For Immediate Release
June 8, 2023
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took final action on Reef Fish Amendment 56: Modification to Catch Limits, Sector Allocation, and Recreational Fishing Seasons for Gulf of Mexico Gag. The Council chose to:
- Revise the criteria used to determine whether gag is overfished and/or experiencing overfishing, based on results of the most recent stock assessment (SEDAR 72), by setting the maximum sustainable yield proxy at the fishing mortality associated with 40% spawning potential ratio (F40%SPR).
- Revise the sector allocation to account for the change in recreational harvest monitoring data, resulting in a 65% recreational and 35% commercial split, using average landings from 1986-2005 as estimated by Florida’s State Reef Fish Survey for private vessels, MRIP for shore mode and for-hire vessels, and the Southeast Region Headboat Survey for headboats.
- Establish a rebuilding timeline of 18 years and set corresponding annual catch limits at 75% of the fishing mortality associated with a 40% spawning potential ratio (75% of F40%SPR).
- Set the recreational annual catch target 20% below the recreational annual catch limit; and, set the commercial annual catch target 5% below the commercial annual catch limit and set the commercial quota equal to the annual catch target.
- Open the gag recreational fishing season on September 1 and close it when the recreational ACT is projected to be met; this is expected to result in a season duration of about two months in 2024.
The resulting catch limits are as follows:
|Year||OFL||ABC||Total ACL||Rec ACL||Rec ACT||Com ACL||Com ACT||Com Quota|
All in pounds gutted weight using SRFS & MRIP-FES units.
The most recent stock assessment (SEDAR 72, 2022), which included new recreational catch and effort data and an ecosystem-based red tide analysis, determined that gag is overfished and experiencing overfishing. Additionally, the assessment identified that the proportion of males in the 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.
Amendment 56 will be transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation as soon as practicable.