Gulf Coast Fisherman
PUBLIC COMMENT SOUGHT ON A DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR REGIONAL MANAGEMENT OF RED SNAPPER RECREATIONAL FISHING IN THE GULF OF MEXICO
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement for Amendment 39 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The Environmental Protection Agency announced the availability of the document for public review and comment on December 18, 2015 (80 FR 79041).
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is considering actions to establish regional management for recreational red snapper fishing. The purpose of this action is to provide flexibility in the management of the recreational sector's harvest of red snapper. The action would restructure the federal fishery management strategy to allow for regional variations in management measures. Modified accountability measures for recreational overages would better account for biological, social, and economic differences among the regions of the Gulf of Mexico. Two approaches are being considered including delegation and conservation equivalency. Delegation would give management authority for recreational red snapper to the States. The conservation equivalency approach would allow the States to adjust certain management measures, such as seasons and bag limits, to address the regional differences while conserving the stock by not exceeding the regional quota. The draft environmental impact statement analyzes the effects of implementing regional management through delegation or conservation equivalency, maintaining or ending sector separation, establishing regions, modifying the federal minimum size limit for red snapper, allowing closures in federal waters adjacent to the regions, apportioning the recreational quota among regions, and modifying post-season accountability measures.
NOAA Fisheries must receive comments on this draft environmental impact statement no later than February 1, 2016. There will be another opportunity for public comment on the proposed rule when it publishes, and a fishery bulletin will be sent announcing the comment period. You may obtain electronic copies of the draft amendment and environmental impact statement from the NOAA Fisheries Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/
You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2013-0078, by either of the following methods:
- ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0078, click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
- MAIL: Submit written comments to Cynthia Meyer, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
RECREATIONAL SEASONS REOPEN FOR RED GROUPER, GRAY TRIGGERFISH, AND GREATER AMBERJACK
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council reminds anglers that the recreational seasons for gray triggerfish, red grouper, and greater amberjack opened in federal waters January 1, 2016. All three recreational seasons closed earlier in 2015 because the annual catch targets/limits were reached sooner than expected. Additionally, the greater amberjack size limit increased to 34 inches fork length (tip of the lower jaw to the center of the fork in the tail) beginning January 4, 2016. The size limit increase aims to ensure the larger, more reproductive fish remain in the water, giving them a chance to reproduce before being harvested. Finally, red grouper is included in the annual February 1 through March 31 shallow-water grouper closure when fishing beyond the 20-fathom break..
NOAA FISHERIES WITHHOLDS 4.9 PERCENT OF COMMERCIAL RED SNAPPER QUOTA IN THE GULF OF MEXICO.
NOAA Fisheries announced that a final rule to withhold 4.9 percent of the 2016 red snapper commercial quota in the Gulf of Mexico was implemented January 1, 2016. The rule withholds 352,000 pounds of the 2016 red snapper commercial quota in the Gulf of Mexico. If approved, Amendment 28 would reallocate red snapper harvest between the commercial and recreational sectors from 51/49 percent to 48.5/51.5 percent, respectively. If that quota is not held back and Amendment 28 is approved, then the commercial sector will have more quota than is supported by Amendment 28. The distribution of commercial individual fishing quota allocations occurred on January 1, 2016. The 352,000 pounds held back results in a commercial quota of 6,768,000 pounds. If Amendment 28 is not approved, the 352,000 pounds withheld will be returned to the commercial individual fishing quota program and distributed to the shareholders.
MANAGEMENT CHANGES FOR KING MACKEREL GILLNET FISHING IN THE GULF OF MEXICO EFFECTIVE JANUARY 19, 2016
NOAA Fisheries announces a rule that makes the following changes to commercial regulations on king mackerel harvested by gillnets in the Gulf of Mexico:
- Increase the daily trip limit from 25,000 pounds to 45,000 pounds.
- Add an accountability measure to reduce the annual catch limit in the year following an overage.
- Modify electronic reporting requirements for dealers.
- Implement a landings requirement to renew a federal gillnet permit.
Previously, dealers were required to submit an electronic form daily to NOAA Fisheries by 6 a.m. during the gillnet fishing season for purposes of monitoring the gillnet annual catch limit. This rule changes the daily electronic reporting requirement to daily reporting by other means to improve timeliness of reporting while reducing redundancy. Until further notice, dealers will fax landings reports to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center by 10 a.m. each day the gillnet fishing season is open. Dealers who have handled gillnet-caught king mackerel in the past should receive a letter with the report form and instructions. If you do not receive this letter and plan to handle gillnet-caught king mackerel, please call 1-305-361-4290 to request a report form. NOAA Fisheries will provide written notice to king mackerel gillnet dealers if the reporting method or deadline changes from the previous year, and will also post this information on the Southeast Regional Office Web site. Dealers must also report gillnet-caught king mackerel in their regular weekly electronic report of all species purchased.
A federal king mackerel gillnet permit is renewable only if the vessel associated with the permit landed more than one pound of king mackerel during any one year between 2006 and 2015. NOAA Fisheries will notify each king mackerel gillnet permittee to advise them whether their gillnet permit is eligible for renewal. This requirement does not affect the general commercial king mackerel permit. If NOAA Fisheries advises a permittee that their permit is not renewable and they do not agree, a permittee may appeal that initial determination. Appeals must be submitted to the National Appeals Office no later than 90 days after the date the initial determination is issued.
WORKING WATERFRONTS WEBINAR SLATED
The National Sea Grant Law Center is working on a variety of projects to address the legal research and outreach needs of the Sea Grant Network, and they are launching a new monthly webinar series to share information about these new initiatives, partnerships, and resources. The one-hour webinars will typically occur on the second Tuesday of each month at 2pm central (3pm eastern) and are free of charge. For more information about the webinars and to pre-register, please visit the website at: http://nsglc.olemiss.edu/webinars/. Join them on January 12, 2016 at 2 pm central for the first webinar focusing on the National Working Waterfront Network’s new oral history collection: Preserving the Working Waterfront.
In 2014, the National Sea Grant Law Center, Maine Sea Grant, and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management received funding through the NOAA Preserve America Initiative to capture and preserve oral histories showcasing working waterfront preservation efforts. Ten working waterfront champions were invited to share the story of their community’s working waterfront initiative. The resulting “Preserving the Working Waterfront” oral history collection includes audio recordings of the full interviews, transcripts of the interviews, and audio slide shows highlighting key elements of their stories. The webinar will feature the screening of several audio slide shows followed by a dialogue with several project interviewees. In addition, the webinar will introduce the related Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit and its existing case studies and tools. For more information on the project and to view the slide shows, please visit the National Working Waterfront Network’s website at: http://www.wateraccessus.com/oralhistory.cfm.
NEW GULF SHRIMP REGULATIONS BEING DEVELOPED
Shrimp Amendment 17A contains two actions. The first action addresses the expiration of the federal shrimp permit moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. There is currently a moratorium on federal commercial shrimp permits, meaning no new permits are being issued. The shrimp permit moratorium is scheduled to expire October 26, 2016. The Council is considering whether to allow the moratorium to expire, extend the moratorium, or create a limited access permit. The Council established the shrimp permit moratorium to ensure that the fishery would remain profitable for the participants remaining in the fishery. When the moratorium was put into place there were 1,933 shrimp permits issued. Since then, 463 shrimp permits were not renewed within one year of their expiration or have been surrendered, and have been removed from the fishery. As of December 31, 2014, there were 1,470 shrimp permits remaining. The Council's current preferred alternative is to extend the shrimp permit moratorium for another ten years.
The second action addresses the royal red shrimp endorsement that is required to commercially harvest royal red shrimp from the Gulf Exclusive Economic Zone. Established in 2006, the main purpose of the endorsement was to help inform data collectors about who is targeting royal red shrimp. Currently, there are a large number of endorsements but only a small number of active royal red shrimping vessels. It's unclear if the endorsement accomplishes its desired goal of enhancing data collection, so the Council is considering whether to continue to require a royal red shrimp endorsement to harvest royal red shrimp.
This information was compiled by Dave Burrage, Peter Nguyen and Benedict Posadas. For more information, visit our office at 1815 Popps Ferry Road, Biloxi, MS 39532 or telephone (228) 388-4710.
MSU Coastal Research and