After receiving a briefing on a recent court decision in response to a legal challenge on management of the recreational component of the red snapper fishery, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took actions to prevent the recreational sector from exceeding its quota in 2014 and beyond.
For the short-term, the Council asked the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to implement an emergency rule that establishes a 20% buffer on the 5.39 million pound recreational quota – a buffer with only a 15% probability that the quota will be exceeded. The 20% buffer, which provides a low probability that the quota will be exceeded, results in a recreational annual catch target (ACT) of 4.312 million pounds, and an 11-day red snapper recreational season for 2014. The bag limit will remain 2-fish per person.
The 11-day season takes into consideration the incompatible state seasons and bag limits adopted by Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. The Council also voted to withdraw a framework action submitted in February that would rescind the Amendment 30B permit provision, which requires vessels with federal charter vessel/headboat permits to abide by federal regulations if more restrictive when fishing in state waters.
To address the issue long-term, the Council has asked staff to include accountability measure alternatives for the recreational allocation, such as buffers and overage adjustments, in the Allocation Amendment (Reef Fish Amendment 28).
Staff will also begin developing a scoping document that explores a possible IFQ-type program for the for-hire component of the red snapper fishery.