Thursday, January 17, 2019

January Council Meeting Preview

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet January 28 – 31, at Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama. You’re welcome to join us in person or you can watch a live broadcast of the meeting.

Public comment will be held on Wednesday, January 30th from 1:30 – 4:30 PM. If you can’t testify in person visit our “Amendment Under Development” webpage to learn about the different issues we’re working on and submit your comment.
The meeting agenda will help you prepare for the meeting. The following is a summary of some issues the Council plans to address:

Historical Captains Endorsements
Final Action was scheduled for this amendment however, due the partial-government shut-down the Council is unable to take final action at this meeting. Instead, the Council will hear public comments on a final draft of 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. The Council is considering converting these historical endorsements into standard charter/headboat permits.

State Management of Recreational Red Snapper
This amendment was scheduled for final action however, due the partial-government shut-down the Council is unable to take final action at this meeting. The Council will hear comments gathered during public hearings and review the suite of documents that consider allowing each Gulf state to manage a portion of the recreational red snapper quota in federal waters.

Carryover of Unharvested Quota
The Council will review a public hearing draft that considers allowing uncaught annual catch limit to be carried over and added to the next year’s harvest for reef fish and coastal migratory pelagics. Quota available for carryover would have to be adjusted to account for natural morality and other factors such as management uncertainty.

The Council will look at a public hearing draft of an amendment that 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 currently requires that shrimp effort in the area monitored for juvenile red snapper 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. 

Gray Snapper
The Council will review an amendment that considers the criteria used to determine the overfishing and overfished status of gray snapper, and the annual catch limits for the stock. A recent gray snapper stock assessment determined that, gray snapper is experiencing overfishing and may be overfished. The actions in the document will establish Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), Optimum Yield (OY), and Minimum Stock Size Threshold (MSST) values that will be used to determine stock status for gray snapper. The Council is also considering alternatives that would reduce the annual catch limits necessary to end overfishing.

Red Grouper
The Council will take a first look at a Draft Framework Action that considers reducing the red grouper annual catch limit until it can suggest management measures based on the results of the stock assessment that is currently underway.  At its last meeting, the Council was presented with the results of an interim analysis that could be used to provide updated harvest recommendations for red grouper while awaiting the results the next stock assessment. Landings in recent years have been significantly below the annual catch limits, indicating that the stock may not be large enough to sustain current harvest levels. After hearing recommendations from its scientific advisors and listening to public testimony that indicated the stock is struggling, the Council requested that the National Marine Fisheries Service implement an interim or emergency rule to establish an annual catch limit based on the total 2017 landings. 

Red Snapper Reallocation
The Council will continue to consider a Draft Amendment that considers reallocating the red snapper annual catch limit between recreational and commercial sectors as well as the two components of the recreational sector.

For-Hire Reporting Requirements
The Council will host a Workshop on For-Hire Reporting Requirements that are expected to be implemented this year. The workshop will begin at 5:45 PM on Monday, January 28th at the Orange Beach Community Center.

Saltson-Kennedy Grant Program Feedback Session
NOAA Fisheries will host a feedback session to solicit suggestions on improving communications for a grant program that awards nearly $10 million to fisheries research and development projects across the United States.