The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet January 30th – February 2, 2023 at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During this meeting, the Council plans to take final action to modify for-hire trip declaration requirements and increase the commercial gray triggerfish trip limit.
Public testimony will be held on Wednesday, February 1, 2023 from 1:30 – 5:00 PM, CST. Both in-person and virtual attendees will be able to comment. In-person attendees should register to give comment at the kiosk located at the meeting room entrance. To provide virtual public testimony, you must register online and join the webinar. A registration link to provide testimony will be available beginning at 8:00 AM, CST, on Monday, January 30, 2023. Registration to provide virtual testimony will close one hour before public testimony begins (12:30 PM, CST). Virtual participants must register for the webinar under the same name they use to register to provide testimony.
Additionally, NOAA Fisheries will host an in-person workshop with IFQ participants immediately following the Council session on Tuesday, January 31, 2022. More information on that session can be found here.
The following is a brief description of some of the issues that the
Council plans to discuss:
Gray Triggerfish Commercial Trip Limit
The Council plans to take final action on an Abbreviated Framework Action that considers increasing the commercial gray triggerfish trip limit. The commercial sector did not harvest its increased annual catch limit under the current 16-fish trip limit so the Council is considering an increase.
For-Hire Trip Declaration Requirements
The Council plans to take final action on a Framework Action that aims to modify trip declaration requirements for vessels with federal for-h
ire permits. Currently, those vessels are required to submit a trip declaration (hail-out) prior to moving the vessel on the water. The Council is considering changing the requirements after hearing concern that submitting multiple hail-outs for non-fishing activities is an undue burden on vessel operators.
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 several management measures including catch limits, sector allocations, and accountability measures.
The Council recently voted to adjust allocations and catch limits in response to a stock assessment (SEDAR 70, 2020) that indicated the stock is both overfished and experiencing overfishing. The Council will work on a Framework Action that considers modifying recreational and commercial management measures to ensure that harvest is constrained to the new catch limits during the rebuilding period.
The Council will hear the results of a Gulf of Mexico Gray Snapper Stock Assessment (SEDAR 75, 2022) which shows that gray snapper is neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing. The assessment also incorporated new recreational landings data. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee chose to increase gray snapper catch limits as a result of the assessment and the Council will consider initiating work on a document to increase the gray snapper annual catch limit.
The Council will hear the results of a red grouper interim analysis which is not a comprehensive stock assessment but uses one scientific study (the NMFS bottom
long-line survey) to give a snapshot of how things may be going in between full stock assessments. The interim analysis did give reason for optimism; however, the Scientific and Statistical Committee did not recommend updating catch advice based on the single source of information especially since a full stock assessment is set to begin next year.