The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet by webinar September 28-30, 2020. This meeting is being held to replace the regularly scheduled August Council meeting which was cancelled because two hurricanes developed in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Committee and Council Agendas, and meeting materials are available on the Council Meeting Webpage. You will be able to join the webinar at this link during the meeting. Public testimony will be held on Wednesday, September 30 beginning at 9:30 AM EDT. Details on how to successfully join the meeting and provide public testimony can be found here.
Additionally, the Gulf Council and NOAA Fisheries will host a Question and Answer Session with the public beginning at 4:30PM, EDT on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. Details on how to join that session can be found here.
The following is a brief summary of some of the issues that will be discussed next week:
Red Drum and Coastal Migratory Pelagic Advisory Panel Member Selection
The Council will make final appointments to its Red Drum and Coastal Migratory Pelagic Advisory Panels. Advisory Panel members are appointed for a 3-year term.
Impacts of COVID-19
The Council plans to continue discussing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and may consider management changes to ease those impacts. The Council will continue to follow guidelines set by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act while considering temporary or long-term changes to regulations that may offset economic impacts from the pandemic.
Recommendations on Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth
The President of the United States recently signed an Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth. The Executive Order aims to improve the competitiveness of our domestic seafood industry, put more Americans to work, and place more sustainably sourced and safe-to-eat seafood products on our families’ tables. Section 4 of the Executive Order, Removing Barriers to American Fishing, requires the Regional Fishery Management Councils to submit a prioritized list of recommended actions to reduce burdens on domestic fishing and to increase production within sustainable fisheries. The Council will review public input and is expected to provide a prioritized list of regulations for removal.
Status Determination Criteria
The Council must define a maximum sustainable yield (MSY), a maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT), a minimum stock size threshold (MSST), and an optimum yield (OY) for all managed stocks. These reference points are the basis for determining the health of each stock and are required under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and National Standard 1 guidelines. The Council will work on a public hearing draft of Reef Fish Amendment 48/Red Drum Amendment 5, which aims to define, and in some cases modify, existing status determination criteria for reef fish and red drum.
State and Federal Recreational Data Collection Calibrations
The Council will discuss calibration efforts involving recreational data collection programs. First, it will consider the Federal Marine Recreational Information Program’s (MRIP) transition to a new survey methodology, the Fishing Effort Survey (FES), and the resulting recreational data calibrations. The Council will also hear a summary of the recent Red Snapper MRIP and State Data Calibration Webinar. The Council will hear recommendations about how state survey data may be used in federal stock assessments and it will hear recommendations from its Scientific and Statistical Committee about how to calibrate results from each of the different surveys so they can be used in science and management.
The Council will receive the results of the most recent Cobia stock assessment update. The update, which incorporates new recreational catch information from the MRIP Fishing Effort Survey, shows that Cobia is not overfished but is currently experiencing overfishing. The Council will review its Scientific and Statistical Committees Overfishing Limit and Acceptable biological Catch recommendations and may initiate an amendment to adjust the current cobia catch thresholds.