Tuesday, October 27th is the last chance for recreational fishermen in Florida to attend the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council public hearing to speak o [Read more…]
Recreational anglers have scored a small but significant victory towards correcting Gulf red snapper allocation.
During its August meeting, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted to increase the recreational red snapper allocation from 49% to 51.5% of the annual total allowable catch. The Council’s recommendation now goes to the Secretary of Commerce for review and final approval.
The current red snapper allocation (49% recreational, 51% commercial) has been in place since the mid-1980s and is based on out-of-date data. The Council has discussed but delayed action many times so this vote represents an important step forward in the long journey to address the many challenges in managing the now abundant red snapper fishery.
As these recommendations move forward, count on KeepAmericaFishing to keep you informed. Until then, thank you again making your voice heard.
Time for State Management of Red Snapper Fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico
(Bob Shipp, PhD, is one of the most respected fishery experts in the nation, with special expertise in reef fishes of the Gulf of Mexico. He’s professor emeritus of marine sciences at the University of South Alabama. He’s also author of the book, Dr. Bob Shipp’s Guide to Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, one of the best illustrated fishery guides on the market, available at www.bobshipp.com. Here’s a letter to the editor he penned recently, appearing originally in www.al.com, which we find absolutely on target.)
By Bob Shipp
In all likelihood there have never been as many Gulf Red Snapper in recorded history as there are today. In spite of these soaring populations, a broken system of federal management is precluding what would otherwise be a robust and sustainable economic driver to a regional economy in desperate need of a break.
Last year the recreational season was limited to 9 days in federal waters and this year’s season is 10 days. Just 10 days – with only a single weekend — for anglers in their own boats to catch perhaps the most popular offshore fish in the Gulf.
Conversely, the commercial sector can fish year-round and, under a similar plan approved by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council this year, the charter/for-hire sector will have a 44-day season in 2015.
The glaring inequity of those regulations has rankled everyone from regular anglers to congressmen, yet a solution has remained elusive. The road to this point is roughly 30 years in the making, and there is now virtually no escape from it under federal management.
I served on the Gulf Council for 18 years and encountered countless elected officials in Washington, D.C., and in the Gulf states wrestling mightily over the red snapper conundrum, but all ran into insurmountable roadblocks under the federal system. This year, recognizing that a system that produces results like what we are seeing today is unacceptable, the state fishery management agencies from all five Gulf states did something extraordinary – they came together to produce a viable way out of this mess.
Under a plan unveiled in March, the states have offered to take over management of the red snapper fishery and have outlined exactly how such management would be carried out. Their plan recognizes that there are regional populations of snapper that are fished differently according to local tradition and practice, and would have the flexibility to manage them in different ways.
For example, off Alabama our research indicates we could have a six-month season with a two-snapper bag limit without making a dent in the population. This is due to our extensive artificial reef program. Such flexibility is impossible under federal management, which tends to treat red snapper as one stock, fished one way.
The state fishery management agencies all have seats on the Gulf Council and know that snapper management is at a dead-end under the current system. Responsible for commercial and recreational fisheries in their state waters, they know there are far more efficient and equitable ways to manage this fishery. The system has the same goals as federal management, but the means to reach those ends recognize that one size does not fit all.
The individual Gulf states all know how to provide access to their citizens while managing for conservation of wildlife resources, but rarely do they all agree on anything. The significance of their cooperation here cannot be over-estimated.
Faced with an untenable situation, they have come together to offer the one path out of the manufactured mess of federal management. I encourage Congress to take it.
NOAA Fisheries Announces Commercial and Recreational Quota Increases for Red Snapper and the Recreational Seasons in the Gulf of Mexico
Small Entity Compliance Guide
On May 1, 2015, NOAA Fisheries will publish a rule implementing an increase to the commercial and recreational quotas for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico through 2017.
For 2015, the red snapper allowable catch is increasing from 11.0 million pounds (mp) whole weight to 14.3 mp. The commercial and recreational sector quotas will be based on the current 51 percent commercial and 49 percent recreational allocation. The commercial quota will increase to 7.29 mp; the recreational quota will increase to 7.01 mp.
The red snapper commercial sector is managed under an individual fishing quota program. The increase to the commercial quota will be distributed to shareholders on or shortly after the effective date of the final rule.
However, to better ensure the recreational sector does not exceed its quota, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council recently established a recreational catch target that is less than the recreational quota, and asked NOAA Fisheries to base the length of the recreational fishing season on this catch target instead of the quota.
Recently, NOAA Fisheries also established a federally permitted charter vessel/headboat (for-hire) component and a private angling component within the recreational sector, allocated the red snapper recreational quota and annual catch target between the components, and established separate seasonal closure provisions for the two components. The resulting annual catch targets for each component are 2.371 mp for the federally permitted for-hire component, and 3.234 mp for the private angling component (which also includes non-federally permitted for-hire vessels) of the recreational sector.
For 2015, the red snapper recreational season in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico will be different for the two components of the recreational sector. Both the for-hire and private angling components will open on June 1, 2015, at 12:01 a.m., local time. Closing dates are:
Private Anglers: June 11, 2015, at 12:01 a.m., local time.
Federal For-Hire Vessels: July 15, 2015, at 12:01 a.m., local time.
The federal-water red snapper bag limit is 2 fish with a 16-inch minimum total length size limit.
Electronic copies of the framework and final rule may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Web site: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
This bulletin provides only a summary of the information regarding the existing regulations. Any discrepancies between this bulletin and the regulations as published in the Federal Register will be resolved in favor of the Federal Register. This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.
Washington, D.C. – March 13, 2015 – In a move long-awaited by the recreational fishing and boating community, the [Read more…]
NOAA Seek Comment on Dividing Recreational Fishery Red Snapper Quoata
NOAA Fisheries seeks public comment on Amendment 40 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 40 to NOAA Fisheries for review, approval, and implementation. The Notice of Availabilityfor public comment on [Read more…]
By David Rainer Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
To borrow from an old song from the holidays that I was forced to endure for six years as a snaggle-toothed youngster, “All I want for Christmas are my two red snapper.” It’s obviously not going to happen in a couple of weeks, but there is hope the situation will look much better in the near future.
Congressman Bradley Byrne, Alabama’s U.S. Representative from the First District, and Alabama Marine Resources Director Chris Blankenship think a plan to move red snapper management to regional control could become a reality.
“We’re optimistic going into the new year that we will have a legislative solution in the first half of [Read more…]
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would add long-term recreational accountability measures for red snapper. Accountability measures are measures taken to prevent the harvest from exceeding the quota.
The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on November 21, 2014, with the comment period ending December 22, 2014.
The proposed rule would establish two [Read more…]