Gulf Coast Fisherman
GULF OF MEXICO RECREATIONAL GRAY TRIGGERFISH FEDERAL FISHING CLOSURE
NOAA Fisheries is closing federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the recreational harvest of gray triggerfish at 12:01 a.m., local time, February 7, 2015. Currently, the annual catch limit is 241,200 pounds whole weight and the annual catch target is 217,100 pounds. The federal fishing season is closed when the annual catch target is met or projected to be met. However, if the harvest exceeds the annual catch limit during a given year, the amount of the overage is subtracted from the catch limit and catch target the following year.
In 2013, there was a substantial harvest overrun that resulted in the 2014 annual catch target being reduced to 1,658 pounds. NOAA Fisheries closed recreational harvest in federal waters on May 1, 2014. However, several states continued to allow harvest in state waters throughout the remainder of the year. The total recreational harvest of gray triggerfish in 2014 far exceeded the 25,758-pound annual catch limit. To account for the overage, the 2014 excess catch has been subtracted from the 241,200-pound annual catch limit and 217,000-pound annual catch target, leaving a 2015 catch target of 30,107 pounds. Gulf of Mexico states may not have regulations allowing simultaneous closures in state waters. Therefore, NOAA Fisheries expects additional harvest to occur in state waters after the federal season closure. This additional catch counts against the catch target. Therefore, NOAA Fisheries is closing gray triggerfish recreational harvest in the Gulf of Mexico at 12:01 a.m. (local time), February 7, 2015.
PUBLIC COMMENTS SOUGHT ON PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH TWO RECREATIONAL SUB-QUOTAS FOR GULF OF MEXICO RED SNAPPER
NOAA Fisheries seeks public comment on Amendment 40 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 40 to NOAA Fisheries for review, approval, and implementation. NOAA Fisheries encourages constituents to access Amendment 40 and its associated Final Environmental Impact Statement.
If approved by NOAA Fisheries, Amendment 40 would provide a basis for increased flexibility in future management of the entire recreational sector, and reduce the chance for recreational quota overruns, which could jeopardize the rebuilding of the red snapper stock. Amendment 40 proposes to establish sub-quotas for federally permitted for-hire vessels and private anglers who fish for red snapper for a three-year period beginning in 2015. The federal for-hire component would be comprised of all for-hire operators with a valid or renewable federal reef fish charter vessel/headboat permit. The private angling component would be comprised of private recreational anglers and for-hire operators who do not have a federal reef fish charter vessel/headboat permit.
Amendment 40 would allocate the 5,390,000-pound red snapper recreational quota based on historical landings data for each sub-group. Federally permitted for-hire vessels would receive 42.3 percent of the recreational quota, and private anglers would receive 57.7 percent of the recreational quota. The federally permitted for-hire quota would be 2,279,970 pounds. The private angling quota would be 3,110,030 pounds.
Finally, Amendment 40 would establish separate red snapper annual catch targets and season closure provisions for the federal for-hire and private angling components. For both components, each season would start June 1 and continue until the component's annual catch target is projected to be caught. A 20 percent buffer is applied to the recreational quota to get the annual catch target, which is then allocated between components. At this time, NOAA Fisheries cannot project season lengths for the components because it is waiting to receive final 2014 recreational landings data as well as the results of an update to the red snapper stock assessment. The Council proposes to sunset this action after three years unless the Council takes additional action. The Council is currently evaluating other measures to manage the recreational sector, including red snapper regional management.
NOAA Fisheries must receive comments on this notice no later than March 17, 2015. We will address all comments specifically directed to Amendment 40 or the subsequent proposed rule in the final rule. You may obtain electronic copies of Amendment 40 from the NOAA Fisheries website: or the e-Rulemaking Portal. You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2014-0107, by any of the following methods:
Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0107, click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
Submit written comments to Peter Hood,
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office,
Sustainable Fisheries Division, 263 13th Avenue
South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505.
NOAA FISHERIES SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT ON PROPOSED CHANGES
TO ROYAL RED SHRIMP REGULATIONS
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on Amendment 16 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico and a proposed rule that would implement the management measures contained in the amendment. Amendment 16 proposes to:
- Increase the commercial annual catch limit for royal red shrimp from 334,000 pounds to 337,000 pounds and remove the quota.
- Remove the current in-season closure, while retaining the accountability measure that monitors landings and implements a closure only if the annual catch limit was exceeded in the previous year.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has submitted Amendment 16 to NOAA Fisheries for review, approval, and implementation. Comments on the amendment and the proposed rule will be accepted through February 25, 2015. NOAA Fisheries will address all comments specifically directed to either the amendment or the proposed rule in the final rule.
For more information on Amendment 16, please visit the NOAA Southeast Fisheries website. Electronic copies of the amendment and rule are available at that website or from the e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. NOAA Fisheries must receive comments on these documents no later than February 25, 2015. You may submit comments on the amendment or the proposed rule, identified by "NOAA-NMFS-2014-0030", by one of the following methods:
- Go to the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0030, click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. NOAA Fisheries will accept anonymous comments (enter "N/A" in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). You can also attach additional files (up to 10MB) in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
- Mail written comments to Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
LOUISIANA RECREATIONAL RED SNAPPER UPDATE
The Louisiana recreational red snapper season closed at 11:59 pm on Dec. 31, 2014. Using real-time data from LA Creel, the recreational landings monitoring program, it was determined that Louisiana anglers have not yet landed the state’s historic and projected share of the total Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper harvest (14 percent, or 754,000 pounds). The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has continued negotiations with NOAA to recognize the validity of LA Creel and recently reached an agreement to “benchmark” LA Creel and officially establish it as a replacement for Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP).
Through the benchmarking process, the LDWF will run the MRIP survey side-by-side with LA Creel for the 2015 recreational fishing season. NOAA will compare the results from both surveys and adjust historic recreational landings estimates accordingly. Once LA Creel is benchmarked, Louisiana will no longer run MRIP, and officials hope that NOAA will support LA Creel and use its more precise results to conduct future stock assessments. This process paves the way for other Gulf states to adopt their own recreational angler survey programs, improves data collection, and helps management of the recreational red snapper fishery.
Beginning in January 2015, Louisiana anglers can expect to see an increased survey presence as LDWF personnel conduct both surveys statewide throughout the calendar year. The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission will determine Louisiana’s 2015 recreational red snapper season in their early 2015 meetings.
2014 SHRIMP IMPORTS
The U.S. Census Bureau released official import statistics for November 2014 in early January. These data show that 2014 will set historical records in terms of the overall value of frozen, non-breaded warmwater shrimp imports and will be at near all-time highs in terms of volume. Even without accounting for December (data regarding December imports will be released in February), frozen, non-breaded warmwater shrimp import volumes are higher than they were in all of 2013 and 2012. In total, the volume of frozen, non-breaded shrimp imports this year is 14.7 percent higher than it was in the first eleven months of 2013. The U.S. market has averaged over 96 million pounds of frozen, non-breaded warmwater shrimp imports a month in 2014. If that amount of shrimp also entered in December, the total for 2014 (1.15 billion pounds) will be close to 2011 (1.16 billion pounds) and just below 2006 (1.18 billion pounds), the historical high for frozen, non-breaded shrimp imports. There are indications that shrimp import volumes in December were higher than the monthly average in 2014, with market reports indicating high volumes of imports last month. This would continue the current trend in the market, as the volume of frozen, non-breaded warmwater shrimp imported in November was 8.2 percent above the monthly average for January through October 2014.
________________________________________________________________ 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