Gulf Coast Fisherman
NOAA ESTABLISHES SEPARATE GULF OF MEXICO RED SNAPPER RECREATIONAL QUOTAS FOR PRIVATE AND FOR-HIRE FISHERMEN
On April 10, 2015, NOAA Fisheries approved Amendment 40 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources (Amendment 40) of the Gulf of Mexico submitted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). A final rule published in the Federal Register on April 22, 2015 (80 FR 22422), with an effective date of May 22, 2015. Amendment 40 was approved by the Council to help stabilize the federal for-hire component of the recreational sector fishing for red snapper, provide the basis for increased flexibility in future management of recreational fishing for red snapper, and reduce the chance for recreational quota overruns, which could jeopardize the rebuilding of the red snapper stock.
The rule establishes two components within the recreational sector that fishes for red snapper. The components are:
- A federal for-hire component, which is comprised of all for-hire operators with a valid or renewable federal reef fish charter vessel/headboat permit.
- A private angling component, which is comprised of private recreational anglers and other for-hire operators who do not have a federal reef fish charter vessel/headboat permit.
The rule also establishes component sub-quotas and annual catch targets using Amendment 40's allocation of 42.3 percent to the federal for-hire component and 57.7 percent to the private angling component. This allocation is based on a historical time series of landings (1986-2013) combined with a more recent time series (2006-2013). The component seasons will start on June 1 and end when the individual component's annual catch target is projected to be caught. A 20 percent buffer is applied to the recreational quota to obtain the annual catch target, which is then allocated between components. Season lengths are anticipated to be announced in late April or early May in a final rule setting the 2015-2017 commercial and recreational quotas.
Based on a sunset provision selected by the Council in Amendment 40, the management measures implemented through this final rule will end after three years unless the Council takes additional action. The Council is presently evaluating other measures to manage the recreational sector including regional management. Electronic copies of the amendment and final rule may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Web site: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
NEW RECREATIONAL FISHING REGULATIONS FOR GULF RED GROUPER
NOAA Fisheries announces two new changes to recreational red grouper fishing:
- The red grouper bag limit will go from 4 fish to 2 fish effective May 7, 2015, at 12:01 a.m., local time.
- The accountability measure for a reduction in the bag limit when the annual catch limit is exceeded is removed.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council approved these changes at their October 2014 meeting. With the existing four-fish bag limit, the annual catch target was met in 2014 resulting in the recreational season closing on October 4, 2014. Reducing the four-fish bag limit to two fish is intended to extend the recreational fishing season and avoid such in-season closures. Removing the accountability measure is intended to reduce public confusion when the bag limit is adjusted the following year after the annual catch limit is exceeded in the previous year. With the reduction of the bag limit to 2 fish, this action is no longer necessary. Electronic copies of the final rule and supporting documents may be obtained from NOAA Fisheries website.
DIABETES DRUGS FOUND TO CAUSE FISH INTERSEX
A medication commonly taken for Type II diabetes, which is being found in freshwater systems worldwide, has been shown to cause intersex in fish. Intersex is condition that causes male fish to produce eggs. A study by Professor Rebecca Klaper determined that the diabetes medicine metformin causes physical changes in male fish exposed to doses similar to the amount in wastewater effluent. In addition to intersex conditions, the study showed fish exposed to metformin were smaller in size than those not exposed. Because intersex fish are particularly prevalent downstream from wastewater treatment plants, many studies have investigated the effect of hormones from birth control pills, Ms Klaper said. Initially, the results of her study seemed surprising since metformin is not a hormone and it targets blood sugar regulation. However, Ms Klaper said it is also prescribed to women with a common hormonal disease called polycystic ovary syndrome.
The research in her lab indicates metformin could be a potential 'endocrine disruptor', a chemical that confuses the body's complicated hormonal messaging system, interrupting a range of normal activities, including reproduction. Of the chemicals she has detected in water samples collected from Lake Michigan, Ms Klaper said that metformin stands out. "It is the chemical we found in almost every sample and in the highest concentrations compared to other emerging contaminants - even higher than caffeine," she said. The prevalence of the chemical in samples led Ms Klaper to investigate what effects the medication may have in the environment. In a previous study, she exposed mature fish to metformin, and although there were no physical changes, she found the genes related to hormones for egg production were being expressed in males as well as females - an indication of endocrine disruption. For the current study, the researchers monitored fish that had continuous exposure to metformin from birth to adulthood.
NEW PASCAGOULA RIVER BLUEWAY ON PASCAGOULA RIVER WMA
The Pascagoula River is recognized as the largest unimpeded river system in the contiguous United States. The river spans the length of the Pascagoula River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), a 37,000-acre tract of predominately bottomland hardwood forest located within George and Jackson counties. Recently, a 22-mile portion of the river in George County was designated as a national blueway thanks to help from numerous collaborators and a grant through the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. Project partners include the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, Pascagoula River Basin Alliance, George County Economic Development Foundation, and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The goal of the Pascagoula River Blueway is to promote public use and enjoyment of the Pascagoula River and its natural resources.
The Pascagoula River Blueway provides many options for outdoor recreation including boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, camping, sightseeing, and wildlife viewing. The blueway offers designated hiking trails and boat launches, as well as camping and picnic sites. Mile markers are also present along the river to help boaters know their location. Information kiosks are present at four of the WMA's daily visitor-use permit stations. The kiosks provide a map, brochures, and general information about that area of the Pascagoula River. There are 11 points of interest along the blueway for visitors to explore. These points of interest include lakes, birding areas, historic sites, and a sandbar. Besides the benefits offered to users, the blueway provides important habitat and travel corridors for fish and wildlife.
All visitors to Pascagoula River WMA, except those exempt from purchasing an annual hunting or fishing license, must purchase and carry an annual statewide WMA User Permit. WMA User Permits may be purchased wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Permits are valid for one year from date of purchase for all WMAs across the state. Additionally, visitors must complete a Daily Visitor Use Permit before entering the WMA. These permit cards are available at permit stations located at major entrances to the WMA.
NEW PROPOSED MISSISSIPPI OYSTER DREDGE REGULATIONS
The legal notice regarding new Department of Marine Resources oyster dredge regulations reads as follows: “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to take or attempt to take any oysters from the waters under the territorial jurisdiction of the State of Mississippi by the use of a dredge having a weight in excess of 115 pounds and the tooth bar cannot have more than 16 teeth and the teeth on the tooth bar cannot exceed five inches unless otherwise permitted by the MCMR or as hereby authorized the MDMR, its Executive Director, Director of Marine Fisheries, Bureau Director, Program Coordinator or other MDMR designee. No person, firm, or corporation may use more than two (2) such dredges.
It is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to take or attempt to take any oysters from the waters under the territorial jurisdiction of the State of Mississippi by the use of a basket dredge. A basket dredge is a type of oyster dredge, also known as a “self-dumping dredge” that utilizes a rigid framed basket, instead of a flexible bag made out of rope or chain, to retain the harvested oysters.”
A complete copy of Title 22 Part 1 and the proposed changes are available are available at www.dmr.ms.gov. Public comments on the proposed regulation changes will be accepted through May 18, 2015. All comments should be mailed to the MDMR, Attn: Joe Jewell, 1141 Bayview Avenue, Biloxi, MS 39530 or emailed to Joe Jewell at firstname.lastname@example.org and delivered by 5:00 PM on May 18, 2015.
STATUS OF UNITED STATES FISHERIES 2014
Now available online, the 2014 Annual Report on the Status of U.S. Fisheries highlights the number of fish stocks on the overfishing and overfished lists. In 2014, this number dropped to an all-time low. In addition, 3 stocks were rebuilt--bringing the total number of stocks rebuilt since 2000 to 37. This progress demonstrates that our science-based approach to determining stock status and managing for sustainability is working. View the full report.
________________________________________________________________ This information was compiled by Dave Burrage, Peter Nguyen, and Benedict Posadas. For more information, visit our office at 1815 Popps Ferry Road, Biloxi, MS 39532 or telephone (228) 388-4710.
MSU Coastal Research and