Monday, February 17, 2014

New Gulf Red Snapper Regulations Considered

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met in Houston, Texas, February 3 - 6, 2014, to discuss a number of fishery issues, including several related to the management of red snapper.

Actions taken by the Council include:

Regional Management of Recreational Red Snapper

The Council continued its discussions regarding Reef Fish Amendment 39 - Regional Management of Recreational Red Snapper. Further work on Amendment 39 - Regional Management is postponed until progress is made on how to allocate the quota among the regions.

Regional management considers dividing the federal recreational red snapper quota among states or regions potentially giving them authority to set their own management measures. States/regions would have more flexibility in choosing season and bag limits, but this would not necessarily result in more fishing days.

Under a regional management system red snapper would remain a federally managed species subject to federal conservation goals, and the Council would continue to oversee management of the stock.

Red Snapper - Slot Limits
In the interest of extending the recreational red snapper fishing season the Council directed staff to develop a framework action for red snapper slot limits in the recreational fishery. The document will consider a range of size limits, as well as options for keeping one trophy fish.

Red Snapper Allocation - Amendment 28
The Council discussed Reef Fish Amendment 28 - Red Snapper Allocation and chose Alternative 5 as its preferred alternative. Alternative 5 maintains the commercial/recreational red snapper allocations at 51%/49% if the red snapper quota is less than or equal to 9.12 million pounds (mp). It the quota is greater than 9.12 mp, then 75% of the amount in excess of 9.12 mp would go to the recreational sector and 25% would go to the commercial sector. Based on the current total quota of 11 mp, this would result in 5.121 mp for the commercial sector and 5.879 mp for the recreational sector.

The Council also added a new alternative, Alternative 7, that would allocate 75% of red snapper quota amounts in excess of 10 mp to the recreational sector and 25% to the commercial sector.

Public hearings on Amendment 28 will be held around the Gulf coast in March. A separate webinar will also be scheduled for those who are unable to participate in person. Dates and locations will be announced. The Council is planning a one-day meeting in May, during which they will hold a final public hearing in the northern Gulf and take final action on Amendment 28.

The purpose of Amendment 28 is to allocate red snapper resources between the commercial and recreational sectors to increase the net benefits from red snapper fishing and improve the stability of the red snapper component of the reef fish fishery, particularly for the recreational sector.

Reef Fish Amendment 40 - Sector Separation

Staff presented a draft options paper for Amendment 40 - Sector Separation, which included an option for voluntary participation. Sector separation refers to the dividing of the recreational red snapper quota into distinct private angling and federal for-hire components. The private angling component would include private anglers and state permitted for-hire operators. The federal for-hire component would include federally permitted for-hire operators. Staff will continue working on the amendment.

For-Hire Electronic Reporting

The Council directed staff to begin developing a framework action to establish electronic reporting methods for charter for-hire vessels with federal reef fish and coastal migratory pelagics permits.

Amendment 30B Permit Conditions

The Council voted to rescind the provision adopted in 2009 under Reef Fish Amendment 30B that requires federally permitted reef fish charter vessels and headboats to comply with the more restrictive federal regulations when fishing in state waters. The framework action will be sent to the Secretary of Commerce for review.

source: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council

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