Gulf Council Divides Recreational Fishery, Charter-For-Hire to Have Snapper Quota

by / Newsroom Ink on October 29, 2014
Biloxi GC_75

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council recently voted to approve Reef fish Amendment 40, a measure supporting both commercial and recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico by differentiating the amount of fish caught by recreational anglers and charter boat companies who provide fishing trips to hundreds of thousands of individuals. Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

by Gulf Council Staff and Ed Lallo, Gulf Seafood News Editor

After more than two years striving to obtain sustainable management of the Gulf Red Snapper Fishery, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council recently voted to approve Reef Fish Amendment 40, a measure supporting both commercial and recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico by differentiating the amount of fish caught by recreational anglers and charter boat companies who provide fishing trips to hundreds of thousands of individuals.

Reef Fish Amendment 40 divides the recreational red snapper sector into two distinct components – a private angling component and a for-hire component.

Dorsett

“Fishermen, scientists, managers and everyone who has a stake in a healthy Gulf of Mexico have reason to be heartened by the council’s decision,” said Chris Dorsett, Vice President for Policy and Programs at Ocean Conservancy. Photo: Blue Front/Dubinsky Photo

After reviewing the document and listening to hour after hour of public testimony, the Council approved sector separation with an added three-year sunset provision. The amendment now goes to the Secretary of Commerce for final approval and implementation.

“Fishermen, scientists, managers and everyone who has a stake in a healthy Gulf of Mexico have reason to be heartened by the council’s decision,” said Chris Dorsett, Vice President for Policy and Programs at Ocean Conservancy on a posting on their website. “This decision enables a much more tailored approach to ensuring that red snapper populations in the Gulf are healthy for generations to come.  It will allow state and federal managers to be more responsive to the unique needs of the fishermen from each sector, rather than lumping them together in a single system.”

The amendment separates the quantities of red snapper caught by private recreational fishermen and charter for hire captains who provide access to fishing to the non-boat owning public. It will also increase accountability to address the red snapper quota being exceeded, which has happened every year but one since 2007.

Sector Management Meets Needs

Amendment 40 is aimed at making it easier for charter-for-hire captains to successfully operate their business, allowing each sector to develop a management plan meeting their needs.

  • Charter captains can now explore management that provides a stable and flexible business plan similar to the one that has worked well for commercial fishermen.
  • The charter-for hire sector will be able to design data programs aimed at doing a better job of counting fish with more accurate data to further improve fishery management.
  • Separate management will promote fairness between recreational fishermen who own their own boats and those who don’t. 
For years, individual anglers have benefited from longer state seasons, while charter captains and customers have been stuck at the dock. With the new management plan, charter captains will be able to provide more 
access to recreational fishermen who don’t own their own boats.
Shane

“Amendment 40 lays the groundwork for solving the problems facing red snapper fishermen in the gulf and gives the charter for hire industry the ability to stand on its own two feet for the first time, said Captain Shane Cantrell of Galveston Sea Ventures. Photo: Galveston Sea Ventures

“Amendment 40 lays the groundwork for solving the problems facing red snapper fishermen in the gulf and gives the charter for hire industry the ability to stand on its own two feet for the first time, said Captain Shane Cantrell of Galveston Sea Ventures. “This critical first step will allow private anglers and charter for hire businesses the ability to develop and implement appropriate management and accountability measures for their respective segments of the fishery.”

According to Margaret Henderson, executive director of the Gulf Seafood Institute (GSI) the passage of this amendment has been a priority.

“This is a great step in the right direction for better and more equitable management of red snapper for professional fishermen, their clients and the broader economy of the Gulf,” Henderson told Gulf Seafood News. “We are very pleased with this outcome. We thank all those who’ve spent tireless hours educating the community in the Gulf, the Gulf Council and the Delegation in Washington about the importance of allowing the federally-permitted charter community to be managed as their own separate component.”

The measure had support from charter fishermen across the Gulf, including the Charter Fisherman’s Association, Alabama Charter Fishing Association, Destin Charter Boat Association, Clearwater Marine Association and the Mississippi Charter Boat Captains Association.

LaSEA_Harlon_l

According to GSI’s president Harlon Pearce, a member of the Gulf Council, with passage of amendment 40, the Council recognized three distinct components in the Gulf: harvesters, charter-for-hire and recreational. Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

According to GSI’s president Harlon Pearce, a member of the Gulf Council, with passage of amendment 40, the Council recognized three distinct components in the Gulf: harvesters, charter-for-hire and recreational. “Amendment 40 will allow all three components to manage their own fishery, and let the recreational sector begin to develop a management plan independent from charter-for-hire.”

Amendment 40 is a step towards the continued recovery and long-term health of the Gulf red snapper fishery and a testament to what fishermen, scientists, conservation groups and managers can accomplish together to maintain a healthy and sustainable red snapper fishery.

“The Council’s decision on Amendment 40 reflects their recognition that the for-hire sector is fundamentally different from the private recreational sector and needs a different management scheme to properly address the needs of that industry,” said GSI Florida board member Bob Gill. “This is an important step in correctly managing our Gulf fisheries.”

Red Snapper Regional Management

Snapper Couple

The Council also resumed discussions on Reef Fish Amendment 39 – Regional Management of Recreational Red Snapper. This amendment considers dividing the federal recreational red snapper quota among states and giving them authority to set some of their allowing for own management measures for red snapper to vary by state. Photo: FishOrangeBeach.com

During the recent meeting in Mobile, the Council also resumed discussions on Reef Fish Amendment 39 – Regional Management of Recreational Red Snapper. This amendment considers dividing the federal recreational red snapper quota among states and giving each state authority to set some of their own management measures for red snapper.

An alternative to Action 1 was added that would establish a regional management program in which each region would submit proposals to National Marine Fisheries Service describing the measures they would adopt for the management of their respective portion of the red snapper quota.

The Council also added options for a 2-year or 3-year sunset provision in both Alternatives 2 and 4 of Action 1, and selected Alternative 2 – Option d, delegation with a sunset after 3 calendar years, as its preferred alternative.

Under Action 3 which considered allocation among regions, the Council selected Alternative 2 – Option d and Alternative 3 – Options a & b, as the preferred alternatives. These alternatives would result in regional apportionments based on 50% of landings from 1986-2012, and 50% from 2007-2012 landings, and exclude landings from 2006 and 2010.

Other Council Actions

In other actions, the Council reviewed a scoping document for Amendment 36 – Modifications to the Red Snapper IFQ Program – and added a provision to consider allowing commercial fishermen who regularly lease allocation to have the opportunity to own IFQ shares.

amberjack

The Council’s scientific advisors recently reviewed a stock assessment and determined that greater amberjack did not meet the ten-year rebuilding plan. Photo: Getaway Gulf Fishing

The Council’s scientific advisors recently reviewed a stock assessment and determined that greater amberjack did not meet the ten-year rebuilding plan that ended in 2012, and the stock continues to be overfished and experiencing overfishing.  It reviewed an options paper that considers adjusting the Annual Catch Limit and commercial and recreational management measures to ensure that the stock is rebuilt and the mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Act are met.

Final action was taken on a Framework Action that will adjust the bag limit on recreational Red Grouper to 2-fish per person, per day, to reduce the likelihood of in-season quota closures. The framework also eliminates the automatic bag limit reduction accountability measure that currently occurs after the Annual Catch Limit is exceeded.

The Council added an Alternative to Action 1.1 of Shrimp Amendment 15 that would set and overfishing threshold on brown, white, and pink shrimp to ensure consistency with the new model used to determine stock status.

Also, final action was taken on Shrimp Amendment 16, adjusting the annual catch limit and accountability measures for royal red shrimp. The amendment will be submitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation.

A stock assessment completed this summer discovered that the Gulf gag stock is not overfished or experiencing overfishing. However, scientists are concerned that a large red tide event occurring this summer may negatively impact the stock.

The king mackerel gill net industry petitioned the Council to increase the trip limit to 45,000 pounds to allow a more efficient prosecution of the fishery without harming the stock. Public hearings will be announced to discuss the measure.

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About the Author

About the Author: Ed Lallo is the former editor of Gulf Seafood News and CEO of Newsroom Ink, an online brand journalism agency. .

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  1. Captain Henry says:

    Looks like the CFH “Sector” may not have gained such a “Victory” after all. A spreadsheet produced by Andy S. of NOAA for a Alabama CFH operator to see what a Catch Shares / IFQ quota may look like does not present a rosy outlook. The kicker is that this was produced BEFORE the AM40 vote but apparently kept off the record. No surprise since Alabama and the Florida Panhandle would get the lions share of the quota with Texas, Mississippi, The Florida West Coast and Keys getting what amounts to a couple trips worth of quota….AT MOST. Of coarse the “Winners” could give up over half of their quota to allow about a hundred fish per permit average to be allowed, but that’s only enough for a dozen trips, so some “Victory” huh? Wonder if those that would get virtually nothing would still be on board with AM 40 if they had seen this BEFORE the vote took place? Wonder if the 2 voting Council members that voted to financially benefit themselves had seen this before the vote….after all, they would have benefitted at the expense of many others in their own industry! Of coarse this dreadful set of numbers is based on an unrealistic 44% fish give a way that is far greater than most that are fishing today ever realized. Reality see’s under 30% CFH in todays reality.

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