General

Gray Triggerfish

How to measure the 14″ fork length minimum size limit
The latest gray triggerfish stock assessment concluded that
the stock is both overfished and experiencing
overfishing.
The Gulf Council has just asked that an interim rule be put
into place to temporarily reduce overfishing until long-term management
measures can be developed. The interim rule reduces the triggerfish Annual
Catch Limit and Annual Catch Target, and if the Annual Catch Target is met the
fishery can be closed for the rest of the year.
The Council is also developing an amendment to the Reef Fish
Management Plan (Amendment 37) that will permanently adjust the gray
triggerfish Annual Catch Limit and Annual Catch Target once the interim rule
expires.  Amendment 37 also
considers making changes to commercial size limits and trip limits, and
recreational size limits, seasons, and bag limits to keep triggerfish harvest
inline with stock rebuilding goals. The document can be found here.
If you’re on the edge
of your seat and want to know more….
Photo: Ocean Triggerfish – NOAA Library
In 2006 a stock assessment indicated that gray triggerfish
was experiencing overfishing. The Council developed a rebuilding plan for gray
triggerfish in reef fish Amendment 30A that aimed to rebuild the stock in 10
years (by 2017). Unfortunately, the latest gray triggerfish stock assessment
concluded that the stock was still experiencing overfishing and the stock is
overfished.
The Gulf Council’s scientific advisors recommended that the
gray triggerfish Acceptable Biological Catch be set at 305,300 pounds. The current
stock Annual Catch Limit (the amount of fish that can be harvested each year)
is more than twice as high (659,000 pounds) as the Acceptable Biological Catch,
and must be reduced.
The proposed interim rule will set 2012 Annual Catch Limits
and Annual Catch Targets for each sector. The Acceptable Biological Catch will
be allocated 79% recreational and 21% commercial, resulting in the following
for 2012:
2012
Annual Catch Limit
Annual Catch Target
Commercial
64,100 pounds
60,900 pounds
Recreational
241,200 pounds
217,000 pounds
And, just to add a bit of perspective, this is a graph of
the commercial and recreational landings of gray triggerfish from 1981 through
2010:
Commercial and recreational landings of gray triggerfish from 1981 to 2010
As you might notice, in recent years landings of gray
triggerfish have declined. In 2009 a total of 482,000 pounds were harvested and
in 2010 a total of 352,000 pounds were harvested.
The amendment that is expected to follow the interim rule
considers making a number of changes to triggerfish management including:
Photo: Troy Frady

·
Shortening the current rebuilding plan
·
Increasing the commercial minimum size limit
·
Establishing a commercial closed season
·
Establishing a commercial trip limit
·
Increasing the recreational minimum size limit
·
Establishing a recreational closed season
·
Establishing a triggerfish-specific recreational
bag limit
·
Enabling NOAA Fisheries to close the fishery if
the Annual Catch Target is reached

The Council plans to review a draft of this document in
August, and public hearings are expected to take place in September.
As always, don’t hesitate to email me if you have any
questions.