Red Snapper Allocation Top Topic at Recent Gulf Council Meeting

by / Newsroom Ink on April 14, 2015
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The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council recently met in Biloxi, Mississippi the former administrative capital of French Louisiana­ once named Bilocci, to discuss a number of fishery issues, including regional management for recreational red snapper and red snapper allocation. Photo: Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance

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

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council recently met in Biloxi, Mississippi the former administrative capital of French Louisiana­ once named Bilocci, to discuss a number of fishery issues, including regional management for recreational red snapper and red snapper allocation.

The group of representatives representing the five Gulf States received an update on the red snapper season projections for 2015 from National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that advised the Council the recreational red snapper season dates would be announced in May prior to the June 1 season start. The season length will be dependent on the approval and implementation by the Secretary of Commerce of Reef Fish Amendment 40 – Sector Separation and the state water red snapper seasons.

Amendment 28 – Red Snapper Allocation

During the meeting held on the beautiful Mississippi coast, the Council reviewed a draft of Amendment 28, which considers reallocating the red snapper quota between sectors.

The Council chose Action 1 – Alternative 8 as its preferred alternative.  The alternative would allow any increase in allowable harvest from the update assessment to be allocated to the recreational sector.

According to a recent update report by the Gulf Council, this will result in 51.5% of the quota going to the recreational sector and 48.5% to the commercial sector.

Corky5l

“The preferred alternative for Red Snapper basically keeps the current commercial quota,” said Gulf Seafood Institute’s Corky Perret who represents Mississippi on the Council. “ The recreational sector quota will be increased to 7.3 million pounds, with a 20% buffer held in reserve.” Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

“The preferred alternative basically keeps the current commercial quota,” said Gulf Seafood Institute’s Corky Perret who represents Mississippi on the Council.  “ The recreational sector quota will be increased to 7.3 million pounds, with a 20% buffer held in reserve.”

Final action on Amendment 28 is expected during the August meeting in New Orleans.

Since the allocation amendment is to be implemented in early 2016, after the commercial IFQ allocation is released, the Council requested staff to begin developing a framework action that will allow NMFS to hold back a portion of the commercial quota in anticipation of the implementation of Amendment 28.

An amendment to move red snapper from the recreational sector to t sector failed on tie vote done by raising of hands.

Red Snapper Allocation Amendment 28 would increase the allowable harvest to the recreational sector.  The percentage increase in the recreational sector would be attributable to recalibration of MRIP catch estimates and the change in size selectivity.  Based on red snapper quotas between 2015 and 2017, resulting allocations to the commercial and recreational sectors would have been:

Alternative

Year

Total

Commercial

Recreational

ACL

ACL

Percent

ACL

Percent

Alternative 9: Allocate increases due to the recalibration of MRIP catch estimates and to the change in size selectivity to rec sector

2015

14.300

6.105

42.7%

8.195

57.3%

2016

13.960

5.911

42.3%

8.049

57.7%

2017

13.740

5.829

42.4%

7.911

     57.6%

Amendment 39 – Recreational Red Snapper 

Woman Snapper

The Council also reviewed additions to Red Snapper Amendment 39, which considers dividing the recreational red snapper quota among regions to allow for the creation of different management measures to better suit each area. Photo: Gulf Council

The Council also reviewed additions to Red Snapper Amendment 39, which considers dividing the recreational red snapper quota among regions to allow for the creation of different management measures to better suit each area.

Additions included a new Action 5, which includes an alternative to allow regions to establish closed areas in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and Action 6 – Alternative 8 that would apportion the recreational quota among the regions so that each region’s allocation provides an equivalent amount of fishing days.

In Action 3, Alternative 5 was chosen which would establish five regions representing each Gulf State.  Those regions may voluntarily form larger multistate regions with adjacent states.

The Council moved the requirement to have permit decals on for-hire federal Vessels in the Gulf, to the considered but rejected section of the amendment.

Gag Grouper

A stock assessment conducted last year concluded that the gag grouper stock was no longer overfished or experiencing overfishing. However, members of the Council’s Reef Fish Advisory Panel and fishermen testifying before the Council have expressed concern that gag do not appear to be as abundant as the assessment suggests.

During the meeting, the Council reviewed options to adjust the gag annual catch limit (ACL) and season.

Action 1 contains alternatives to increase the recreational ACL and annual catch target (ACT) through 2017 and to adjust the commercial ACL and eliminate the commercial ACT. Action 2 contains alternatives to eliminate the fixed December 3-31 recreational gag closed season, adjust the starting date of the recreational gag season, or consider adopting a split season. The Council will take final action on the document during its June meeting in Key West, Florida.

Greater Amberjack

Photo: Facebook
A framework action for greater amberjack adjusts the ACL and commercial/recreational management measures to ensure that the stock is rebuilt. Photo: Facebook

Another recent stock assessment concluded greater amberjack continues to experience overfishing and did not meet the 10-year rebuilding plan for-hire federal ended in 2012. A framework action for greater amberjack adjusts the ACL and commercial/recreational management measures to ensure that the stock is rebuilt.

“Basically we are leaving the closed season for Amberjack intact,” said Perret.

The 2015 Amberjack Annual Catch Targets were set at 1,092,372 for the recreational sector and 394,740 for the commercial sector. The minimum size limit will be increased to 34 inches fork length, and the commercial trip limit will be 1,500 pounds gutted weight (1,560 pounds whole weight).

The framework action will be transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation.

Coastal Migratory Pelagics (Mackerel)

More than a dozen Gulf of Mexico commercial king mackerel fishermen, from as far away as Louisiana, attended South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s public hearing on management alternatives for king and Spanish mackerel. Photo: NOAA/Collier County Sea Grant Extension

During the four-day meeting, the Council reviewed a framework action to modify trip limits, accountability measures, electronic reporting requirements, and gillnet endorsements for commercial king mackerel landed by gillnets in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: NOAA

During the four-day meeting, the Council reviewed a framework action to modify trip limits, accountability measures, electronic reporting requirements, and gillnet endorsements for commercial king mackerel landed by gillnets in the Gulf of Mexico.

Representatives from the coastal migratory pelagics fishery have requested raising the trip limit for the gillnet component of the fishery to increase efficiency, stability, accountability, and reduce potential regulatory discards. The current trip limit is 25,000 pounds per vessel per day in the commercial king mackerel gillnet component of the fishery.

The Council chose a preferred alternatives that would increase the trip limit to 35,000 pounds and modify the requirement for daily electronic reporting by commercial king mackerel gillnet dealers.  Final action is expected in June.

Joint South Florida Management

A review of a proposed amendment looking at modifications to Gulf reef fish and the South Atlantic snapper grouper fishery was brought before the Council. The Gulf and South Atlantic Councils are considering joint management actions for a number of species in an effort to match fisheries regulations, when possible, throughout the south Florida region.

Yellowtail snapper, mutton snapper, and black grouper found in this region do not occur in comparable abundance elsewhere in Gulf or South Atlantic waters. This regional concentration of socially and economically important species creates an opportunity for the Councils to standardize regulations. The proposed amendment explores management alternatives to simplify existing fishing regulations.

Red Drum and Shrimp

Shrimp Bag

The Council also approved the annual Texas shrimp closure for 2015. The closure is part of a cooperative seasonal closure with the State of Texas and runs concurrent with its mid-season closure. Photo: Facebook

In an effort to compile desperately needed data on Gulf Red Drum, Mississippi asked for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) for the federal for-hire fleet to harvest approximately 30,000 lbs of red drum for scientific stock data.  The Council agreed to send a letter to NOAA Fisheries Service recommending approval of the EFP.

The Council also approved the annual Texas shrimp closure for 2015. The closure is part of a cooperative seasonal closure with the State of Texas and runs concurrent with its mid-season closure.

It also reviewed Shrimp Amendment 15, which looks at Status Determination Criteria for Penaeid Shrimp and Adjustments to the Shrimp Framework Procedure. The Council added a new action (Action 1.1) to addresses the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and added an MSY based overfishing threshold in Action 1.2. The Council will be presented with a final document at its June meeting.  It also reviewed for the June meeting, a scoping document for Shrimp Amendment 17, which addresses the expiration of the shrimp permit moratorium.

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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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