Friday, March 22, 2019

April Council Meeting Preview

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet April 1-4, at the IP Casino and Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi. You can join us in person, or watch a live broadcast of the meeting.

Public comment will be held on Wednesday, April 3, from 1:30 - 5:30 PM. If you can’t testify in person, visit our “Amendments Under Development” webpage to learn about the issue we’re working on and submit comment.

The meeting agenda and meeting materials will help you prepare.  At this meeting, the Council plans to take final action on a number of items. The following is a summary of those issues:

Historical Captains Endorsements
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
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. 

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.