The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet October 24-27, 2022, at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. During this meeting, the Council plans to take final action on Reef Fish Amendment 54 which considers modifying greater amberjack catch limits and sector allocations.
The meeting will begin with a review and adoption of the Council Committee Assignments for October 2022 through August 2023. On Monday, October 24th immediately after lunch, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit will be providing some remarks to the Council and stakeholders on agency priorities. Additionally, the Council will hear presentations on the Joint Council Workgroup on Section 102 of the Modern Fish Act, Deepwater Horizon Fish Restoration and Future Restoration Planning, and Wind Energy Development in the Gulf of Mexico.
Public testimony will be held on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, from 1:30 to 5:00 PM CDT. Both in-person and virtual attendees will be able to comment. Additionally, The Council will host a Question and Answer Session with leaders from NOAA Fisheries on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, immediately following Reef Fish Committee.
Register for the webinar here.
Access meeting agenda and materials here.
The following is a brief description of some of the issues that the Council plans to work on:
The Council plans to take final action on Reef Fish Amendment 54 which considers modifying greater amberjack catch limits and sector allocations. The most recent greater amberjack stock assessment (SEDAR 70 2020) determined that greater amberjack is both overfished and experiencing overfishing. Additionally, new recreational catch estimates collected using the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) Fishing Effort Survey (FES) indicated that recreational landings are greater than previously estimated. The Council is obligated to end overfishing and revise the rebuilding plan for greater amberjack.
The Council will also review recommendations from its Reef Fish Advisory Panel and consider draft options to modify greater amberjack recreational and commercial management measures including seasons, size limits, and trip limits.
The most recent stock assessment (SEDAR 72 2021), which included new recreational catch and effort data and an ecosystem-based red tide analysis, determined that gag grouper is overfished and experiencing overfishing. Additionally, the assessment identified that the proportion of males in the gag grouper population is less than 2%, which negatively impacts the stock’s ability to reproduce. The Council is obligated to end overfishing and develop a rebuilding plan for gag grouper, which will dramatically reduce catch limits during the rebuilding period. During this meeting, the Council will continue to work on a rebuilding plan that will consider revising catch limits, sector allocations, accountability measures, and other management measures.
The Council will work on Coastal Migratory Pelagic Amendment 33 which considers modifying the king mackerel allocation between commercial and recreational fishing sectors. Reallocation is being considered to address the differences in sector landings relative to sector annual catch limits and to account for adjustments in historical landings resulting from updated recreational landings data (MRIP-FES).
The Council will also work on an Abbreviated Framework Amendment that considers allowing the commercial Southern Zone gillnet fleet to fish on weekends and federal holidays. This would allow them to harvest their king mackerel quota as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The Council will begin work on a Framework Action that considers increasing the commercial trip limit for commercial gray triggerfish. The current trip limit is 16-fish and commercial fishermen have requested an increase in the trip limit to reduce discards and make it worthwhile to retain them when they are encountered.
Modifications to For-Hire Trip Declaration Requirements
The Council will continue to work on a Framework Action to modify for-hire trip declaration requirements. This document aims to reduce the burden on federally permitted for-hire vessels making multiple trip declarations (hail-outs) when moving for non-fishing trips.