Photo: Dr. Carrie Simmons
The Council will review a draft framework action that considers changing the buffers between the red snapper annual catch limits and annual catch targets for federal for-hire and private angler components of the recreational sector. The annual catch targets were put in place in 2014 and the council would like to achieve more accurate and fair annual catch targets to ensure the greatest level of harvest without exceeding the component annual catch limits. 

State Management of Recreational Red Snapper
The Council will take a first look at draft documents that consider allowing Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to manage their harvest of recreational red snapper out to 200 nautical miles. 

Modifications to Commercial IFQ Programs
The Council will review a draft of Reef Fish Amendment 36B which considers modifying red snapper and grouper/tilefish IFQ program participation, distribution of shares from non-activated accounts, restrictions on share and allocation transfers, and allocation caps.

Status Determination Criteria and Optimum Yield for Reef Fish Stocks
The Council will hear a presentation and review an Options Paper on an amendment that aims to define and in some cases, modify existing biological reference points. In order to comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and National Standard 1 Guidelines, the Council must set maximum sustainable yield (MSY) proxies, minimum stock size thresholds (MSST), maximum fishing mortality thresholds (MFMT), and optimum yield levels for managed stocks.

Grouper/Tilefish Individual Fishing Quota Program Review
Staff with present the Council with an update on the 5-year review of the commercial Grouper/Tilefish Individual Fishing Quota Program which was implemented in 2010.

Review of For-Hire Permit Moratorium and Transfers

Staff will present the Council with a 10-year review of the for-hire permit moratorium. Additionally, the Council will hear information on the frequency and prevalence of For-Hire Reef Fish permit transfers.

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