Friday, October 12, 2018

October Council Meeting Preview

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meets October 22-25, at the Renaissance Battle House in Mobile, Alabama. We invite you to join us in person or watch a live broadcast of the meeting.

Public comment will be held on Wednesday, October 24th, from 1:30 – 4:30. If testifying in person isn’t an option, visit our “Amendments Under Development” web page to learn about the different issues we’re working on and submit your comments.

The meeting agenda and materials will help you prepare for the meeting. Below, you’ll find a summary of some of the fishery issues the Council plans to address:

Cobia Size and Possession Limits
The Council plans to hear a summary of public comments received and take final action on Costal Migratory Pelagic Framework Action 7. Anglers have expressed concern for what appears to be a dwindling cobia population and asked the Council to address the issue. Landings remained relatively consistent from 2012-2016, however, there was a decrease observed in 2017. The Council is considering reducing cobia harvest by decreasing the bag limit and increasing the minimum size limit.

Photo: David Payne

Historical Captain Endorsements
The Council will review an abbreviated framework action that considers converting historical for-hire captain endorsements to federal for-hire permits. There are currently 31 historical captains with both reef fish and coastal migratory pelagic (CMP) permits, and one captain with a CMP permit. At this meeting, the Council will consider new options that would modify the passenger capacity associated with the endorsement.

State Management of Red Snapper
The Council will continue to work on a suite of documents that consider permanently allowing each Gulf state to manage a portion of the recreational red snapper quota in federal waters. In addition to a previously considered alternative that would allow the states to collectively decide whether or not to include federal for-hire vessels in state management, the Council will consider new alternatives that could allow individual states the option to manage their federal for-hire vessels.

Carryover of Unharvested Quota
The Council will look at a draft of an amendment that considers allowing the portion of the allowable catch that isn’t harvested, due to an early quota closure, to be rolled over into the following year’s allowable catch.
Photo: Hubbards Marina

Gray Snapper
Based on the current criteria, the latest stock assessment determined that gray snapper is considered overfished and undergoing overfishing. Fortunately, the recommended acceptable biological catch levels that resulted from the assessment are only slightly lower than the current annual catch limits. As a result, the Council will review a draft amendment that considers establishing criteria to determine the overfished and overfishing status of the stock; modifying annual catch limits, and setting other reference points.
Photo: Florida Sea Grant

The Council will look at a draft of Shrimp Amendment 18, which considers increasing the amount of shrimp effort allowed in the special area that is monitored for juvenile red snapper bycatch. Analysis shows that the effort reduction threshold, which requires that shrimp effort in the area be 67% below the effort in the baseline years of 2001-2003 can be reduced to 60% without affecting the rebuilding of the red snapper stock.