June Council Meeting Preview
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet June 15-18, 2020 by webinar. The Committee and Council Agendas, and meeting materials will be posted as they become available on the Council Meeting’s webpage. Information on how to register for the webinar will also be posted as it becomes available.
Public testimony will be held during the meeting. Details on how to provide testimony during the meeting will be posted on the Council Meeting’s webpage when it becomes available.
Fishing Access in Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Marine Protected Areas
The Council plans to take final action on a document that considers modifying trolling provisions and possession prohibitions in Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Marine Protected Areas. Fishing activity is limited in Steamboat Lumps and Madison-Swanson to protect gag grouper spawning aggregations. Currently, no bottom fishing is allowed in those areas, but surface trolling is permitted during part of the year. It is difficult to enforce the no-bottom-fishing regulation when surface trolling is allowed, and the Council heard concerns that illegal recreational bottom fishing is occurring in the areas.
Impacts of COVID-19
The Council plans to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and may consider management changes to ease those impacts. The Council aims to gather input from fishermen and those involved in fishing-related businesses whose fishing effort or businesses have been directly affected by COVID-19. The Council will continue to follow guidelines set by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act while considering temporary or long-term changes to regulations that may offset economic impacts from the pandemic.
· Share information on how COVID-19 has impacted your fishing and business using this COVID-19 Comment Tool
Red Drum and Coastal Migratory Pelagic Advisory Panel Member Selection
During closed session, the Council will review applicants and populate its Coastal Migratory Pelagic and Red Drum Advisory Panels. A background check will be performed on selected applicants and membership to both panels will be announced at the August Council meeting.
The Council will review SEDAR 67: Vermilion Snapper stock assessment which concluded that vermilion is neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing. The Council will hear recommendations from its Scientific and Statistical Committee and may consider initiating an amendment to update vermilion snapper management.
The Council will continue working on Reef Fish Amendment 53 which considers modifying red grouper commercial and recreational sector allocations and catch limits based on the results of the latest stock assessment (SEDAR 61). The assessment showed that the red grouper stock is lower than it has ever been. Additionally, the assessment used the new Marine Recreational Information Program’s (MRIP) calibrated Fishing Effort Survey landings and effort estimates, which increased the estimates of recreational harvest.
At its last meeting, the Council was presented with the results of updated yield projections for lane snapper (based on SEDAR 49). The assessment uses the new calibrated landings and effort data from the Marine Recreational Information Program Fishing Effort Survey and allows for a significant increase in the acceptable biological catch level. The Council will review guidance from its Scientific and Statistical Committee and work on a document to revise the lane snapper annual catch limits.