Gulf Coast Fisherman
RECREATIONAL RED SNAPPER SEASONS IN ALABAMA, MISSISSIPPI AND FEDERAL WATERS
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division (MRD) announced that Alabama’s waters will be open for the recreational harvest of red snapper from Friday, May 27 – Sunday, July 31, 2016. For 2016, the state waters were extended in federal legislation that was passed in December 2015. This extension allows the State of Alabama to manage reef fish out to 9 miles from shore. The daily bag limit will be two red snapper per person. The minimum size for red snapper will be 16 inches total length. A list of public artificial and natural reefs located in Alabama state waters can be found at www.outdooralabama.com/artificial-reefs. Federal waters outside 9 miles will also be open for red snapper harvest during the nine-day federal season June 1-9.
Fishermen are reminded that they are still required to report their red snapper harvest through Snapper Check to the Marine Resources Division during this period, as well as any other time red snapper are allowed to be landed in Alabama. Only one report is required per vessel trip, and anglers can provide details via a smartphone app available under “Outdoor Alabama” in the iTunes or Google Play app stores; online at outdooralabama.com; by phone at 1-844-REDSNAP (1-844-733-7627); or by paper forms available at select coastal public boat launches. Additional information can be found at www.outdooralabama.com/red-snapper-data-and-mandatory-reporting-faqs.
“The federal red snapper season this year will be the shortest ever for private vessels. MRD biologists have assessed the resource in our waters, and we feel that there are enough red snapper in Alabama waters to open an additional season to give our citizens the ability to catch more red snapper this year,” said Chris Blankenship, director of the Marine Resources Division. “MRD has also funded research that was conducted by Dr. Sean Powers’ lab at the University of South Alabama. Dr. Powers currently estimates that there are approximately 20 million pounds of red snapper off the coast of Alabama. During the 2015 fishing season, a little over 1 million pounds was landed during the federal and state red snapper seasons as determined through the Snapper Check program. That leaves plenty of red snapper in the water to allow for additional sustainable harvest from Alabama waters,” Blankenship said.
“The state red snapper season will be open during Memorial Day weekend and during the best months for family fishing in Alabama,” said Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy, Jr. “The June and July season will include great family events such as the Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo, the Fourth of July weekend, the Roy Martin Dauphin Island Young Anglers Tournament, and the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. “It is important for the people of Alabama to be able to enjoy red snapper fishing for more than a few days a year. We are pleased that the federal government will recognize the nine-mile jurisdiction this year. That is a much better situation for our fishermen and for law enforcement,” he said. “We will continue to work with the federal government and the other Gulf states to responsibly manage this great fishery in federal waters while also allowing proper management in Alabama waters. However, the incredibly short federal red snapper season is uncalled for. The sooner the Gulf states, including Alabama, can manage this fishery, instead of the federal government, the better for those who enjoy this resource and for those in our coastal communities who depend on this resource to earn a living. We will continue to work diligently with our Congressional delegation to make sure that happens,” Guy said.
Mississippi territorial waters will be open from 12:01 a.m. May 27 through 11:59 p.m. Sept. 5. The bag limit will be two Red Snapper per person with a minimum size of 16 inches. The announcement was made by Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) Biological Coordinator Paul Mickle during the agency’s annual State of Our Coast conference. “We want recreational anglers to have every opportunity to fish for Red Snapper,” said MDMR Executive Director Jamie Miller. “Opening the state season from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend gives fishermen greater flexibility to plan trips and will provide our agency with additional landings data.” In 2012, the state Legislature approved extending state waters to nine nautical miles for fisheries management, and the law went into effect July 1, 2013. The federal government in December 2015 also approved the extension of state waters to nine nautical miles. Recreational anglers also are required to participate in MDMR’s reporting program, “Tails N’ Scales” through the smartphone App, the website, or the call center. The “Tails N’ Scales” App is available on iTunes and Google Play. Anglers also can go to tailsnscales.org to create a profile and plan a trip. They also can call 1-844-MSSNAPP (677-6277) to speak to a representative. Once fishermen create a trip, they must close it out before creating a new one. “This electronic reporting system provides fishery managers with accurate and timely data that will be used for better resource management,” said Matt Hill, director of MDMR’s Finfish Bureau.
AMBERJACK AND TRIGGERFISH RECREATIONAL CLOSURES
This is a reminder that the recreational harvest of greater amberjack and gray triggerfish closed in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico on June 1, 2016,12:01 a.m., local time. The recreational seasons for greater amberjack and gray triggerfish close annually from June 1 through July 31. NOAA Fisheries will review the recreational landings for both species and compare them against their respective annual catch targets to determine if either recreational season will be re-opened on August 1, 2016, at 12:01 a.m., local time, as scheduled. During the closure:
- Recreational harvest or possession of greater amberjack is prohibited.
- Recreational harvest or possession of gray triggerfish is prohibited.
- The closure applies in both state and federal waters for vessels that have a valid Gulf of Mexico reef fish charter/headboat permit.
This closure is necessary to protect the greater amberjack and gray triggerfish fishery. The greater amberjack and gray triggerfish populations are considered overfished (the population is too low), but are no longer undergoing overfishing (rate of removal is too high).
AUTOMATIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (AIS) REQUIREMENTS
Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a collision avoidance device. AIS regulations for some vessels have been around since 2003. On March 1, 2016, AIS was required on commercial fishing vessels over 65 feet on US navigable waters. There are three types of AIS classes: Class A, Class B/SO, and Class B/CS. The main difference between Class B/SO and Class B/CS is that B/SO has greater transmit power, a more frequent position reporting rate, and can receive AND transmit (this last just an option on Class B/ CS which are just required to receive signals). Class A AIS can cost up to $2,000+, Class B is as low as $550. Although Class A units are more expensive they give more information and are a more effective safety tool.
Fishing vessels over 65 feet are a small segment of mandatory AIS users that are allowed to use lower cost Coast Guard type-approved AIS Class B devices in lieu of Class A devices. NOAA Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) are not an acceptable substitute for AIS because they are not inter-operable or compatible. Each uses different communication systems, protocols, reporting rates, and, most importantly VMS does not, nor is it designed to, mitigate collisions or enhance users’ situational awareness. AIS provides vessel information, including the vessel’s identity, type, position, course, speed, navigational status, and other safety-related information automatically to appropriately equipped shore stations, other vessels, and aircraft; receives automatically such information from similarly fitted vessels; monitors and tracks ships; and exchanges data with shore-based facilities. One of the lesser known and potent features of AIS is its ability to operate on multiple channels of the VHF-FM marine band. This frequency agility ensures AIS can be used even when the default channels are otherwise unavailable or compromised.
AIS devices are not registered, however; each requires a unique and official 9-digit Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number. Encoding an AIS varies by class. AIS Class B are not user configurable; therefore, owners should contact their AIS manufacturer or retailer for instructions. AIS Class A owners may encode their own device, but will require knowing the unit password to do so. All users must ensure their AIS is always in effective operating condition and broadcasting accurately. Failure to do so could subject a person to penalties. More information on the AIS system and the USCG Encoding Guide on AIS can be found at: http://www.navcen.uscg. gov/?paginate=AISFAQ#1
PRODUCT RECALL ISSUED FOR HYDROSTATIC RELEASE
SAFETMADE hydrostatic release units (HRU) have been marketed and approved as having a service life of three years. However, investigations have revealed that after operational use of six months to a year, some units have suffered water ingress or corrosion and therefore do not function as required. Due to the purpose that these products serve in releasing liferafts and EPIRBs in emergency situations, and the outcome of these tests, they pose a significant risk to maritime safety. The affected units are the SAFETMADE HRU models LR-1and EP-1. These models may be private labeled under brand Askoros. Sale of these units has been stopped and an international product recall has been initiated by the manufacturer in conjunction with the European Commission. If you have a SAFETMADE HRU LR-1 or EP-1, you should contact SAFETMADE Marine Products CO. and return it to the nearest service station or port where the HRU can be exchanged for an equivalent product with the replacement costs to be charged to SAFETMADE Marine Products CO. The manufacturer may be contacted at the following:
Telephone: 0090 (232) 431 10 00 (MON-FRI, 08:30 - 17:30; SAT, 08:30 - 11:30. Eastern
European Time Zone UTC + 02:00)
UNCLE DAVE’S CORNER
This is my 384th and final issue of Gulf Coast Fisherman. I will retire at the end of this month with 32 years of service to Mississippi State University and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium. When my grandchildren entered college this year, I decided it was time to enter this new phase of my life. I have had the honor and privilege of working with a wonderful group of professionals. I will particularly miss interacting with members of the commercial fishing industry, whose integrity and hard work have left a lasting impression on me. You taught me more than you will ever know. This career has afforded me the opportunity to make wonderful friendships and partnerships over the years and provided me with many instances of personal satisfaction. I couldn’t ask for any more.
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