Gag and Red Grouper Management - 2CoolFishing
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Old 04-06-2011, 11:40 AM   #1
GandyGirl
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Gag and Red Grouper Management

Ahoy,

I’m writing to let you know about the important stuff that’s about to happen with grouper management in the Gulf.
Reef Fish Amendment 32, the rebuilding plan for gag and a management plan for red grouper, is quickly approaching the finish line. Next week, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will select preferred management alternatives that aim to rebuild the gag stock to a healthy level and consider different ways to manage red grouper. After selecting preferred alternatives for each action, the Council will send the amendment out to public hearings to gather public opinion before taking final action in June. The management options selected will be implemented in 2012.
Now is a great time to submit your opinion because the Council has not yet selected preferred alternatives for each action controlling the future harvest of gag and red grouper. I encourage you to submit comment on what alternatives suit you best; be sure to include the reasons why. Please send your opinions to [email protected] before Wednesday April 13th so the members of the Council will have an opportunity to read them before selecting preferred alternatives on Thursday April 14th. You can also make comment in person at the Council meeting in Orange Beach, Alabama on Wednesday April 13th at 4:00 p.m.
The following is a list of actions and the alternatives being considered in Reef Fish Amendment 32. I’ve taken each action out of the amendment and given a short description in italics. A copy of the full amendment will be available on the Gulf Councils FTP server shortly. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Your Chum,
Emily Muehlstein
(813) 368-1630 ext.238
[email protected]

Amendment 32- Summary of Actions

Action 1: Rebuilding Plan for Gag

Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act Council must end overfishing and implement fisheries management plans that aim to rebuild overfished stocks to healthy, sustainable levels within 10 years. Additionally, these rebuilding plans must be put into place no later than 2 years after a stock is determined to be overfished. Gag was determined to be overfished and undergoing overfishing in 2009, and now the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council must choose a rebuilding plan that will follow the mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Act .In this action a preferred alternative has already been chosen so that following actions could be planned and calculated accordingly.

Alternative 1: No action: Do not specify a rebuilding plan for Gag
(Preferred) Alternative 2: Establish a rebuilding plan that will rebuild the gag stock to a level consistent with producing maximum sustainable yield in 10 years.
Alternative 3: Establish a rebuilding plan that will rebuild the gag stock to a level consistent with producing maximum sustainable yield in 7 years.
Alternative 4:Establish a rebuilding plan that will rebuild the gag stock to a level consistent with producing maximum sustainable yield in 5 years.

Action 2: Recreational Bag Limits, Size Limits, and Closed Seasons for Gag/Red Grouper.

2.2.1 Gag Scenarios

These alternatives will be set for 2012, and will be revisited each year afterwards. In order to meet the gag rebuilding plan the Council must choose alternatives that will reduce recreational gag harvest, or total removals, by an absolute minimum of 36% of 2009 harvest levels. Reducing harvest by a minimum of 36% will give Council a 50/50 shot of meeting the gag rebuilding goal. Council is considering the following gag management options with more conservative total removal reduction levels in order to increase the chances of meeting rebuilding goals.

Alternative 1- No action. Do not modify the bag limits, size limits or closed seasons for the recreational gag fishery.
Alternative 2- Set the 2012 open season to be the same as in 2011, i.e., September 16 through November 15, 22 inch minimum size limit, 2 fish gag bag limit, 4 fish aggregate bag limit
• 61 fishing days
• 60% total removal reduction
Alternative 3- Split the open season to provide two fishing seasons: January 1-31 and April 1-30, 22 inch minimum size limit, 2 fish gag bag limit, 4 fish aggregate bag limit
• 61 fishing days
• 52-56% total removal reduction
Alternative 4- Set the longest season possible while meeting ACT target under at least one baseline: July 1 through October 31, 22-30 inch slot size limit, 2 fish gag bag limit, 4 fish aggregate bag limit.
• 123 fishing days
• 54%-56% total removal reduction
Alternative 5- Close the recreational gag fishing season for the 2012 calendar year if there is no state consistency in regulations.
• 32%-55% total removal reduction without state consistency

2.2.2 Red Grouper Bag Limit
The red grouper stock is neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing. The recreational sector has not caught its allocation of red groper in recent years, and with an increase in catch limits in 2012 a relaxation of recreational red grouper regulations is warranted.

Alternative 1- No action. The red grouper bag limit remains at 2 fish per person.
Alternative 2- Increase the red grouper bag limit to 3 fish per person. If the recreational sector exceeds its Annual Catch Limit (ACL) in 2012, the bag limit will revert back to 2 fish.
Alternative 3- Increase the red grouper bag limit to 4 fish per person. If, at the end of the 2012 season it is determined that the recreational sector has exceeded its gag Annual Catch Limit (ACL), the bag limit will be reduced to 3 fish for the 2013 season. If the recreational sector exceeds it bag limit again in 2013, the bag limit will revert back to 2 fish.

Action 3: Commercial Gag and Shallow-water Grouper Quota Adjustment to Account
for Dead Discards

Commercial harvest of grouper is managed under an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) system. Under this system fishermen own shares that represent a percentage of each years’ commercial harvest quota. Under the gag rebuilding plan there is a very limited amount of gag IFQ shares available. Fishermen fishing for other grouper species will catch gag as bycatch and may be forced to discard those gag that they could have kept in the past. While there may be a reduction in gag bycatch because fewer fishermen are targeting gag, data on gag bycatch from fishermen targeting other grouper does not yet exist because the grouper IFQ program is only a year old. As a precautionary measure, in the 2011 interim rule the Council set the commercial gag quota at 86% of the annual catch target. This action considers options for adjusting the commercial gag quota for at least 4 years to account for the gag that may be caught as bycatch and discarded dead under limited IFQ shares.

Alternative 1- No action. The commercial gag quota and shallow-water grouper quota will not contain any adjustment for dead discards of gag. Commercial quotas in million pounds gutted weight will be as follows (subject to accountability measure adjustments):

Year Gag Red Grouper Shallow-water grouper
2012 0.659 5.49 6.559
2013 0.823 5.49 6.723
2014 0.971 5.49 6.871
2015+ 1.092 5.49 6.992

Alternative 2- Reduce the gag commercial quota to 86% of the ACT to compensate for dead discards not being reduced to projected levels needed to achieve 100% of the ACT. Commercial quotas in million pounds gutted weight will be as follows (subject to accountability measure adjustments):

Year Gag Red Grouper Shallow-water grouper
2012 0.567 5.49 6.467
2013 0.708 5.49 6.608
2014 0.835 5.49 6.735
2015+ 0.939 5.49 6.839

Alternative 3- Reduce the gag commercial quota to 47% of the ACT to compensate for dead discards not being reduced to projected levels needed to achieve 100% of the ACT. Commercial quotas in million pounds gutted weight will be as follows (subject to accountability measure adjustments):

Year Gag Red Grouper Shallow-water grouper
2012 0.310 5.49 6.210
2013 0.387 5.49 6.287
2014 0.456 5.49 6.356
2015+ 0.513 5.49 6.413

Action 4: Adjustments to Multi-use IFQ Shares
When the grouper Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program was implemented in January of 2010, Reef Fish Amendment 29 established that 4% of the red grouper allocation and 8% of the gag allocation would be converted to multi-use shares, which could be used for either species. These multi-use shares were created to allow for some flexibility in the IFQ program and account for variations in gag and red grouper ratios across the Gulf. However, under the reduced red grouper and gag annual catch limits expected to be implemented in this amendment, the current multi-use allocations could allow the commercial sector to exceed its annual catch limit. This action considers adjustments to the current multi-use allocations that may prevent the commercial sector from exceeding its annual catch limit.

Alternative 1- No Action. Do not modify percentages of red grouper and gag IFQ allocation converted into multi-use allocation. At the beginning of each fishing year, 4% of red grouper allocation would be converted into multi-use allocation and 8% of gag allocation would be converted into multi-use allocation.
Alternative 2- Based on the commercial gag ACL, gag allocation, and red grouper allocation, set the percentage of red grouper IFQ allocation converted into multi-use allocation as follows:
Red Grouper Multi-use (in percent) = 100*[Gag ACL – Gag Allocation]/Red Grouper Allocation
The red grouper multi-use percentage will be recalculated following adjustments in commercial gag ACL, gag allocation, or red grouper allocation.
Alternative 3: Based on the commercial red grouper ACL, red grouper allocation, and gag allocation, set the percentage of gag IFQ allocation converted into multi-use allocation as follows:
Gag Multi-use (in percent) = 100*[Red Grouper ACL – Red Grouper Allocation]/Gag Allocation
The gag multi-use percentage will be recalculated following adjustments in red grouper ACL, red grouper allocation, or gag allocation.
Alternative 4- While the rebuilding plan for gag is in effect, set the percentage of red grouper IFQ allocation converted into multi-use allocation equal to zero. Upon completion of the rebuilding plan, set the red grouper multi-use percentage as follows:
Red Grouper Multi-use (in percent) = 100*[Gag ACL – Gag Allocation]/Red Grouper Allocation
The red grouper multi-use percentage will be recalculated following adjustments in commercial gag ACL, gag allocation, or red grouper allocation.
Alternative 5- Create a new gag multi-use share type (GOSW multi-use), valid to harvest gag or any other shallow water grouper (excluding red grouper). Set the percentage of gag IFQ allocation converted into GOSW multi-use allocation as follows:
Option a: 25%
Option b: 50%
Alternative 6- Create a new red grouper multi-use share type (RDOSW multi-use), valid to harvest red grouper or any other shallow water grouper (excluding gag grouper). Set the percentage of red grouper IFQ allocation converted into RDOSW multi-use allocation as follows:
Option a: 5%
Option b: 10%

Action 5. Commercial Gag Size Limit
When fish are caught and released there is always a chance that those fish will die upon release. This rate of death, referred to as release mortality, varies across different fish species, gear types, depths, handling and more. The commercial gag fishery has a 67% release mortality rate, which means that 67% of the gags caught and released do not survive. Reducing the size limit of commercially caught gag is one way to reduce the rate of release mortality. The number of fish discarded will decrease and release mortality rates will decrease because fishermen will be keeping smaller fish that they would have otherwise thrown back. Reduction in the minimum size limit will not increase the commercial harvest of gag because they are managed with an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) system under which each fisherman has a share of the annual catch limit that cannot be exceeded.

Alternative 1- No action. The commercial gag minimum size limit remains at 24 inches total length.
Alternative 2- Reduce the commercial gag minimum size limit to 22 inches total length.
Alternative 3- Reduce the commercial gag minimum size limit to 20 inches total length.
Alternative 4- Eliminate the commercial gag minimum size limit.

Action 6. Time and Area Closures
Currently there are three marine protected areas (MPA’s) in the Gulf of Mexico; Madison-Swanson, The Edges, and Steamboat lumps. These time and area closures were established to protect spawning aggregations of gag, and to protect a portion of the male gag population that is particularly vulnerable to fishing during spawning. Gag spawning occurs on offshore reefs from southeast of Apalachicola to west of Tampa, and possibly further to the south. In this action, Council considers the establishment of new time and area closures.

*Note: in this action more than one alternative and option can be selected as preferred

Alternative 1- No Action, Do not create additional time and area closures that prohibit fishing for gag and other reef fishes.
Alternative 2- Close an area that would expand the Madison-Swanson Restricted Fishing Area to the north and west (approximately 70 square nm additional), making one continuous area.
Boundaries for additional area:
1) 29
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Old 04-06-2011, 11:43 AM   #2
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HAHA try again.
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Old 04-06-2011, 03:29 PM   #3
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sorry... I guess there was too much content I can't seem to post the rest...
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Old 04-06-2011, 04:01 PM   #4
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I'm thinking this should be posted in the blue water board where people who fish for grouper will see it. I never come on this board, but I happen to see the title on the main page.
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