April 1, 2013 (MASGP-13-001-4)
The Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program is recruiting oyster gardeners and adopters for the 2013 season. Volunteers who have access to "conditionally approved" waters in Baldwin or Mobile counties can grow oysters for this restoration program. Volunteers grow oysters in gardens that hang from piers until they are transplanted in Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound at the end of the oyster gardening season in November. The oysters help improve water quality and provide critical habitat for estuarine life. If you do not live in Alabama or you do not have waterfront access, you can participate in the program by adopting an oyster garden for $25. Adopters receive certificates of adoption and monthly newsletters about the season's progress.
The Oyster Gardening Program is supported by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Auburn University Shellfish Lab and the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program adopters. To become an oyster gardener or adopter, go to www.oystergardening.org or contact PJ Waters at email@example.com or 251-438-5690. You can also learn more at http://www.youtube.com/oystergardening.
MISSISSIPPI COMMERCIAL OYSTER LICENSES
AVAILABLE FOR RENEWAL IN APRIL
Mississippi Commercial Oyster Harvest Vessel Licenses for the 2013-2014 license year will be available for renewals only beginning Monday, April 1, 2013. Licenses will be limited to the same number and type of license (Resident Dredging, Resident Tonging, Non-Resident Dredging and Non-Resident Tonging) purchased during the 2012-2013 license year.
Beginning Wednesday, May 1 if the original 2013-2014 oyster license cap numbers have not been reached the remaining licenses will be available on a first come, first serve basis up to the original license cap number for each license type and gear. You can purchase licenses Monday through Friday 8a.m. to 5p.m. at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) office located at 1141 Bayview Ave., Biloxi, Miss. Commercial licenses only will be available at the Pass Christian Oyster Check Station beginning April 15 through May 31 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between the hours of 8a.m. and 3p.m.
NOAA FISHERIES ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO THE RECREATIONAL
RED SNAPPER SEASON IN THE GULF OF MEXICO
On March 25, 2013, a temporary emergency rule published in the Federal Register that gives NOAA Fisheries the authority to set separate closure dates for the recreational red snapper season in federal waters off individual Gulf of Mexico states. The closure dates will depend on whether state regulations are consistent with federal regulations for the recreational red snapper season length or bag limit. This action was requested by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council at their February meeting to provide a fairer and more equitable distribution of recreational red snapper fishing opportunities among anglers in all the Gulf of Mexico states.
The federal recreational season for Gulf of Mexico red snapper begins June 1 each year with a 2-fish bag limit. The length of the season is determined by the amount of the quota, the average weight of fish landed, and the estimated catch rates over time. NOAA Fisheries is responsible for ensuring the entire recreational harvest, including harvest in state waters, does not exceed the recreational quota. Therefore, if states establish a longer season or a larger bag limit for state waters than the federal regulations allow in federal waters, the federal season must be adjusted to account for the additional harvest expected in state waters.
If all states were to implement consistent regulations, the 2013 recreational season would be 28 days, assuming the recreational quota is increased to 4.145 million pounds through separate rule-making. However, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida have indicated they will implement inconsistent red snapper regulations for their state waters. Therefore, without this emergency rule, the 2013 federal season would be reduced to 22 days to compensate for that additional expected harvest. This emergency rule allows NOAA Fisheries to calculate the recreational red snapper fishing season separately in federal waters off each state to account for any inconsistency of regulations in state waters. Based on the expected regulations for Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, the preliminary season lengths would be as follows: Texas, 12 days; Louisiana, 9 days; Mississippi and Alabama, 28 days; and Florida, 21 days.
All other federal regulations for recreational red snapper are still in effect. In particular, if federal regulations for red snapper are more restrictive than state regulations, a person aboard a vessel for which a federal charter/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued must comply with federal regulations regardless of where the fish are harvested. Relative to this emergency rule, that means if the federal waters off a particular state are closed for recreational red snapper harvest, then vessels with a federal charter/headboat permit may not harvest red snapper in those state waters even if the waters off the vessel's home state are still open. The emergency rule, a map showing federal waters off each state, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions are on the NOAA Fisheries Website:
ALABAMA STRIPED BASS RECORD SHATTERED
Alabama has a new state record for striped bass, and it is a whopper. On February 28, James Bramlett of Dora, Ala. hauled a 69-pound, 9-ounce striped bass from the Black Warrior River near the Gorgas Steam plant in north-central Alabama. After being weighed on certified scales, this fish beat the previous record by more than 14 pounds and measured 46.75 inches long with a 37.75 inch girth. The previous Alabama record for striped bass was caught by Charles Totty on the Tallapoosa River in 1959. It weighed 55 pounds.
Heath Haley, a fisheries biologist with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF), measured Bramlett’s fish shortly after it was caught. Fin clippings were also taken from this fish and sent to Auburn University for testing to determine the genetic strain of Bramlett’s catch. “Shocking,” was Haley’s response to seeing the fish for the first time. “This is definitely a once in a lifetime catch,” he said. “Mr. Bramlett is an extremely generous, humble person and I’m excited to see him receive recognition for this fish.” The new Alabama record also has the potential to break the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) world record for landlocked striped bass. The current record holder is a 67-pound, 8-ounce fish caught on May 7, 1992 in Los Banos, Calif. If certified, Bramlett’s catch will be featured on the IGFA website, www.igfa.org.
FISHERIES ECONOMICS OF THE UNITED STATES 2011
According to a new economic report released by NOAA’s Fisheries Service, the U.S. seafood industry generated $129 billion in sales impacts, $37 billion in income impacts and supported 1.2 million jobs in 2011.The report, Fisheries Economics of the United States 2011, is published annually on a two-year lag to allow data collection, analysis, and peer review. It provides economic statistics on U.S. commercial and recreational fisheries and marine-related businesses for each coastal state and the nation. Key to the report are the economic effects--jobs, sales, income, and value added to Gross National Product--of the commercial and recreational fishing industries. “Economic impact” measures how sales in each sector ripple throughout the state and national economy as each dollar spent generates additional sales by other firms and consumers.
The annual report also breaks down the sales impacts, income impacts and job figures for each coastal state. The five states that generated the most jobs from fishing in 2011 were California, Massachusetts, Florida, Washington, and Alaska. The states with the most growth in the number of commercial fishing jobs compared to 2010 were Alabama (76 percent, net increase of 4,743 jobs), Mississippi (45 percent, net increase of 1,722 jobs), Oregon (32 percent, net increase of 4,483 jobs), Louisiana (29 percent, net increase of 7,272 jobs), and Alaska (17 percent, net increase of 9,288 jobs).
The greatest portion of the nation’s landings revenue generated by the commercial fishing industry was in Alaska ($1.9 billion), followed by Massachusetts ($433 million), and Maine ($381 million). Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2011 includes descriptive statistics on commercial fish landings, revenue, and price trends; recreational fishing effort, catch, and participation rates; and employer and non-employer establishments, annual payroll, and annual receipt information for fishing-related industries such as seafood retailers and ship and boat building. The report also provides a snapshot of fishery management plans, limited access privilege fishing programs (a type of catch share program), buyback programs, as well as the status of fish stocks and an inventory of protected marine resources. The report is the sixth volume in an annual series designed to give the public accessible economic information on fishing activities in the U.S., and is a companion to Fisheries of the United States. Fisheries Economics of the United States 2011 is available online at: http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/economics/publications/feus/fisherie_
GROUPER SEASON OPENS
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council reminds anglers that the recreational harvest of shallow-water groupers - except for gag - reopens April 1 in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The annual February 1 - March 31 closure of Gulf recreational shallow-water groupers includes gag, black, red, yellowfin, scamp, and yellowmouth. The gag recreational season remains closed. Gag will open July 1. The proposed closing date, if approved by the Department of Commerce, will occur when the gag quota is projected to be met. That date is expected to be between November 11 and December 3. Size limits and bag limits (22" and 2/person) for gag have not changed. Federal regulations can change frequently. To download the latest regulations, visit: http://www.gulfcouncil.org/fishing_regulations/index.php, or call 813-348-1630 to request a copy. You may also download the free fishing regulations App for Android or iPhone by visiting the Apple Store or Android Market.