BlogBig Snapper Joseph Cawthon
Photo: Joseph Cawthon
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meets next week at the Doubletree Hotel in Austin, Texas to discuss some important decisions for our Gulf of Mexico fisheries. One of the hottest topics on the agenda is a presentation from National Marine Fisheries Service on this year’s recreational red snapper season projection. 
You’re always welcome to join us in person but, since it’s not always practical to travel for a meeting, you can also watch a live broadcast of the meeting. This agenda and the background materials will help you be prepared for what the Council is addressing.
Public comment will be held on Wednesday, April 6th at 1:45 pm. If you can’t make it to the meeting to testify, visit this page on our website to submit comments and learn about all of the fisheries management issues we’re currently working on.
Here’s a quick look at some of the issues the Council will address next week: 
Modifications to Charter Vessel and Headboat Reporting 
The Council is working on an amendment that considers modifying the frequency and method of reporting for charter vessels and headboats fishing for reef fish and coastal migratory pelagics in the Gulf of Mexico. In January, the Council requested that the Southeast Fishery Science Center develop a flowchart illustrating alternatives for implementing electronic reporting for federally permitted for-hire vessels. During the April meeting, the Council will review the alternatives outlined in the flowchart and hear an update on the commercial electronic reporting pilot program. 
Photo: George Niles
King Mackerel
The Council is scheduled to take final action on Amendment 26 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics fishery management plan. Amendment 26 considers changing allocations, stock boundaries, and sale provisions for king mackerel in the Gulf and South Atlantic. 
Red Snapper Management for Federally Permitted Charter Vessels
The Council will review the input received from the its Ad Hoc Red Snapper Charter-for-Hire Advisory Panel on Reef Fish Amendment 41 which considers creating a red snapper management plan for federally permitted for-hire vessels fishing under the for-hire component of the recreational red snapper allocation. The Council will also discuss the latest draft of the amendment and decide how to move forward.
Federal Reef Fish Headboat Management
The Council will also review a revised draft of Reef Fish Amendment 42 which considers creating a management plan for federally permitted headboats fishing for reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. 
Photo: Ava Lasseter
Framework Action – Modify Red Grouper Annual Catch Limit
Based on its science advisors’ conclusions, the Council is considering whether to increase the ACL, which can be set below or equal to the acceptable biological catch (ABC).  The Council is scheduled to take final action on this Framework Amendment. 
Shrimp Amendment 17B
The Council will discuss Shrimp Amendment 17B which considers shrimp permit issues such as setting a minimum threshold number of Gulf shrimp vessel permits and whether to create a Gulf shrimp vessel permit reserve pool, specification of optimum yield, and issues about transiting in federal waters. The Council recently convened a working group to estimate the aggregate maximum sustainable yield and optimum yield for all shrimp species, and a summary report of that meeting will be provided to the Council.
Photo: Emily Muehlstein
Hogfish Annual Catch Limit, Minimum Size Limit, and Stock Definition
The Gulf Council is will review a public hearing draft of an Amendment that considers taking responsibility for the western stock of hogfish, which is located entirely in the Gulf of Mexico jurisdiction. The Council is also considering setting an annual catch limit and increasing both the commercial and recreational minimum size limit for hogfish. 

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