Gulf Coast Fisherman
ALABAMA RED SNAPPER REPORTING AGAIN SHOWS DISCREPANCY WITH FEDERAL PROGRAM
The final catch numbers for the 2015 Federal Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) again show a significant discrepancy with the numbers estimated by the State of Alabama Red Snapper Reporting Program. This is the second consecutive year that results from Alabama’s program and those of the federal MRIP program have been vastly different. Chris Blankenship, Director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division, said the Alabama program, known as Snapper Check, estimated the red snapper catch for the 2015 season at 1,045,042 pounds. NOAA Fisheries’ Federal MRIP estimated the red snapper landed in Alabama at 2,355,481 pounds.
The Alabama Snapper Check program is mandatory for anglers who return to an Alabama port. Marine Resources also uses cameras at the public boat ramps to count vessel launches to help validate its catch estimates. For the first time, the private recreational anglers and the charter boats had separate seasons in 2015. The private recreational season was 10 days, June 1-10, while the charter season lasted 44 days, June 1-July 14.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is considering delegating some red snapper management authority to the states under Amendment 39 to the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council Red Snapper Management Plan. The Gulf Council will consider Amendment 39 (Regional Management of Red Snapper) at its next meeting, which is scheduled for January 25-29, 2016, at Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach.
“The reason Amendment 39 is important is evident in our red snapper reporting numbers,” said Blankenship. “For the second year in a row, federal landing estimates are more than twice Alabama landing estimates. Federal management uses federal landings, which we feel unfairly shortens the red snapper season by at least half. The Alabama Marine Resources Division is better able to accurately account for the red snapper landed in-state and we are better suited to manage the red snapper fishery off our coast.”
For more information on the Alabama Red Snapper Reporting Program and the results please visit http://www.outdooralabama.com/red-snapper-data-and-mandatory-reporting-faqs.
MISSISSIPPI FISHERIES CLOSURES
Officials with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources closed two commercial fishing seasons and one recreational fishing season in Mississippi territorial waters at the end of October. The commercial fishing season for Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) closed on Oct. 31, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. The commercial fishing season will reopen on Feb. 1, 2016 at 12:01 a.m. The commercial fishing season for Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) closed on Oct. 30, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. The commercial fishing season will reopen Jan. 1, 2016 at 12:01 a.m. The recreational fishing season for Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) closed on Oct. 31, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. The closings are under the authority of Mississippi Code Ann.49-15-15(1)(a)(2009), through the authority granted to the executive director of the MDMR by the Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources and in accordance with the provisions of Title 22 Part 07, Ch. 09 Sec. 109.
MASTER NATURALISTS PAY IT FORWARD
This year’s basic training course for the Coastal Chapter of the Mississippi Master Naturalist program is the books. This class met on 8 days from September 3rd through October 21st at sites all across coastal Mississippi. Some of the field trips included boat trips to Horn Island and through the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve as well as hiking trips through the Crosby Arboretum and De Soto National Forest. Participants learned about the natural resources along the northern Gulf Coast including topics such as: geology, soils, ecology, entomology, native plants, forest ecology, wildlife management, forest management, coastal habitats, fish, human impacts on the coast, marine mammals sea turtles, and estuarine ecology.
The most impressive aspect about this year’s class is the great educational tools they are developing for their class projects. The class of 18 broke into 8 groups to develop educational materials on a topic of their choice. On the last day of class, the groups delivered a 15-20 minute presentation on their topic followed by a discussion of how to get this knowledge out to their target audience (school groups, homeowners associations, municipalities, etc.).
The chosen topics represented a wide range of topics and will lead to the development of the following educational tools:
- a Junior Master Naturalist Program for a local school district;
- turtle, terrapin, and tortoise awareness commercial and children’s book,
- a short guide to environmental and financial benefits of conservation easements,
- an all-inclusive electronic guide to hiking trails of South Mississippi,
- K-12 competitions to promote hazardous waste awareness,
- a hands-on presentation on the importance and diversity of soil,
- an educational kiosk focused on invasive plants and animals, and
- an informational pamphlet on the physiological and psychological benefits of outdoor play.
The participants will continue the development of these educational tools with hopes of publishing and implementing these items over the next couple months.
WITHHOLDING OF RED SNAPPER QUOTA PROPOSED
NOAA Fisheries has proposed a rule that would withhold a percentage of the 2016 red snapper commercial quota in the Gulf of Mexico. This action would withhold 4.9 percent (352,000 lbs) of the 2016 red snapper commercial quota in the Gulf of Mexico in anticipation of Amendment 28's approval. During their August 2015 meeting, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted to submit Amendment 28 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan for review, approval, and implementation by the Secretary of Commerce. Amendment 28 would reallocate red snapper harvest between the commercial and recreational sectors from 51/49 percent to 48.5/51.5 percent, respectively. If that quota is not held back and Amendment 28 is approved, the commercial sector would have more quota than is supported by Amendment 28. The distribution of commercial individual fishing quota allocations occurs on January 1, 2016. If the 352,000 lbs is not held back, NOAA Fisheries has no way to get it back it for re-distribution to the recreational quota.
GULF SHRIMP LANDINGS
Landings data from NOAA for September 2015 report that last month was the second most productive September in the last 6 years for commercial shrimp fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico. Although below the volume of shrimp landed in September 2014 (16.0 million pounds), the total landed last month (14.6 million pounds) was the second highest amount reported for the industry in the month of September since 2009 and was 8.1 percent above the prior 13 year average (13.5 million). On a state-by-state basis relatively low landings in Louisiana - 4.9 million pounds last month compared to 7.9 million pounds in September 2014 - were partially offset by an increase in the volume of shrimp landed in Texas - 6.1 million pounds last month compared to 5.5 million pounds in 2014 and a record-setting month in Alabama, where the 2.8 million pounds of shrimp landed were 151 percent above the state's prior thirteen-year historical average for the month of September.
Landings through the first 9 months of 2015 remain the lowest for the same time period since 2010 and are 16.3 percent below the prior 13 year historical average for the Gulf of Mexico. Overall, the total Gulf shrimp landings in 2015 (74.8 million pounds) are only slightly off the pace of total Gulf shrimp landings in 2014 (75.3 million pounds). The similarity in these totals masks significantly different experiences in Louisiana and Texas. In Louisiana, shrimp landings have fallen from 37.2 million pounds in 2014 to 29.8 million pounds in 2015. While in Texas, shrimp landings have increased by almost the same amount as they have declined in Louisiana, growing from 20.8 million pounds in 2014 to 28.1 million pounds in 2015. Landings in Alabama this year (9.1 million pounds) are on par with the record volume of landings in the state last year (9.1 million pounds) and are, for the second year in a row, larger than the total volume of landings reported in Mississippi and the west coast of Florida (both 3.9 million pounds) combined.
Ex-vessel prices reported by NOAA continue to reflect a difficult year for shrimp fishermen. Prices for large shrimp (U15 headless) in September 2015 for both the Northern and Western Gulf are roughly 33 percent below the prices reported for the same size shrimp in September 2014. Prices for medium-sized (26-30 headless) in September 2015 are roughly half what they were reported to be in September 2014. And prices for small-sized shrimp (41-50 headless) are also roughly half what they were reported to be in September 2014, except in the Western Gulf, where ex-vessel prices for this size shrimp were reported to be $1.03 per pound compared to $3.76 per pound in September 2014. (Source: The Shrimp e-Advocate. Southern Shrimp Alliance, October 26, 2015)
ONLY 4 PERCENT OF THE WORLD’S OCEAN IS PROTECTED
Despite global efforts to increase the area of the ocean that is protected, only 4 percent of it lies within marine protected areas (MPAs), according to a University of British Columbia (UBC) study. The UBC Institute for Ocean and Fisheries researchers found that major swaths of the ocean must still be protected to reach even the most basic global targets. In 2010, representatives from nearly 200 countries met in Nagoya, Japan, and adopted the United Nations’ Aichi Targets, in a bid to stem the rapid loss of biodiversity. The countries committed to protecting at least 10 percent of the ocean by 2020.
"The targets call for much more than just 10 percent protection,” said lead author Lisa Boonzaier. “They require that protected areas be effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative, and well-connected, all of which will help to ensure that MPAs contribute to more than percentage targets and meet the goal of conserving biodiversity.”
Boonzaier believes that not only do countries need to create more MPAs, they need to improve the protection they afford biodiversity by making a greater percentage of them no-take and enforcing them as such.
“No-take” marine protected areas are zones where it is prohibited to extract any resources, including living resources, such as fish, crustaceans, and seaweed, and non-living resources, such as oil and gas. Only 16 percent of the area that is protected or 0.5 percent of the global ocean—is designated as “no take.”
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