SportFishing and Charters Forum - Gulf Council- April Update

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View Full Version : Gulf Council- April Update

04-18-2011, 06:48 AM
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council recently met in Orange Beach, Alabama. The following is a quick summary of some of the topics I thought might be of interest.

If you have any questions or if you want any of the supporting council documents please contact me directly at

Your Chum,
Emily Muehlstein
Fisheries Outreach Specialist
Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council

Red Snapper
The Council requested that the Southeast Fisheries Science Center rerun the red snapper projections using the 2009-2010 landings data to generate an alternative acceptable biological catch level for 2011. Council can only set the total allowable catch levels for each species at or below the acceptable biological catch level recommended by their statistical and scientific committee. The intent of this action is to increase the acceptable biological catch level for 2011 so that the Council can consider adding the red snapper that was not harvested in 2010 to the 2011 recreational total allowable catch.

No official report was give regarding the duration of the 2011 recreational red snapper season in the Gulf. The regional administrator of National Marine Fisheries expects that the final numbers will be reported sometime before the end of April, 2011. He informally speculated that the 2011 recreational red snapper season would last anywhere between 45 and 55 days.

Grouper Allocation-
For several species, the Gulf Council establishes commercial and recreational allocations by assigning each sector a percentage of the total allowable harvest. In Reef Fish Amendment 30B the Council set interim, or temporary, allocations that allow each sector a percentage of the total harvest for gag and red grouper. Currently, red grouper is allocated 76% commercial and 24% recreational; gag is allocated 39% commercial and 61% recreational; and allocation options for black grouper are included in the Generic ACL/AM amendment. The Council plans to discuss a review of the allocations for gag, black, and red grouper.

Reef Fish Amendment 32-
Reef Fish Amendment 32 is an amendment to the reef fish management plan that deals with the rebuilding of the gag stock and the management of red grouper. This plan looks at management options that include changes in bag limits, size limits, seasonal closures, commercial quota adjustments, adjustments to multi-use commercial IFQ shares, time and area closures, and accountability measures for gag and red grouper. The Council reviewed the amendment and selected preferred alternatives for each action. Amendment 32 will go to public hearings in the first two weeks of May, 2011. For more information on public hearing dates and locations please visit:

Public hearings scheduled for amendment 18 will be postponed until sometime shortly after the Council meeting in June, 2011. This amendment addresses annual catch limits, annual catch targets, and accountability measures for cobia, king mackerel, and Spanish mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sector Separation- Review of Scenarios
Sector separation refers to the division of the recreational sector allocation in separate for-hire and private angler allocations. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has considered sector separation in the Generic Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures amendment over the past year; and most recently decided to place the issue into a standalone amendment.

NOAA Fisheries presented a projection model for comparing red snapper fishing season lengths with and without sector separation. The model provides the Council and the public with an opportunity to evaluate the relative benefits and tradeoffs of sector separation under a variety of scenarios.

The proportion of red snapper landings in the recreational sector has been shifting away from the for-hire vessels and towards private vessels since 1986. The number of vessels with federal for-hire reef fish permits has declined by approximately 30-35 boats annually. Conversely, the number of private angler licenses sold throughout the Gulf Coast has been increasing steadily, and the costal population has been increasing. As the number of for-hire permits declines and the number of private recreational fishermen increases the majority of red snapper landings has shifted away from the for-hire and towards the private anglers. For the time period between 1986-2009 historical catch indicates that 57% of the fish were caught by for-hire while 43% were caught by private anglers. Between 2008 and 2009 the reverse is true, and private anglers harvested 57% while the for-hire group harvested the remaining 43%.
The model that was developed to analyze possible sector separation scenarios allows for multiple variables and inputs. Twelve example scenarios were presented to Council comparing different allocations; different average red snapper weights; different percentages of state for-hire landings; and different trends in fishing participation. For each example presented the model generates how the number of fishing days will change and how much the total allowable catch will change for each group. Overall, the results of the model indicated that the for-hire sector benefits from sector separation when their allocation is greater than 46% and the private sector benefits from sector separation when their allocation is greater than 54%.

Gag Interim Rule- Final Action
A 2009 stock assessment determined that gag is both overfished and undergoing overfishing. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to end overfishing and to create a fisheries management plan that will rebuild the stock in 10 years or less. An interim rule was put into place at the beginning of 2011 that set the recreational bag limit for gag at zero, and limited the commercial harvest of gag to 100,000 pounds. This rule was put into place to temporarily end overfishing while management options for the future harvest and rebuilding of gag were developed and implemented in Reef Fish Amendment 32.
Because amendment 32 will not be implemented until 2012, the Council has finalized a new interim rule.

If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the new rule will set the 2011 recreational gag season to begin at 12:00 a.m. on September 16th and closes at 11:59 p.m. on November 15th. The commercial quota will be set for 2011 at a total of 430,000 pounds (including the previously released 100,000 pounds).

The total allowable catch for 2011 has been set at 1.28 million pounds. That amount is split between the recreational and commercial sectors so that the recreational sector is allotted 61% (781,000 pounds) and the commercial sector is allotted 39% (499,000 pounds).

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission approved its own rule amendment that will align Florida state regulations with the proposed federal interim rule.

Greater Amberjack-
In October of 2010 the Council approved a regulatory amendment to close the recreational greater amberjack season for the months of June and July. A proposed rule was published, and during the public comment period that followed, comments were overwhelmingly opposed to the proposal. As a result, NOAA fisheries reopened the public comment period for and additional 15 days, but there was no change to the results. The regional administrator of NOAA Fisheries announced that the recreational greater amberjack season will close for June and July as scheduled, unless the Council requests an action to not publish the final rule. He also noted that estimates show in the absence of the June-July closure the 2011 recreational amberjack season will likely close sometime between August and the end of October. Following a review of written comments received by NOAA Fisheries, and public testimony received during the Council meeting, the Council took no action, thereby reaffirming its decision to implement a June and July Closure.

The results of the 2010 amberjack update stock assessment were presented to the Council by NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center. The assessment update concluded that the current greater amberjack stock continues to be overfished, and that the stock is only 31% of the size it needs to be in order to no longer considered overfished. The assessment also concluded that the greater amberjack stock is undergoing overfishing with a fishing mortality rate at almost twice of what it should be. According to the update projections it is unlikely that the stock will be rebuilt by the end of 2010, which is the 10th and final year for the amberjack rebuilding plan.

The Council’s Scientific and Statistic Statistical Committee concluded that the update assessment represented the best available scientific information data, but felt the projections were not reliable, and had too much uncertainty. The Scientific and Statistical Committee did not provide specific recommendations about the status of the stock; however, based on the information contained within the assessment, the acceptable biological catch needs to be reduced from the current level. Further, the Scientific and Statistical Committee recommended an overfishing limit of 2.38 million pounds and an acceptable biological catch of 1.78 million pounds. The Council requested that staff begin developing an amendment to adjust the total allowable catch.

04-18-2011, 07:28 AM
Who is "The regional administrator of NOAA Fisheries " ? refered to in your notes.

04-18-2011, 07:39 AM
A proposed rule was published, and during the public comment period that followed, comments were overwhelmingly opposed to the proposal. As a result, NOAA fisheries reopened the public comment period for and additional 15 days, but there was no change to the results.

That pretty much sums up the value of our input.

04-18-2011, 08:31 AM
This is complete and utter bull shit. They have no clue what is going on in the gulf.

04-18-2011, 10:09 AM
This is complete and utter bull shit. They have no clue what is going on in the gulf.

Actually, its much worse than that.

They do know whats going on in the Gulf, but it doesn't matter.

The NMFS is just a dog and pony show to provide cover for the real power brokers in D.C. They are appointed by and paid to provide cover for the elite professional bureaucrats.

The present (Obama) enviromentalist laden administration is in control.

Facts don't count, they just get in the way, which is why they refuse to use sound science and research methods.

This, from a government that places the US Department of Commerce in charge of recreational sportfishing.

The recreational fishing related industries need to organize and pony up the $$$.

As with most everything in life, its ultimately all about the $$$.

Its all quite simple really.

04-18-2011, 10:17 AM
politicians have mortgages too, and those mortgages are owned by the banks.......when u ask a banker how much money is enough?, his answer will be "More".

05-02-2011, 08:31 AM
An eight month closure of gag grouper, a premier offshore species for west Florida anglers, is on the verge of becoming law for the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, under the supervision of National Marine Fisheries Service, sets the rules for fish caught in federal waters.
A January, 2006 Gag grouper stock assessment indicated that the gag stock was in trouble. The assessment itself was declared 'unreliable' during its final review. That same assessment has been re-run several times, building on the flawed, unreliable foundation set in the original assessment.
"Flawed data and outdated science are causing unnecessary closures that result in lost jobs, lost economic activity and the loss of our very right to fish" said Dennis O'Hern, Executive Director of the Fishing Rights Alliance.
The latest generation of the unreliable assessment is triggering an 8 month gag closure. The numbers used to generate the need for an eight month closure were developed behind closed doors and are not available to the public.
The Gulf Council is taking public comments on the gag issue, as well as two other major proposed sets of laws, over ht next two weeks. Anglers are very upset that the documents upon which their comments are being accepted have only been available since last week. The public was not notified when the documents were made available, leaving anglers confused and disengaged. "These documents should be available to the public at least two weeks in advance of the hearings to allow the public time to read, review, research and develop comments on", said Fishing Rights Alliance's O'Hern. The documents for the May 2nd (Monday) hearing were not made available until Friday, April 30 after 1 PM. "This is an outrage and highlights the Council's treatment of public input" O'Hern commented.
Three separate hearings, one each for Annual Catch Limits, Gag Grouper and Spiny Lobster are scheduled within eight days of each other in St. Petersburg. Back to back meetings are scheduled in Fort Myers. In Mississippi and Louisiana, hearing locations were changed with little notice. O'Hern is concerned that this will further discourage public input. The Gulf Council has spent over one hundred thousand dollars on 'outreach and education' in the past year, yet they appear unconcerned with the lack of time the public has to read and understand the proposed rules. All hearings are from 6-9 PM.
More information is available on the Fishing Rights Alliance website at ( 3uVI2340d900CrL2kpxepC2MNLTJ66kUPEOiNEzjYbxqzgm8BH qfTV7YeZnrcQ=)

Contact Dennis O'Hern
Executive Director - Fishing Rights Alliance, Inc.
4604 49th Street N, #34, St. Petersburg, FL 33709


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