BlogBoat Mark Miller


Photo: Mark Miller


We’re getting ready for next week’s Council meeting in
Mobile, Alabama.  The meeting will
officially start on Tuesday, but the entire day will be closed session (not
open to the public) while the Council interviews candidates for the Executive
Director position.  The meeting will open
to the public on Wednesday morning, and we invite you to join us either in
person at the Marriott, or you can listen in live from your computer. Check out the committee agenda and the full Council agenda.
An informal question and answer session will be held Wednesday
evening after the meeting; this should start around 5:30.
Public comment will be held on Thursday, February 7th
from 1:15 to 5:00 p.m.
Join us and let the Council know what you think about
current issues.
This meeting will be a bit different because the Council
held a special reef fish committee meeting in early January. The committee will
meet again next week, but it tackled some big issues in January that await
final review by the full Council next week.
Photo: Capt. Murphy
Some highlights from the special meeting:
The reef fish committee was presented with an analysis of
the 2013 red snapper season length, including information on what may happen if
states make recreational red snapper regulations that are not consistent with
the federal season.
The committee requested that staff develop an Accountability
Measure that gives NMFS authority to close the federal waters off of a state if
that state makes rules that are inconsistent with the federal regulations.
The committee then reviewed the framework action to modify
the 2013 red snapper quotas and recreational bag limit. For Action 1 they chose
to make the preferred alternative Alternative 2, which would raise the 2013 commercial
red snapper quota to 4,315,000 pounds and the recreational red snapper quota to
4,145,000 pounds. For Action 2 Council chose to make the preferred alternative
Alternative 1: No Action; which would maintain the 2 fish per day recreational
red snapper bag limit.
Read the full document or watch this video to learn more
about the red snapper framework.
The committee then discussed allocation of red snapper. Currently,
the total amount of snapper that can be harvested is split 51% commercial and
49% recreational. The committee voted to maximize the available days to
recreational fishermen and remove any alternative in the document that would
take allocation away from the recreational fishery.
Remember: motions made by the committee are only
recommendations to the full Council and do not become official actions unless
and until the full Council moves to accept those recommendations.
Next week, in addition to reviewing the reef fish committees
recommendations, the Council plans to tackle the following issues:

Framework  addressing Vermilion Snapper, Yellowtail
Snapper, and Venting Tool requirements.

Vermilion Snapper- Is not overfished or
experiencing overfishing. The Council is considering changing the Annual Catch
Limit for vermilion and revising the recreational bag limit.

Yellowtail Snapper- Is not overfished or
experiencing overfishing so, the Council is considering adjusting the Annual
Catch Limit.

Venting Tool Requirements- Current regulations
mandate the possession and use of venting tools when targeting reef fish. The
Council is considering changing this rule because venting may not always be
Read the full document and watch this video to learn more about the framework.
Regional Management of Red Snapper – Reef Fish Amendment
The Council is developing a document that explores the idea
of managing the recreational red snapper quota in separate regions. At this
meeting the Council will review the draft amendment and public comments
received during recent scoping workshops.
Read the full scoping document, this quick guide, and watch
this video about regional management.
Photo: Capt. Murphy
For-Hire Days-at-Sea Pilot Program
The Council will review a scoping document that explores a
possible pilot program that would allow a sample of for-hire fishermen to fish
a specified number of days  or trips
throughout the year instead of using the recreational season.
Electronic Reporting Requirements for Headboats
Next week the Council will review a document that considers
changing the frequency and method with which headboats report their catch.
As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to
contact us.