Amendment 39 - Regional Management of Recreational Red Snapper

Tab B, No. 9
1/14/14
Regional Management of Recreational
Red Snapper
Final Draft for Amendment 39
to the Fishery Management Plan for
the Reef Fish Resources
of the Gulf of Mexico
Including Draft Environmental Impact Statement,
Fishery Impact Statement, Regulatory Impact Review,
and Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis
February 2014
This is a publication of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Pursuant to National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration Award No. NA10NMF4410011.
This page intentionally blank
Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Amendment 39
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Cover Sheet
Regional Management of Recreational Red Snapper Amendment 39 to the Fishery Management
Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico, including a Draft Environmental Impact
Statement (DEIS).
Abstract:
This DEIS is prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act to assess the
environmental impacts associated with a regulatory action. The DEIS analyzes the impacts of a
reasonable range of alternatives intended to address approaches to regional management for the
recreational harvest of red snapper, including delegating limited management authority to the
Gulf of Mexico states. This may include the authority to establish size limits, bag limits,
seasons, closed areas, and sub-allocations for the private and for-hire vessels. The purpose of
this action is to provide flexibility in the management of the recreational red snapper component
in the reef fish fishery by reorganizing the federal fishery management strategy, modifying the
for-hire permit provisions, and developing AMs for recreational overages to better account for
biological, social, and economic differences among the regions of the Gulf.
Responsible Agencies:
National Marine Fisheries Service
(Lead Agency)
Southeast Regional Office
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
727-824-5305
727-824-5308 (fax)
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov
Contact: Cynthia Meyer
cynthia.meyer@noaa.gov
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management
Council
2203 North Lois Avenue, Suite 1100
Tampa, Florida 33607
813-348-1630
813-348-1711 (fax)
http://www.gulfcouncil.org
Contact: Ava Lasseter
ava.lasseter@gulfcouncil.org
Type of Action
( ) Administrative
(X) Draft
( ) Legislative
( ) Final
Filing Dates with EPA
Notice of intent (NOI) to prepare EIS published: May 13, 2013
Draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) filed with EPA:
DEIS comment period ended:
EPA comments on DEIS:
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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DEIS TABLE OF CONTENTS
Abstract ............................................................................................................................................ i Executive Summary ....................................................................................................................... xi Purpose and Need ........................................................................................................................... 7 Management Alternatives ............................................................................................................. 11 Affected Environment ................................................................................................................... 38 Environmental Consequences ....................................................................................................... 70 List of Preparers .......................................................................................................................... 165 List of Agencies, Organizations and Persons to whom a Copy of the EIS was sent .................. 166 Amendment 39: Regional Management
ii
ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THIS DOCUMENT
ABC
ACL
ACT
ALS
AM
BP
Council
DEIS
EEZ
EFH
EFP
EIS
EJ
ESA
FMP
Gulf
HBS
IFQ
lbs
LDWF
Magnuson-Stevens Act
mp
MRFSS
MRIP
MSST
NEPA
NMFS
NOAA
NS
OFL
PDF
SAV
SEAMAP
Secretary
SEDAR
SEFSC
SERO
SSB
SSC
SPR
TAC
TL
TPWD
VEC
acceptable biological catch
annual catch limit
annual catch target
Accumulated Landings System
accountability measure
British Petroleum
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
exclusive economic zone
Essential Fish Habitat
exempted fishing permit
Environmental Impact Statement
Environmental Justice
Endangered Species Act
Fishery Management Plan
Gulf of Mexico
Southeast Headboat Survey
individual fishing quota
pounds
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act
million pounds
Marine Recreational Fisheries Survey and Statistics
Marine Recreational Information Program
minimum stock size threshold
National Environmental Policy Act
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
national standard guidelines
overfishing limit
probability density function
submerged aquatic vegetation
Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program
Secretary of Commerce
Southeast Data Assessment and Review
Southeast Fisheries Science Center
Southeast Regional Office of NMFS
spawning stock biomass
Scientific and Statistical Committee
spawning potential ratio
total allowable catch
total length
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
valued environmental components
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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VOC
ww
YPR
volatile organic compounds
whole weight
yield per recruit
Amendment 39: Regional Management
iv
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Amendment 39 ...................................................................................... i Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Cover Sheet ...................................................... i Abbreviations Used in this Document ........................................................................................... iii List of Tables ............................................................................................................................... viii List of Figures ................................................................................................................................. x Executive Summary ....................................................................................................................... xi Fishery Impact Statement ............................................................................................................. xii Chapter 1. Introduction .................................................................................................................. 1 1.1 Background .......................................................................................................................... 1 1.2 Requirements of the Delegation Provision ........................................................................... 4 1.3 Purpose and Need ................................................................................................................. 7 1.4 History of Management ........................................................................................................ 7 Chapter 2. Management Alternatives .......................................................................................... 11 2.1 Action 1 –Regional Management ...................................................................................... 11 2.2 Action 2 – Establish Regions for Management ................................................................. 14 2.3 Action 3 – Apportioning the Recreational Red Snapper Quota among Regions ............... 17 2.4 Action 4 – Regional Management Measures ..................................................................... 23 2.5 Action 5 – For-Hire Vessels Federal Permit Restrictions ................................................. 30 2.6 Action 6 – Post-Season Accountability Measures (AMs) Adjusting for Regional
Overages ............................................................................................................................. 32 2.7 Action 7 – Establishing Default Regulations ..................................................................... 36 Chapter 3. Affected Environment ................................................................................................ 38 3.1 Description of the Red Snapper Component of the Reef Fish Fishery .............................. 38 3.2 Description of the Physical Environment .......................................................................... 44 3.3 Description of the Biological/Ecological Environment ..................................................... 46 3.4 Description of the Economic Environment........................................................................ 59 3.4.1 Commercial Sector...................................................................................................... 59 3.4.2 Recreational Sector ..................................................................................................... 59 3.5 Description of the Social Environment .............................................................................. 64 3.5.1 Environmental Justice Considerations ........................................................................ 65 3.6 Description of the Administrative Environment ................................................................ 67 3.6.1 Federal Fishery Management ...................................................................................... 67 3.6.2 State Fishery Management.......................................................................................... 68 Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 4. Environmental Consequences .................................................................................... 70 4.1 Action 1 – Regional Management ..................................................................................... 70 4.1.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment ........................................... 70 4.1.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment ..................... 71 4.1.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment ........................................ 72 4.1.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment .............................................. 77 4.1.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment ................................ 79 4.2 Action 2 – Establish Regions for Management ................................................................. 81 4.2.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment ........................................... 81 4.2.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment ..................... 81 4.2.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment ........................................ 82 4.2.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment .............................................. 85 4.2.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment ................................ 85 4.3 Action 3 – Apportioning the Recreational Red Snapper Quota among Regions ............... 86 4.3.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment ........................................... 86 4.3.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment ..................... 88 4.3.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment ........................................ 89 4.3.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment .............................................. 90 4.3.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment ................................ 91 4.4 Action 4 – Regional Management Measures ..................................................................... 91 4.4.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment ........................................... 91 4.4.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment ..................... 91 4.4.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment ........................................ 92 4.4.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment .............................................. 96 4.4.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment ................................ 97 4.5 Action 5 – For-Hire Vessels Federal Permit Restrictions .................................................. 97 4.5.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment ........................................... 97 4.5.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment ..................... 98 4.5.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment ........................................ 99 4.5.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment ............................................ 100 4.5.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment .............................. 101 4.6 Action 6 – Post-Season Accountability Measures (AM) Adjusting for Regional Overages
.......................................................................................................................................... 102 4.6.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment ......................................... 102 4.6.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment ................... 102 Amendment 39: Regional Management
vi
4.6.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment ...................................... 103 4.6.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment ............................................ 107 4.6.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment .............................. 108 4.7 Action 7 – Establishing Default Regulations ................................................................... 109 4.7.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment ......................................... 109 4.7.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment ................... 110 4.7.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment ...................................... 111 4.7.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment ............................................ 112 4.7.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment .............................. 114 4.8 Cumulative Effects Analysis (CEA) ................................................................................ 115 4.9 Unavoidable Adverse Effects .......................................................................................... 135 4.10 Relationship between Short-term Uses and Long-term Productivity ............................ 136 4.11 Mitigation, Monitoring, and Enforcement Measures ..................................................... 136 4.12 Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitments of Resources ............................................ 138 4.13 Any Other Disclosures ................................................................................................... 138 Chapter 5. Regulatory Impact Review ....................................................................................... 140 Chapter 6. Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis......................................................................... 141 Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis ............................................................................... 142 Chapter 8. List of Preparers ....................................................................................................... 165 Chapter 9. List of Agencies, Organizations and Persons to Whom a Copy of the EIS was sent
..................................................................................................................................................... 166 Chapter 10. References .............................................................................................................. 167 Appendix A. Alternatives Considered but Rejected .................................................................. 180 Appendix B. Other Applicable Law .......................................................................................... 183 Appendix C. Summaries of Public Comments Received .......................................................... 189 Appendix D. Delegation Provision ............................................................................................ 217 Appendix E. Fishery Allocation Policy ..................................................................................... 218 Appendix F. Recreational Red Snapper Landings by State ....................................................... 221 Appendix G. Current Federal Regulations for Gulf of Mexico Recreational Red Snapper
Management ................................................................................................................................ 222 Amendment 39: Regional Management
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LIST OF TABLES
Table 1.1.1. Recreational red snapper seasons, quotas, and landings. .......................................... 1 Table 2.1.1. Comparison of documents to be developed, and vote needed to pass, if the Council
decides to modify, end, or continue delegation following implementation of this plan
amendment, with or without selection of a sunset option. ............................................................ 13 Table 2.3.1. Percentage of annual recreational red snapper landings by state (1986-2012), based
on whole weight (ww) of fish. ...................................................................................................... 18 Table 2.3.2. Resulting proportions of the recreational red snapper quota that could be
apportioned to each state based on four options (Alternative 2) of historical landings time series.
....................................................................................................................................................... 19 Table 2.3.3. Resulting proportions of the recreational red snapper quota that could be
apportioned to each state based on four options (Alternative 2) of historical landings time series,
excluding landings from 2006. ..................................................................................................... 19 Table 2.3.4. Resulting proportions of the recreational red snapper quota that could be
apportioned to each state based on four options (Alternative 2) of historical landings time series,
excluding landings from 2010. ..................................................................................................... 20 Table 2.3.5. Resulting proportions of the recreational red snapper quota that could be
apportioned to each state based on four options (Alternative 2) of historical landings time series,
excluding landings from 2006 and 2010. ...................................................................................... 20 Table 2.4.1. The average number of red snapper per angler per trip in 2011 (expressed as a
percentage) landed from the Gulf (n = 121,653 angler trips). In 2011 the recreational bag limit
was 2 fish per angler per day. ....................................................................................................... 26 Table 2.6.1. An example of applying post-season AMs to the 2012 landings based on
hypothetical regional quota apportionments. The resulting 2013 regional quotas by state are
provided for the alternatives. The quotas and landings are provided in mp. ............................... 35 Table 3.1.1. Recreational red snapper landings in 2012 by state and mode. .............................. 38 Table 3.1.2. Red snapper landings and overage/underage by sector, 1986-2012. Landings are in
mp ww. Commercial quotas began in 1990. Recreational allocations began in 1991................ 40 Table 3.1.3. Red snapper recreational landings vs. allocation/quota and days open 1986-2012.
Landings are in mp ww. Recreational allocations began in 1991, and became quotas in 1997. . 42 Table 3.1.4. Commercial red snapper harvest vs. days open, by sector, 1986-2012. ................. 44 Table 3.3.1. Summary of habitat utilization by life history stage for species in the Reef Fish
FMP............................................................................................................................................... 50 Table 3.3.2. Species of the Reef Fish FMP grouped by family. ................................................. 54 Table 3.4.2.1. Effects of 2010 data on average annual red snapper recreational effort. ............. 60 Table 3.4.2.2. Average annual red snapper recreational effort by mode, 2006-2011 excluding
2010............................................................................................................................................... 60 Table 3.4.2.3. Headboat angler days. .......................................................................................... 61 Table 3.4.2.4. Summary of red snapper target trips (2006-2009 and 2011 average) and
associated business activity (2011 dollars). Output and value added impacts are not additive... 63 Table 3.4.1. Top ranking Gulf communities based on recreational fishing engagement and
reliance, in descending order. ....................................................................................................... 65 Table 3.5.1.1. Each state’s average proportion of minorities and population living in poverty,
and the corresponding threshold used to consider an area of potential EJ concern. ..................... 66 Amendment 39: Regional Management
viii
Table 7.1. Mean/median depth of fishing and corresponding release mortality rates for red
snapper by fishery, region, and season. ...................................................................................... 147 Table 7.2. Average depths and associated discard mortality rates for commercial discards of red
snapper in the Gulf. ..................................................................................................................... 149 Table 7.3. Average depths and associated discard mortality rates for recreational discards of red
snapper in the Gulf. ..................................................................................................................... 149 Table 7.4. Estimates of the total number of red snapper landed, the number of dead discards,
and percent dead discards for all killed fish for the recreational and commercial sectors by year
in the Gulf. .................................................................................................................................. 150 Table 7.5. Estimates of the total number of red snapper landed the number of dead discards, and
percent dead discards for all killed fish for the recreational and commercial sectors by year and
region of the Gulf. ....................................................................................................................... 151 Table 7.6. Commercial red snapper landings and dead discards in the Gulf by year and area. 160 Amendment 39: Regional Management
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LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1.1.1. Map of state waters and the EEZ with established and proposed boundaries
between states. These boundaries were agreed upon at the February 2013 Council meeting. ...... 6 Figure 2.4.1. Red snapper length-weight relationship. Source: Conversion factors from
SEDAR 7 2005, Appendix 1, Table 12 and SEDAR 31 2013, page 89 of the assessment report.27 Figure 2.4.2. Visualization of the hypothetical example described for Preferred Alternative 6.
The dark shaded area represents Alabama’s portion of the EEZ (see Figure 1.1.1)..................... 29 Figure 3.2.1. Physical environment of the Gulf including major feature names and mean annual
sea surface temperature as derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer
Pathfinder Version 5 sea surface temperature data set (http://accession.nodc.noaa.gov/0072888)
....................................................................................................................................................... 45 Figure 3.3.1. Fishery closure at the height of the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill. ............ 58 Figure 7.1. Gulf shrimp fishery effort (thousand vessel-days) provided by the National Marine
Fisheries Service Galveston Lab. The reported effort does not include the average effort values
used to fill empty cells. ............................................................................................................... 144 Figure 7.2. Observed (open circles) and predicted total discards (blue dashes) of red snapper
from the private angler open season (top), headboat open season (middle), and recreational
closed season in the eastern (left) and western (right) Gulf, 1997-2011. ................................... 145 Figure 7.3. Observed (open circles) and predicted total discards (blue dashes) of red snapper
from the commercial handline open season (top), longline open season (middle), and commercial
closed season in the eastern (left) and western (right) Gulf, 1997-2011. ................................... 146 Figure 7.4. The number of Gulf red snapper dead discards from the recreational sector by year
and by area. ................................................................................................................................. 156 Amendment 39: Regional Management
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This section provides a summary of the actions under consideration that collectively build upon
one another to establish a regional management program for recreational red snapper fishing.
Action 1 provides two ways in which to enact regional management. One, authority for
establishing regionally specific management measures could remain with the Gulf of Mexico
Fishery Management Council, which could assign different management measures for the
identified regions. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council currently has the authority
to enact regionally specific management measures, as is done for commercial king mackerel.
Selecting this alternative would signal the Council’s intent to enact regionally specific
management measures for recreational red snapper fishing. Alternately, authority could be
delegated to the identified regions to determine their regulations, as provided in the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. A copy of the text for this delegation
provision from 16 U.S.C. §1856(a)(3) is provided in Appendix D. Under delegation, regional
authorities would be able to specify management measures within the parameters of the preferred
alternatives selected under Action 4. To maintain the delegation of recreational red snapper
harvest, the management measures established by a region must remain consistent with the
fishery management plan and Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Thus, the delegation is effective unless the region is notified that its laws and regulations are
inconsistent and fails to correct the inconsistencies.
Action 3 specifies how the recreational red snapper quota will be apportioned among the states
or groups of states as selected in Action 2. Action 4 identifies the management measures that
may be delegated to the regional level including the timing (season start and end dates) and
structure (e.g., continuous or weekends only) of the fishing season, bag limits, size limits, and
area closures.
Action 5 addresses the provision requiring federally permitted for-hire vessels to comply with
more restrictive federal fishing regulations when fishing in state waters. This regulation was
implemented in 2009 as part of the approval of Reef Fish Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008b).
The intent of the regulation was to constrain effort and catch when and if individual states had
longer or different fishing seasons than those established in federal waters, and to improve
enforceability and reduce the potential to exceed allowable catches. At that time, the Gulf of
Mexico Fishery Management Council anticipated that the red snapper stock would continue to
increase and rebuild, and the seasons would be longer. However, regardless of the stock
increasing and rebuilding, the seasons have been progressively shorter over the past few years.
With shortened season lengths, this provision has greatly impacted the charter vessel/headboat
federal permit holders.
A recreational quota would remain for the entire Gulf of Mexico. Action 6 provides alternatives
for post-season accountability measures, which would specify the action to be taken if the Gulfwide quota is exceeded. The post-season accountability measures could be applied Gulf-wide or
to the individual regions that exceeded their quota. In-season, when a regional quota is projected
to be reached, the retention of red snapper would be prohibited in that region to avoid triggering
the selected post-season accountability measure. At the Gulf-wide level, the total recreational
quota would also need to be monitored, and when projected to be reached, retention of red
Amendment 39: Public Hearing Draft
xi
snapper by the recreational sector would be prohibited for the entire Gulf of Mexico even if a
region has remaining quota.
Finally, Action 7 addresses the federal default management measures that are the portions of the
Gulf-wide federal regulations governing recreational red snapper harvest in the Code of Federal
Regulations (50 CFR Part 622), which would become active if delegation is suspended or a state
opts out of regional management. These federal default regulations would be inactive while the
delegation is in effect. However, if a region’s delegation is suspended or a region chooses not to
participate in delegation, then federal default management measures would be effective for that
region. Federal default regulations could be altered through the Generic Framework Procedure
(GMFMC 2011b). Current federal regulations would serve as the default management measures
including a 2-fish per angler bag limit, 16-inch total length minimum size limit, and a June 1
season opening that closes when the quota is reached or projected to be met.1 There are not
current regulations concerning the specific establishment of areas closed for the recreational
harvest of red snapper or sub-allocating the quota; these will not be included in the default
management measures. Additional regulations pertaining to the recreational harvest of red
snapper are provided in Appendix G. Because the National Marine Fisheries Service does not
have the authority to close portions of the exclusive economic zone off a region which has met
its quota or had its delegation suspended, the National Marine Fisheries Service would be
required to close the entire exclusive economic zone when the Gulf-wide quota is met or
projected to be reached.
FISHERY IMPACT STATEMENT
[This statement is completed after selection of all preferred alternatives.]
1
Recreational red snapper management measures are codified as follows in the Federal Register: season opening 50
CFR 622.34(b); size limit 50 CFR 622.37(a); and bag limit 50 CFR 622.38(b)(3).
Amendment 39: Public Hearing Draft
xii
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background
Currently, the recreational harvest of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive
economic zone (EEZ) is constrained by a 2-fish bag limit, 16-inch total length (TL) minimum
size limit, and a fishing season that begins on June 1 and closes when the quota is projected to be
caught. Additional federal regulations pertaining to recreational red snapper,2 such as permit
requirements and gear restrictions, are provided in Appendix G. Since 1996, the recreational
fishing season for red snapper has become progressively shorter (Table 1.1.1). Shorter seasons
have continued despite an annual increase in the quota since 2010, as the quota continues to be
caught in a shorter amount of time. For 2013, the federal season length was projected to be 28
days and was closed on June 29. The results of the benchmark assessment (SEDAR 31 2013),
released shortly before the start of the season, allowed for an increase in the recreational and
commercial quotas. With these increases, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) opened
a supplementary recreational season for October 1 through 14.
Table 1.1.1. Recreational red snapper seasons, quotas, and landings.
Number of Recreational
Year
Season dates
Days
Quota
1996 January 1 – December 31
365
4.47 mp
1997 January 1 – November 27
330
4.47 mp
1998 January 1 – September 30
272
4.47 mp
1999 January 1 – August 29
240
4.47 mp
2000 April 21 – October 31
194
4.47 mp
2001 April 21 – October 31
194
4.47 mp
2002 April 21 – October 31
194
4.47 mp
2003 April 21 – October 31
194
4.47 mp
2004 April 21 – October 31
194
4.47 mp
2005 April 21 – October 31
194
4.47 mp
2006 April 21 – October 31
194
4.47 mp
2007 April 21 – October 31
194
3.185 mp
2008 June 1 – August 4
65
2.45 mp
2009 June 1 – August 14
75
2.45 mp
2010 June 1 – July 23;
77
3.403 mp
Oct 1 – Nov. 21 (Fri, Sat., & Sun.)
2011 June 1 – July 18
48
3.866 mp
2012 June 1 – July 16
46
3.959 mp
Recreational
Landings
4.346 mp
6.008 mp
4.258 mp
3.999 mp
3.932 mp
4.468 mp
5.383 mp
4.847 mp
4.996 mp
4.084 mp
4.021 mp
4.440 mp
3.712 mp
4.625 mp
2.239 mp
4.603 mp
5.146 mp
Quotas and landings are in millions of pounds (mp) whole weight. Source: Southeast Fisheries Science Center
(SEFSC) annual catch limit dataset, including landings from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP),
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and the Southeast Headboat Survey (HBS) (May 2013).
2
Recreational red snapper refers to red snapper harvested by the recreational sector.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
1
Chapter 1: Introduction
Fishermen from different areas of the Gulf have requested more flexibility in recreational red
snapper management so that regulations provide greater socioeconomic benefits to their
particular area. Therefore, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) is
considering regional management as a way to provide greater flexibility in the management of
recreational red snapper. Here, regional management refers to allowing regulations to be
different for identified regions of the Gulf, in contrast to uniform regulations applied to the entire
EEZ. This document considers two alternatives for implementing regional management (Action
1): 1) delegation of authority to regions to specify management measures and 2) Councilimplemented regionalization, in which the Council specifies the management measures to be
used in each region. Such regionally specific management measures may be more appropriate to
the fishing preferences of local fishermen. For example, regional regulations could
accommodate different tourist seasons or rough weather conditions, thereby optimizing fishing
opportunities around the Gulf.
GulfofMexicoFisheryManagementCouncil



Responsibleforconservationandmanagementoffishstocks
Consistsof17votingmembers,11ofwhomareappointedbythe
SecretaryofCommerce,theNationalMarineFisheriesServiceRegional
Administrator,and1representativefromeachofthe5Gulfstatesmarine
resourceagencies
Responsiblefordevelopingfisherymanagementplansandamendments,
andrecommendsactionstoNationalMarineFisheriesServicefor
implementation
NationalMarineFisheriesService



Responsibleforpreventingoverfishingwhileachievingoptimumyield
Responsibleforensuringcompliancewithotherapplicablefederal,state,
andlocallawsandregulations
Implementsregulations
Regional management of the recreational red snapper harvest is intended to enable regions to
adopt management measures that better fit their needs. However, proposed regional measures
must achieve the same conservation goals as the federal management measures in existence at a
given time (i.e., constrain the catches of participating fishermen to the region’s allocation of the
total recreational quota). Red snapper would remain a federally managed species. The Council
and NMFS would continue to oversee management of the stock. This includes continuing to
comply with the mandate to ensure the red snapper annual recreational quota is not exceeded and
that conservation objectives are achieved. The Scientific and Statistical Committee would
continue to determine the acceptable biological catch (ABC), while the Council and NMFS
would determine the total recreational red snapper quota which would be allocated among the
regions. All federal regulations for the harvest of red snapper would remain effective, excluding
those management measures selected in Action 4. NMFS would retain authority for the
remaining management components, provided in Appendix G, including implementing quota
Amendment 39: Regional Management
2
Chapter 1: Introduction
adjustments, regulating permits, and managing the commercial red snapper individual fishing
quota (IFQ) program.
There are benefits and challenges to adopting regional management. The benefits include
providing regional level flexibility in the design of management measures. The consideration of
regional differences in regulations may allow for optimization of social and economic benefits.
For example, the distance from shore that anglers must travel to fish and the optimal times of
year for fishing due to weather conditions or tourist seasons may vary, favoring different fishing
seasons around the Gulf. The challenges of a regional management approach include a more
complex regulatory program, because the single quota would need to be divided and managed
separately for each region. Regional management also requires cooperation among federal and
state marine resource managers. Effort shifting between regions may reduce the effectiveness of
regionalized management. Also, the geographic distribution of the stock may change as the
stock rebuilds, resulting in a pattern of landings that may not reflect the original allocation that is
distributed. Monitoring catches on a regional level may be more costly than on a Gulf-wide
level and require increased sample sizes for data collection. There may also be enforcement
concerns, especially at regional boundaries, should fishing seasons and bag limits vary between
regions.
History of Council Discussion on Regional Management
The Council has explored the concept of regional management for red snapper for several years.
Regional management was discussed by the Ad Hoc Recreational Red Snapper Advisory Panel
at its October 2008 meeting, and the Red Snapper Advisory Panel at its December 2009 meeting.
Staff presented papers exploring red snapper regional management to the Council at the January
2009, August 2010, and October 2010 meetings
(http://www.gulfcouncil.org/resources/briefing_book_archive.php).
In June 2012, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries presented a proposal to the
Council for a recreational red snapper regional management pilot program. The Council
requested that Louisiana provide further details of their proposed regional management plan for
red snapper, and instructed staff to begin developing a plan amendment for regional management
of recreational red snapper. At the August 2012 meeting, the Council requested development of
a scoping document for regional management of recreational red snapper, which was then
discussed at the October 2012 meeting. Scoping meetings were held in January 2013 (Appendix
C). The Council reviewed an options paper at its April 2013 meeting, and the first public
hearing draft at its June 2013 meeting.
At the February 2013 meeting, the Council passed a motion granting NMFS the authority to
reduce the recreational red snapper season in the EEZ off a Gulf state that implements less
restrictive regulations for their state-water seasons. This reduction of the federal season was to
compensate for the additional harvest that would occur in state waters as a result of the
incompatible regulations. In response to the Council’s motion, NMFS implemented a temporary
emergency rule for the 2013 season (SERO 2013a) and announced the resulting state-specific
seasons. On May 31, 2013, the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas, voided the emergency
rule. As a result, a Gulf-wide federal recreational red snapper season was established in the EEZ
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 1: Introduction
off of all five Gulf states. For 2013, the season length was 28 days. A supplemental red snapper
season opened from October 1 through 14, 2013.
In this plan amendment, the analytical baseline for the actions, excluding Action 7, will be based
on the current federal regulations constraining harvest including the 2-fish bag limit, 16-inch TL
minimum size limit, and June 1 fishing season start date.3 NMFS determines the length of the
season based on the amount of the quota, the average weight of fish landed, and the estimated
catch rates over time. Per the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), NMFS closes all federal waters for the recreational
harvest of red snapper when the quota is projected to be met to ensure the entire recreational
harvest, including the harvest in state waters, does not exceed the recreational quota.
1.2 Requirements of the Delegation Provision
If delegation of recreational red snapper management is selected and approved (Action 1,
Preferred Alternative 2), then the management measures delegated to the individual states or
groups of states must be consistent with the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish
Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), including the rebuilding plan, and the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). Consistency with
the FMP requires, among other things, rebuilding declining reef fish stocks, monitoring the reef
fish fishery, conserving reef fish habitats and increasing fish habitats, and minimizing conflicts
between user groups.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. §1856(a)(3)) outlines the procedure in the case of a
state’s regulations not being consistent with the FMP (Appendix D). If NMFS determines that a
state’s regulations are not consistent with the FMP, NMFS shall promptly notify the state and the
Council of the determination and provide an opportunity for the region to correct any
inconsistencies identified in the notification. If, after notice and opportunity for corrective
action, the region does not correct the inconsistencies identified by NMFS, then the delegation to
the region shall not apply until NMFS and the Council find that the region has corrected the
inconsistencies.
In application, the response times between NMFS’ determination of inconsistency and the
implementation of corrective action by the state would be case specific. The timelines for
correction of inconsistencies would be decided by NMFS on a case by case basis, as it
determines whether inconsistencies exist. The timeline for the region’s response would be
dependent on the nature of the inconsistency. Due to the short season lengths and high catch
rates for the recreational harvest of red snapper, the implementation of corrective actions may
need to occur very quickly. Under such circumstances, the region would need to establish a
process to implement corrective actions very quickly.
3
Recreational red snapper management measures are codified as follows in the Federal Register: season opening
50 CFR 622.34(b); size limit 50 CFR 622.37(a); and bag limit 50 CFR 622.38(b)(3).
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 1: Introduction
As a hypothetical example, if the region implemented the delegated management measures
shortly before the season opened, any notification of inconsistency and the implementation of
corrective action would need to occur quickly. To accomplish this, the region would need to
have the authority to close the season and adjust the bag limit perhaps without having an
opportunity to discuss the issue at a formal commission meeting. Alternatively, if the region
implemented regulations several months before the opening of the red snapper recreational
season, then a longer response time would be possible. This scenario may also allow for the
discussion of the issue at a formal commission meeting. These scenarios exemplify the need for
case-by-case timelines for the region’s response to a notification of inconsistency.
Action 7 provides alternatives to specify the federal default regulations during the suspension of
delegation. In addition, it also includes federal default regulations if a region chooses to opt out
of delegation. Under delegation, existing federal regulations for those management measures to
be delegated to the regions (Action 4) would be suspended to allow the regions to set those
management measures. The current Action 4 preferred alternatives with existing federal
regulations4 are the season opening, size limit, and bag limit. In this case, it would be necessary
to determine which federal default regulations would apply during the suspension or opting out
of delegation. Without default measures, there would be no respective federal regulations for the
management measures otherwise delegated to the region (season opening, size limit, and bag
limit).
If a region is determined to be inconsistent by NMFS and does not implement corrective action,
then the delegation would be suspended until the identified inconsistencies are corrected. In this
situation, without default regulations in place, NMFS would need to close the Gulf EEZ off that
region, until the inconsistency is corrected. If the federal default regulations are implemented for
a region, NMFS would publish a notice with the Office of the Federal Register announcing such
an action. Thus, default regulations must be established to continue fishing in the regions
remaining consistent with the FMP.
A region may decide to opt out of delegation and request the federal default measures be applied
to the adjacent EEZ (Figure 1.1.1) for the recreational harvest of red snapper. To opt out of
delegation, the region should send a letter to NMFS requesting the federal default regulations be
applied to their region for the fishing year. A season length would be calculated by NMFS based
on the region’s quota as apportioned in Action 3. Inherently, if only one region opts-out, then it
would still essentially be constrained by the terms of delegation as per the regional area and
quota apportionment.
Under delegation, the EEZ could potentially remain open year-round, and anglers’ access to
harvesting red snapper from the EEZ would be constrained by the management measures
established for their region. Each region would prohibit further landings after its portion of the
quota has been caught. Under certain conditions, the EEZ off a given region could be closed.
To be consistent with national standard 4 (NS 4) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, these closures
should apply to all recreational vessels. Actions 4 and 7 include preferred alternatives that
specify conditions for closing an area of the EEZ. Action 4’s Preferred Alternative 6 proposes to
allow a region to establish closed areas within the EEZ adjacent to the region. Action 7 would
4
Ibid.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 1: Introduction
apply NMFS’ default regulations to the EEZ off a region should that region’s delegation
authority be suspended (Preferred Alternative 2, Preferred Option a) or the region chooses not to
participate in regional management (Preferred Alternative 3).
As referred to in these alternatives, the areas in the EEZ off a region are described in Figure 1.1.1
and the corresponding boundary description. The boundaries represent the jurisdictional lines as
described below. If the Council chooses to combine states into region, then the outermost state
boundaries would be used to define the geographic region. In addition, the Council could choose
to establish new jurisdictional lines to define regions.
Figure 1.1.1. Map of state waters and the EEZ with established and proposed boundaries
between states. These boundaries were agreed upon at the February 2013 Council meeting.
Boundary Description for Figure 1.1.1
The boundaries in Figure 1.1.1 were agreed upon by the representatives from each state marine
resource agency at the February 2013 Council meeting. All lines begin at the boundary between
state waters and the EEZ. Line A-B, defining the EEZ off Texas, is already codified as a line
from 29°32.1' N latitude, 93°47.7' W longitude to 26°11.4' N latitude, 92°53.0' W longitude,
which is an extension of the boundary between Louisiana and Texas (50 CFR 622.2). Likewise,
line G-H, defining the EEZ off Florida, is codified as a line at 87°31.1' W longitude extending
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 1: Introduction
directly south from the Alabama/Florida boundary (50 CFR 622.2). The other two lines have not
been codified, but were negotiated between the adjacent states prior to the February 2013
meeting. Line E-F is a line at 88°23.1' W longitude extending directly south from the boundary
between Alabama and Mississippi.
Line C-D is a line at 89°10.0' W longitude extending directly south from the South Pass Light in
the Mississippi River delta in Louisiana. Unlike the other lines, this line is not based on the
boundary between Louisiana and Mississippi because doing so would be impracticable.
Louisiana has jurisdiction over the Chandeleur Islands, which extend into waters south of
Mississippi. A line based on the state waters boundary just north of the islands could result in
inequitable impacts on Mississippi anglers as it would identify federal waters that are off both
Mississippi and Louisiana as being exclusively off Louisiana. A line based on the state land
boundary would be even further west and would reduce the size of the EEZ off Louisiana.
Therefore, this line was considered a fair compromise by representatives of both states.
1.3 Purpose and Need
The purpose of this action is to provide flexibility in the management of the red snapper
recreational component in the reef fish fishery by reorganizing the federal fishery management
strategy, modifying the for-hire permit provisions, and developing AMs for recreational overages
to better account for biological, social, and economic differences among the regions of the Gulf.
The need is to adhere to the NSs of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and to reconsider fishery
management within the context of the regions of the Gulf. This reconsideration is intended to
better prevent overfishing while achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from the
recreational red snapper component of the Gulf reef fish fishery (NS 1); take into account and
allow for variations among, and contingencies in the fisheries, fishery resources, and catches (NS
6); and provide for the sustained participation of the fishing communities of the Gulf and to the
extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on such communities (NS 8).
1.4 History of Management
This history of management covers events pertinent to recreational red snapper and the Council’s
consideration of regional management for the recreational harvest of red snapper. A complete
history of management for the FMP is available on the Council’s website:
http://www.gulfcouncil.org/fishery_management_plans/reef_fish_management.php
Prior to 1997, the recreational red snapper season was open year-round. Catch levels were
controlled through minimum size limits and bag limits. The Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996
required the establishment of quotas for recreational and commercial red snapper that, when
reached, result in a prohibition on the retention of fish caught by each sector, respectively, for the
remainder of the fishing year. From 1997 through 1999, NMFS implemented the recreational
quota requirement through an in-season monitoring process that projected closing dates a few
weeks in advance. For the years 1997 through 1999, the recreational red snapper season was
closed earlier each year (Table 1.1.1). In 1999, an emergency rule temporarily raised the
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 1: Introduction
recreational red snapper minimum size limit from 15 to 18 inches TL towards the end of the
season from June 4 through August 29 in an attempt to slow down the retained harvest rate.
Without this emergency rule, the season would have closed on August 5. However, the rule
resulted in a large increase in dead discards and the size limit was allowed to revert back to 15
inches TL the following year. Additional details regarding the seasons and regulation changes
for red snapper are presented in Hood et al. (2007).
A February 2000 regulatory amendment (GMFMC 2000) replaced the system of in-season
monitoring and closure projections with a fixed season based on a pre-season projection of when
the recreational quota would be reached. The season for 2000 and beyond was initially set at
April 15 through October 31, with a 16-inch TL minimum size limit, 4-fish bag limit, and zero
bag limit of red snapper by the captain and crew of for-hire vessels. Shortly before the
regulatory amendment was submitted to NMFS, the Council, at the request of representatives of
the for-hire industry, withdrew the zero bag limit proposal for captain and crew. NMFS
recalculated the season length under the revised proposal, and as a result, implemented the
regulatory amendment with a recreational fishing season of April 21 through October 31. This
recreational fishing season remained in effect through 2007.
In 2008, Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2007) revised the
rebuilding plan for red snapper. For the recreational sector, the rule implemented a June 1
through September 30 fishing season in conjunction with a 2.45 million pound (mp) recreational
quota, 16-inch TL minimum size limit, 2-fish bag limit, and zero bag limit for captain and crew
of for-hire vessels. The implementing regulations for this amendment created the June 1 through
September 30 season by establishing fixed closed seasons of January 1 through May 31, and
October 1 through December 31.
The amendment also addressed differences in shrimp and red snapper fishing effort between the
western and eastern Gulf, and the impacts of fishing on the red snapper rebuilding plan. The
Council considered options for modifying recreational red snapper fishing effort, including
different season opening dates and weekend only or consecutive seasons, for the following
regions: Texas and the rest of the Gulf; east and west of the Mississippi River; and maintaining
consistent Gulf-wide regulations. The Council ultimately opted to maintain consistent Gulf-wide
regulations, with a recreational season from June 1 through September 15. Early versions of the
amendment proposed establishing regulations for commercial red snapper fishing for the eastern
and western Gulf. The action was considered but rejected because establishing different
regulations would compromise the objectives of the IFQ program and reduce the flexibility and
efficiency of IFQ program participants.
The Southeast Data Assessment and Review (SEDAR) 7 red snapper assessment provided an
option to set two regional total allowable catches with the Mississippi River as the dividing line
(SEDAR 7 2005; SEDAR 7 Update 2009). These assessments assume there are two sub-units of
the red snapper stock within this region, separated commercially by the Mississippi River
(shrimp statistical grids 12 and 13) and recreationally at the Mississippi/Louisiana state line. The
most information collected and developed thus far is based on the assessment process and
follows this particular split, which is included as an alternative for regional management.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 1: Introduction
The Sustainable Fisheries Act required the NMFS Regional Administrator to close the
recreational red snapper season when the quota is projected to be met. When Reef Fish
Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2007) was submitted to NMFS, the Council
requested that the five Gulf states adopt compatible regulations in state waters. Florida adopted a
compatible 2-fish bag limit, but maintained its state red snapper fishing season of April 15
through October 31, 78 days longer than the federal fishing season. Texas also maintained its 4fish bag limit and year-round fishing season in its state waters. Prior to the start of the 2008
season, NMFS recalculated its projections for the recreational red snapper season in light of the
state regulations, and projected that there would be a 75% probability that the recreational quota
would not be exceeded if the season closed on August 5. As a result, NMFS set the 2008 season
to be June 1 through August 4. In 2009, NMFS again recalculated its projections for the season
length prior to the start of the recreational season and announced that the recreational season
would be June 1 to August 15.
A February 2010 regulatory amendment (GMFMC 2010) increased the total allowable catch
from 5.0 mp to 6.945 mp, which increased the recreational quota from 2.45 mp to 3.403 mp.
However, NMFS estimated that in 2009, the recreational sector overharvested its quota by
approximately 75%. In recalculating the number of days needed to fill the recreational quota,
even with the quota increase, NMFS projected that the 2010 season would need to be shortened
to June 1 through July 24, and published notice of those dates prior to the start of the recreational
fishing season.
In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon MC252 deep-sea drilling rig exploded and sank off the
coast of Louisiana. Because of the resulting oil spill, approximately one-third of the Gulf was
closed to fishing for much of the summer months. The direct loss of fishing opportunities due to
the closure, plus the reduction in tourism throughout the coastal Gulf, resulted in a much lower
catch than had been projected. After the recreational season closed on July 24, NMFS estimated
that 2.3 mp of the 3.4 mp recreational quota remained unharvested (NMFS 2010). However, due
to the fixed October 1 through December 31 closed season, NMFS could not reopen the
recreational season without an emergency rule to suspend the closure. Consequently, the
Council requested an emergency rule to provide the NMFS Regional Administrator with the
authority to reopen the recreational red snapper season. After considering various reopening
scenarios, the Council requested that the season be reopened for eight consecutive weekends
(Friday, Saturday and Sunday) from October 1 through November 21 (24 fishing days).
A January 2011 regulatory amendment (GMFMC 2011a) increased the red snapper total
allowable catch to 7.185 mp, with a 3.521 mp recreational quota and a 3.664 mp commercial
quota. The final rule also established a 48-day recreational red snapper season, running June 1
through July 19. On August 12, 2011, NMFS published an emergency rule that, in part,
increased the recreational red snapper quota by 345,000 lbs for the 2011 fishing year and
provided the agency with the authority to reopen the recreational red snapper season later in the
year, if the recreational quota had not been filled by the July 19 closing date. However, based on
available recreational landings data through June, NMFS calculated that 80% of the recreational
quota had been caught. With the addition of July landings data plus Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department survey data, NMFS estimated that 4.4 to 4.8 mp were caught, well above the 3.865
mp quota. Thus, no unused quota was available to reopen the recreational fishing season.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 1: Introduction
A March 2012 regulatory amendment (GMFMC 2012d) increased the commercial and
recreational quotas and removed the fixed recreational season closure date of October 1. The
recreational season opened June 1 through July 11. However, the north-central Gulf experienced
extended severe weather during the first 26 days of the 2012 recreational red snapper fishing
season, including Tropical Storm Debby. Because of the severe weather, NMFS extended the
season by six days and closed on July 17.
A March 2013 framework action (GMFMC 2013a) increased the commercial and recreational
red snapper quotas from a combined 8.08 mp to 8.46 mp. This was the result of new rebuilding
projections based on the 2009 update assessment (SEDAR 7 Update 2009) that were revised to
account for actual landings during 2009-2012. The resulting sector allocations were 4.315 mp
(commercial) and 4.145 mp (recreational). NMFS published the final rule increasing the quota
based on state-specific recreational red snapper seasons, which NMFS had previously announced
it would do in a March 2013 emergency rule. On May 31, 2013, the U.S. District Court in
Brownsville, Texas voided the emergency rule, and the Gulf-wide federal recreational red
snapper season was established from June 1 through June 28. In July, the Council reviewed a
new benchmark assessment (SEDAR 31 2013) which showed that the red snapper stock was
rebuilding faster than projected, partly due to strong recruitment in some recent
years. Combined with a new method for calculating the ABC, the SSC increased the ABC for
2013 to 13.5 mp, but warned that the catch levels would have to be reduced in future years if
recruitment returned to average levels. After incorporating a buffer to reduce the possibility of
having to later reduce the quota, the Council further increased the 2013 commercial and
recreational quotas to a combined 11.0 mp (5.61 mp and 5.39 mp, respectively) (GMFMC
2013b). This increase occurred too late to extend the June recreational season, so the Council
requested that NMFS reopen the recreational season on October 1 for whatever number of days
would be needed to harvest the additional quota. NMFS estimated that the additional
recreational quota would take 14 days to be caught and announced a supplemental season of
October 1 through 14.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 1: Introduction
CHAPTER 2. MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVES
2.1 Action 1 –Regional Management
Alternative 1: No Action – Retain current federal regulations for management of recreational
red snapper5 in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Preferred Alternative 2: Establish a regional management program that delegates authority to
a state or group of states to establish certain management measures for the harvest of an assigned
portion of the recreational red snapper quota.
Preferred Option a: Allow delegation to sunset after 5 calendar years of the program.
If selected, delegation may be extended through the standard open framework process, requiring
a three-quarters majority vote.
Option b: Allow delegation to sunset after 10 calendar years of the program. If selected,
delegation may be extended through the standard open framework process, requiring a threequarters majority vote.
Alternative 3: Establish a regional management program indicating the Gulf of Mexico Fishery
Management Council’s (Council) intent to specify distinct recreational red snapper management
measures for selected regions.
Discussion:
Alternative 1 (no action) would retain current management measures for the recreational
harvest of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Currently,
these measures include a 2-fish per angler per day bag limit, a 16-inch total length (TL)
minimum size limit, and a June 1 fishing season start date.6 Preferred Alternative 2 and
Alternative 3 propose different approaches to regional management for recreational red snapper.
Under either alternative, red snapper would remain under federal management jurisdiction,
subject to Gulf-wide closure when the annual recreational quota is met. Essentially, while a state
or states would be given some management authority, it is not the complete authority advocated
for by some supporters of regional management. Only those management measures selected in
Action 4 would be delegated, and thus eligible for modification at the regional level. Any
management measures implemented by a state must adhere to the goals of the rebuilding plan
and be consistent with federal and other applicable laws.
Under Preferred Alternative 2, regional management is defined as the delegation of limited
management authority to a state or contiguous states, which would then establish appropriate
management measures to constrain recreational harvest to the assigned portion of the recreational
red snapper quota. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act
5
Recreational red snapper refers to red snapper harvested by the recreational sector.
Recreational red snapper management measures are codified as follows in the Federal Register: season opening
50 CFR 622.34(b); size limit 50 CFR 622.37(a); and bag limit 50 CFR 622.38(b)(3). The regulations are also
provided in Appendix G.
6
Amendment 39: Regional Management
11
Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
(Magnuson-Stevens Act) allows for the delegation of management to a state to regulate fishing
vessels beyond their state waters, provided its regulations are consistent with the fishery
management plan (FMP; Appendix D). The delegation of management authority to the states
(Preferred Alternative 2) requires a three-quarters majority vote of the voting members of the
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) members.
If Preferred Alternative 2 is selected, it is possible that not all states will participate. Nonparticipating states or regions would be required to adhere to the federal default management
measures (Action 7). Because participating states would still receive their allocation (Action 3),
a non-participating state’s season length would be determined based on the remaining quota
balance after subtracting the quota for participating states. Thus, the non-participating state’s
season length would be projected based on the amount of quota it would have received if
participating.
From a regulatory perspective, Alternative 3 is indistinguishable from Alternative 1; the
Council currently has the authority to establish regional management measures and retains this
authority under Alternative 1 (no action). However, this authority has not been used for
recreational red snapper management. Thus, Alternative 3 is provided as an alternative so that
Alternative 1 may be discussed as status quo (recreational red snapper regulations are currently
Gulf-wide), while Alternative 3, if selected, would indicate the Council’s intent to specify
regional effort constraints for recreational red snapper.
Alternative 3 signifies the Council’s intent to depart from traditional Gulf-wide management
and assign different management measures for regions selected in Action 2. In contrast to the
delegation option (Preferred Alternative 2), the Council would decide on the management
measures to be used in each region. It is assumed that the state representatives would provide
input as to their state’s preferred management measures. Alternative 3 would allow for
discussion and debate among Council representatives of all Gulf states and constituencies
regarding the proposed regulations of each region or state. Thus, Alternative 3 would grant less
management authority directly to the states or regions than Preferred Alternative 2, but would
maintain the traditional Council process in which different interests may be evaluated and
discussed.
Should Preferred Alternative 2 be implemented, the Council would need to develop a new plan
amendment should it decide to modify or end delegation. Approving a plan amendment to
modify the delegation would require a three-quarters majority vote, while a simple majority
would be required to approve a plan amendment that ends delegation. The process to implement
a plan amendment requires time, so the Council should begin this process as soon as desired
modifications are identified. At any time, a region or regions could opt out and not participate in
regional management. Although delegation would be inactive and such a region would fish
under the default regulations, related actions in this amendment would remain effective. If one
or more regions opt out of delegation, the regulations implementing the preferred alternatives
selected under Actions 5, 6, and 7 would remain effective, and applicable toward those regions
that have opted out of delegation, until modified through a plan amendment.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
12
Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
To avoid the need to develop a plan amendment to end delegation, the Council could adopt a
sunset provision concurrent with program implementation (Alternative 2, Preferred Option a
and Option b) that would end the delegation and all associated actions in this amendment at a
specified time. Should a sunset provision be adopted and the Council decides subsequently to
continue the delegation, the Council could continue the delegation using the standard open
framework procedure; passing this action would require a three-quarters majority vote among
voting Council members. The Council could still end or modify the delegation at any time by
initiating a plan amendment, just as if a sunset option had not been selected. A decision to
continue the delegation by removing the sunset or to modify the delegation would require a
three-quarters majority vote. A simple majority vote would be needed to approve a plan
amendment to end delegation before it automatically sunsets, or to rescind delegation after the
Council removes the sunset and continues the delegation. Table 2.1.1 summarizes the options
available to the Council should they wish to make changes to delegated regional management
following implementation, and compares the options available whether or not a sunset option is
chosen. The vote required to pass each document is also noted. A summary of the document
and corresponding vote needed by the Council to make changes to delegation is provided in
Table 2.1.1. Sunset options are not considered for Council-controlled regional management
(Alternative 3) as the normal Council process would be used to make and modify provisions to
the program; these decisions require a simple majority vote.
Table 2.1.1. Comparison of documents to be developed, and vote needed to pass, if the Council
decides to modify, end, or continue delegation following implementation of this plan
amendment, with or without selection of a sunset option.
If the Council wants to:
Modify Delegation
End Delegation
Continue Delegation
Plan amendment
No action necessary
Standard Open
Sunset Option (a
(3/4 majority vote)
Framework Action
or b) selected
(3/4 majority vote)
Plan amendment
No action necessary
No Sunset Option Plan amendment
(3/4 majority vote)
(simple majority vote)
(a or b) was
selected
The sunset options under Alternative 2 propose timelines for ending the delegation. An option
need not be selected as preferred. If no option is selected, no sunset date for delegation will be
established. Under Preferred Option a the delegation would end after 5 years and under
Option b delegation would end after 10 years. For both options, the delegated authority would
expire at the end of the fifth or tenth calendar year of the program, regardless of the
implementation date of this amendment. For example, if this amendment were to be
implemented in May 2014 with Preferred Option a selected as preferred, delegated authority
would end December 31, 2018. Ending delegation means that management authority is removed
from the states and returned to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). All regulations
associated with all actions in this plan amendment would expire at the sunset date, including any
accountability measures.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
2.2 Action 2 – Establish Regions for Management
Alternative 1: No Action – Retain current federal regulations for management of recreational
red snapper in the Gulf EEZ.
Alternative 2: Establish an east (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi) and west (Louisiana, Texas)
region and allow for different management measures for each region.
Preferred Alternative 3: Establish five regions representing each Gulf state.
Alternative 4: Allow each state or group of contiguous states to determine its own region
through submission of a regional management proposal.
Alternative 5: Establish an east (Florida, Alabama) and west (Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas)
region and allow for different management measures for each region.
Discussion:
Under Alternative 1 (no action), management measures would remain the same for the
recreational harvest of red snapper in the entire Gulf EEZ. Currently those regulations specify a
June 1 fishing season start date, a 16-inch TL minimum size limit, and a 2-fish per angler per day
bag limit. Additionally, captain and crew are prohibited from retaining a bag limit while under
charter. The remaining alternatives propose to divide the Gulf into regions, using the boundaries
specified in Figure 1.1.1.
Alternatives 2 and 5 would establish two regions: eastern and western Gulf. In both
alternatives, Florida and Alabama make up the eastern region, and Louisiana and Texas make up
the western region. The alternatives differ in that Mississippi is part of the eastern region under
Alternative 2, and is part of the western region in Alternative 5. Because Alternatives 2 and 5
include more than one state in a region, the states sharing a region would need to agree on the set
of shared management measures and to close the region’s red snapper season when the quota is
reached or projected to be reached.
In addition, Alternative 2 would divide the Gulf into regions that most closely approximate the
eastern and western sub-units used in the red snapper stock assessment, thereby affording the
opportunity to adopt regional management measures based on the differences in biological
abundance. The Red Snapper Benchmark Assessment (SEDAR 31 2013) estimated that the
western Gulf sub-unit would carry a disproportionate burden of stock recovery. This is true for
two reasons, first because it is currently estimated to have higher stock biomass and second
because the average fishing mortality rate at age is estimated to be lower in the western Gulf
compared to the eastern Gulf (SEDAR 31 2013). Therefore, the eastern and western sub-units of
the red snapper stock are projected to rebuild at different rates based on current estimates of
population abundance. However, the ultimate result of increasing fishing pressure on the eastern
sub-unit compared to the western sub-unit is that the eastern component is projected to continue
to be prosecuted on mostly small, young fish which is projected to result in a truncated
population age distribution.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
14
Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
A red snapper larval transport study in the northern Gulf examined the potential for repopulating
the eastern Gulf stock through larval transport from the more populous western stock (Johnson et
al. 2009). Red snapper larval abundance was determined to be twice as great over the LouisianaTexas shelf as over the Mississippi-Alabama shelf and four times as great over the MississippiAlabama shelf as over the west Florida shelf (Hanisko et al. 2007). Hanisko et al. (2007)
compared the larval abundance from fall plankton studies in the eastern Gulf and determined the
area off Mississippi/Alabama was disproportionately smaller than off west Florida, but
accounted for half the abundance of red snapper larvae in the eastern Gulf.
A problem with using the sub-units of the stock assessment is that the dividing line used in the
assessment does not fall precisely along a state boundary. Thus, there would be a difference in
using the proportion of the red snapper suggested by the stock assessment that could be taken
from each sub-unit (Action 3, Alternative 4), and the proportion of aggregated states’ landings
coinciding with the selection of Alternative 2, which most closely approximates the boundary
used in the stock assessment, and Alternative 5, which extends the western region’s boundary to
include Mississippi. Although the regional boundary under Alternative 5 is further to the east
than Alternative 2 (and thus deviates further from the sub-units of the stock assessment),
including Mississippi in the same region as Louisiana rectifies the issue that the eastern portion
of Louisiana’s state water boundary essentially obstructs Mississippi’s access to the EEZ from its
state waters (Figure 1.1.1).
Preferred Alternative 3 would establish each Gulf state as its own region. This alternative
would provide the most flexibility to individual states to determine their choice of management
measures. Alternative 4 would not specify regions but enable the states to decide for themselves
whether they wanted to join together and share management measures as a unified region.
Alternative 4 may only be selected if delegation is selected under Action 1 (Preferred
Alternative 2), and allows the regional management program to be modeled after summer
flounder management in the Atlantic states. Under Alternative 4, there could be up to five
regions. Should a state fail to implement regional regulations consistent with the FMP, that state
would harvest red snapper under the federal default management measures (Action 7).
Generally, establishing more regions (such as under Preferred Alternative 3 or Alternative 4)
will mean a more subdivided quota and entail more complicated management. For example,
under current management, state and federal waters Gulf-wide are open during the red snapper
season. By allowing regions to set their own fishing seasons, some regions of the Gulf could be
open while others are closed. Bag limits and size limits may also vary among regions.
Therefore, enforcement will be conducted dockside, primarily. At sea enforcement could be
most complicated near the boundaries between regions with different management measures, as
it could be difficult for enforcement agents to determine which region’s jurisdiction applies to a
recreational vessel. In these cases, it is assumed that enforcement agents would consider the
most liberal of the regions’ management measures in place at the time, to serve as guidelines for
determining regulatory compliance. For example, if no region has a bag limit greater than four
red snapper per person per day, then a vessel possessing red snapper in excess of this bag limit,
regardless of where in the EEZ it is fishing, could be in violation if stopped by enforcement
agents.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
There are also issues with using the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) catch
estimates for states where species are infrequently sampled. This may occur if a given species is
rarely captured or if there are relatively few sample locations in a state. These situations
increase proportional variability, resulting in additional scientific or management uncertainty that
could affect the use of these data. These problems can be mitigated by increasing: 1) the
intensity of sampling, 2) spatial extent of the sample frame (e.g., Gulf-wide variability is less
than estimates for individual states), or 3) lengthening the time-period used to develop catch
estimates (i.e., wave-length). In practice, each of these measures has impediments. For
example, funding may be inadequate to support additional monitoring and temporal or spatial
resolution may not match management needs. This should be considered when developing
management frameworks. In addition, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) uses its
own survey for estimating catches, using a different methodology than MRIP. Also, Louisiana
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced on September 5, 2013 that the state will no
longer participate in MRIP. If regional management is established at the state level, this could
create a question of whether the catch estimates for Texas and Louisiana are comparable to those
of the other states.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
2.3 Action 3 – Apportioning the Recreational Red Snapper Quota
among Regions
Alternative 1: No Action – Retain current federal regulations for management of recreational
red snapper in the Gulf EEZ, which includes setting a Gulf-wide recreational red snapper quota.
Alternative 2: Apportion the recreational red snapper quota among regions selected in Action 2,
based on the average of historical landings for the years:
Option a:
Option b:
Option c:
Option d:
1986-2012
1996-2012
2006-2012
50% from 1986-2012 and 50% from 2006-2012
Alternative 3: In calculating regional apportionments, exclude from the selected time series:
Option a: 2006 landings
Option b: 2010 landings
Alternative 4: Establish eastern and western recreational red snapper quotas, divided at the
Mississippi River, based on the regional acceptable biological catches (ABCs) resulting from the
separate east Gulf and west Gulf stock assessments.
Alternative 5: Apportion the recreational red snapper quota among the Gulf states based on
50% of the average of historical landings from 1986-2011 and 50% of the average of historical
landings from 2006-2011, excluding landings from 2010, and rounding the resulting proportions
to whole numbers.
Discussion:
The adoption of regional management for the recreational red snapper quota will require the
quota to be apportioned, or allocated, among the selected regions. Allocation is an inherently
controversial issue because a limited resource is divided among competing user groups, each of
which benefits from receiving the largest portion possible. Allocation decisions would need to
follow the Principles and Guidelines for Allocation adopted by the Council (Appendix E).
At this time no preferred alternative exists for this action and it will be identified in the Final
Environmental Impact Statement. The data for this action are currently being reviewed and the
states are debating the apportionments. The Council and NMFS welcome public and state input
to determine the preferred alternative. Ultimately, the preferred alternative for this action may
influence the preferred alternatives in the other actions.
Alternative 1 (no action) would maintain a single red snapper quota for the recreational sector.
Currently, there is no expressed state allocation; the proportion of the total recreational landings
made up by each state varies from year to year, as seen in Table 2.3.1. Alternatives 2, 4, and 5
propose methods for apportioning the recreational red snapper quota. Regardless of the
alternative selected, in some years, each state’s landings exceed their average. This means that
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
requiring the states to constrain their catches to a percentage of the total quota could restrict the
fluctuations in annual landings that occur in some years.
Table 2.3.1. Percentage of annual recreational red snapper landings by state (1986-2012), based
on whole weight (ww) of fish.
Year
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
Alabama
10.9%
17.6%
15.6%
16.5%
39.8%
28.6%
31.3%
27.9%
30.1%
30.2%
30.8%
37.5%
27.9%
38.1%
28.4%
41.3%
39.2%
36.9%
25.7%
26.0%
18.0%
18.8%
14.3%
18.6%
12.2%
41.1%
28.1%
Florida Louisiana Mississippi
53.7%
17.7%
0.1%
42.0%
12.9%
2.5%
29.1%
31.7%
0.7%
15.0%
21.7%
10.5%
20.8%
14.2%
2.8%
15.7%
31.9%
5.9%
7.9%
23.8%
15.8%
17.2%
22.1%
12.1%
13.7%
20.4%
7.6%
9.7%
27.0%
2.7%
17.6%
16.1%
3.7%
14.1%
16.5%
9.3%
27.8%
14.5%
3.7%
28.5%
15.7%
3.9%
35.1%
18.1%
1.1%
39.2%
6.1%
2.0%
37.8%
6.1%
3.5%
35.7%
8.8%
5.8%
56.2%
5.7%
0.8%
47.3%
11.9%
0.1%
50.1%
14.9%
0.6%
58.6%
12.6%
0.1%
59.5%
15.7%
1.0%
52.2%
14.0%
1.4%
64.8%
2.5%
0.4%
39.1%
7.6%
1.1%
41.5%
14.8%
3.7%
Texas
17.7%
25.1%
22.9%
36.3%
22.3%
17.9%
21.1%
20.8%
28.2%
30.4%
31.8%
22.6%
26.1%
13.8%
17.4%
11.5%
13.4%
12.9%
11.5%
14.7%
16.4%
9.8%
9.5%
13.8%
20.2%
11.2%
12.0%
Source: Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) annual catch limit dataset, including
MRIP, TPWD, and Southeast Headboat Survey (HBS) landings. Alabama and the Florida
Panhandle HBS landings are initially reported to the same headboat fishing area. Landings have
been assigned to each state based on the HBS vessel landing records (May 2013). Actual
landings are provided in the Appendix (Table F-1).
Alternative 2 includes four options for apportioning the recreational quota using averages of
historical landings for varying time series (Table 2.3.2). Alternative 3 provides options for
excluding particular years from the historical landings averages, due to impacts that affected
recreational fishing opportunities during or immediately preceding those years (e.g., fishing
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
closures following the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill). Alternative 3 may only be selected
if an option under Alternative 2 is selected as preferred; additionally, one or both options under
Alternative 3 may be selected as preferred. The two years provided were discussed at a joint
meeting of the five Gulf states’ respective heads of their natural resource departments.
Hurricane Katrina struck late in the fishing season of 2005, therefore landings from 2006 are
proposed for exclusion. The Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill began in April 2010, prior to
the opening of the 2010 recreational red snapper season (see Figure 3.3.1 for the extent of the
fishing closures). Option a would exclude landings from 2006 from each time series (Table
2.3.3), and Option b would exclude landings from 2010 from the time series (Table 2.3.4).
Resulting averages for landings if both options are selected are provided in Table 2.3.5. The
exclusion of landings from 2006 (Option a), 2010 (Option b), or both (Options a and b) could
be selected alongside any preferred option in Alternative 2.
Table 2.3.2. Resulting proportions of the recreational red snapper quota that could be
apportioned to each state based on four options (Alternative 2) of historical landings time series.
Alternative
2
Option a
Option b
Option c
Option d
Years
1986-2012
1996-2012
2006-2012
50% (1986-2012),
50% (2006-2012)
Alabama
28.2%
29.3%
22.5%
25.4%
Florida Louisiana
33.9%
15.4%
40.3%
12.0%
51.0%
12.4%
42.5%
13.9%
Mississippi
4.1%
2.7%
1.3%
Texas
18.4%
15.7%
12.8%
2.7%
15.6%
Note: Actual landings on which Tables 2.3.2 – 2.3.5 are based can be found in the Appendix
(Table F-1).
Table 2.3.3. Resulting proportions of the recreational red snapper quota that could be
apportioned to each state based on four options (Alternative 2) of historical landings time series,
excluding landings from 2006.
Alternative 2 with
Alternative 3
Option a
Option a
Option b
Option c
Option d
Years
1986-2012
1996-2012
2006-2012
50%:50%
Alabama
28.6%
30.0%
23.3%
25.9%
Amendment 39: Regional Management
19
Florida
33.3%
39.7%
51.2%
42.3%
Louisiana Mississippi
15.4%
4.2%
11.8%
2.9%
12.0%
1.4%
13.7%
2.8%
Texas
18.5%
15.7%
12.2%
15.3%
Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
Table 2.3.4. Resulting proportions of the recreational red snapper quota that could be
apportioned to each state based on four options (Alternative 2) of historical landings time series,
excluding landings from 2010.
Alternative 2 with
Alternative 3
Option b
Option a
Option b
Option c
Option d
Years
1986-2012
1996-2012
2006-2012
50%:50%
Alabama
28.5%
29.9%
23.4%
25.9%
Florida
33.3%
39.5%
49.8%
41.8%
Louisiana Mississippi
15.6%
4.2%
12.2%
2.8%
13.2%
1.4%
14.4%
2.7%
Texas
18.4%
15.6%
12.1%
15.2%
Table 2.3.5. Resulting proportions of the recreational red snapper quota that could be
apportioned to each state based on four options (Alternative 2) of historical landings time series,
excluding landings from 2006 and 2010.
Alternative 2 with
Alternative 3
Options a & b
Option a
Option b
Option c
Option d
Years
1986-2012
1996-2012
2006-2012
50%:50%
Alabama
28.9%
30.5%
24.4%
26.6%
Florida
32.6%
38.9%
49.8%
41.5%
Louisiana Mississippi
15.7%
4.3%
12.1%
2.9%
12.9%
1.5%
14.2%
2.9%
Texas
18.5%
15.5%
11.4%
14.8%
Alternative 4 considers apportioning the quota based on the projected yields for the ABC for the
eastern and western Gulf, as derived from the updated projections from the 2009 assessment
(Linton 2012a), and may be selected as preferred if Alternatives 2 or 5 are selected as preferred
in Action 2. The resulting apportionments of the ABC from that assessment would be 48.5% for
the eastern and 51.5% for the western Gulf (Linton 2012a). The eastern and western Gulf yield
projections were not provided in the most recent 2013 benchmark stock assessment (SEDAR 31
2013); a request for these data has been submitted to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center
(SEFSC).
As discussed in the previous action, all options for creating regions fall along state boundaries.
Although the eastern and western regions proposed under Action 2’s Alternative 2 most closely
approximate the eastern and western components used in the stock assessment and Alternative
4, they do not overlap exactly. There would be a difference in using the proportion of red
snapper suggested by the stock assessment that could be taken from each sub-unit (Alternative
4), and the proportion of aggregated states’ landings coinciding with the selection of Action 2’s
Alternative 2. Nevertheless, Alternative 4 would provide a biologically based apportionment
for regional management. Action 2’s Alternative 5 would also divide the Gulf into eastern and
western regions, but its regional boundary, between Mississippi and Alabama, deviates further
from the eastern and western components of the stock assessment than Action 2’s Alternative 2.
The heads of the five Gulf states’ respective marine resources departments developed an
equation on which the regional allocations could be based (Alternative 5). Each state’s
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
apportionment of the recreational quota would be determined using 50% of the average
proportions of historical landings from 1986-2011 and 50% from 2006-2011, excluding landings
from 2010, and rounding to whole percentages. Landings from 2010 were excluded due to the
disruptions to recreational fishing following the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill and
subsequent fishing closures.
It is possible that one or more states may opt out and not participate in regional management. If
only one state opts out, the remaining four states would still receive their portion of the quota, as
specified in the selected preferred alternative. This means that a single non-participating state’s
landings would be restricted to the remaining balance of the quota, equivalent to the share it
would receive if participating in regional management. Should more than one state choose to opt
out, the participating states would still receive their respective portions of the quota. The quota
which would have been distributed to each non-participating state would be pooled and NMFS
would estimate the length of the fishing season based on the aggregate quota. Those states
would then fish under the federal default regulations and a shared fishing season (Action 7).
An additional issue may arise for individual regions to monitor and constrain catches to their
apportioned quota. NMFS regularly issues exempted fishing permits (EFPs) for research or
activities which would otherwise be considered fishing. Fish harvested under an EFP are exempt
from specific regulations such as bag limits, size limits, and fishing seasons. Because the fish
landed under a research activity EFP are normally accounted for in the stock assessment process,
before any quotas or allocations are established, these fish are not deducted from the quota.
However, there are instances where NMFS may determine that an EFP is specific to a fishing
quota or allocation, and may require the regions to account for those fish during a fishing season.
If a quantity of fish under an EFP is required to be monitored and accounted for by regions under
regional management, the region will be responsible for accounting for these landings, along
with their other monitoring to assure they do not exceed their portion of the quota.
Recently, some groups of fishermen have expressed interest in trying out alternative
management programs through submission of an EFP. The Headboat Cooperative EFP was
recommended for approval by the Council in April 2012, before development began on the
regional management amendment. Thus, it was not possible to consider potential impacts from
the EFP on regional management at the time the Council reviewed the EFP. Although the
Headboat Cooperative will be granted a relatively small amount of the recreational red snapper
quota (148,089 lbs ww),7 participating vessels will be allowed to transfer quota across state lines.
This may complicate a region’s ability to monitor and account for red snapper landed under the
EFP. NMFS will work with the regions to provide the information necessary to monitor their
regional landings so they can constrain landings to their apportioned quota. Should red snapper
landed under the Headboat Cooperative EFP occur after a region has determined that its quota
has been landed, it is possible that the region will exceed its quota. Although the preferred
alternative in Action 6 specifies that a regional overage must be deducted from the region’s
quota the following year (if the Gulf-wide quota is also exceeded), selection of Preferred Option
b delays implementation of the overage adjustment until after the EFP has expired. Thus, the
Headboat Cooperative EFP is not expected to impact the regional management program. Also,
Section 407(d)(1) (16U.S.C. §1883(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act remains applicable and
7
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2013/headboat_efp/
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
NMFS will prohibit the retention of red snapper caught during the rest of the year once the
recreational quota is reached. This provision applies even if members of the Headboat
Cooperative have remaining quota.
After an EFP is submitted to NMFS, the Council has the opportunity for review and comment.
To maintain maximum flexibility at the regional level, the Council will consider EFPs on a case
by case basis in terms of the potential impacts on a region’s ability to account for their portion of
the red snapper quota and determine the most appropriate way to monitor and account for any
quota assigned under the EFP. The Council could then make recommendations to NMFS,
including to approve or disapprove the EFP. NMFS will consider the Council’s
recommendations when deciding whether to approve an EFP and how to account for any quota
assigned under an EFP.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
2.4 Action 4 – Regional Management Measures
*Note: This action is only applicable if delegation is selected, Alternative 2 in Action 1.
Alternative 1: No Action – Retain current federal regulations for management of recreational
red snapper in the Gulf EEZ which includes a 2-red snapper per angler per day bag limit, a 16inch TL minimum size limit, and a June 1 opening season start date.
Preferred Alternative 2: Allow individual regions to set recreational red snapper season start
and end dates and season structure.
Preferred Alternative 3: Allow individual regions to set recreational bag limits from 0 to 4 red
snapper per angler per day.
Preferred Alternative 4: Allow individual regions to establish recreational red snapper
minimum size limits from 14 inches to 18 inches TL.
Preferred Alternative 5: Allow individual regions to establish a maximum recreational red
snapper size limit.
Preferred Alternative 6: Allow individual regions to establish closed areas within the EEZ
adjacent to their region.
Preferred Alternative 7: Allow individual regions to establish sub-allocations for the private
and for-hire (charter and headboat) sub-sectors.
Discussion:
Regional management would allow for management measures (such as bag limits and minimum
size limits) to vary around the Gulf, enabling the establishment of recreational red snapper
management measures most suited to a given region. Regional management may not result in
additional fishing days. However, providing flexibility to the regions to establish management
measures most appropriate locally is expected to result in social and economic benefits by
providing optimal fishing opportunities for a region’s share of the quota.
Usually, an action includes a range of alternatives to establish a specific management measure or
harvest level. In this action, the alternatives propose the boundaries within which each
management measure may be implemented. These boundaries provide the maximum amount of
flexibility for each management measure, that when combined with other effort controls, could
reasonably be expected to constrain catches to within a region’s portion of the quota.
This action only applies if delegation is adopted in Action 1 (Preferred Alternative 2), as it
specifies the regulations to be delegated. Under delegation, a region would have the authority to
adopt management measures within the range of each preferred alternative, provided the mix of
adopted measures remains consistent with the current red snapper rebuilding plan, including the
prevention of overfishing. Furthermore, the adopted management measures must be compatible
with the region’s projected season length and apportioned quota. This means that the selected
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
suite of management measures must be reasonably expected to constrain the region’s harvest to
its portion of the Gulf-wide recreational quota, to avoid the region’s regulations being deemed
inconsistent. Corrective action is required should a region’s regulations be deemed inconsistent,
to avoid revocation of delegated authority.
The selected suite of management measures to be established for a region could consist of
numerous combinations of the preferred alternatives and the respective ranges provided within
them. Although there is flexibility in the assemblage of management measures to be adopted for
a region, under delegation, each region must establish its season dates and structure, bag limit,
and minimum size limit (Preferred Alternatives 2-4). Use of the remaining preferred
alternatives (maximum size limit; open and closed areas; sub-allocations) would be at the
discretion of each region. If a region does not establish (or establishes outside the range
specified) a season, bag limit, and minimum size limit, then NMFS will deem the region’s
regulations inconsistent (see Appendix D). If the inconsistency is not resolved and NMFS
suspends the region’s delegation, the selected default regulations will go into effect (Action 7)
for the region’s portion of the EEZ.
Alternative 1 (no action) would retain a single set of recreational management measures for red
snapper throughout the Gulf. Currently, these measures include a 2-red snapper per angler per
day bag limit, a 16-inch TL minimum size limit, and a June 1 opening season start date. These
measures represent the analytical baseline for this action. NMFS projects and announces
annually when the recreational fishing season will close, basing the length of the season on the
amount of the quota, the average weight of fish landed, and the estimated catch rates over time.
NMFS projected the 2013 recreational red snapper quota would be reached within 28 days and
the sector was closed on June 29.
A benchmark stock assessment was conducted on red snapper by the Southeast Data,
Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) process in 2012 and 2013 (SEDAR 31 2013). In May 2013,
the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) met to review the assessment and
produced recommendations for the overfishing limit and ABC for 2013-2015. An interim
Council meeting was held in July to determine the change in the 2013 recreational and
commercial quotas. The Council selected an 11 million pound (mp) ww quota for 2013 resulting
in a commercial quota of 5.610 mp ww and a recreational quota of 5.390 mp ww. Based on
analysis in the Framework Action the Council determined the recreational sector could have a
supplemental fall season and voted to re-open the recreational sector continuously. NMFS
recently announced a 14-day fall recreational red snapper fishing season starting October 1
(http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishery_bulletins/documents/pdfs/2013/fb13073_gulf_rs_quota_increase_rec_re-opening.pdf.)
Preferred Alternative 2 would allow different recreational red snapper season start and end
dates, and season structure to be established for individual regions. Varying the fishing season
dates around the Gulf has received support by various groups and regions. For example, the Red
Snapper Advisory Panel unanimously passed a motion at their December 2009 meeting to open
the recreational red snapper season on the second Saturday of April. The rationale for this
proposal was largely due to the number of hurricanes occurring early in the summer. Even if
boats could get out on the water following a hurricane, lodging may not be available due to
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
damages at hotels and businesses. The Red Snapper Advisory Panel also noted that families
often plan summer trips and book fishing trips even if red snapper season is closed.
Preferred Alternative 2 also allows for modification of the season structure around the Gulf.
For example, a region may wish to have all or part of its fishing season occur on weekends or
weekdays only, instead of opening the recreational season June 1 and allowing the fishing season
to remain open continually until the quota is projected to be met. The Louisiana Department of
Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has modified its recreational red snapper fishing regulations in
state waters from a continuous structure to weekends (i.e., Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) only,
with the exception of holidays when Mondays are also classified as the weekend.
Preferred Alternative 3 would allow individual regions the flexibility to establish bag limits. If
the Council specifies or delegates management measures to the regions, the bag limit could be
increased up to 4 red snapper per angler per day, with any variation in-between. These bag
limits are considered the only reasonable range given the red snapper stock is overfished and in a
rebuilding plan. If the Council delegated a bag limit greater than 4 fish per angler per day the
probability of exceeding the overfishing limit would increase, potentially compromising the red
snapper rebuilding plan, an undesirable outcome of this management plan.
An individual region may need to close the recreational harvest of red snapper by setting the bag
limit at 0 red snapper per angler per day. It should be noted the Council has also considered
fractional bag limits to increase the length of the fishing season for greater amberjack (GMFMC
2008a) and red snapper (GMFMC 2013a), but fractional bag limits were not utilized for either
species. Based on comments during public hearings and Advisory Panel meetings, the Council
determined fractional bag limits would be difficult to enforce and would disproportionately
affect the for-hire industry. However, if regions wanted to consider fractional bag limits for
recreational red snapper, they could if Preferred Alternative 3 remains selected.
Because the red snapper stock is overfished and in a rebuilding plan the Council has not
considered delegating a bag limit any greater than 4 red snapper per angler per day because the
season length would be further shortened based on analysis presented to the Reef Fish
Committee and Council in early 2013 (SERO 2012c). The Council has discussed at numerous
meetings 2012-2013 methods for increasing the fishing season length, therefore delegating
recreational bag limits greater than 4 fisher per angler per day would be contradictory to these
discussions and efforts (SERO 2012c; GMFMC 2013b).
Based on the 2011 recreational trip limit analysis when a 2 fish per angler per trip was in effect
on 59% of the trips the average number of red snapper landed was 1.5 to 2 fish per person (Table
2.4.1). It should be noted, if regional authorities continued the current methods for estimating
the length of the season and the overall recreational quota is not substantially increased, an
increase in bag limit is estimated to fill the recreational quota faster, leading to a shorter
recreational red snapper fishing season, regardless of how the regions are defined. Currently,
TPWD allows a bag limit in state waters of as many as 4 red snapper per angler per day. The
LDWF has also established state regulations to allow anglers fishing in state waters to harvest 3
red snapper per angler per day. It is possible, after implementation of regional management that
this range of bag limits could be revisited as with other aspects of this amendment to the FMP.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
Table 2.4.1. The average number of red snapper per angler per trip in 2011 (expressed as a
percentage) landed from the Gulf (n = 121,653 angler trips). In 2011 the recreational bag limit
was 2 fish per angler per day.
Average # of red snapper
Percentage All
landed per angler per trip
Modes
16%
0.00-0.50
12%
0.51-1.00
13%
1.01-1.50
59%
1.51-2.00
Note: 1 fish per 2 anglers = 0.5 fish per angler.
Source: SERO 2012c.
Preferred Alternative 4 would allow individual regions to establish recreational red snapper
minimum size limits from 14 to 18 inches TL, with any variation in-between. Currently, the
minimum size limit for red snapper is 16 inches TL in the Gulf for recreational anglers and for
all Gulf states except Texas. In the state waters off Texas the current recreational red snapper
minimum size limit is 15 inches TL. The Council expressed their intent to establish limitations
on minimum size limits at their April and June 2013 Council meeting due to biological concerns
such as high-grading and discard mortality. Because red snapper is still under a rebuilding plan
and stock assessments must take into account minimum size limits for each sector and gear type,
the Council was only comfortable delegating the current range of minimum size limits. It is
possible, after implementation of regional management that this range of minimum size limits
could be revisited as with other aspects of this amendment to the FMP.
Because discard mortality plays a large factor in considering minimum and maximum size limits
in the Gulf, the Council or regions may want to consider reducing the minimum size limit to 14
inches TL. This minimum size limit is similar to the current commercial minimum size limit of
13 inches TL; however, the Council did decide to delegate a minimum size limit below 14 inches
TL to the regions. One of the original reasons the Council decided to allow the commercial
sector to harvest red snapper at 13 inches TL was due to the number dead discards (GMFMC
2007). The commercial sector is estimated to have greater discard mortality rates than the
recreational sector due to gear types and depth fished (GMFMC 2007; SEDAR 7 2005; SEDAR
31 2013). Other considerations with delegating minimum size limits below 14 inches TL
included growth overfishing, meaning the fish is harvested before yield is maximized. For
example, based on the recent yield-per-recruit (YPR) analysis conducted by SEFSC in 2013,
yield is maximized at 15 inches TL. Due to the status of the red snapper stock and selectivity
patterns, minimum size limits from 14 to 18 inches TL are considered effective and are included
in Preferred Alternative 4 as a range that can be delegated to the regions. It should be noted
that spawning potential ratio (SPR) increases for red snapper as the minimum size limit increases
(http://gulfcouncil.org/docs/Presentations/Gulf%20Red%20Snapper%20Size%20Limit%20Anal
ysis%20-%20Presentation.pdf).
The Council did not consider minimum size limits greater than 18 inches TL because of concerns
about bycatch and bycatch mortality. The Council requested an interim rule during the June
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
through August 1999 recreational red snapper fishing season, that increased the minimum size
limit from 15 to 18 inches TL (64 FR 30455-Interim Rule Red Snapper). The Council requested
this increase in minimum size limit to slow harvest and increase the recreational fishing season
length by 24 days. The interim rule was initially supported by fishermen; however, the Council
received numerous complaints from fishermen after the season about releasing dead red snapper.
Consequently, since that time the Council has not considered raising the red snapper minimum
size limit above 18 inches TL.
Preferred Alternative 5 would allow individual regions to establish maximum recreational red
snapper size limits in the Gulf. Because the average size of red snapper landed has increased in
recent years, the quota has been met earlier, resulting in shorter fishing seasons. Thus, the
Council or regions may want to consider establishing a maximum size limit for the recreational
sector. Based on length-weight relationship of red snapper used during SEDAR 7 (2005) and
SEDAR 31 (2013), a 16-inch TL red snapper is estimated to weigh 2 lbs ww and a 28-inch TL
red snapper is estimated to weigh 11 lbs ww (Figure 2.4.1).
Figure 2.4.1. Red snapper length-weight relationship. Source: Conversion factors from
SEDAR 7 2005, Appendix 1, Table 12 and SEDAR 31 2013, page 89 of the assessment report.
The average size of recreational red snapper landed in 2012 was 8 lbs ww and approximately 24
inches TL based on SERO (2012b). To reduce the average size of recreational red snapper
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
landed, regional authorities could establish maximum size limits such as 30 inches TL, a 13-14
lbs ww fish, to reduce the number of pounds landed per angler (Figure 2.4.1). A maximum size
limit could be selected to protect older more fecund female red snapper from being removed
from the population. For example, based on age (size) and fecundity, red snapper less than 25
inches TL (~ age 6) contribute significantly less spawning potential to the population. Larger
older females produce more eggs and spawn more frequently throughout the season than
younger, smaller red snapper (Collins et al. 2001; Porch et al. 2013-SEDAR 31-AW03).
If Preferred Alternatives 4 and 5 are both selected, the Council or regions could establish a slot
limit. For example, all fish landed would need to be between 16 to 30 inches TL. The Council
and regional authorities would need to specify red snapper landed need to be within the
minimum and maximum size ranges or below the maximum size limit. Discard mortality would
likely be greater for larger red snapper and has been found to be correlated with depth. There are
numerous considerations that the regional authorities may want to consider before modifying
size limits.
Discard mortality of red snapper could increase if individual regional authorities choose to
modify seasons (Preferred Alternative 2), bag limits (Preferred Alternative 3), minimum size
limits (Preferred Alternative 4), or to introduce maximum size limits (Preferred Alternative
5), or closed areas (Preferred Alternative 6). Recreational discard mortality of red snapper was
estimated by eastern and western region in SEDAR 7 (2005) and in SEDAR 31 (2013). The
report found regardless of study methodology or eastern versus western Gulf, a consistent trend
among discard mortality data was suggested by a positive correlation between depth and release
mortality. The release mortality for recreational caught red snapper was averaged by eastern and
western Gulf and estimated at 21% (Table 6.5 in SEDAR 7 2005). The most recent stock
assessment estimated discard mortality for the recreational sector at 10% for the eastern and
western Gulf (SEDAR 31 2013). However, the data workshop report noted that release mortality
was related less to region and more on a combination of factors including, but not limited to,
depth, thermal stress, venting versus non-venting, and handling time
(http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/download/SEDAR%2031%20Data%20Workshop%20Report
%20FINAL_sizereduced.pdf?id=DOCUMENT).
Preferred Alternative 6 would allow a region to restrict recreational vessels from harvesting red
snapper from a designated part of the EEZ adjacent to their region (Figure 1.1.1), during a
specified time of the year. Authority already rests with the states to establish closures within
their state waters and to prohibit landings in their state waters. The intent of this alternative is to
provide the regions with flexibility to spatially control where their apportioned part of the quota
is harvested within their region. For example, Florida may want to establish different fishing
seasons for the Panhandle and west Florida due to variations in weather conditions or tourism
seasons. This alternative would not allow regions to establish marine protected areas within their
portion of the EEZ nor restrict commercial vessels from harvesting red snapper from these areas.
The authority to close areas of a region’s EEZ (Preferred Alternative 6) could unintentionally
allow, or prohibit, some harvest of red snapper to occur. These issues could be most problematic
near state boundaries. For example, a region could use this alternative to prohibit recreational
vessels from retaining red snapper from its portion of the EEZ (Figure 1.1.1) while allowing its
state waters to remain open. This use of the closed area alternative could be expected to extend
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
the fishing season by constraining the harvest coming from part of the region’s jurisdiction. To
provide a hypothetical example, say Alabama were to close its portion of the EEZ but allow state
waters to remain open, while Florida and Mississippi have both their state waters and federal
portion of the EEZ open (Figure 2.4.2). Under this scenario, vessels from Alabama would not be
prohibited from harvesting red snapper from the EEZ off Florida and Mississippi, and landing in
Alabama, provided they do not transit through Alabama’s portion of the EEZ. Although
Alabama intended to extend its fishing season by constraining where harvest may occur (only in
its state waters), the additional harvest from the EEZ off neighboring Mississippi or Florida
could result in Alabama’s quota being caught faster. Conversely, vessels from Mississippi and
Florida, where the red snapper season is open in both state and federal waters, would be
prohibited from retaining red snapper from Alabama’s portion of the EEZ, even though those
fish would only count against the quota of the state where landed, i.e., Mississippi or Florida.
Thus, this hypothetical use of the closed area alternative unintentionally allowed for greater
landings by Alabama anglers and unintentionally restricted fishing opportunities for Mississippi
and Florida’s anglers.
Figure 2.4.2. Visualization of the hypothetical example described for Preferred Alternative 6.
The dark shaded area represents Alabama’s portion of the EEZ (see Figure 1.1.1).
Preferred Alternative 7 would allow regions to further divide their portion of the recreational
red snapper quota (Action 3) into separate allocations for private anglers and the for-hire fleet
(charter vessels and headboats). A region choosing to use this provision would need to
determine 1) the portion of its regional quota to be assigned to each sub-sector and, 2) the
regulations to be applied to each sub-sector. Historical landings could be used as a criterion for
apportioning the regional quota. Because this is an allocation decision, use of this provision
must adhere to national standard 4 and the Council’s Allocation Policy (Appendix E). After
establishing separate quotas, different management measures could be applied to each subsector, provided they remain within the boundaries of the respective preferred alternative. For
example, a region could establish different bag limits for private vessels and for-hire vessels.
The use of this alternative could increase concerns for enforcement and quota monitoring.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
2.5 Action 5 – For-Hire Vessels Federal Permit Restrictions
Alternative 1: No action – Retain current federal regulations for management of recreational
red snapper in the Gulf EEZ. If federal regulations for Gulf reef fish are more restrictive than
state regulations, a person aboard a charter vessel or headboat for which a charter
vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued must comply with such federal
regulations regardless of where the fish are harvested.
Preferred Alternative 2: Exclude the provision requiring the vessels with Gulf charter
vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish to comply with the more restrictive of federal
recreational red snapper regulations when fishing in state waters.
Discussion:
The purpose of this action is to modify the Gulf charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish
to provide more flexibility for developing recreational fishing regulations for red snapper.
Currently, vessels with a Gulf charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish must comply with
the more restrictive federal reef fish regulations when fishing in state waters where state
regulations are more lenient (Alternative 1). For example, if a state’s waters are open for the
recreational harvest of red snapper and federal waters are closed, a vessel with a Gulf charter
vessel/headboat permit would not be able to harvest red snapper from state waters. This
provision was implemented in Reef Fish Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008b). The original
purpose of this action was to improve federal regulatory compliance and encourage states to
establish consistent regulations by applying this provision to commercial and for-hire vessels in
the Gulf. By requiring the federal permit holders to comply with more restrictive federal reef
fish regulations when fishing in state waters, the probability of overages occurring are reduced
by restricting fishing effort.
At the time of implementation, the Council anticipated the red snapper stock would continue to
increase and rebuild, and the seasons would be longer. In contrast, regardless of the stock
increasing and rebuilding, the seasons have been progressively shorter over the past few years.
With shortened season lengths, this provision has greatly impacted the charter vessel/headboat
federal permit holders, especially in states that have less restrictive seasons, size limits, or bag
limits, etc. for state waters. Under this scenario, federally permitted for-hire vessels are
prohibited from retaining red snapper in open state waters, while passengers on non-federally
permitted for-hire vessels are allowed to retain red snapper from state waters. For-hire vessels
with and without a federal permit at the same marina may need to explain that some vessels can
harvest red snapper while others may not due to this provision. However, a person who chooses
to hold a limited access Gulf charter vessel/headboat permit has access to an activity that others
do not, and in exchange for that access, the permit holder agrees to comply with the permit
conditions. A permit holder may terminate or transfer the permit at any time.
In relation to the other actions, with implementation of delegation, this action may not be
necessary. Currently, the Council is developing a framework action to further analyze this action
in a broader scope to include more reef fish species than red snapper. However, in the context of
Amendment 39 and regional management, these are the only reasonable alternatives to apply to
red snapper. Delegation would allow the regions to set regulations that would be consistent in
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
both their state waters and adjacent EEZ. In this case, the for-hire vessels would be able to fish
throughout the regional waters. If delegation is suspended, or a region opts out of delegation,
then Alternative 1 would likely have effects similar to status quo. This action could be
implemented even without the implementation of delegation. However, in terms of constraining
harvest, this provision is a mechanism currently being used to constrain recreational harvest, and
removing it could increase the potential for exceeding the quota.
By excluding this provision for the harvest of red snapper (Preferred Alternative 2), the fishing
effort in state waters by the federally permitted charter vessels and headboats would likely
increase under the current recreational red snapper management regulations. Without delegation,
the subsequent increase of fishing effort in state waters would further shorten the season in
federal waters. As of March 2013, there are 1,356 vessels with a Gulf charter vessel/headboat
permit for reef fish, although a large proportion of these are homeported in a state that has not
adopted inconsistent regulations (e.g., Alabama). The distribution of the charter fleet is
discussed in section 3.1. The potential fishing effort shift from these vessels would need to be
evaluated to determine impacts on the recreational fishing season. Examples of the potential
fishing effort shift are inferred from a recent NMFS report (NMFS 2013). Based on 2012
landings data, NMFS determined that charter vessels and headboats landed 2% of the red
snapper in state waters and 18% in federal waters during the 2012 45-day season. If the state
regulations are consistent with the federal regulations, or delegation is established (Action 1),
then effort shifting to state waters would not be expected. In addition, if the state regulations are
inconsistent, such as allowing harvest while federal waters are closed, it is reasonable to assume
that for-hire vessels would fish in state waters with Preferred Alternative 2. For example, in
2013, the state recreational seasons for red snapper were 365 days for Texas, 88 days for
Louisiana, and 44 days for Florida. Alabama and Mississippi had season lengths consistent with
the federal season. The Gulf-wide season length would have been 34 days if all states adopted
consistent regulations. Taking into account inconsistent regulations, the original 2013 Gulf-wide
season was 28 days. If Preferred Alternative 2 was applied, and those states (i.e., Texas,
Louisiana, and Florida) retain inconsistent regulations, the Gulf-wide federal season would have
been 15 days. This estimate would vary and be dependent on the extent of inconsistency by
states.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
2.6 Action 6 – Post-Season Accountability Measures (AMs)
Adjusting for Regional Overages
Alternative 1: No action – Retain current federal regulations for management of recreational
red snapper in the Gulf EEZ. Do not reduce the recreational quota if landings exceed the
recreational quota in the prior fishing year.
Alternative 2: If the combined recreational landings from all regions exceed the recreational
sector quota, then NMFS will file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce
the Gulf-wide recreational sector quota in the following year by the amount of the quota overage
in the prior fishing year.
Option a: Apply the quota adjustment beginning one year after the
implementation of the plan.
Option b: Apply the quota adjustment beginning two years after the
implementation of the plan.
Preferred Alternative 3: If a region exceeds the apportioned regional quota, then NMFS will
file a notification with the Office of the Federal Register to reduce the regional quota in the
following year by the amount of the regional quota overage in the prior fishing year.*
Option a: Apply the quota adjustment beginning one year after the
implementation of the plan.
Preferred Option b: Apply the quota adjustment beginning two years after the
implementation of the plan.
Alternative 4: If the combined recreational landings from all regions exceed the recreational
sector quota, then the recreational quotas for the following year would be based on buffers
calculated by the annual catch limit (ACL)/annual catch target (ACT) control rule.
Option a: Apply the quota adjustment beginning one year after the
implementation of the plan.
Option b: Apply the quota adjustment beginning two years after the
implementation of the plan.
*If the total landings from all regions do not exceed the Gulf-wide recreational quota in that
year, the region’s quota would not need to be reduced to account for the region’s overage.
Discussion:
The purpose of this action is to consider AMs to correct or mitigate any overages during a
specific fishing year (50 CFR 600.310(g)). Implementation of AMs is expected to promote
regional management measures that better ensure harvest is restricted to a region’s allocation,
thus avoiding mitigation actions the following year. Section 407(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens
Act requires that the Council ensure the FMP (and its implementing regulations) have
conservation and management measures that establish a separate quota for recreational fishing
(private and for-hire vessels) and prohibit the retention of red snapper caught for the remainder
of the fishing year once that quota is reached. The national standard 1 guidelines identify two
types of AMs: in-season and post-season. These AMs are not mutually exclusive and should be
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
used together where appropriate. This section considers alternatives to implement post-season
AMs for the recreational sector of the red snapper component of the reef fish fishery.
Alternative 1 (no action), would not establish post-season AMs. Therefore, this alternative is
inconsistent with national standard 1 guidance and would not provide protections if landings for
the recreational sector exceed the quota. Currently, there are no AMs (i.e., in-season or postseason) defined in the federal regulations for the recreational harvest of red snapper, and thus, no
overage adjustments either. Recently, the Council has followed an informal process to consider
any quota overages. However, this process results in continuously requesting the SSC to review
updated landings and resulting yield stream projections to account for any underages or overages
and determine the ABC for red snapper each year, which is calculated by the SEFSC. Then, the
Council requests the development of a framework action to apply the revised ABC and updated
sector quotas. For example, in 2010, there was an underage in landings due to reduced fishing
effort associated with the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill. The SSC reviewed and evaluated
the underage in landings and adjusted their ABC recommendation resulting in a fall recreational
red snapper season.
Alternative 2, Preferred Alternative 3, and Alternative 4 would apply the quota adjustments
beginning in the year of implementation of this action. This action (Alternative 2 and
Alternative 4) could be implemented regardless of the selection of delegation or Council
regional management and provide a post-season AM for the recreational sector of the red
snapper fishery. Two options are provided for each of these alternatives. Option a would apply
the quota adjustment beginning one year after the implementation of the plan. Preferred
Option b would apply the quota adjustment beginning in two years after the implementation of
the plan. These options allow opportunity for the regions to modify their management strategies
without the quota being adjusted for the first or second year of regional management,
respectively. In the case of a quota overage prior to the quota adjustments being effective, the
SEFSC would take overages or underages into consideration while updating the yield stream
projections, as described above.
The post-season AMs proposed under Alternative 2, Preferred Alternative 3, and Alternative
4 would only be triggered if the Gulf-wide recreational quota is exceeded. Alternative 2 would
establish a Gulf-wide post-season overage adjustment to the recreational sector quota and may
negatively impact regions that did not exceed their regional quotas. Although the possibility of
triggering an overage adjustment would encourage regions to constrain harvest to the region’s
quota, the Gulf-wide approach of Alternative 2 may be perceived as resulting in inequity across
regions. For example, if a particular region greatly exceeded their regional quota, then the
necessary overage adjustment may restrict the length of the following year’s fishing season both
in the region with the overage and the other regions which did not exceed their regional quotas.
If this occurs, this may reduce the flexibility provided to the regions under regional management.
Preferred Alternative 3, Option b, with the apportionment of regional quotas, would prevent
the overage adjustment from negatively impacting regions that constrain harvest and do not
exceed their regional quota. However, if a region’s overage is greater than the following year’s
regional quota, then the region may not have a recreational red snapper season. The overage
adjustments would need to be taken into account when regions develop their management
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
strategy, including the length of the fishing season for the following year. Preferred
Alternative 3, Option b would encourage a region to constrain harvest to the regional quota to
ensure that the overage adjustment is not applied to the recreational season for the following
year. In turn, regardless of a region exceeding its quota, an overage adjustment would only need
to be applied if the Gulf-wide recreational sector quota was exceeded.
Alternative 4 would apply a buffer to the total recreational quota for the following year if the
current year’s landings exceed the sector quota. The amount of the buffer, as a percent
reduction, would correspond to the preferred method of applying ABCs and catch targets or
quotas in the Generic ACL/AM Amendment (GMFMC 2011b). The purpose of the buffer is to
reduce the likelihood of the ABC being exceeded in the event that landings exceed the quota.
With delegation selected in Action 1, the calculations for 2016 would be based on the 2015
landings. Beginning in 2018, the calculation would be based on the most recent four years. For
example, the recreational sector has exceeded its ABC in four of the last five years, 33% in 2008,
95% in 2009, 18% in 2011 (or by 11% if the 345,000-lb supplemental allocation is included),
and 47% in 2012. Based on these overages, the ACL/ACT control rule would result in a buffer
of 18% for the recreational sector. When applied to the recreational sector quota, this results in a
quota of 4.42 mp for 2013 instead of 5.39 mp.
To compare the alternatives, Table 2.6.1 provides a hypothetical example of the various postseason AMs applied to the 2012 landings data. In the example, all five states would have
exceeded the hypothetical regional quotas. Under Alternative 1, the Gulf-wide quota would be
5.39 mp without the post-season adjustments. For Alternative 2 and Preferred Alternative 3,
the Gulf-wide quota would be reduced by 1.187 mp to adjust for the 2012 overage resulting in a
quota of 4.20 mp. However, under this scenario, given that Option b is selected as preferred
with Preferred Alternative 3, the post-season AM would not have been applied in 2013.
Alternative 4 would result in a Gulf-wide quota of 4.42 mp with the application of the
ACL/ACT control rule. Alternatives 2 and 4 would affect the regional quotas differently than
Preferred Alternative 3, Option b. Alternatives 2 and 4 would decrease each regional quota
based on the Gulf-wide overage regardless of the region that exceeded its quota. Preferred
Alternative 3, Option b affects only the region that exceeded its quota and reduces the regional
quota by the amount of the region’s overage the previous year.
To prevent overfishing and maintain the objectives and goals of the rebuilding plan, AMs would
need to be implemented with regional management. Currently, the recreational red snapper
landings are calculated from MRIP including the for‐hire charter survey, HBS, and the TPWD
charter and private/rental creel survey. The MRIP data are obtained in 2-month intervals. The
HBS is based on logbooks. The TPWD creel survey is provided annually. The temporal
resolution of these data collection programs would limit the ability to apply in-season AMs. In
addition, the final data are not usually available until the spring of the following year which
would limit the application of post-season AMs. This would prevent annual projections from
being calculated before some regions open harvest. For example, Texas has a year-round season
in state waters and it would not be feasible to calculate the 2013 quota apportionment for the
start of the season if the 2012 final landings are not received until February or March 2013.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
Table 2.6.1. An example of applying post-season AMs to the 2012 landings based on
hypothetical regional quota apportionments. The resulting 2013 regional quotas by state are
provided for the alternatives. The quotas and landings are provided in mp.
Alabama
(30%)
2012 Regional Quota
2012 Landings
2012 Overage
Regional Quotas for 2013
with Applied Post-Season
AMs
Alternative 1
Alternative 2
Preferred Alternative 3
(no option selected)
Option a
Option b
Alternative 4
Florida
(38%)
Louisiana
(14%)
Mississippi
(3%)
Texas
(15%)
Total
1.19
1.44
0.26
1.50
2.14
0.63
0.55
0.76
0.21
0.12
0.19
0.07
0.59
0.62
0.02
3.96
5.15
1.19
1.62
1.26
2.05
1.60
0.75
0.59
0.16
0.13
0.81
0.63
5.39
4.20
1.42
0.54
0.09
0.79
4.20
2.05
2.05
1.68
0.75
0.75
0.62
0.16
0.16
0.13
0.81
0.81
0.66
5.39
5.39
4.42
1.36
1.62
1.62
1.33
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
2.7 Action 7 – Establishing Default Regulations
*Note: This action is only applicable if delegation is selected, Alternative 2 in Action 1.
Alternative 1: No Action – Do not specify federal default regulations in the event that
delegation does not apply.
Preferred Alternative 2: During the suspension of delegation, the recreational harvest of red
snapper in the EEZ off such region would be:
Preferred Option a: restricted to the NMFS default regulations.
Option b: prohibited until the delegation is reinstated.
Preferred Alternative 3: If a region opts out of delegation, the NMFS default regulations
would apply for recreational harvest of red snapper in the EEZ off such region.
Discussion:
The term default regulations refer to the Gulf-wide regulations governing the recreational harvest
of red snapper in the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR Part 622). To implement delegation,
the current federal regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR Part 622) would need
to be suspended while consistent delegation is in effect. Federal default regulations for the
recreational harvest of red snapper then would be necessary for the management measures
delegated to the regions as specified in Action 4. This action is only applicable with delegation
in place. During a time in which the region’s delegation is suspended, or if a region opts out of
delegation, federal default regulations would apply. Currently, the federal regulations
concerning bag limit, size limit, and season length include a 2-fish bag limit, minimum size limit
of 16 inches TL, and season opening June 1 and closing when the recreational quota is reached
or projected to be met. Although the current federal regulations are the “No Action” Alternative
in Actions 1 through 6, a different “No Action” Alternative is being considered for Action 7 to
allow for a more meaningful analysis and comparison among Alternatives.
Action 7 considers Alternative 1, the No Action Alternative, not specifying federal default
regulations in the event that delegation does not apply. This No Action is necessary for
consideration because the current federal regulations will serve as the default regulations for
Preferred Alternatives 2 and 3. These regulations have been established and revised over time
through framework and regulatory amendments, which considered many ranges of reasonable
alternatives and those analyses support utilizing the current federal regulations as the federal
default measures. Therefore, this action does not consider what the federal default measures will
be, but if and under what circumstances they will be implemented should delegation be
suspended, or one or more regions opts out. The federal default measures related to Action 4,
Preferred Alternatives 6 would be that no closed area would be established in the EEZ for the
recreational harvest. The federal default measures related to Action 4, Preferred Alternative 7
would be that no sub-allocations for the private and for-hire (charter and headboat) sub-sectors
would exist. Federal default regulations can be revised through the Generic Framework
Procedure (GMFMC 2011b). As per the Magnuson-Stevens Act, it would still be necessary for
NMFS to prohibit the recreational harvest of red snapper if the Gulf-wide recreational quota is
reached or projected to be met.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
Alternative 1 would not specify federal default regulations to replace the management measures
delegated in Action 4 in the event delegation is suspended or the region opts out of the
delegation. Without delegation this action would be inapplicable and would move to Appendix
A: Considered but Rejected. With delegation, the federal regulations for the management
measures selected in Action 4 would be suspended. However, if the delegation is suspended or a
region opts out, then federal default measures would be necessary. Thus, selection of
Alternative 1 would mean that no federal regulations would be in place to control recreational
harvest if the delegation were to no longer be active. Therefore, Alternative 1 would likely
result in an inconsistency determination from NMFS and without the implementation of
corrective action by the region, the Gulf EEZ could be closed if the recreational red snapper
harvest exceeds or is projected to exceed the quota.
Preferred Alternative 2 pertains to the federal default regulations when delegated authority is
suspended and would apply only to the EEZ off that region (Figure 1.1.1). These regulations
would apply to all recreational vessels fishing in the EEZ of the affected region. Preferred
Alternative 2 could allow for the possibility of some recreational harvest of red snapper to
continue while the delegation is suspended (Preferred Option a) under the federal default
regulations. If the delegation is suspended, then NMFS would publish a notice in the Federal
Register to implement the federal default regulations (Preferred Option a) or prohibit the
recreational harvest of red snapper (Option b) in the region’s adjacent EEZ (Figure 1.1.1). If
NMFS determines the region’s quota has already been reached, then recreational harvest of red
snapper would be prohibited.
Preferred Alternative 3 would be necessary if a region decides to opt out of delegation for a
fishing year. If all regions participate in delegation, then this alternative is not necessary, but if a
region chooses to opt out of delegation, then federal default regulations would be necessary. A
region may decide not to participate in the delegation and request the federal default measures be
applied to the adjacent EEZ for the recreational harvest of red snapper. This would constitute the
region opting out of the delegation. To opt out of delegation, the region would send a letter
requesting the federal default regulations be applied to their region for the fishing year. NMFS
would publish a notice in the Federal Register to implement the federal default regulations in the
region’s adjacent EEZ (Figure 1.1.1). The season length would be calculated by NMFS based on
the region’s quota as apportioned in Action 3. Inherently, if only one region opts out, then they
would still essentially be constrained by the terms of delegation as per the regional area and
quota apportionment. If more than one region opted out of delegation, their regional quotas
could be combined into a single quota, and then NMFS would calculate the season for those
portions of the EEZ no longer managed by the regions. It would be expected that these regions
would adopt regulations consistent with the federal default regulations that would apply to all
recreational vessels in the EEZ off such region. In turn, if a region does not set the bag limit,
minimum size limit, or season length, then it is assumed that the region is opting out of
delegation and the federal default management measures would apply.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 2. Management Alternatives
CHAPTER 3. AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT
The actions considered in this environmental impact statement (EIS) would affect recreational
fishing for red snapper in federal and state waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). Descriptions of
the physical, biological, economic, social, and administrative environments were completed in
the EIS for Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2007), the Generic
Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Amendment (GMFMC 2004a), and the Generic Annual Catch
Limits/Accountability Measures (ACL/AM) Amendment (GMFMC 2011b). Below, information
on each of these environments is summarized or updated, as appropriate.
3.1 Description of the Red Snapper Component of the Reef Fish
Fishery
A description of the fishery and affected environment relative to red snapper was last fully
discussed in joint Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2007). This
section updates the previous description to include additional information since publication of
that EIS.
General Features
Commercial harvest of red snapper from the Gulf began in the mid-1800s (Shipp 2001). In the
1930s, party boats built exclusively for recreational fishing began to appear (Chester 2001). The
commercial sector operates under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program. In 2011, 362
vessels participated in the IFQ program (NMFS 2012a). The recreational sector operates in three
modes, charter boats, headboats, and private vessels. In 2012 private vessels accounted for
61.1% of recreational red snapper landings, followed by charter boats (24.8%) and headboats
(14.1%). On a state-by-state basis, Florida accounted for the most landings (41.5%), followed by
Alabama (28.1%), Louisiana (14.8%), Texas (12.0%), and Mississippi (3.7%) (Table 3.1.1).
Table 3.1.1. Recreational red snapper landings in 2012 by state and mode.
State
Charter
641,437
359,469
997
236,302
39,128
1,277,333
% by Mode
24.8%
Source: NMFS 2013.
FL (west)
AL
MS
LA
TX
Total
Landings (lbs whole weight)
Headboat
Private
205,114
72,199
5,894
21,999
419,671
724,077
14.1%
All Modes
1,289,253
1,013,460
182,767
501,704
157,726
3,144,911
61.1%
2,135,804
1,445,128
189,658
760,005
616,525
5,147,120
% by State
41.5%
28.1%
3.7%
14.8%
12.0%
100%
The red snapper stock has been found to be in decline or overfished in every stock assessment
conducted, beginning with the first assessment in 1986 (Parrack and McClellan 1986).
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Implemented in 1990, Amendment 1 (GMFMC 1989) established the first red snapper rebuilding
plan. From 1990 through 2009, red snapper harvest was managed through the setting of an
annual total allowable catch (TAC), which has been divided into allocations of 51% commercial,
and 49% recreational. Beginning in 2010, TAC was phased out in favor of an ACL. The red
snapper rebuilding plan has not formally adopted the use of the term ACL. However, by
allocating the acceptable biological catch (ABC) between the commercial and recreational
sectors, and then setting quotas for each sector that do not exceed those allocations, the
terminology and approaches used in the red snapper rebuilding plan are consistent with the use
of ACLs, and optionally annual catch targets as discussed in the national standard 1 guidelines.
Such alternative terminology is allowed under the guidelines.
Also in 1990, Amendment 1 established a commercial red snapper quota of 2.65 million pounds
(mp) whole weight (ww). There was no explicit recreational allocation specified, only a bag
limit of 7 fish and a minimum size limit of 13 inches total length. Based on the 51:49
commercial to recreational sector allocation, the commercial quota implied a TAC of about 6.0
mp in 1990, followed by explicit TACs of 4.0 mp in 1991 and 1992, 6.0 mp in 1993 through
1995, and 9.12 mp from 1996 through 2006. The TAC was reduced to 6.5 mp in 2007 and 5.0
mp in 2008 and 2009.
In 2010, the ABC was increased to 6.945 mp. In 2011, it was initially raised to 7.185 mp, and
then increased in August by another 345,000 lbs (7.530 mp total) which was allocated to the
recreational sector. In 2012 the ABC was raised to 8.080 mp. A scheduled increase in 2013 to
8.690 mp was cancelled due to an overharvest in 2012 by the recreational sector. After an
analysis of the impacts of the overharvest on the red snapper rebuilding plan, the 2013 ABC was
increased to 8.460 mp. In July 2013, the Council reviewed a new benchmark assessment
(SEDAR 31 2013) which showed that the red snapper stock was rebuilding faster than projected,
partly due to strong recruitment in some recent years. Combined with a new method for
calculating the ABC, the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) increased the ABC for
2013 to 13.5 mp, but warned that the catch levels would have to be reduced in future years if
recruitment returned to average levels. After incorporating a buffer to reduce the possibility of
having to later reduce the quota, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council)
further increased the 2013 commercial and recreational quotas to a combined 11.0 mp (5.61 mp
and 5.39 mp respectively) (GMFMC 2013b). This increase occurred too late to extend the June
recreational season, so the Council requested that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
reopen the recreational season on October 1 for whatever number of days would be needed to
harvest the additional quota. NMFS estimated that the additional recreational quota would take
14 days to be caught, and therefore announced a supplemental season of October 1 through 14.
Both the commercial and recreational sectors have had numerous allocation overruns. Table
3.1.2 shows a comparison of quotas and actual harvests from 1990 through 2012. The
recreational sector has had allocation overruns in 14 out of 22 years in which an allocation was
specified, while the commercial sector has had overruns in 10 of 23 years. However, the
commercial sector has not had overruns since 2005. Since 2007 commercial harvest of red
snapper has operated under an IFQ program.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Table 3.1.2. Red snapper landings and overage/underage by sector, 1986-2012. Landings are in
mp ww. Commercial quotas began in 1990. Recreational allocations began in 1991.
Year
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
Recreational
Alloc. Actual
Quota landings
na
2.770
na
1.814
na
2.568
na
2.656
na
1.614
1.96
2.358
1.96
3.899
2.94
5.687
2.94
5.299
2.94
4.814
4.47
4.346
4.47
6.008
4.47
4.258
4.47
3.999
4.47
3.932
4.47
4.468
4.47
5.383
4.47
4.847
4.47
4.996
4.47
4.084
4.47
4.021
3.185 4.440
2.45
3.712
2.45
4.625
3.403 2.239
3.866 4.602
3.959 5.146
Difference
na
na
na
na
na
+0.398
+1.939
+2.747
+2.359
+1.874
-0.124
+1.538
-0.212
-0.471
-0.538
-0.002
+0.913
+0.377
+0.526
-0.386
-0.449
+1.255
+1.262
+2.175
-1.164
+0.736
+1.187
Commercial
Quota Actual
landings
na
3.700
na
3.069
na
3.960
na
3.098
3.1
2.650
2.04
2.213
2.04
3.106
3.06
3.374
3.06
3.222
3.06
2.934
4.65
4.313
4.65
4.810
4.65
4.680
4.65
4.876
4.65
4.837
4.65
4.625
4.65
4.779
4.65
4.409
4.65
4.651
4.65
4.096
4.65
4.649
3.315 3.183
2.55
2.484
2.55
2.484
3.542 3.392
3.664 3.594
4.121 4.036
Difference
Total
Quota
na
na
na
na
-0.450
+0.173
+1.066
+0.314
+0.162
-0.126
-0.337
+0.160
+0.030
+0.226
+0.187
-0.025
+0.129
-0.241
+0.001
-0.554
-0.001
-0.132
-0.066
-0.066
-0.150
-0.070
-0.085
na
na
na
na
na
4.0
4.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
9.12
9.12
9.12
9.12
9.12
9.12
9.12
9.12
9.12
9.12
9.12
6.5
5.0
5.0
6.945
7.53
8.08
Actual
landings
6.470
4.883
6.528
5.754
4.264
4.571
7.005
9.061
8.521
7.748
8.659
10.818
8.938
8.875
8.769
9.093
10.162
9.256
9.647
8.180
8.670
7.623
6.196
7.109
5.631
8.196
9.182
Difference
na
na
na
na
na
+0.571
+3.005
+3.061
+2.521
+1.748
-0.461
+1.698
-0.182
-0.245
-0.351
-0.027
+1.042
+0.136
+0.527
-0.940
-0.450
+1.123
+1.196
+2.109
-1.314
+0.666
+1.102
Sources: For recreational landings, Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) including
landings from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department (TPWD), and the Southeast Headboat Survey (HBS) (May 2013). For commercial
landings, Southeast Data Assessment and Review (SEDAR) 31 Data Workshop Report (19902011), commercial quotas/catch allowances report from NMFS/Southeast Regional Office
(SERO) IFQ landings website (2012 commercial):
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/ifq/CommercialQuotasCatchAllowanceTable.pdf.
Commercial quotas/landings in gutted weight were multiplied by 1.11 to convert to ww. Values
highlighted in red are those where landings exceeded quotas.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Recreational Red Snapper Sector
Red snapper are an important component of the recreational sector’s harvest of reef fish in the
Gulf. Recreational red snapper fishing includes charter boats, headboats (or party boats), and
private anglers fishing primarily from private or rental boats. As with the commercial fishery,
red snapper are primarily caught with hook-and-line gear in association with bottom structures.
Recreational red snapper harvest allocations since 1991 have been set at 49% of the TAC, or
1.96 mp in 1991 and 1992, 2.94 mp for 1993 through 1995, and 4.47 mp from 1996 through
2006. In 2007, the recreational quota was reduced to 3.185 mp. It was reduced again to 2.45 mp
in 2008 and 2009. Since 2010, the recreational quota has been increased each year: 3.403 mp in
2010, 3.866 mp in 2011, and 3.959 mp in 2012 (Table 3.1.3).
Before 1984, there were no restrictions on the recreational harvest of red snapper. In November
1984, a 12-inch total length size limit was implemented, but with an allowance for five
undersized fish per person. In 1990, the undersized allowance was eliminated, and the
recreational sector was managed through bag and size limits with a year-round open season. In
1997, the recreational red snapper allocation was converted into a quota with accompanying
quota closure should the sector exceed its quota. Recreational quota closures occurred in 1997,
1998, and 1999, becoming progressively shorter each year even though the quota remained a
constant 4.47 mp.
A fixed recreational season of April 21 through October 31 (194 days) was established for 2000
through 2007. However, NMFS returned to variable length seasons beginning in 2008. Under
this management approach, due to a lag in the reporting of recreational catches, catch rates over
the course of the season were projected in advance based on past trends and changes in the
average size of a recreationally harvested red snapper. The recreational season opened each year
on June 1 and closed on the date when the quota was projected to be reached. In 2008, the
season length was reduced from 194 days to 65 days in conjunction with a reduction in quota to
2.45 mp. The season length then increased to 75 days in 2009. In 2010, the recreational red
snapper season was originally projected to be 53 days. However, due to reduced effort and large
emergency area closures resulting from the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill, catches were
below projections, and a one-time supplemental season of weekend only openings (Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday) was established from October 1 through November 22. This added 24
fishing days to the 2010 season for a total of 77 days. In 2011, the season was reduced to 48
days despite an increase in the quota, due to an increase in the average size of a recreationally
harvested fish. In 2012 the season was initially scheduled to be 40 days, but was extended to 46
days to compensate for the loss of fishing days due to storms (Table 3.1.3).
During the six years when the recreational harvest was an allocation, not a quota (1991 – 1996),
actual recreational harvests in pounds of red snapper exceeded the allocation every year except
1996. During the period when the recreational harvest was managed as a quota (1997 – 2012),
actual recreational harvest in pounds of red snapper exceeded the quota in 9 out of 16 years,
including 5 of the last 6 years (Table 3.1.3). Historical recreational landings estimates have
recently been revised to reflect changes in methodology under the Marine Recreational
Information Program (MRIP).
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Table 3.1.3. Red snapper recreational landings vs. allocation/quota and days open 1986-2012.
Landings are in mp ww. Recreational allocations began in 1991, and became quotas in 1997.
Year
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
Alloc.
Quota
na
na
na
na
na
1.96
1.96
2.94
2.94
2.94
4.47
4.47
4.47
4.47
4.47
4.47
4.47
4.47
4.47
4.47
4.47
3.185
2.45
2.45
3.403
3.866
3.959
Actual
landings
2.770
1.814
2.568
2.656
1.614
2.358
3.899
5.687
5.299
4.814
4.346
6.008
4.258
3.999
3.932
4.468
5.383
4.847
4.996
4.084
4.021
4.440
3.712
4.625
2.239
4.602
5.146
Difference
% over
or under
Days open
na
na
na
na
na
+0.398
+1.939
+2.747
+2.359
+1.874
-0.124
+1.538
-0.212
-0.471
-0.538
-0.002
+0.913
+0.377
+0.526
-0.386
-0.449
+1.255
+1.262
+2.175
-1.164
+0.736
+1.187
365
365
365
365
365
+20% 365
+99% 365
+93% 365
+80% 365
+64% 365
-3% 365
+34% 330
-5% 272
-11% 240
-12% 194
0% 194
+20% 194
+8% 194
+12% 194
-9% 194
-10% 194
+39% 194
+52% 65
+89% 75
-34% 53 + 24 = 77
+19% 48
+30% 46
Data sources: Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) including landings from MRIP,
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and the Southeast Headboat Survey (HBS) (May
2013). Values highlighted in red are those where landings exceeded quotas.
For-hire vessels have operated under a limited access system with respect to the issuance of new
for-hire permits for fishing reef fish or coastal migratory pelagics since 2003. A total of 3,340
reef fish and coastal migratory pelagic charter permits were issued under the moratorium, and
they are associated with 1,779 vessels. Of these vessels, 1,561 have both reef fish and coastal
migratory pelagics permits, 64 have only reef fish permits, and 154 have only coastal migratory
pelagics permits. About one-third of Florida charter boats targeted three or less species; twothirds targeted five or less species; and 90% targeted nine or less species. About 40% of these
charter boats did not target particular species. The species targeted by the largest proportion of
Florida charter boats were king mackerel (46%), grouper (29%), snapper (27%), dolphin (26%),
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
and billfish (23%). In the eastern Gulf, the species receiving the most effort were grouper, king
mackerel, and snapper. About 25% of Florida headboats targeted three or fewer species; 75%
targeted four or fewer species; and 80% targeted five or fewer species. About 60% of headboats
did not target any particular species. The species targeted by the largest proportion of Florida
headboats are snapper and other reef fish (35%), red grouper (29%), gag grouper (23%), and
black grouper (16%). In the eastern Gulf, the species receiving the most effort were snapper,
gag, and red grouper (Sutton et al. 1999).
The majority of charter boats in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas reported targeting
snapper (91%), king mackerel (89%), cobia (76%), and tuna (55%). The species receiving the
largest percentage of effort by charter boats in the four-state area were snapper (49%), king
mackerel (10%), red drum (6%), cobia (6%), tuna (5%), and speckled trout (5%). The majority
of headboat operators reported targeting snapper (100%), king mackerel (85%), shark (65%),
tuna (55%), and amberjack (50%). The species receiving the largest percentage of total effort by
headboats in the four-state area were snapper (70%), king mackerel (12%), amberjack (5%), and
shark (5%) (Sutton et al. 1999).
Commercial Red Snapper Sector
In the Gulf, red snapper are primarily harvested commercially with hook-and-line and bandit
gear, with bandit gear being more prevalent. Longline gear captures a small percentage of total
landings (< 5%). Longline gear is prohibited for the harvest of reef fish inside of 50 fathoms
west of Cape San Blas. East of Cape San Blas, longline gear is prohibited for harvest of reef fish
inside of 20 fathoms, with a seasonal shift in the longline boundary to 35 fathoms during June
through August to protect foraging sea turtles.
Between 1990 and 2006, the principal method of managing the commercial sector for red
snapper was with quotas set at 51% of TAC and seasonal closures after each year’s quota was
filled. The result was a race for fish in which fishermen were compelled to fish as quickly as
possible to maximize their catch of the overall quota before the season was closed. The fishing
year was characterized by short periods of intense fishing activity with large quantities of red
snapper landed during the open seasons rather than lower levels of activity with landings spread
more uniformly throughout the year. The result was short seasons and frequent quota overruns
(Table 3.1.4). From 1993 through 2006, trip limits, limited access endorsements, split seasons
and partial monthly season openings were implemented in an effort to slow the race for fish. At
the beginning of the 1993 season, 131 boats qualified for red snapper endorsements on their reef
fish permits that entitled them to land 2,000 lbs of red snapper per trip.
In 2007, an IFQ program was implemented for the commercial red snapper sector. Each vessel
that qualified for the program was issued an allocation of a percentage of the commercial quota
based on historical participation. The allocations were issued as shares representing pounds of
red snapper, which the fishermen could harvest, sell or lease to other fishermen, or purchase
from other fishermen. Beginning in 2007, the commercial red snapper season is no longer
closed, but a commercial vessel cannot land red snapper unless it has sufficient allocation in its
vessel account to cover the landing poundage. As a result, there have not been any quota
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
overruns under the IFQ program (Table 3.1.4). The red snapper IFQ program is currently
undergoing a 5-year review to determine if changes are needed to the program.
Table 3.1.4. Commercial red snapper harvest vs. days open, by sector, 1986-2012.
Year
Quota
Actual
landings
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
na
na
na
na
3.1
2.04
2.04
3.06
3.06
3.06
4.65
4.65
4.65
4.65
4.65
4.65
4.65
4.65
4.65
4.65
4.65
3.315
2.55
2.55
3.542
3.664
4.121
3.700
3.069
3.960
3.098
2.650
2.213
3.106
3.374
3.222
2.934
4.313
4.810
4.680
4.876
4.837
4.625
4.779
4.409
4.651
4.096
4.649
3.183
2.484
2.484
3.392
3.594
4.036
Days Open (days that
open or close at noon
are counted as halfdays) (“+” = split
season)
365
365
365
365
365
235
52½ + 42 = 94½
94
77
50 + 1½ = 51½
64 + 22 = 86
53 + 18 = 71
39 + 28 = 67
42 + 22 = 64
34 + 25 = 59
50 + 20 = 70
57 + 24 = 81
60 + 24 = 84
63 + 32 = 95
72 + 48 = 120
72 + 43 = 115
IFQ
IFQ
IFQ
IFQ
IFQ
IFQ
Sources: SEDAR 31 Data Workshop Report (1990-2011 landings), commercial quotas/catch
allowances report from NMFS/Southeast Regional Office IFQ landings website (2012 landings):
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/ifq/CommercialQuotasCatchAllowanceTable.pdf.
Commercial quotas/landings in gutted weight were multiplied by 1.11 to convert to ww. Values
highlighted in red are those where landings exceeded quotas.
3.2 Description of the Physical Environment
The Gulf has a total area of approximately 600,000 square miles (1.5 million km2), including
state waters (Gore 1992). It is a semi-enclosed, oceanic basin connected to the Atlantic Ocean
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
by the Straits of Florida and to the Caribbean Sea by the Yucatan Channel (Figure 3.2.1).
Oceanographic conditions are affected by the Loop Current, discharge of freshwater into the
northern Gulf, and a semi-permanent, anti-cyclonic gyre in the western Gulf. The Gulf includes
both temperate and tropical waters (McEachran and Fechhelm 2005). Gulf water temperatures
range from 54º F to 84º F (12º C to 29º C) depending on time of year and depth of water. Mean
annual sea surface temperatures ranged from 73 º F through 83º F (23-28º C) including bays and
bayous (Figure 3.2.1) between 1982 and 2009, according to satellite-derived measurements
(NODC 2012: http://accession.nodc.noaa.gov/0072888). In general, mean sea surface
temperature increases from north to south with large seasonal variations in shallow waters.
The physical environment for Gulf reef fish, including red snapper, is also detailed in the EIS for
the Generic EFH Amendment and the Generic ACL/AM Amendment (refer to GMFMC 2004a;
GMFMC 2011b).
In the Gulf, fish habitat for adult red snapper consists of submarine gullies and depressions; coral
reefs, rock outcroppings, and gravel bottoms; oilrigs; and other artificial structures (GMFMC
2004b). Detailed information pertaining to the closures and preserves is provided in the
February 2010 Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010).
Figure 3.2.1. Physical environment of the Gulf including major feature names and mean annual
sea surface temperature as derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer
Pathfinder Version 5 sea surface temperature data set (http://accession.nodc.noaa.gov/0072888)
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
3.3 Description of the Biological/Ecological Environment
The biological environment of the Gulf, including the species addressed in this amendment, is
described in detail in the final EIS for the Generic EFH Amendment (GMFMC 2004a) and is
incorporated here by reference.
Red Snapper Life History and Biology
Red snapper demonstrate the typical reef fish life history pattern (Table 3.3.1). Eggs and larvae
are pelagic while juveniles are found associated with bottom features or over barren bottom.
Spawning occurs over firm sand bottom with little relief away from reefs during the summer and
fall. Adult females mature as early as two years and most are mature by four years (Schirripa
and Legault 1999). Red snapper have been aged up to 57 years. Until recently, most caught by
the directed fishery were 2- to 4-years old (Wilson and Nieland 2001), but a recently completed
stock assessment suggests that the age and size of red snapper in the directed fishery has
increased in recent years (SEDAR 31 2013). A more complete description of red snapper life
history can be found in the EIS for the Generic EFH Amendment (GMFMC 2004a).
Status of the Red Snapper Stock
Southeast Data Assessment and Review (SEDAR) 31 Benchmark Stock Assessment
Commercial harvest of red snapper from the Gulf began in the mid-1800s (Shipp 2001). In the
1930s, party boats built exclusively for recreational fishing began to appear (Chester 2001). The
first stock assessment conducted by NMFS in 1986 suggested that the stock was in decline
(Parrack and McLellan 1986) and since 1988 (Goodyear 1988) the stock biomass has been found
to be below threshold levels.
The most recent red snapper stock assessment was completed in 2013 (SEDAR 31 2013). The
primary assessment model selected for the Gulf red snapper stock evaluation assessment was
Stock Synthesis (Methot 2010). Stock Synthesis is an integrated statistical catch-at-age model
which is widely used for stock assessments in the United States and throughout the world.
Commercial landings data included commercial handline and longline landings from the
accumulated landings system from 1964 through 2011. For landings between 1880 and 1963,
previously constructed historical landings were used. Total annual landings from the IFQ
program for years 2007-2011 were used to reapportion 2007-2011 accumulated landings system
data across strata. Recreational landings data included the MRIP/Marine Recreational Fishery
Statistics Survey (MRFSS) from 1981-2011, Southeast Headboat Survey for 1981-2011, and
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department survey. For the years 2004-2011, MRIP landings are
available. For earlier years, MRFSS data were calibrated to MRIP estimates using a
standardized approach for calculating average weight that accounts for species, region, year,
state, mode, wave, and area.
Standardized indices of relative abundance from both fishery dependent and independent data
sources were included in the model. The fishery dependent indices came from the commercial
handline fleet, recreational headboats, and recreational private/for-hire sectors. Fishery
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
independent indices came from the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program
(SEAMAP) bottom trawl survey, SEAMAP reef fish video survey, NMFS bottom longline
survey, and the SEAMAP plankton survey.
Red snapper discards in the Gulf were calculated from data collected by the self-reported
commercial logbook data and the NMFS Gulf reef fish observer program. In addition to these
directed fisheries discards, estimates of red snapper bycatch from the commercial shrimp fleet
were also generated.
The results of the SEDAR 31 assessment, including an assessment addendum that was prepared
after a review of the SEDAR Assessment Panel Report by the SEDAR Review Panel, was
presented to the SSC in May 2013. Under the base model, it was estimated that the red snapper
stock has been overfished since the 1960s.
Current (2011) stock status was estimated relative to two possible proxies for FMSY: FSPR26% (i.e.,
the fishing mortality rate that would produce an equilibrium spawning potential ratio (SPR) of
26%) and FMAX, which corresponded to FSPR20.4% (i.e., the fishing mortality rate that would
produce an equilibrium SPR 20.4%). A proxy of FSPR26% was previously used as the overfishing
and FMSY proxy in SEDAR 7 and the SEDAR 7 update assessment in 2009. FMAX was evaluated
as an alternative proxy because at high spawner-recruit steepness values near 1.0, such as the
value of 0.99 fixed in the red snapper assessment, FMAX approximates the actual estimate of
FMSY. However, the actual estimate of FMSY is sensitive to the parameters of the spawner-recruit
relationship. The SSC did not have confidence in using the direct FMSY estimate due to the fact
that the spawner-recruit function is poorly estimated and data exist for a very limited range of
potential spawning stock biomass (SSB) for the stock. In addition, the SSC felt that the
equivalent SPR for FMAX (20.4%) was inappropriately low for species with life history
parameters similar to red snapper. The SSC felt that the FSPR26% proxy, while still somewhat low
for species with life history parameters similar to red snapper, was more realistic than the 20.4%
SPR associated with FMAX. Furthermore, the FSPR26% proxy is consistent with the current fishery
management plan (FMP) and rebuilding plan for red snapper.
Although the red snapper stock continues to recover, spawning stock biomass is estimated to
remain below both the minimum stock size threshold (MSST) and the spawning stock size
associated with maximum sustainable yield (SSBMSY proxy) using either proxy described above.
Therefore, the SSC concluded that the stock remains overfished. With respect to overfishing, the
current fishing mortality rate (geometric mean of 2009-2011) was estimated to be below both
FMSY proxies. Therefore, the SSC estimated the stock is not currently experiencing overfishing.
Based on an evaluation to the Tier 1 P* spreadsheet used for the ABC control rule, the SSC
determined that the P* (probability of overfishing) should equal 0.427. This P* is applied to a
probability density function (PDF) to determine an ABC that takes into account scientific
uncertainty in the setting of the overfishing limit (OFL). In order to capture more of the
scientific uncertainty, the SSC decided to use a weighted average of PDFs constructed for the
base model (50% weighting), a high M model that assumed a higher natural mortality rate for
age-o and age-1 red snapper (25% weighting), and a lower M model that assumed a lower
natural mortality rate for age-o and age-1 red snapper (25% weighting). These model runs were
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
selected because they bracket the range of plausible results obtained from the base run and 15
alternative state model runs. Based on the results of the P* = 0.427 applied to the weighted
average PDF, the SSC set the following ABCs: 13.5 mp ww in 2013; 11.9 mp in 2014; 10.6 mp
in 2015. A red snapper update assessment scheduled for 2014 is expected to re-evaluate the
ABC for 2015 and beyond.
Definition of Overfishing
In January 2012, the Generic ACL/AM Amendment (GMFMC 2011b) became effective. One of
the provisions in this amendment was to redefine overfishing. In years when there is a stock
assessment, overfishing is defined as the fishing mortality rate exceeding the maximum fishing
mortality threshold. In years when there is no stock assessment, overfishing is defined as the
catch exceeding the OFL. Even though the recreational harvest exceeded its quota in 2012, the
total catch (recreational and commercial combined) remained below the OFL. Therefore, as of
2012, overfishing is no longer occurring in the red snapper stock. Note that, because the
overfishing threshold is now re-evaluated each year instead of only in years when there is a stock
assessment, this status could change on a year-to-year basis.
General Information on Reef Fish Species
The National Ocean Service collaborated with NMFS and the Council to develop distributions of
reef fish (and other species) in the Gulf (SEA 1998). The National Ocean Service obtained
fishery-independent data sets for the Gulf, including SEAMAP, and state trawl surveys. Data
from the Estuarine Living Marine Resources Program contain information on the relative
abundance of specific species (highly abundant, abundant, common, rare, not found, and no data)
for a series of estuaries, by five life stages (adult, spawning, egg, larvae, and juvenile) and month
for five seasonal salinity zones (0-0.5, 0.5-5, 5-15, 15-25, and >25 parts per thousand). National
Ocean Service staff analyzed these data to determine relative abundance of the mapped species
by estuary, salinity zone, and month. For some species not in the Estuarine Living Marine
Resources Program database, distribution was classified as only observed or not observed for
adult, juvenile, and spawning stages.
In general, reef fish are widely distributed in the Gulf, occupying both pelagic and benthic
habitats during their life cycle. Habitat types and life history stages are summarized in Table
3.3.1 and can be found in more detail in GMFMC (2004a). In general, both eggs and larval
stages are planktonic. Larvae feed on zooplankton and phytoplankton. Exceptions to these
generalizations include the gray triggerfish that lay their eggs in depressions in the sandy bottom,
and gray snapper whose larvae are found around submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Juvenile
and adult reef fish are typically demersal, and are usually associated with bottom topographies
on the continental shelf (<328 feet; <100 m) which have high relief, i.e., coral reefs, artificial
reefs, rocky hard-bottom substrates, ledges and caves, sloping soft-bottom areas, and limestone
outcroppings. However, several species are found over sand and soft-bottom substrates.
Juvenile red snapper are common on mud bottoms in the northern Gulf, particularly from Texas
to Alabama. Also, some juvenile snappers (e.g. mutton, gray, red, dog, lane, and yellowtail
snappers) and groupers (e.g. goliath grouper, red, gag, and yellowfin groupers) have been
documented in inshore seagrass beds, mangrove estuaries, lagoons, and larger bay systems
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
(GMFMC 1981). More detail on hard bottom substrate and coral can be found in the FMP for
Corals and Coral Reefs (GMFMC and SAFMC 1982).
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Table 3.3.1. Summary of habitat utilization by life history stage for species in the Reef Fish FMP.
Common name
Eggs
Larvae
Early Juveniles
Late juveniles
Adults
Red Snapper
Pelagic
Pelagic
Queen Snapper
Mutton Snapper
Pelagic
Reefs
Pelagic
Reefs
Blackfin Snapper
Pelagic
Cubera Snapper
Pelagic
Gray Snapper
Pelagic,
Reefs
Lane Snapper
Pelagic
Silk Snapper
Yellowtail Snapper
Unknown
Pelagic
Unknown Unknown
Mangroves, SAV,
Soft bottoms
Wenchman
Pelagic
Pelagic
Vermilion Snapper
Pelagic
Pelagic,
Reefs
Amendment 39: Regional Management
Hard bottoms, Sand/
shell bottoms, Soft
bottoms
Unknown
Mangroves, Reefs,
SAV, Emergent
marshes
Hard bottoms
Hard bottoms, Sand/
shell bottoms, Soft
bottoms
Unknown
Mangroves, Reefs,
SAV, Emergent
marshes
Hard bottoms
Hard bottoms,
Reefs
Unknown
Reefs
Shelf edge
Hard bottoms,
Reefs, Shoals/
Banks
Hard bottoms,
Shelf edge/slope
Hard bottoms,
Reefs
Hard bottoms
Reefs, SAV
Spawning adults
Sand/ shell bottoms
Shoals/ Banks, Shelf
edge/slope
Hard bottoms,
Hard bottoms, Shelf
Shelf edge/slope
edge/slope
Mangroves,
Mangroves, Emergent Mangroves, Reefs Reefs
Emergent marshes, marshes, SAV
SAV
Mangroves,
Mangroves, Emergent Emergent marshes,
Emergent marshes, marshes, SAV
Hard bottoms,
Seagrasses
Reefs, Sand/ shell
bottoms, Soft
bottoms
Mangroves, Reefs, Mangroves, Reefs,
Reefs, Sand/ shell Shelf edge/slope
Sand/ shell bottoms, Sand/ shell bottoms, bottoms, Shoals/
SAV, Soft bottoms SAV, Soft bottoms
Banks
Hard bottoms, Reefs Hard bottoms, Reefs
50
Shelf edge/slope
Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Common name
Eggs
Gray Triggerfish
Reefs
Greater Amberjack
Lesser Amberjack
Almaco Jack
Banded Rudderfish
Pelagic
Pelagic
Larvae
Early Juveniles
Drift algae, Drift algae,
Sargassum Sargassum
Pelagic
Drift algae
Drift algae
Drift algae
Pelagic
Drift algae
Hogfish
SAV
Blueline Tilefish
Pelagic
Pelagic
Tilefish (golden)
Pelagic,
Shelf edge/
Slope
Pelagic
Goldface Tilefish
Unknown
Speckled Hind
Pelagic
Pelagic
Yellowedge Grouper Pelagic
Pelagic
Atlantic Goliath
Grouper
Pelagic
Pelagic
Mangroves, Reefs,
SAV
Red Grouper
Pelagic
Pelagic
Hard bottoms,
Reefs, SAV
Amendment 39: Regional Management
Late juveniles
Spawning adults
Drift algae, Reefs,
Sargassum
Drift algae
Drift algae
Drift algae
Drift algae
Reefs, Sand/ shell
bottoms
Pelagic, Reefs
Hard bottoms
Pelagic
Pelagic
Reefs, Sand/ shell
bottoms
Pelagic
Hard bottoms
Pelagic
Pelagic
SAV
Hard bottoms,
Reefs
Hard bottoms,
Sand/ shell
bottoms, Shelf
edge/slope, Soft
bottoms
Hard bottoms,
Shelf edge/slope,
Soft bottoms
Reefs
Hard bottoms,
Reefs
Hard bottoms
Shelf edge/slope
Hard bottoms,
Shoals/ Banks,
Reefs
Hard bottoms,
Reefs
Reefs, Hard bottoms
Hard bottoms, Shelf Hard bottoms, Shelf
edge/slope, Soft
edge/slope, Soft
bottoms
bottoms
Hard bottoms
51
Adults
Hard bottoms,
Mangroves, Reefs,
SAV
Hard bottoms, Reefs
Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Common name
Eggs
Larvae
Warsaw Grouper
Pelagic
Pelagic
Snowy Grouper
Pelagic
Pelagic
Black Grouper
Pelagic
Yellowmouth
Grouper
Gag
Scamp
Early Juveniles
Late juveniles
Adults
Reefs
Hard bottoms,
Shelf edge/slope
Reefs
Reefs
Hard bottoms,
Reefs, Shelf
edge/slope
Pelagic
SAV
Hard bottoms, Reefs
Hard bottoms,
Mangroves, Reefs
Pelagic
Pelagic
Mangroves
Mangroves, Reefs
Pelagic
Pelagic
SAV
Pelagic
Pelagic
Hard bottoms,
Mangroves, Reefs
Hard bottoms,
Reefs
Hard bottoms, Reefs, Hard bottoms,
SAV
Reefs
Hard bottoms,
Hard bottoms,
Mangroves, Reefs
Reefs
SAV
Hard bottoms, SAV
Yellowfin Grouper
Spawning adults
Reefs, Shelf edge/slope
Hard bottoms,
Hard bottoms
Reefs
Source: Adapted from Table 3.2.7 in the final draft of the EIS from the Generic EFH Amendment (GMFMC 2004a) and consolidated
in this document.
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Status of Reef Fish Stocks
The Reef Fish FMP currently encompasses 31 species (Table 3.3.2). Eleven other species were
removed from the FMP in 2012 through the Generic ACL/AM Amendment (GMFMC 2011b).
Stock assessments and stock assessment reviews have been conducted for 13 species and can be
found on the Council (www.gulfcouncil.org) and SEDAR (www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar) websites.
The assessed species are:
 Red Snapper (SEDAR 7 2005; SEDAR 7 Update 2009; SEDAR 31 2013)
 Vermilion Snapper (Porch and Cass-Calay 2001; SEDAR 9 2006a; SEDAR 9 Update
2011a)
 Yellowtail Snapper (Muller et al. 2003; SEDAR 3 2003; O’Hop et al. 2012)
 Mutton Snapper (SEDAR 15A 2008)
 Gray Triggerfish (Valle et al. 2001; SEDAR 9 2006b; SEDAR 9 Update 2011b)
 Greater Amberjack (Turner et al. 2000; SEDAR 9 2006c; SEDAR 9 Update 2010)
 Hogfish (Ault et al. 2003; SEDAR 6 2004a)
 Red Grouper (NMFS 2002; SEDAR 12 2007; SEDAR 12 Update 2009)
 Gag (Turner et al. 2001; SEDAR 10 2006; SEDAR 10 Update 2009)
 Black Grouper (SEDAR 19 2010)
 Yellowedge Grouper (Cass-Calay and Bahnick 2002; SEDAR 22 2011a)
 Tilefish (Golden) (SEDAR 22 2011b)
 Atlantic Goliath Grouper (Porch et al. 2003; SEDAR 6 2004b; SEDAR 23 2011)
The NMFS Office of Sustainable Fisheries updates its Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to
Congress on a quarterly basis utilizing the most current stock assessment information. The most
recent update can be found at:
(http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/statusoffisheries/SOSmain.htm). The status of both assessed and
unassessed stocks as of the writing of this report is shown in Table 3.3.2.
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Table 3.3.2. Species of the Reef Fish FMP grouped by family.
Common Name
Scientific Name
Family Balistidae – Triggerfishes
Gray Triggerfish
Balistes capriscus
Family Carangidae – Jacks
Greater Amberjack
Seriola dumerili
Lesser Amberjack
Seriola fasciata
Almaco Jack
Seriola rivoliana
Banded Rudderfish
Seriola zonata
Family Labridae - Wrasses
Hogfish
Lachnolaimus maximus
Family Malacanthidae - Tilefishes
Tilefish (Golden)
Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps
Blueline Tilefish
Caulolatilus microps
Goldface Tilefish
Caulolatilus chrysops
Family Serranidae - Groupers
Gag
Mycteroperca microlepis
Red Grouper
Epinephelus morio
Scamp
Mycteroperca phenax
Black Grouper
Mycteroperca bonaci
Yellowedge Grouper
*Hyporthodus flavolimbatus
Snowy Grouper
*Hyporthodus niveatus
Speckled Hind
Epinephelus drummondhayi
Yellowmouth Grouper
Mycteroperca interstitialis
Yellowfin Grouper
Mycteroperca venenosa
Warsaw Grouper
*Hyporthodus nigritus
**Atlantic Goliath
Epinephelus itajara
Grouper
Family Lutjanidae - Snappers
Queen Snapper
Etelis oculatus
Mutton Snapper
Lutjanus analis
Blackfin Snapper
Lutjanus buccanella
Red Snapper
Lutjanus campechanus
Cubera Snapper
Lutjanus cyanopterus
Gray Snapper
Lutjanus griseus
Lane Snapper
Lutjanus synagris
Silk Snapper
Lutjanus vivanus
Yellowtail Snapper
Ocyurus chrysurus
Vermilion Snapper
Rhomboplites aurorubens
Wenchman
Pristipomoides aquilonaris
Stock Status
Overfished, no overfishing
Overfished, no overfishing
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Not overfished, no overfishing
Unknown
Unknown
Overfished, no overfishing
Not overfished, no overfishing
Unknown
Not overfished, no overfishing
Not overfished, no overfishing
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Not overfished, no overfishing
Unknown
Overfished, no overfishing
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Not overfished, no overfishing
Not overfished, no overfishing
Unknown
Notes: * In 2013 the genus for yellowedge grouper, snowy grouper, and warsaw grouper was
changed by the American Fisheries Society from Epinephelus to Hyporthodus (American
Fisheries Society 2013).
**Atlantic goliath grouper is a protected grouper and benchmarks do not reflect appropriate
stock dynamics. In 2013 the common name was changed from goliath grouper to Atlantic
goliath grouper by the American Fisheries Society to differentiate from the Pacific goliath
grouper, a newly named species (American Fisheries Society 2013).
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Protected Species
There are 29 different species of marine mammals that may occur in the Gulf. All 29 species are
protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and seven are also listed as endangered
under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (i.e., sperm, sei, fin, blue, humpback, and North
Atlantic right whales and the West Indian manatee). Other species protected under the ESA
occurring in the Gulf include five sea turtle species (Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead, green,
leatherback, and hawksbill); two fish species (Gulf sturgeon and smalltooth sawfish), and two
coral species (elkhorn coral and staghorn coral). Information on the distribution, biology, and
abundance of these protected species in the Gulf is included in the final EIS to the Generic EFH
Amendment (GMFMC 2004a) and the February 2005, October 2009, and September 2011 ESA
biological opinions on the reef fish fishery (NMFS 2005; NMFS 2009; NMFS 2011a). Marine
Mammal Stock Assessment Reports and additional information are also available on the NMFS
Office of Protected Species website: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/.
The Gulf reef fish fishery is classified in the Marine Mammal Protection Act 2013 List of
Fisheries as a Category III fishery (78 FR 53336, August 29, 2013). This classification indicates
the annual mortality and serious injury of a marine mammal stock resulting from any fishery is
less than or equal to 1% of the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities,
that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or
maintain its optimum sustainable population. Dolphins are the only species documented as
interacting with these fisheries. Bottlenose dolphins prey upon on the bait, catch, and/or released
discards of fish from the reef fish fishery. They are also a common predator around reef fish
vessels, feeding on the discards.
All five species of sea turtles are adversely affected by the Gulf reef fish fishery. Incidental
captures are relatively infrequent, but occur in all commercial and recreational hook-and-line and
longline components of the reef fish fishery. Captured sea turtles can be released alive or can be
found dead upon retrieval of the gear as a result of forced submergence. Sea turtles released
alive may later succumb to injuries sustained at the time of capture or from exacerbated trauma
from fishing hooks or lines that were ingested, entangled, or otherwise still attached when they
were released. Sea turtle release gear and handling protocols are required in the commercial and
for-hire reef fish fisheries to minimize post-release mortality.
Smalltooth sawfish are also affected by the Gulf reef fish fishery, but to a much lesser extent.
Smalltooth sawfish primarily occur in the Gulf off peninsular Florida. Incidental captures in the
commercial and recreational hook-and-line components of the reef fish fishery are rare events,
with only eight smalltooth sawfish estimated to be incidentally caught annually, and none are
expected to result in mortality (NMFS 2005). Fishermen in this fishery are required to follow
smalltooth sawfish safe handling guidelines. The long, toothed rostrum of the smalltooth
sawfish causes this species to be particularly vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear.
On September 30, 2011, the Protected Resources Division released a biological opinion, which
concluded that the continued operation of the Gulf reef fish fishery is not likely to jeopardize the
continued existence of sea turtles (loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, green, hawksbill, and leatherback)
or smalltooth sawfish (NMFS 2011a). An incidental take statement was issued specifying the
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
amount and extent of anticipated take, along with reasonable and prudent measures and
associated terms and conditions deemed necessary and appropriate to minimize the impact of
these takes. The Council addressed measures to reduce take in the reef fish fishery’s longline
component in Amendment 31 (GMFMC 2009). Other listed species and designated critical
habitat in the Gulf were determined not likely to be adversely affected.
On December 7, 2012, NMFS published a proposed rule to list 66 coral species under the ESA
and reclassify Acropora from threatened to endangered (77 FR 73220). In a memo dated
February 13, 2013, NMFS determined the reef fish fishery was not likely to adversely affect
Acropora because of where the fishery operates, the types of gear used in the fishery, and that
other regulations protect Acropora where they are most likely to occur. None of the new
information regarding population level concerns would affect those determinations.
Deepwater Horizon MC252 Oil Spill
On April 20, 2010 an explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil rig
approximately 36 nautical miles (41 statute miles) off the Louisiana coast. Two days later the rig
sank. An uncontrolled oil leak from the damaged well continued for 87 days until the well was
successfully capped by British Petroleum on July 15, 2010. The Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil
spill affected at least one-third of the Gulf area from western Louisiana east to the Florida
Panhandle and south to the Campeche Bank in Mexico (Figure 3.3.1).
As reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Response and
Restoration (NOAA 2010), the oil from the Deepwater Horizon MC252 spill is relatively high in
alkanes, which can readily be used by microorganisms as a food source. As a result, the oil from
this spill is likely to biodegrade more readily than crude oil in general. The Deepwater Horizon
MC252 oil is also relatively much lower in polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Polyaromatic
hydrocarbons are highly toxic chemicals that tend to persist in the environment for long periods
of time, especially if the spilled oil penetrates into the substrate on beaches or shorelines. Like
all crude oils, MC252 oil contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene,
and xylene. Some VOCs are acutely toxic but because they evaporate readily, they are generally
a concern only when oil is fresh.8
In addition to the crude oil, 1.4 million gallons of the dispersant, Corexit 9500A®, was applied to
the ocean surface and an additional 770,000 gallons of dispersant was pumped to the mile-deep
well head (National Commission 2010). No large-scale applications of dispersants in deep water
had been conducted until the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill. Thus, no data exist on the
environmental fate of dispersants in deep water. However, a study found that, while Corexit
9500A® and oil are similar in their toxicity, when Corexit 9500A® and oil were mixed in lab
tests, toxicity to microscopic rotifers increased up to 52-fold (Rico-Martínez et al. 2013). This
suggests that the toxicity of the oil and dispersant combined may be greater than anticipated.
Oil could exacerbate development of the hypoxic “dead” zone in the Gulf as could higher than
normal input of water from the Mississippi River drainage. For example, oil on the surface of
the water could restrict the normal process of atmospheric oxygen mixing into and replenishing
8
Source: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/deepwater_horizon/OilCharacteristics.pdf
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
oxygen concentrations in the water column. In addition, microbes in the water that break down
oil and dispersant also consume oxygen; this could lead to further oxygen depletion.
Changes have occurred in the amount and distribution of fishing effort in the Gulf in response to
the oil spill. This has made the analysis of the number of days needed for the recreational sector
to fill its quota more complex and uncertain, and will make the requirement to allow the
recreational sector to harvest its quota of red snapper while not exceeding the quota particularly
challenging. Nevertheless, substantial portions of the red snapper population are found in the
northwestern and western Gulf (western Louisiana and Texas) and an increasing population of
red snapper is developing off the west Florida continental shelf. Thus, spawning by this segment
of the stock may not be impacted, which would mitigate the overall impact of a failed spawn by
that portion of the stock located in oil-affected areas.
As a result of the Deepwater Horizon MC252 spill, a consultation pursuant to ESA Section
7(a)(2) was reinitiated. As discussed above, on September 30, 2011, the Protected Resources
Division released a biological opinion, which after analyzing best available data, the current
status of the species, environmental baseline (including the impacts of the recent Deepwater
Horizon MC252 oil release event in the northern Gulf), effects of the proposed action, and
cumulative effects, concluded that the continued operation of the Gulf reef fish fishery is not
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, or
loggerhead sea turtles, nor the continued existence of smalltooth sawfish (NMFS 2011a).
For additional information on the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill and associated closures,
see: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/deepwater_horizon_oil_spill.htm.
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Figure 3.3.1. Fishery closure at the height of the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill.
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
3.4 Description of the Economic Environment
3.4.1 Commercial Sector
A description of the commercial sector is provided in GMFMC (2013) and is incorporated herein
by reference. Because this proposed amendment would only change management of the
recreational sector, an update of the information on the commercial sector provided in GMFMC
(2013) is not provided.
3.4.2 Recreational Sector
Angler Effort
Recreational effort derived from the MRFSS/MRIP database can be characterized in terms of the
number of trips as follows:
1. Target effort - The number of individual angler trips, regardless of duration, where the
intercepted angler indicated that the species or a species in the species group was targeted
as either the first or second primary target for the trip. The species did not have to be
caught.
2. Catch effort - The number of individual angler trips, regardless of duration and target
intent, where the individual species or a species in the species group was caught. The
fish did not have to be kept.
3. Total recreational trips - The total estimated number of recreational trips in the Gulf,
regardless of target intent or catch success.
Other measures of effort are possible, such as the number of harvest trips (the number of
individual angler trips that harvest a particular species regardless of target intent), and directed
trips (the number of individual angler trips that either targeted or caught a particular species),
among other measures, but the three measures of effort listed above are used in this assessment.
Because of the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill, 2010 was not a typical year for recreational
fishing due to the extensive closures (Figure 3.3.1) and associated decline in fishing in much of
the Gulf. For information on the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill and associated closures,
see: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/deepwater_horizon_oil_spill.htm. Estimates of the average
annual red snapper effort for the shore, charter, and private/rental boat modes in the Gulf for the
period 2006-2011 with and without 2010 data are provided in Table 3.4.2.1. The average annual
red snapper target effort for 2006-2011 was approximately 9% less than the average for this
period excluding 2010. For red snapper catch effort, the difference was approximately 7%.
Because of these differences, this assessment excludes recreational effort data for 2010 from
further analysis. Table 3.4.2.2 contains estimates for the average annual red snapper recreational
effort for 2006-2011 excluding 2010 by state and mode (shore, charter, and private/rental boat
only).
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Table 3.4.2.1. Effects of 2010 data on average annual red snapper recreational effort.
Target Trips
West
Alabama Florida
Louisiana Mississippi Texas
186,656
49,934
7,225
*
Average 2006-2011 98,373
111,846
198,609
58,108
7,729
*
Average w/o 2010
Catch Trips
West
Alabama Florida
Louisiana Mississippi Texas
465,282
77,689
9,284
*
Average 2006-2011 150,641
163,316
494,783
90,524
9,722
*
Average w/o 2010
*Unavailable.
Source: Southeast Regional Office using MRFSS/MRIP data.
Total
342,187
376,292
Total
702,896
758,346
Table 3.4.2.2. Average annual red snapper recreational effort by mode, 2006-2011 excluding
2010.
West
Alabama Florida
Louisiana Mississippi Texas
Total
Shore Mode
610
1,215
0
0
*
1,825
Target Trips
912
1,114
0
0
*
2,026
Catch Trips
Charter Mode
22,131
46,389
18,510
33
*
87,064
Target Trips
49,405
212,494
34,418
247
*
296,563
Catch Trips
Private/Rental Mode
89,105
151,005
39,598
7,696
*
287,403
Target Trips
112,999
281,175
56,106
9,476
*
459,757
Catch Trips
All Modes
111,846
198,609
58,108
7,729
*
376,292
Target Trips
163,316
494,783
90,524
9,722
*
758,346
Catch Trips
*Unavailable.
Source: Southeast Regional Office using MRFSS/MRIP data.
Headboat data do not support the estimation of target or catch effort because target intent is not
collected and the harvest data (the data reflect only harvest information and not total catch) are
collected on a vessel basis and not by individual angler. Table 3.4.2.3 contains estimates of the
number of headboat angler days for all Gulf states for 2006-2011.
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Table 3.4.2.3. Headboat angler days.
Year
W Florida/Alabama Louisiana Mississippi Texas
Total
2006
124,049
5,005
0
70,789 199,843
2007
136,880
2,522
0
63,764 203,166
2008
130,176
2,945
0
41,188 174,309
2009
142,438
3,268
0
50,737 196,443
2010
111,018
217
*
47,154 158,389
2011
157,025
1,886
1,771
47,284 207,966
Average All
133,598
2,641
*
53,486 189,724
Average w/o 2010 138,114
3,125
1,771**
54,752 196,345
*Confidential.
**Because the average totals are used to represent expectations of future activity, the 2011
number of trips is provided as best representative of the emergent headboat fishery in
Mississippi.
Source: NMFS Southeast Headboat Survey (HBS).
Permits
The for-hire sector is comprised of charter vessels and headboats (party boats). Although charter
vessels tend to be smaller, on average, than headboats, the key distinction between the two types
of operations is how the fee is determined. On a charter boat trip, the fee charged is for the entire
vessel, regardless of how many passengers are carried, whereas the fee charged for a headboat
trip is paid per individual angler.
A federal for-hire vessel permit has been required for reef fish since 1996 and the sector
currently operates under a limited access system. On June 4, 2013, there were 1,349 valid (nonexpired) or renewable Gulf Charter/Headboat Reef Fish Permits. A renewable permit is an
expired permit that may not be actively fished, but is renewable for up to one year after
expiration. Although the permit does not distinguish between headboats and charter boats, an
estimated 70 headboats operate in the Gulf (K. Brennen, NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science
Center, pers. comm.).
Information on Gulf charter boat and headboat operating characteristics, including average fees
and net operating revenues, is included in Savolainen et al. (2012) and is incorporated herein by
reference.
There are no specific permitting requirements for recreational anglers to fish for or harvest reef
fish. Instead, anglers are required to possess either a state recreational fishing permit that
authorizes saltwater fishing in general, or be registered in the federal National Saltwater Angler
Registry system, subject to appropriate exemptions. As a result, it is not possible to identify with
available data how many individual anglers would be expected to be affected by this proposed
amendment.
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Economic Value
Economic value can be measured in the form of consumer surplus per red snapper trip for
anglers (the amount of money that an angler would be willing to pay for a fishing trip in excess
of the cost of the trip) and producer surplus per passenger trip for for-hire vessels (the amount of
money that a vessel owner earns in excess of the cost of providing the trip). The estimated value
of the consumer surplus per red snapper angler trip for a trip on which the angler is allowed to
harvest two red snapper is $56.42 (GMFMC 2010; value updated to 2011 dollars). Estimates of
the consumer surplus per fish, instead of per angler trip, for red snapper and other saltwater
species are provided in Carter and Liese (2012) and are incorporated herein by reference.
Estimates of the producer surplus per for-hire passenger trip are not available. Instead, net
operating revenues, which are the return used to pay all labor wages, returns to capital, and
owner profits, are used as the proxy for producer surplus. The estimated net operating revenue is
$154.62 per target charter angler trip and $51.19 (2011 dollars) per target headboat angler trip
regardless of species targeted or catch success (C. Liese, NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science
Center, pers. comm.). Estimates of net operating revenue by target species are not available.
Recreational Sector Business Activity
Estimates of the business activity (economic impacts) associated with recreational angling for
red snapper were derived using average impact coefficients for recreational angling for all
species, as derived from an add-on survey to the MRFSS to collect economic expenditure
information, as described and utilized in NMFS (2011b). Estimates of these coefficients for
target or catch behavior for individual species are not available. Estimates of the average
expenditures by recreational anglers are also provided in NMFS (2011b) and are incorporated
herein by reference.
Business activity for the recreational sector is characterized in the form of full time equivalent
jobs, output (sales) impacts (gross business sales), and value-added impacts (difference between
the value of goods and the cost of materials or supplies). Job and output (sales) impacts are
equivalent metrics across both the commercial and recreational sectors. Income impacts
(commercial sector) and value-added impacts (recreational sector) are not equivalent, though
similarity in the magnitude of multipliers generated and used for the two metrics may result in
roughly equivalent values. Similar to income impacts, value-added impacts should not be added
to output (sales) impacts because this would result in double counting.
Estimates of the average red snapper effort (2006-2009 and 2011) and associated business
activity (2011 dollars) are provided in Table 3.4.2.4. Red snapper target effort (trips) was
selected as the measure of red snapper effort. More individual angler trips catch red snapper
than target red snapper, as shown in Tables 3.4.2.1 and 3.4.2.2. Estimates of the economic
activity associated with red snapper catch trips can be calculated using the ratio of catch trips to
target trips because the available estimates of the average impacts per trip are not differentiated
by trip intent or catch success. For example, if the estimated number of catch trips is three times
the number of target trips for a particular state and mode, the estimate of the economic activity
associated with these catch trips would equal three times the estimated impacts of target trips.
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Table 3.4.2.4. Summary of red snapper target trips (2006-2009 and 2011 average) and
associated business activity (2011 dollars). Output and value added impacts are not additive.
Alabama
West Florida Louisiana
Mississippi Texas
Shore Mode
Target Trips
610
1,215
0
0
*
Output Impact
$46,624
$86,025
$0
$0
*
Value Added
Impact
$25,081
$49,977
$0
$0
*
Jobs
1
1
0
0
*
Private/Rental Mode
Target Trips
89,105
151,005
39,598
7,696
*
Output Impact
$5,416,278 $7,162,669
$3,373,684 $229,300
*
Value Added
Impact
$2,965,290 $4,259,192
$1,659,295 $109,897
*
Jobs
54
68
30
2
*
Charter Mode
Target Trips
22,131
46,389
18,510
33
*
Output Impact
$12,038,231 $15,218,384
$9,206,092 $10,712
*
Value Added
Impact
$6,626,643 $9,022,935
$5,227,203 $6,036
*
Jobs
154
150
93
0
*
All Modes
Target Trips
111,846
198,609
58,108
7,729
*
Output Impact
$17,501,134 $22,467,077
$12,579,776 $240,012
*
Value Added
Impact
$9,617,014 $13,332,104
$6,886,498 $115,933
*
Jobs
209
219
123
2
*
*Because target information is unavailable, associated business activity cannot be calculated.
Source: Effort data from the MRFSS/MRIP, economic impact results calculated by NMFS
Southeast Regional Office using the model developed for NMFS (2011b). Estimates of the
economic activity (impacts) associated with headboat red snapper effort are not available.
Headboat vessels are not covered in MRFSS/MRIP, so estimation of the appropriate economic
impact coefficients for headboat vessels has not been conducted. While appropriate economic
impact coefficients are available for the charter boats, potential differences in certain factors,
such as the for-hire fee, rates of tourist versus local participation rates, and expenditure patterns,
may result in significant differences in the economic impacts of the headboat fleet relative to the
charter fleet.
The estimates of the business activity associated with red snapper recreational trips are only
available at the state level. Addition of the state-level estimates to produce a regional or national
total will underestimate the actual amount of total business activity because summing the state
estimates will not capture business activity that leaks outside the individual states. A state
estimate only reflects activities that occur within that state and not related activity that occurs in
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another state. For example, if a good is produced in Alabama but sold in Florida, the measure of
business activity in Florida associated with the its sale in Florida does not include the production
process in Alabama. Assessment of business activity at the national (or regional) level would
capture activity in both states and include all activity except that which leaks into other nations.
3.5 Description of the Social Environment
A description of the social environment for the commercial and recreational sectors’ harvest of
red snapper is provided in GMFMC (2013a) and is incorporated herein by reference. Because
this proposed amendment would only affect management of the recreational sector, a summary
of the information provided in GMFMC (2013a) is included for the recreational sector only.
Red snapper is harvested recreationally in all five Gulf states. The proportion of total
recreational landings by state for the years 1986 through 2012 is provided in Table 2.3.1.
Landings by state are not constant; the proportion of the quota represented by each state varies
from year to year. Across time, the proportion of landings made up by the eastern Gulf states
(Alabama and western Florida) has increased compared to the western Gulf states (Texas and
Louisiana), as the rebuilding plan has proceeded.
Red snapper landings for the recreational sector are not available at the community level, making
it difficult to identify communities as dependent on recreational fishing for red snapper. Data
reflecting commercial landings of red snapper may or may not reflect areas of importance for
recreational fishing of red snapper. It cannot be assumed that the proportion of commercial red
snapper landings among other species in a community would be similar to its proportion among
recreational landings within the same community because of sector differences in fishing
practices and preferences. Thus, in addition to communities with the greatest commercial red
snapper landings, the referenced analysis identifies communities with the greatest recreational
fishing engagement, based on numbers of: 1) federal for-hire permits, 2) vessels designated
recreational by owner address, and 3) vessels designated recreational by homeport, plus
availability of recreational fishing infrastructure. The 20 Gulf communities to score highest for
recreational fishing engagement based on the described analysis are listed in Table 3.4.1.
Because the analysis used discrete geo-political boundaries, Panama City and Panama City
Beach had separate values for the associated variables. Calculated independently, each still
ranked high enough to appear in the top 20 list suggesting a greater importance for recreational
fishing in that region.
Comparing the communities of recreational importance (Table 3.4.1) and those with greater
commercial landings and IFQ shareholders (see Figure 3.4.2 and Table 3.4.2 in GMFMC 2013a),
five communities overlap: Destin, Panama City, Pensacola, and Apalachicola, Florida and
Galveston, Texas. Social effects resulting from actions taken in this plan amendment are likely
to be greatest in these communities.
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Table 3.4.1. Top ranking Gulf communities based on recreational fishing engagement and
reliance, in descending order.
Community
County
State
Destin
Okaloosa FL
Orange Beach
Baldwin
AL
Panama City
Bay
FL
Port Aransas
Nueces
TX
Pensacola
Escambia FL
Panama City Beach Bay
FL
Naples
Collier
FL
St. Petersburg
Pinellas
FL
Freeport
Brazoria
TX
Biloxi
Harrison MS
Galveston
Galveston TX
Clearwater
Pinellas
FL
Fort Myers Beach
Lee
FL
Sarasota
Sarasota
FL
Tarpon Springs
Pinellas
FL
Dauphin Island
Mobile
AL
Apalachicola
Franklin
FL
Carrabelle
Franklin
FL
Port St. Joe
Gulf
FL
Marco Island
Collier
FL
Source: NMFS Southeast Regional Office permit office 2008, MRIP site survey 2010.
For additional information pertaining to the social environment for the harvest of red snapper,
the reader is directed to the following documents which are included here by reference. The
February 2010 Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010) includes a detailed discussion of the
commercial communities within each state and county which are the most reliant on red snapper.
This description focuses on the demographic character of each county in order to aid in
understanding the dependence of a particular county on red snapper fishing. The January 2011
Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2011a) includes an update on the impacts of the Deepwater
Horizon MC252 oil spill. The Gulf of Mexico 2011 Red Snapper IFQ Annual Report (NMFS
2012a) provides a detailed discussion of the commercial red snapper IFQ program.
3.5.1 Environmental Justice Considerations
Executive Order 12898 requires federal agencies conduct their programs, policies, and activities
in a manner to ensure individuals or populations are not excluded from participation in, or denied
the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin. In
addition, and specifically with respect to subsistence consumption of fish and wildlife, federal
agencies are required to collect, maintain, and analyze information on the consumption patterns
of populations who principally rely on fish and/or wildlife for subsistence. The main focus of
Executive Order 12898 is to consider “the disproportionately high and adverse human health or
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environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and lowincome populations in the United States and its territories…” This executive order is generally
referred to as environmental justice (EJ).
Recreational red snapper fishermen and associated businesses and communities along the coast
may be affected by this proposed action. However, information on race, ethnicity, and income
status for groups at the different participation levels (private anglers, for-hire captain, crew, and
customers, and employees of recreational fishing businesses, etc.) is not available. Because this
proposed action could be expected to affect fishermen and associated industries in numerous
communities along the Gulf coast, census data (available at the county level, only) have been
assessed to examine whether any coastal counties have poverty or minority rates that exceed the
EJ thresholds.
The threshold for comparison that was used was 1.2 times the state average such that, if the value
for the county was greater than or equal to 1.2 times the state average, then the county was
considered an area of potential EJ concern (EPA 1999). Census data for the year 2010 was used.
For Florida, the estimate of the minority (interpreted as non-white, including Hispanic)
population was 39.5%, while 13.2% of the total population was estimated to be below the
poverty line. These values translate in EJ thresholds of approximately 47.4% and 15.8%,
respectively (Table 3.5.1). Based on the demographic information provided, no potential EJ
concern is evident with regard to the percent of minorities for the counties of the west coast of
Florida. With regard for poverty, Dixie (3.8%), Franklin (8%), Gulf (1.7%), Jefferson (4.6%),
Levy (3.3%), and Taylor (7.1%) counties exceed the threshold by the percentage noted. No
potential EJ concern is evident for the remaining counties which fall below the poverty and
minority thresholds. The same method was applied to the remaining Gulf states.
Table 3.5.1.1. Each state’s average proportion of minorities and population living in poverty,
and the corresponding threshold used to consider an area of potential EJ concern.
Minorities
Poverty
%
EJ
%
EJ
State Population Threshold Population Threshold
39.5
47.4
13.2
15.8
FL
31.5
37.8
16.8
20.2
AL
41.2
49.4
21.4
25.7
MS
38.2
45.8
18.4
22.1
LA
52.3
62.7
16.8
20.1
TX
Source: Census Bureau 2010.
In Alabama, Mobile was the only county to exceed the minority threshold (by 1.7%). Neither of
Alabama’s coastal counties exceeded the poverty threshold for potential EJ concern. No coastal
county in Mississippi exceeded either threshold. In Louisiana, Orleans Parish exceeded the
minority threshold by 25% and the poverty threshold by 1.3%. Texas has several counties that
exceeded the thresholds. In descending order of magnitude for exceeding the minority threshold
were Willacy (26.3%), Cameron (24.7%), Kleberg (12.3%), Kenedy (9%), Nueces (2.8%), and
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
Harris (0.8%). Exceeding the poverty threshold were Kenedy (32.3%), Willacy (26.8%),
Cameron (15.6%), Kleberg (6%), and Matagorda (1.8%). Willacy, Kenedy, Cameron, and
Kleberg counties exceed both the minority and poverty thresholds and are the communities
identified as most likely to be vulnerable to EJ concerns. Although this analysis identifies areas
of potential EJ concern, it is not possible to determine whether the populations of potential EJ
concern are involved in or dependent upon marine fishing activities.
Table 3.4.1 provides a summary of 20 communities considered substantially engaged in
recreational fishing, generally. When compared with the referenced commercial fishing analysis,
the following five communities (and respective county) are considered most likely to be affected:
Destin (Okaloosa), Panama City (Bay), Pensacola (Escambia), and Apalachicola (Franklin),
Florida and Galveston (Galveston), Texas. In comparing these communities with the preceding
analysis identifying counties with potential EJ concerns, Apalachicola is the only community
located within a county identified as having potential for EJ concerns. Apalachicola, located in
Franklin County, exceeds the poverty threshold by 8% and would be the community most likely
to experience unanticipated negative impacts.
The actions in this amendment are designed to implement a program for the regional
management of recreational red snapper in which states or regions will be authorized to adapt
certain management measures to regional conditions. It is assumed that the flexibility provided
to adopt management measures most appropriate to a given region would result in optimal
fishing opportunities for local anglers which in turn, would result in benefits to local
communities. As will be addressed in the social effects analysis for each action, direct impacts
are not expected to accrue to the social environment from most actions of this amendment, which
establish the parameters of the program. However, indirect effects (positive or negative) may
result due to 1) the specific regulations implemented in each region, 2) how any new regulations
differ from existing regulations, and 3) the success or failure of cooperation under the new
management regime. Disproportionate impacts to EJ populations are not expected to result from
any of the actions in this amendment. Nevertheless, because the regulations to be implemented
in each region remain unknown, the lack of impacts on EJ populations cannot be assumed.
3.6 Description of the Administrative Environment
3.6.1 Federal Fishery Management
Federal fishery management is conducted under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), originally
enacted in 1976 as the Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The Magnuson-Stevens Act
claims sovereign rights and exclusive fishery management authority over most fishery resources
within the exclusive economic zone, an area extending 200 nautical miles from the seaward
boundary of each of the coastal states, and authority over U.S. anadromous species and
continental shelf resources that occur beyond the exclusive economic zone.
Responsibility for federal fishery management is shared by the Secretary of Commerce
(Secretary) and eight regional fishery management councils that represent the expertise and
interests of constituent states. Regional councils are responsible for preparing, monitoring, and
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
revising management plans for fisheries needing management within their jurisdiction. The
Secretary is responsible for promulgating regulations to implement proposed plans and
amendments after ensuring management measures are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act
and with other applicable laws summarized in Appendix B. In most cases, the Secretary has
delegated this authority to NMFS.
The Council is responsible for fishery resources in federal waters of the Gulf. These waters
extend to 200 nautical miles offshore from the nine-mile seaward boundary of the states of
Florida and Texas, and the three-mile seaward boundary of the states of Alabama, Mississippi,
and Louisiana. The length of the Gulf coastline is approximately 1,631 miles. Florida has the
longest coastline of 770 miles along its Gulf coast, followed by Louisiana (397 miles), Texas
(361 miles), Alabama (53 miles), and Mississippi (44 miles).
The Council consists of seventeen voting members: 11 public members appointed by the
Secretary; one each from the fishery agencies of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and
Florida; and one from NMFS. The public is also involved in the fishery management process
through participation on advisory panels and through Council meetings that, with few exceptions
for discussing personnel matters, are open to the public. The regulatory process is also in
accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, in the form of “notice and comment”
rulemaking, which provides extensive opportunity for public scrutiny and comment, and requires
consideration of and response to those comments.
Regulations contained within FMPs are enforced through actions of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement, the United States Coast Guard, and
various state authorities. To better coordinate enforcement activities, federal and state
enforcement agencies have developed cooperative agreements to enforce the Magnuson-Stevens
Act. These activities are being coordinated by the Council’s Law Enforcement Advisory Panel
and the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Law Enforcement Committee, which have
developed a 5-year “Gulf of Mexico Cooperative Law Enforcement Strategic Plan – 2008-2012.”
The red snapper stock in the Gulf is classified as overfished, but no longer undergoing
overfishing. A rebuilding plan for red snapper was first implemented under Amendment 1
(GMFMC 1989), and has undergone several revisions. The current rebuilding plan was
established in Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2007), and calls for
rebuilding the stock to a level capable of supporting maximum sustainable yield on a continuing
basis by 2032. Periodic adjustments to the ACL and other management measures needed to
affect rebuilding are implemented through regulatory amendments.
3.6.2 State Fishery Management
The purpose of state representation at the Council level is to ensure state participation in federal
fishery management decision-making and to promote the development of compatible regulations
in state and federal waters. The state governments of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama,
and Florida have the authority to manage their respective state fisheries. Each of the five Gulf
states exercises legislative and regulatory authority over their respective state’s natural resources
through discrete administrative units. Although each agency is the primary administrative body
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with respect to the states’ natural resources, all states cooperate with numerous state and federal
regulatory agencies when managing marine resources. A more detailed description of each
state’s primary regulatory agency for marine resources is provided in Amendment 22 (GMFMC
2004b).
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Chapter 3. Affected Environment
CHAPTER 4. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES
4.1 Action 1 – Regional Management
4.1.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the physical environment by the red snapper fishery have been
discussed in detail in Reef Fish Amendment 22 and Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp
Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2004b and 2007). The primary gear used by the recreational sector is
hook-and-line. Hook-and-line gear has the potential to snag and entangle bottom structures.
Each individual set has a very small footprint and thus only a small potential for impact, but the
cumulative impacts from recreational fishing could result in a large amount of gear being placed
in the water, increasing the potential for impact. The line and weights used by this gear type also
can cause abrasions (Barnette 2001). Additionally, vessels used for hook-and-line fishing often
anchor, adding to the potential damage of the bottom at fishing locations. If hook-and-line gear
is lost, long-term indirect effects to habitat may occur if marine life becomes entangled in the
gear or the gear is overgrown with algae (Hamilton 2000; Barnette 2001). Circle hooks are
required in the reef fish fishery. Because of the design of circle hooks, this gear is less likely to
snag bottom habitat than other hook types.
Action 1 would have no direct effect on the physical environment. This action is administrative
because it determines who has the authority to set red snapper regulations in federal waters. This
action could indirectly affect the physical environment in different areas or times of the Gulf of
Mexico (Gulf) by redirecting how and when fishing is conducted between different Gulf states or
regions. Alternative 1 (no action) would continue Gulf-wide federal management of red
snapper. Preferred Alternative 2 and Alternative 3 would allow for regional management of
the stock either by the states or by a regional management program administered by the Gulf of
Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council), respectively, and would likely have similar
indirect effects. Should different management regimes be implemented between states or
regions under these alternatives, this could affect how fishing is conducted. For example,
reducing the red snapper bag limit for one state or region could lead to a prolonged fishing
season for that state or region. This could result in an increase in the number of red snapper
fishing trips, and because red snapper is a part of a multispecies fishery, result in an overall
increase in the amount of reef fish fishing, particularly if the ability to catch red snapper would
encourage more reef fish fishermen to go fishing. Under this scenario, an increase in fishing in a
particular area or over a particular time period would likely add to any adverse effects on the
physical environment from fishing. Adverse effects to the physical environment would be
lessened if resultant regional red snapper management measures developed by states (Preferred
Alternative 2) or the Council (Alternative 3) resulted in a reduction in red snapper or reef fish
fishing. Under Preferred Alternative 2, these effects could be limited to either five (Preferred
Option a) or ten (Option b) years, unless the Council decided to continue regional management
by the states.
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Chapter 4. Environmental Consequences
4.1.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the biological/ecological environment from the harvest of red
snapper have been discussed in detail in Reef Fish Amendment 22 and Reef Fish Amendment
27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2004b and 2007), and in the February 2010 Regulatory
Amendment (GMFMC 2010). Potential impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill
on the biological/ecological environment are discussed in the January 2011 Regulatory
Amendment (GMFMC 2011a) and in Section 4.8 (Cumulative Effects Analysis). Red snapper
management actions that affect the biological/ecological environment mostly relate to the
impacts of fishing on a species’ population size, life history, and the role of the species within its
habitat. Removal of fish from the population through fishing reduces the overall population size.
Fishing gears have different selectivity patterns which refer to a fishing method’s ability to target
and capture organisms by size and species. This would include the number of discards, mostly
sublegal fish or fish caught during seasonal closures, and the mortality associated with releasing
these fish.
Action 1 would have no direct effect on the biological/ecological environment. This action is
administrative because it determines who has the authority to set red snapper regulations in
federal waters. This action could indirectly affect the physical environment in different areas of
the Gulf by redirecting how fishing is conducted between different Gulf states or regions.
Alternative 1 (no action) would continue Gulf-wide federal management of red snapper.
Preferred Alternative 2 and Alternative 3 would allow for regional management of the stock
either by the states or by a regional management program administered by the Council,
respectively, and would likely have similar indirect effects. As described in Section 4.1.1,
differences in regional management could lead to regional differences in the amount of red
snapper and reef fish fishing that occurs. In cases where fishing increases, an increase in adverse
effects to the red snapper stock, other reef fish stocks, or other species caught by the recreational
sector would be expected. On the other hand, if the level of fishing decreases, then any adverse
effects would also likely decrease. But without knowing what management measures would
result from this action, it is difficult to compare the alternatives. Under Preferred Alternative
2, these effects could be limited to either five (Preferred Option a) or ten (Option b) years
unless the Council decided to continue regional management by the states.
Even though information is either incomplete or unavailable to compare these alternatives at this
time, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is currently working to better understand
the biological/ecological environment so that management uncertainty derived from either state
(Preferred Alternative 2) or Council (Alternatives 1 and 3) management actions may be
determined in the future. NMFS has scheduled stock assessments for red snapper and other reef
fish species through the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) process. These
stock assessments factor in the effects of management measures on stock status. Should
management measures be shown to adversely affect the stocks, the Council and NMFS can take
action to minimize these effects. In addition, these stocks are managed under annual catch limits
(ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) to minimize the risk of fishing to the stocks.
Finally, recent advances in ecosystem modeling (e.g., Ecopath; B. Mahmoudi, pers. comm.9) are
9
Dr. Behzad Mahmoudi, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 4. Environmental Consequences
providing some insights into the cascading effects of populations in response to each other.
However, the nature and magnitude of ecological effects are difficult to predict with any
accuracy and so the relationships among species in marine ecosystems are still poorly
understood. As development of these models progress, the effects of management actions on the
biological/ecological environment should be better understood.
4.1.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment
Because the harvest restrictions that might ultimately result from all of the actions and
alternatives considered in this proposed amendment are unknown, the following assessment
provides a qualitative discussion of the expected economic effects of this proposed action.
In the following discussion, it is assumed that Alternative 1 would result in different
management regulations for the recreational harvest of red snapper than Alternative 3.
Otherwise, Alternative 1 may be indistinguishable from Alternative 3 because under the status
quo the Council has the authority to specify distinct regional management measures and would
retain this authority under Alternative 1. It is beyond the scope of this discussion to identify
how management might vary under these two alternatives. Status quo management, until
changed, would continue under Alternative 1. It would be purely speculative to attempt to
predict how the Council might attempt to localize regulations across the Gulf under Alternative
3 (i.e., establish regulations that more closely match local preferences rather than impose
uniform regulations across the Gulf) and involve an unknown number of potential regulatory
scenarios. However, because the intent of regulatory localization would be to improve the
economic and social benefits, as well as possibly improve biological outcomes, none of these
potential scenarios would be expected to result in significant adverse impacts on the human
environment.
Most of the actions and alternatives considered in this proposed amendment address management
considerations that progressively build upon previous actions. For example, Action 1 addresses
the option to adopt a regional approach (through delegation or otherwise) to management of the
recreational harvest of red snapper, Action 2 (Section 4.2) defines the regions, and Action 4
(Section 4.4) defines the management flexibility that the regions would receive. A decision to
not adopt regional management (through delegation or otherwise) would render the subsequent
actions that define the scope and/or parameters of regional management moot. Alternatively, the
effects of regionalization would logically be expected to vary by the scope of regionalization
(number and/or geographic extent of regions) and the flexibility the regions would have to vary
the red snapper recreational harvest regulations (season, bag, size limit, etc.). Thus, because
these actions are progressively related, the net potential effects of one action will be determined
by the decisions made for subsequent actions and vice versa. Although this interrelation does not
prevent comparison of the expected effects of the alternatives considered under each action, the
total effects that may ultimately accrue to an individual action are dependent on subsequent
decisions for other actions.
The underlying expectation for most of the actions considered in this proposed amendment is
that the establishment of smaller “regulatory jurisdictions” (hereafter referred to as
“regionalization”) may be capable of providing the constituents (residents and tourists) in each
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region with red snapper recreational harvest regulations better suited to local preferences,
resulting in increased benefits. (Action 5 is moot if a regional management approach is adopted,
but would continue to be independently relevant if regional management is not adopted because
the Council may wish to eliminate the current restriction; Action 6 would also continue to be
independently relevant if regional management is not adopted because the generic term “regions”
would still apply if the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ) continued to be managed as a single
region). These benefits may be economic, social, or biological. Discussion of the
potential/expected biological (and social) effects of each action is provided elsewhere in this
document. The resultant management expected to collectively result from the proposed actions
should be biologically neutral compared to the status quo, i.e., the resultant management should
not harm the biological status of the resource or compromise the biological progress and goals of
current management. From this context, the following discussion of the expected economic
effects of Action 1 and subsequent actions assumes that the biological status of the resource and
progress toward the biological goals is not harmed by the proposed collective actions. As a
result, discussion of the potential economic effects arising from any potential change in the
biological status of red snapper will be limited to, where appropriate for this and subsequent
actions, discussion of the reasonableness of maintaining this assumption (no biological harm)
under the alternatives considered.
Regionalization, as proposed in this amendment, can take one of two forms, delegation of
authority to each region (as specified in Action 2) to establish certain management measures
(Preferred Alternative 2; scope of delegation authority specified in Action 3 (allocation to be
managed) and Action 4 (management measures that can be changed)), or Council-specified
management measures that may vary by region (Alternative 3; it is noted that a “companion”
action that would specify the different regional management measures that might result is not
included in this proposed amendment; as a result, although this proposed amendment may adopt
a regional management approach under Alternative 3, specify the regions through Action 2,
specify the allocations through Action 3, change the for-hire permit restrictions through Action
5, and establish post-season AMs through Action 6, no changes to bag limits, size limits,
seasons, or other management measures are proposed). As discussed below, the form of
regionalization would be expected to affect the associated economic benefits.
Action 1 would simply establish a structure that would either allow regions to exercise limited
control of the recreational harvest of red snapper in the EEZ or establish the Council’s intent to
specify red snapper recreational management measures by region. As a result, the adoption of
any of the alternatives considered would allow certain subsequent actions or behaviors to occur,
with associated economic consequences, but not require these actions or behaviors. For
example, a region could be given authority to manage the harvest of red snapper by the
recreational sector in the EEZ but choose not to exercise that authority. Because Action 1 would
allow, but not require, subsequent actions, all of the economic effects discussed below would be
indirect effects. Additionally, because the potential authorities to act are discretionary and not
mandatory, failure to exercise the authority would be expected to result in the foregone net
increase in benefits associated with regionalization. These benefits would also be foregone
under Alternative 1 and Alternative 3 if the Council subsequently elected to not establish
regionalized management measures.
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To reiterate, regionalization would be expected to result in management measures better tailored
to localized preferences. The greater the regulatory control by these regions, assuming no
biological harm to the red snapper resource, the greater the potential gain in economic benefits.
Depending on the form of regionalization adopted, certain responsibilities and conditions would
apply that may affect management costs, specifically the costs of regulatory development and
implementation, monitoring, and enforcement. Delegation of authority (Preferred Alternative
2) would require each region to develop and undertake a process to identify and implement the
management measures each region wishes to impose. This may result in increased management
costs to the regions, depending on the extent that the regions established mirror current
regulatory jurisdictions (for example, individual states versus multi-state “unions;” see Section
4.2) and the existence and/or complexity of the processes these regions undertake to develop and
implement current regulatory authority (individual states have current processes to establish
regulations in their state waters, whereas multi-state “unions” do not). Additional discussion on
these potential costs is provided in Section 4.2.3. Regardless of the current processes in place
and/or similarity of current regulatory jurisdictions with the regions that may be established by
this proposed amendment, the increased management authority of the regions, however defined
by Action 4, would be expected to increase the regulatory development costs of the affected
regions (broader regulatory authority would be expected to result in a more time-consuming and
costly management process). For NMFS and the Council, the regulatory burden, and associated
costs, may decline, particularly if the regions are effective in restraining harvest to their
allocation. If the regions are not effective in restraining harvest, then the total management cost
could increase. It cannot be determined whether the total management cost under Preferred
Alternative 2 would be more than, less than, or equal to the cost under Alternative 1. Under
Alternative 3, the Council would retain full regulatory authority. Thus, it may not be
unreasonable to project that the management cost might not change. However, it may be
possible to develop and implement regional measures that have higher levels of regional support
and are established more efficiently than the development of Gulf-wide management measures.
As a result, similar to Preferred Alternative 2, it cannot be determined whether Alternative 3
would be expected to result in more, less, or the same management costs than Alternative 1.
However, as noted in the previous paragraph, the absence of an action in this proposed
amendment that would define the regional management measures that would be adopted under
Alternative 3 means that an additional amendment would have to be developed, with associated
costs, to complete the management strategy envisioned by Alternative 3. This would also be
required if similar regulatory changes were attempted under the current authority that would
continue to exist under Alternative 1.
It is noted that the management costs discussed in the previous paragraph refer only to the costs
associated with the development of appropriate regulations. A key cost in the management of
red snapper (and other species) is the cost of data collection and harvest monitoring. Regardless
of the alternative chosen, the current NMFS data collection and harvest monitoring programs
would continue. As a result, all costs associated with these programs will remain unchanged
(except, as appropriate, as a result of programmatic budgetary changes to improve the general
quality of these programs, budget appropriation changes, changes in methodology or technology,
etc.). Although Preferred Alternative 2 would delegate certain regulatory authority to the
specified regions, no region would be required to implement new data collection or harvest
monitoring programs. Thus, duplication of data collection or harvest monitoring costs would not
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be required. However, the potential consequences of triggering the proposed AMs (see Action 6,
Section 4.6.3) may motivate a region to take additional steps, beyond current monitoring
procedures, to decrease the likelihood that they exceed their allocation. If enhanced monitoring
occurs, the regional costs of harvest monitoring would increase. However, this would be a
discretionary expense, and not a necessary outcome of the action, and would only be expected to
occur if the expected costs of enhanced monitoring were less than the expected costs of
exceeding the allocation. These points would also apply under Alternative 3, despite the
absence of delegation of authority, because the regions may want to ensure the season in the EEZ
off their waters is not adversely affected. However, if an allocation overage can be demonstrated
to be attributable to regulations in the EEZ, and not inconsistent regulations in state waters, then
it could be argued that the most severe potential AM, Action 6, Preferred Alternative 3 (regional
overage payback), would not be equitable because the regulations in the EEZ were determined
by the Council and not the region and, thus, less likely to be imposed. As a result, the “benefits
incentive” of enhanced regional self-monitoring may be reduced under Alternative 3 and, thus,
enhanced self-monitoring may be less likely to occur.
It is also noted that the importance of limiting harvest to the allocation cannot be understated.
Because of the popularity of red snapper, the dependency of some/many businesses on red
snapper at certain times of the year, and the business and community needs of regular patronage,
the red snapper recreational sector of the reef fish fishery needs both stable harvest amounts and
seasons year-to-year. This means that, to maximize benefits, a region cannot rely on feast and
famine cycles, harvesting large overruns one year, followed by payback the next. Although an
overrun would be associated with increased business traffic and angler expenditures (and higher
economic benefits because the harvest regulations should be better tailored to local constituent
preferences), the subsequent payback would not be expected to satisfy constituent demand and
may seriously jeopardize the ability of businesses to survive until the allocation “recovers.”
Thus, large annual harvest fluctuations should be avoided.
Under the regionalization envisioned under Preferred Alternative 2, the red snapper
management measures within each region would largely be enforced dockside and not on the
water (exceptions would be if a fisherman or vessel is in possession of fish when the EEZ is
closed – either in part or in total, subject to the regulations established as a result of this proposed
amendment - to the harvest or possession of red snapper or is in possession of fish that exceed
the limits of all regions; see Section 4.4). As a result, federal enforcement costs associated with
the recreational harvest of red snapper could decline. Although this would not be expected to
reduce the total federal enforcement costs (assuming an enforcement budget not driven by the
needs of individual species, sectors, or fisheries), it may be possible to shift enforcement effort to
other purposes and increase the economic benefits associated with these tasks/needs. With
respect to regional enforcement costs, the total enforcement costs may increase. On-the-water
enforcement by state agents would be expected to continue for other species/fisheries and marine
activities. Thus, these costs may not change. However, shifting the enforcement of red snapper
recreational harvest regulations to the docks may require an increased dockside presence and
associated costs. As a result, overall, enforcement costs under Preferred Alternative 2 would
be expected to be higher than the enforcement costs under Alternative 1.
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Neither Preferred Option a nor Option b under Preferred Alternative 2 would be expected to
affect the expected economic effects of this alternative. Although there are economic benefits of
management stability (stability allows fishermen and businesses greater opportunity to plan their
activities and maximize their benefits), neither option would limit the ability of the Council to
rescind delegated authority and terminate regional management. In actual practice, the only
period of management stability that might occur (i.e., unchanged delegation of authority and
regional management) may be the period of time required to develop and implement a new plan
amendment to change the appropriate management measures. This would be expected to take
approximately two to three years, or less if interim regulation is justified. The only certain effect
of the adoption of either option would be a requirement for Council action, with associated costs,
to avoid rescinding delegation authority and terminating regional management. These costs
would be expected to be minor, however, because management of the recreational harvest of red
snapper would be expected to continue to be a routine topic of Council discussion and
deliberation under regional management.
Under Alternative 3, federal at-sea enforcement, with associated costs, would continue
unchanged, as would state enforcement in state waters. As a result, enforcement costs would not
be expected to change relative to Alternative 1. It is noted, however, that non-uniform regional
red snapper recreational harvest regulations may complicate enforcement in the EEZ, thereby
reducing the efficiency of enforcement efforts and increasing the effective cost (unchanged
budget, fewer boardings).
Finally, discussion of the potential effects of the alternatives on the likelihood of the alternate
management structures effectively restraining harvest to the regional allocations and preserving
the biological goals deserves note. Increasing a regions’ ability to tailor the red snapper
recreational regulations to the preferences of local constituents would be expected to increase the
difficulty of achieving these two goals (restraining harvest and preserving the biological goals)
because demand for red snapper fishing would be expected to increase (because of the more
favorable fishing regulations; although not a certainty, increasing the length of the season or
increasing the bag limit would be expected to result in increased effort). As a result, the greater
the regional flexibility, the greater the likelihood that targets will be exceeded, overages occur,
paybacks be required, and economic benefits not maximized. Regions may attempt to have
flexible seasonal end dates and expect to be capable of monitoring harvests in real-time, such
that overages can be minimized. However, recreational data collection is expensive and harvest
monitoring difficult. Further, the economic benefits of a “fixed” season would be reduced if the
season is not allowed to occur as forecast (as a result of harvest monitoring leading to an earlier
closure than forecast) and expectations that the season could be closed “early” increases the
likelihood that trips are taken earlier in the season, thus causing deviation from historic effort
(and harvest) patterns. This effect, combined with the potential general increase in demand
because of the more favorable fishing regulations, increases the likelihood that the allocation
would be exceeded. As a result, in practice, it may be more likely, at least in the short term, that
fixed seasons are implemented, overages occur, and management in subsequent years continues
to chase an elusive goal of limiting harvest to the allocation. If the resource is affected as this
occurs, the adverse economic effects become compounded. Because the likelihood of these
problems, and associated economic effects, would be expected to increase with greater regional
flexibility, Alternative 1 (current common management throughout the EEZ) would be
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expected to least likely precipitate these problems, followed by Alternative 3 (regional
management, but less encompassing regionalization because the regulations in state waters
would not necessarily be the same as those in the EEZ), and Preferred Alternative 2 (more
complete regional control under delegation).
Collectively, because the expected economic effects of the proposed alternatives cannot be
quantified and are not uniformly positive or negative, it is difficult to conclude a ranking of the
alternatives based on the expected economic effects, given the uncertainties discussed above.
However, if the biological status and recovery of red snapper is protected and the regional
allocation overages are minimized, then the more control given to the regions, the greater the
expected economic benefits. Thus, from this perspective, Preferred Alternative 2 would be
expected to result in the highest economic benefits, followed jointly by Alternative 1 and
Alternative 3. As previously discussed, the effects of Alternative 1 and Alternative 3 may be
indistinguishable. Under Alternative 1, the Council would have the authority to execute the
same authority encompassed by Alternative 3. In the absence of additional appropriate actions
to the current proposed amendment, the exercise of either authority would require additional
management action (amendment development) and associated costs. Under Alternative 3,
however, the subsequent identification of regions (Action 2), specification of allocations (Action
3), and the imposition of new AMs (Action 6) may result in a net increase in economic benefits
compared to Alternative 1.
4.1.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment
As discussed in the previous section, most of the actions and alternatives under consideration in
this plan amendment relate to and build upon previous actions, meaning that the total effects that
may ultimately result from this action will relate to and depend on decisions made in other
actions. Furthermore, the actions and alternatives considered in this amendment establish the
parameters for a regional management program, but the actual harvest restrictions that might
ultimately result are unknown. Thus, direct effects are not expected and indirect effects are
difficult to predict. Given these uncertainties, the following assessment provides a qualitative
discussion comparing the potential indirect effects of the alternatives.
In part, regional management is being considered as a management option because of
recreational fishermen’s frustrations with status quo recreational red snapper management. For
example, the fishing season continues to be shortened despite the progress of the rebuilding plan.
Although no impacts are expected from retaining Gulf-wide federal regulations (Alternative 1),
status quo management is contributing to tension between states that have adopted consistent and
inconsistent regulations for recreational red snapper. Selecting Alternative 1 as preferred would
render Actions 2-4 irrelevant, as they define parameters of the regional management program.
Two alternatives are provided for the structure of the program: delegation (Preferred
Alternative 2) or Council-implemented (Alternative 3) regional management. Under either
alternative, it is possible that the same suite of management measures could be adopted for the
regions. The difference between the alternatives concerns where management authority is held.
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The delegation option (Preferred Alternative 2) is a form of co-management, defined as “the
sharing of power and responsibility between the government and local resource users” (Berkes
2009). In this case, management authority would be shared between two governance scales:
federal and state. Devolving control of management to a more local scale is reported to provide
social benefits by enabling greater participation and involvement of resource users, which in turn
may lead to increased compliance (Jentoft et al. 1998). As a form of co-management, delegated
regional management would require cooperation and sharing of responsibilities between
managing institutions and among the regions (Berkes 2009). Indirect effects may result from the
success or failure of this cooperation (between managing institutions and among the regions),
which remains unknown at this time.
Under Alternative 3, authority would remain with the Council, which functions at the Gulfwide, federal scale even though it consists of members representing the five states. For the
purpose of analyzing the regulatory difference between selecting Alternative 1 or 3, ignoring all
remaining actions, Alternative 3 is functionally equivalent to Alternative 1 because the Council
has the authority to specify regional management measures for red snapper, but has not chosen to
do so. There will not be any associated regulations arising from the Council expressing its intent
to assign different management measures to regions of the Gulf, thus no social effects. If
selected as preferred, Alternative 3 would simply signify the Council’s intent to assign different
management measures among the regions selected in Action 2. The respective effects that may
result from employing this authority can only occur from actually applying different regulations,
which could occur under either Alternative 1 or 3. It is beyond the scope of this action to
consider potential effects from subsequent actions, which will be discussed under the appropriate
action for the alternatives provided.
From public testimony, there is greater public trust in state-level management than federal
management, which is perceived as being disconnected from local situations and conditions.
Thus, if cooperation is successful under Preferred Alternative 2 (between managing institutions
and among the regions), Alternative 3 would be expected to result in fewer positive indirect
impacts to the social environment. But, if cooperation is not successful under Preferred
Alternative 2, the negative impacts could be greater to the social environment than under
Alternative 3. Thus, it cannot be determined whether indirect impacts would be greater, less, or
the same between the two alternatives until the authority to specify regionalized regulations is
applied to management.
Establishing a fixed date when delegated authority would end (Alternative 2’s Preferred
Option a and Option b) has the potential to affect the social environment indirectly. If a sunset
option is selected as preferred and regional management is functioning well, the Council would
need to take action to continue the delegation. Such action must be timely to avoid disruptions to
the program which could occur if the sunset date is triggered before the respective action is
implemented. On the other hand, if the program is meeting the needs of some regions but not
others, inclusion of a sunset provision could prompt the Council to review the program and
consider modifications in a timely manner to address the concerns of the dissatisfied regions. If
the program is not functioning well, the Council may need to end the program before 5 years
(Preferred Option a) or 10 years (Option b), requiring development of the appropriate
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document. Whether or not an option is selected as preferred, the Council retains the ability to
modify or end the program by developing the appropriate plan amendment.
4.1.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment
Most of the actions and alternatives considered in this proposed amendment address management
considerations that progressively build upon previous actions. For example, Action 1 addresses
the option to adopt a regional approach to recreational red snapper management, Action 2
defines the regions, and Action 4 defines the management flexibility that the regions would
receive. A decision to not adopt regional management would render the subsequent actions that
define the scope and/or parameters of regional management moot. Alternately, the effects of
regionalization would logically be expected to vary by the scope of regionalization (number
and/or geographic extent of regions) and flexibility to vary the red snapper harvest management
regulations (season, bag, etc.). Thus, because these actions are progressively related, the net
potential administrative effects of one action will be affected by the decisions made for
subsequent actions and vice versa. Although this interrelation does not prevent comparison of
the expected effects of the alternatives considered within each action, it is noted to inform the
reader that the total effects that may ultimately result from an individual action are dependent on
subsequent decisions for other actions.
Depending on the form of regional management adopted, changes to the responsibilities and
conditions of management may affect the regulatory process, including the costs and timeline of
regulatory development and implementation, monitoring, and enforcement. In the following
discussion, it is assumed that Alternative 1 would result in different management regulations for
the recreational harvest of red snapper than Alternative 3. Otherwise, Alternative 1 is
indistinguishable from Alternative 3 because the Council currently has the authority to specify
distinct regional management measures and would retain this authority under Alternative 1.
Delegation of authority (Preferred Alternative 2) would require each region to develop a
process to identify and implement its management measures. This may result in increased
management costs to the regions, depending on the extent that the regions established (Action 2)
reflect current regulatory jurisdictions (for example, individual states versus multi-state regions).
Individual states have processes to establish regulations in their state waters, whereas multi-state
regions do not. Regardless of the current processes in place and/or similarity of current
regulatory jurisdictions with the regions that may be established by this proposed amendment,
the increased management authority of the regions, however defined by Action 4, would be
expected to increase the regulatory development costs of affected regions (broader regulatory
authority would be expected to result in a more time-consuming and costly management
process). For NMFS and the Council, the regulatory burden and associated costs may decline,
particularly if the regions are effective in restraining harvest to their allocation. If the regions are
not effective, then total management costs could increase. It cannot be determined whether the
total management cost under Preferred Alternative 2 would be more, less, or equal to the cost
under Alternative 1. Under Alternative 3, the Council would retain full regulatory authority.
Thus, it may not be unreasonable to project that the management cost might not change
compared with Alternative 1. However, it may be possible to develop and implement regional
measures that presumably would have higher levels of regional support more efficiently than
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developing Gulf-wide management measures. As a result, similar to Preferred Alternative 2, it
cannot be determined whether Alternative 3 would be expected to result in more, less, or the
same management costs than Alternative 1. However, as noted in the previous paragraph, the
absence of an action in this proposed amendment that would define the regional management
measures means that an additional amendment would have to be developed, with associated
costs, to complete the management strategy envisioned by Alternative 3. This would also be
required if similar changes were attempted under the current authority that would continue to
exist under Alternative 1.
A key cost in the management of red snapper (and other species) is the cost of data collection
and harvest monitoring. Regardless of the alternative chosen, the current NMFS data collection
and harvest monitoring programs will continue. As a result, all costs associated with these
programs will remain unchanged (except, as appropriate, as a result of programmatic budgetary
changes to improve the general quality of these programs, budget appropriation changes, etc.).
Although Preferred Alternative 2 would delegate certain regulatory authority to the specified
regions, no region would be required to implement new data collection or harvest monitoring
programs. Thus, duplication of data collection or harvest monitoring costs would not be
required. However, the potential consequences of proposed AMs (see Action 6, Section 4.6.3)
may motivate a region to take additional steps, beyond current monitoring procedures, to
decrease the likelihood that they exceed their allocation. If monitoring enhancement occurs, the
regional costs of harvest monitoring would increase. However, this would be a discretionary
expense, and not a necessary outcome of the action, and would likely occur only if the expected
costs of enhanced monitoring were less than the expected costs of exceeding the allocation.
These points would also apply under Alternative 3, despite the absence of delegation of
authority because the regions may want to ensure the season in the EEZ off their waters is not
adversely affected. However, if an allocation overage can be demonstrated to be attributable to
regulations in the EEZ, and not inconsistent regulations in state waters, then it could be argued
that the most potentially severe AM, (Action 6, Preferred Alternative 3, regional overage
payback), would not be equitable because the regulations in the EEZ were determined by the
Council and not the region and, thus, less likely to be imposed. As a result, the “benefits
incentive” of enhanced regional self-monitoring may be reduced under Alternative 3 and, thus,
enhanced self-monitoring may be less likely to occur.
Under the regionalization envisioned under Preferred Alternative 2, the red snapper
management measures within each region would be enforced dockside and not on the water. As
a result, federal enforcement costs associated with the recreational harvest of red snapper are not
expected to increase. Although this would not be expected to reduce total federal enforcement
costs (assuming an enforcement budget not driven by the needs of individual species), it may be
possible to shift enforcement efforts to other purposes and increase the benefits associated with
these needs. With respect to regional enforcement costs, the total enforcement costs may
increase. On-the-water enforcement by state agents would be expected to continue for other
fisheries and marine activities. Thus, these costs may not change. However, shifting
recreational red snapper regulatory enforcement entirely to the docks may require an increased
dockside presence and associated costs. As a result, overall, enforcement costs under Preferred
Alternative 2 would be expected to be higher than the enforcement costs under Alternative 1.
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Under Alternative 3, federal at-sea enforcement, with associated costs, would continue, as
would state enforcement in state waters. As a result, enforcement burden and associated costs
would not be expected to change relative to Alternative 1. It is noted, however, that different
regional management measures may complicate enforcement in the EEZ, thereby reducing the
efficiency of enforcement efforts and increasing the effective cost (unchanged budget, fewer
boardings).
It is not possible to know whether including a sunset provision (Alternative 2’s Preferred
Option a or Option b) implemented concurrently with regional management will result in more
or less burden on the administrative environment. If the option selected coincides with a Council
determination to end the delegation, then there will be less burden as there will be no costs
arising from taking regulatory action to end the delegation. If an option is selected and the
Council wants to continue the delegation, then there will be administrative costs associated with
development of the appropriate document to allow the delegation to continue.
4.2 Action 2 – Establish Regions for Management
4.2.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the physical environment resulting from the harvest of red snapper
by the reef fish fishery have been discussed in detail in Reef Fish Amendment 22, Reef Fish
Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2004b and 2007), and in the February 2010
Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010). The potential impacts from various gear types are
discussed in Section 4.1.1.
Action 2 would have no direct effect on the physical environment. This action is administrative
because it determines how the Gulf would be partitioned for management of red snapper in
federal waters. As with Action 1, this action could indirectly affect the physical environment by
allowing for different management measures regionally. Although the net effects from
Alternatives 2 or 5 (2 regions), Preferred Alternative 3 (5 regions), or Alternative 4 (up to 5
regions) might not be different from Alternative 1 (no action), there are likely to be differences
in effects off the waters in particular regions, and these effects may change in time. If
management measures that result from Alternatives 2, 4, 5, or Preferred Alternative 3 allow
fishing within a region to increase compared to what would occur under Alternative 1, then
there would likely be an increase in adverse effects (as described in Section 4.1.1) to the physical
environment. However, for the waters off regions where management measures that result from
the selection of Alternative 2, Preferred Alternative 3, or Alternative 4 reduce the amount of
fishing compared to Alternative 1, then adverse effects from fishing on the physical
environment should be reduced.
4.2.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the biological/ecological environment resulting from the harvest of
red snapper by the reef fish fishery have been discussed in detail in Reef Fish Amendment 22,
Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2004b and 2007), and in the
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February 2010 Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010). The potential impacts are discussed in
Section 4.1.2.
Action 2 would have no direct effect on the biological/ecological environment. This action is
administrative because it determines how the Gulf would be partitioned for management of red
snapper in federal waters. As with Action 1, this action could indirectly affect the
biological/ecological environment by allowing for different regional management measures.
Although the net effects from Alternative 2 or 5 (2 regions), Preferred Alternative 3 (5
regions), or Alternative 4 (up to 5 regions) might not be different from Alternative 1 (no
action), there are likely to be differences in effects off the waters in particular regions. If
management measures that result from Alternatives 2, 4, 5, or Preferred Alternative 3 allow
fishing within a region to increase compared to what would be allowed under Alternative 1, then
there would likely be an increase in adverse effects (as described in Section 4.1.1) to the
biological/ecological environment. However, for the waters off regions where management
measures that result from the selection of Alternatives 2, 4, 5, or Preferred Alternative 3
reduce the amount of fishing compared to Alternative 1, then adverse effects from fishing on the
biological/ecological environment should be reduced.
As with Action 1, it is difficult to compare the alternatives because information is either
incomplete or unavailable for use in comparisons. To minimize the risk to the
biological/ecological environment, NMFS has been working to better understand the
biological/ecological environment so that management uncertainty derived from either of these
regional management alternatives may be determined in the future. This includes conducting
stock assessments under SEDAR that incorporate changes in management to assess the condition
of managed stocks and well as supporting the development of ecosystem models to provide some
insights into the cascading effects of populations in response to each other. In addition, red
snapper and other managed stocks are managed under ACLs and AMs to reduce the risk of
overfishing.
4.2.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment
Because the harvest restrictions that might ultimately result from all of the actions and
alternatives considered in this proposed amendment are unknown, the following assessment
provides a qualitative discussion of the expected economic effects of this proposed action.
Portions of the discussion of the expected economic effects for Action 1 provided in section
4.1.3 are relevant to the discussion of the economic effects expected to result from this action.
Some of this information is summarized in the following discussion and the reader is encouraged
to read Section 4.1.3. Similar to the discussion in Section 4.1.3, all the economic effects
discussed below would be indirect effects because the proposed alternatives for this action would
create a possible structure for management, but not require exercise of associated authorities.
The primary conclusions from Section 4.1.3 relevant to the discussion of Action 2 are that
economic benefits would be expected to increase under regionalization, but the costs associated
with regulatory development (including implementation), harvest monitoring, and enforcement
may increase as well. The economic benefits associated with the recreational harvest of red
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snapper would be expected to increase, because regions would have an increased ability to
implement management measures preferred by their constituents. The expanded regulatory
authority, however, may become complicated and increase the cost of the process of regulatory
development and implementation. Attempts to reduce the likelihood of harvest overages could
also increase monitoring costs, and dockside enforcement may increase enforcement costs.
Overall, however, the increased economic benefits associated with better management measures
would be expected to dominate potential increased management costs and result in a net increase
in economic benefits.
With the conclusions provided in the previous paragraph as the baseline, the following
discussion of the expected economic effects of the proposed alternatives evaluates the extent to
which these benefits and costs would be expected to vary.
In general, the economic benefits of regulatory flexibility would be expected to increase as the
opportunity for “localization” (locally tailored management) increases. This is concluded “in
general” because it is logically possible to delegate authority at too diffuse a level, such that too
many different management regimes are established. As an example, allowing community
control over the recreational harvest of red snapper may create excessive confusion, conflict, and
monitoring issues. However, because the proposed alternatives do not go below the state level,
the issue of excessive localization does not arise. Therefore, among the alternatives considered,
the greater the regional authority, the greater the expected increase in economic benefits. From
this perspective, Preferred Alternative 3 (five regions) would be expected to result in the
largest increase in economic benefits, followed by Alternative 4 (five or fewer regions),
Alternative 2 and Alternative 5 (two regions), and Alternative 1 (one region). Although the
state composition of each region would be different under Alternative 2 and Alternative 5, each
alternative would establish two regions. The economic effects of these two alternatives would be
expected to be the same because no basis has been identified to support a conclusion that either
state combination would be expected to be more or less capable of enacting the regulatory
flexibility enabled by this proposed amendment. The possible overlaps between certain
alternatives should be noted. For example, Preferred Alternative 3 and Alternative 4 would be
expected to result in the same economic effects if Alternative 4 results in independent state
action (i.e., each state becomes a region). Similarly, Alternative 4 and Alternatives 2 and 5
would be expected to have the same economic effects if Alternative 4 results in common coaction by the respective states and the creation of the respective two regions that would be
established under Alternative 2 or Alternative 5. It is also noted that, the functional outcomes
of Alternatives 2-4 could be identical to those of Alternative 1 if the regions decide not to
exercise the authority established by these alternatives (exercising the authority delegated would
be discretionary).
Evaluations of the considerations of management costs (regulatory development, monitoring, and
enforcement) are less straight-forward. Although increasing the number of regions could be
argued to result in duplicative regulatory development costs, thereby suggesting that the fewer
the regions, the lower the regulatory development costs, it may be the case that the more regions
there are, the easier it may be to identify a uniformly accepted set of regulations. As a result, it
may involve less time and money to develop five regional plans than fewer “unified” plans that
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require more deliberation to reach agreement. Nevertheless, it is indeterminate which
arrangement would be more or less costly.
With respect to the cost of harvest monitoring, the conclusions are more straight-forward. It is
noted that this discussion refers only to any enhanced harvest monitoring that may be
implemented. As discussed in Section 4.1.3, the current recreational harvest data collection
programs would continue regardless of any regionalization decision or regional decisions to
enhance their harvest monitoring capacity. Because of the costs that would be required, a
mandatory, universal, census accounting of all harvest by all marine recreational fishermen in the
Gulf is unlikely to ever be implemented. Even the development of a program that imposed
mandatory reporting by just red snapper fishermen may not be practical. Instead, or until such
mandatory reporting is required, some form of survey and sampling program will likely continue
to be used (and subject to modification as budgets change and/or technology advancements
occur). Absent structural or other reasons that might make the survey and sampling program
used in one state or region unsuitable for use in others, monitoring costs would be lower the
fewer the number of regions. As a result, the cost to independently monitor five separate regions
would be expected to be the highest and the cost would be expected to decline as the number of
regions is reduced. Thus, the ranking, from most cost to least, would be expected to be
Preferred Alternative 3, followed by Alternative 4, Alternative 2 and Alternative 5, and
Alternative 1, again noting the possible overlap of the potential number of separate regions
under the different alternatives.
Finally, with respect to enforcement costs, because shore-side enforcement would be required at
the state-level if a state becomes a separate region or joins with other states to become a region,
the enforcement burden would not be expected to vary by the number of regions created. In a
multi-state region, it would not be expected that common agents would or could be created who
could enforce regulations in all states within their region. As a result, enforcement agents from
each state would be responsible for dock-side enforcement within their state. Therefore, the
resultant increase in state enforcement costs would be determined by the number of states that
accepted regional authority and not the number of resultant regions. Federal enforcement costs
associated with the red snapper recreational harvest, recalling the discussion in Section 4.1.3,
would be inversely proportional to the number of states that accept regionalization. Assuming
all states accept regionalization, increased state enforcement costs associated with dockside
enforcement would be the highest and federal at-sea enforcement costs the lowest for Preferred
Alternative 3, followed by Alternative 4, Alternative 2 and Alternative 5, and Alternative 1.
Consistent with the discussion in Section 4.1.3, because regionalization would be expected to
result in a net increase in economic benefits, despite the potential increased management costs,
Preferred Alternative 3 would be expected to result in the highest increase in net economic
benefits, followed by Alternative 4, Alternative 2 and Alternative 5, and Alternative 1.
It is noted that the conclusions provided above, except as related to Alternative 4, would be
expected to apply regardless of the form of regional management selected under Action 1.
Alternative 4 would only be relevant if regional management takes the form of delegation. As a
result, if delegation is not adopted, the effects (and ranking) of Alternative 4 would be expected
to be equivalent to those of Alternative 1.
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4.2.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment
As noted, the management measures that may ultimately result from the actions and alternatives
considered in this proposed amendment remain unknown. Because most of the actions and
alternatives relate to and build upon previous actions, the total effects that may ultimately result
from this action will relate to and depend on decisions made in other actions. Thus, direct effects
are not expected and indirect effects are difficult to predict. Given these uncertainties, the
following assessment provides a qualitative discussion comparing the potential indirect effects of
the alternatives.
Currently, federal management measures for recreational red snapper fishing are implemented
Gulf-wide, meaning the Gulf is managed as a single region (Alternative 1). Additional impacts
are not expected to result from maintaining red snapper management as a single region
(Alternative 1). However, regional management is being considered in response to growing
frustrations with status quo federal management and indirect benefits to the social environment
are expected from increasing management flexibility.
The remaining alternatives propose the establishment of regions for which management
measures may vary. Generally, establishing more regions (Preferred Alternative 3) will enable
greater flexibility at the local level than establishing fewer regions (Alternatives 2 or 5), which
would require more agreement on shared management measures among states in a region.
Greater flexibility in the selection of management measures to provide optimal fishing
opportunities to a region’s constituents is expected to result in the greatest indirect social
benefits.
Alternative 4 allows each Gulf state to determine whether to be an independent region or to join
with another state or states into a shared region. Thus, Alternative 4 could result in the creation
of up to five regions. If each state determines to be its own region, Alternative 4 would be
functionally equivalent to Preferred Alternative 3, and any effects resulting from Preferred
Alternative 3 would be expected to be the same under Alternative 4. Likewise, if Alternative
4 resulted in two regions, the impacts would be expected to be similar to those under Alternative
2. Under Alternatives 2, 4, or Preferred Alternative 3, multiple regions, however defined,
could adopt the same management measures for their region, making the impacts of these
alternatives indiscernible to the social environment.
4.2.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment
Additional impacts are not expected from maintaining a single Gulf-wide region for recreational
red snapper management (Alternative 1). Direct effects would not result from selecting the
number of management regions (Alternative 2, 4, or Preferred Alternative 3), because the
management measures that might ultimately result in the selected regions are not specified in this
action and remain unknown. Rather, the resulting number of regions could result in indirect
effects in terms of 1) increasing regulatory complexity or requiring greater intra-region
cooperation; 2) a shift in the regulatory burden from the federal to state level, and 3) impacts on
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enforcement. This analysis provides a qualitative discussion of these potential effects to the
administrative environment.
There may be a tradeoff in effects between creating more or fewer regions. Establishing more
regions (five under Preferred Alternative 3) could result in greater regulatory complexity due
to involvement by more individual administrative units. On the other hand, selecting fewer
regions (two under Alternative 2) would require greater cooperation among the states sharing a
region. Alternative 2 would also require the formation of a regional administrative entity to
provide the venue for included states to agree on their shared set of management measures and
harvest monitoring strategy.
Under regional management, there will be some transfer of the administrative burden from the
federal level to the regional (state) level. All alternatives (except no action) propose regional
boundaries that fall along state boundary lines. Each state currently has a process for
establishing fishing regulations in state waters which could be used for the administrative needs
of the region’s red snapper management program. It is not possible to predict the extent of the
effects from the transfer of this administrative burden, as it remains unknown how each region
may execute its administrative duties.
The creation of individual regions would be expected to increase the difficulty of at-sea
enforcement if each region adopts different management measures. The creation of more regions
(Preferred Alternative 3) could make it more difficult for at-sea law enforcement to determine
the management measures governing a vessel’s harvest compared with fewer regions
(Alternative 2). Based on Council discussions, it is assumed that enforcement would primarily
be dockside which could potentially mitigate some of these enforcement concerns.
Finally, while Alternative 2 and Preferred Alternative 3 specify the number of regions to be
created, under Alternative 4 there could be from two to five regions. Thus, it is not possible to
compare the effects from this alternative with the other alternatives, as any effects would depend
on the number of regions ultimately created if implemented.
4.3 Action 3 – Apportioning the Recreational Red Snapper Quota
among Regions
4.3.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the physical environment resulting from the harvest of red snapper
by the reef fish fishery have been discussed in detail in Reef Fish Amendment 22, Reef Fish
Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2004b and 2007), and in the February 2010
Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010). The potential impacts from various gear types are
discussed in Section 4.1.1.
Action 3 is administrative because it determines how the recreational quota would be partitioned
among the regions. Therefore, this action would have no direct effect on the physical
environment. Additionally, because these allocations would be based on the same recreational
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quota, indirect effects on the physical environment over the Gulf as a whole are expected to be
the same for Alternatives 1-5. However, this action could regionally affect the physical
environment indirectly by redirecting the amount of red snapper fishing that can occur off
different states or in different regions of the Gulf. Allocating based on historical landings
(Alternatives 2, 3, and 5) or by stock abundance (Alternative 4) could allow red snapper fishing
to increase if a region receives an allocation greater than what landings would be under
Alternative 1 (no action). Thus, there would likely be an increase in any adverse effects from
fishing to the physical environment for these regions. Conversely for regions whose allocations
would be reduced compared to Alternative 1 (no action), the opposite would be true – a
reduction in any adverse effects from red snapper fishing.
To determine specific effects between alternatives is difficult to analyze quantitatively. For
Alternatives 2, 3, and Alternative 5 that set allocations based on historical landings, the
direction of the effect relative to other alternatives and options may be related to differences in
allocation as provided in Tables 2.3.2 - 2.3.5 and the set allocations in Alternative 5. For
example, under Alternative 2, if Option a were selected, the allocation of the quota awarded to
Florida is 33.9% (Table 2.3.2). But if Option c were selected instead, 51.0% would be awarded
to Florida. This increase of 17% in allocation is likely to lead to more red snapper fishing off
Florida under Option c compared to Option a, and thus likely increase any adverse effects from
fishing on the physical environment. On the other hand, if Option c were selected over Option
a, Texas would have its allocation reduced by 5.6% (from 18.4% to 12.8%; Table 2.3.2), As a
result, the amount of red snapper fishing off Texas would likely fall and any adverse effects from
fishing on the physical environment would be reduced.
Alternative 4 would create allocations based on the projected yields for the ABC in the eastern
and western Gulf. Given that since 1999, over 60% by weight of recreational red snapper were
caught annually off Florida and Alabama (Table 2.3.1), the eastern Gulf apportionment of 48.5%
of the quota (preliminary estimate based on Linton 2012) would likely result in a reduction in red
snapper fishing for this region compared to Alternative 1. The likely result would be a
reduction in any adverse effects on the physical environment from fishing in the waters off
Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Because more fish could be caught off Louisiana and Texas
(the preliminary western Gulf apportionment of the quota is 51.5%), fishing for red snapper
would likely increase, increasing any adverse effects on the physical environment from red
snapper fishing.
Although comparing allocations between alternatives may indicate some directionality of effects
to the physical environment, these comparisons assume that fishing regulations remain the same
between regions. However, depending on which management measures may be modified for a
region in Action 4, any such comparisons may be confounded. For example, reducing the red
snapper bag limit for one region could lead to a prolonged fishing season for that region even if
its allocation is reduced from what it would have been under Alternative 1. This bag limit
reduction could result in an increase in the number of red snapper fishing trips, and because red
snapper is a part of a multispecies fishery, result in an overall increase in amount of reef fish
fishing if the ability to catch red snapper would result in more fishermen to go fishing.
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4.3.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the biological/ecological environment resulting from the harvest of
red snapper by the reef fish fishery have been discussed in detail in Reef Fish Amendment 22,
Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2004b and 2007), and in the
February 2010 Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010). The potential impacts are discussed in
Section 4.1.2.
Action 3 is administrative because it determines how the recreational quota would be partitioned
among the regions. Therefore, this action would have no direct effect on the
biological/ecological environment. Because the different allocations proposed in the alternatives
would be based on the same quota, the overall indirect effects on the biological/ecological
environment are expected to be the same for Alternatives 1-5. However, this action could
indirectly affect different areas of this environment by redirecting the amount of red snapper
fishing that can occur off different regions of the Gulf. Allocating based on historical landings
(Alternatives 2, 3, and 5) or by stock abundance (Alternative 4) could allow red snapper
fishing to increase if a region receives an allocation greater than what landings would be under
Alternative 1 (no action) because red snapper fishing would likely increase to harvest the
additional fish. As a result, this would likely increase any adverse effects from fishing to the
local red snapper population for these regions. In contrast, for regions whose allocations would
be reduced compared to Alternative 1 (no action), the opposite would be true – a reduction in
any adverse effects from red snapper fishing.
As described in Section 4.3.1 for the physical environment, although comparing allocations
between alternatives may indicate some directionality of effects to the biological/ecological
environment, these comparisons assume that fishing regulations remain the same between states
or regions. However, as also discussed in Section 4.3.1, any such comparisons may be
confounded by the modification of state or regional management measures allowed under Action
4. For example, reducing the red snapper size limit for one state or region could lead to a change
in the local population’s size structure that could have positive or negative implications to the
productivity of that population. Any such changes could also affect the abundance of other reef
fish species that compete with red snapper for shelter and food. Local predators of red snapper
could increase if red snapper abundance is increased, while species competing for similar
resources as red snapper could potentially decrease in abundance if less food and/or shelter are
less available. Species likely to be affected by changes in red snapper abundance the most
include vermilion snapper, gray triggerfish, and gag, which all co-occur with red snapper. These
effects were explored in more detail in Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14
(GMFMC 2007).
As with Action 1, it is difficult to compare the alternatives because information is either
incomplete or unavailable for use in comparisons. To minimize the risk to the
biological/ecological environment, NMFS has been working to better understand the
biological/ecological environment so that management uncertainty derived from either of these
state or regional management alternatives may be determined in the future. This includes
conducting stock assessments under SEDAR that incorporate changes in management to assess
the condition of managed stocks and well as supporting the development of ecosystem models to
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provide some insights into the cascading effects of populations in response to each other. In
addition, red snapper and other managed stocks are managed under ACLs and AMs to reduce the
risk of overfishing.
4.3.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment
The economic effects of a specific level of allowable harvest depend on the manner in which the
harvest is allowed to be taken. Estimates of the economic value of red snapper and red snapper
trips are available (see Section 3.4). However, information is not available that might
demonstrate how the economic value might vary by sector (for example, the value received by
harvest by a private angler compared to by a charter angler), nor by state (for example, the value
received as a result of harvest by a Florida angler compared to harvest by a Louisiana angler).
As a result, current information simply supports an examination of how total economic value
(Gulf-wide and all sectors) may change with changes in the total allowable harvest.
The foundation of the actions proposed in this amendment are, however, that the economic value
varies at least by state or region such that for a given quantity of harvest, economic value can be
increased if the manner (season, bag limit, size limit, etc.) in which the allowable harvest is taken
can be changed to reflect localized (state or region) preferences. Accepting this foundation
negates the use of a “common” economic value per fish, pound, or trip.
As a result, because neither the management regulations that might ultimately result from this
proposed amendment nor the associated economic values are known, the following assessment
provides a qualitative discussion of the expected economic effects of this proposed action.
Portions of the discussion of the expected economic effects for Action 1 provided in Section
4.1.3 are relevant to the discussion of the economic effects expected to result from this action.
Some of this information is summarized in the following discussion and the reader is encouraged
to read Section 4.1.3 for the complete discussion. Unlike Action 1 and Action 2, which would
establish a management structure, this action would determine the amount of harvest allotted to
each region. As a result, the expected economic effects to anglers of establishing the regional
allocations would be direct effects. Beyond the typical indirect shore-side effects associated with
variable angler demand, no other indirect economic effects are expected.
This assessment assumes that the management measures implemented by each region to harvest
their red snapper allocation will be invariant to the allocation received. Specifically, this
assumption means that the bag limit, size limit, or any measure to affect harvest by private
anglers versus for-hire anglers will not vary with the amount of allocation received; the amount
of allocation will only affect the length of the open season. From this perspective, for a given
region, the larger the allocation, the more economic benefits would be expected to be received by
anglers, businesses, and associated communities in that region. Because the allocation of the
total quota across all regions is a zero-sum game, an increase in allocation for one (or more)
region(s) relative to an alternative allocation must, by necessity, result in a decrease in allocation
to one or more other regions. As a result, because estimates of the economic value by state or
region are not available, it is not possible to determine whether the economic benefits associated
with allocation gains to one or more region(s) exceed the losses to other regions. Thus, it is not
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possible to rank the proposed alternatives and associated options based on expected net
economic benefits. This conclusion even includes Alternative 5. It might be argued that,
because the allocation that would result from Alternative 5 reflects a negotiated agreement by
the state directors, it may reflect the best collective economic, social, or other outcome.
However, such a conclusion would be pure conjecture.
It is noted, however, that even if a specific alternative would result in an allocation for a region
that is lower than recent harvests, it should not be concluded that the economic benefits to that
region would be reduced. By tailoring the management regulations to better meet the
preferences of the constituents in that region, it is possible, and likely, that the lower allocation
would still result in an increase in economic benefits. Only in the event of a substantial
reduction in allocation relative to normal harvest would a net reduction in economic benefits be
expected to occur.
The economic effects of the alternatives considered under this action would not be expected to
be affected by the form of regional management adopted under Action 1, nor the specification of
regions adopted under Action 2.
4.3.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment
This action concerns how much of the recreational red snapper quota would be allocated to each
region. Additional effects are not expected from Alternative 1 (no action), as the recreational
red snapper quota will continue to be managed as a single quota. In theory, impacts would not
be expected from dividing the quota among regions based on historical landings, as each
resulting apportionment should represent the approximate amount of fishing for each region.
However, the portion of total recreational landings by each state varies from year to year,
meaning that the selection of any regional apportionment (Alternatives 2-5) could result in
indirect effects by removing the flexibility of variable annual landings. Also, indirect impacts
may occur relative to how each region’s apportioned quota is adequate to satisfy status quo
fishing behavior and effort.
The range of potential allocations resulting from the average landings for various time series
under Alternatives 2 and 3 is provided in Tables 2.3.2 – 2.3.5. Depending on the selected
alternative and options, a state’s assigned portion of the quota may vary widely from the landings
of any given year. Also, the proportions provided in the tables demonstrate the relationship
among states in terms of the allocation: the greater the quota portion assigned to one region,
which would be expected to provide greater benefits to that region as more fish are allowed to be
caught, also corresponds to less fish being apportioned to another region. This means that
positive and negative impacts will accrue to the regions relative to each other, and in terms of
how each apportioned quota is sufficient to provide fishing opportunities relative to status quo
effort. This discussion applies to Alternative 5 as well, although the resulting proportions have
yet to be established. The issue of flexibility of variable annual landings is less of an issue under
Alternative 4, because the allocation would be divided into two parts instead of five. Thus,
more than one state would be fishing within each apportionment of the quota and be able to share
the effects from fluctuations in red snapper abundance and fishing effort.
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4.3.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment
Additional impacts would not be expected from retaining a Gulf-wide recreational red snapper
quota (Alternative 1). However, selecting this alternative would not allow for implementation
of a regional management program. The remaining alternatives determine the method by which
the Gulf-wide quota will be divided among selected regions and are not expected to affect the
administrative environment. The alternatives do not differ in terms of how each would impact
the administrative environment, and are thus not comparable amongst one another. Existing data
collection and harvest monitoring programs would remain in place, which currently include
state-level landings calculations. Whichever alternative and corresponding formula is selected to
apportion the quota, while an administrative action in nature, will not require any change to the
administrative process of collecting data and monitoring regional landings.
4.4 Action 4 – Regional Management Measures
4.4.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment
No direct or indirect effects on the physical environment are expected to occur from alternatives
in Action 4. Effects on the physical environment are discussed in detail for the first three
actions. In general direct effects on the physical environment occur when fishing gear and
anchors interact with the substrate. Recreational fishing gear is expected to have minimal impact
on the substrate and attached organisms; however, setting a large amount of gear over one area
or continued anchoring on fragile substrate is expected to increase the potential for negative
impacts to the physical environment (Hamilton 2000). Alternative 1 (no action) would retain
the current set of recreational red snapper management measures and is not expected to result in
any direct or indirect impacts. Preferred Alternatives 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 would provide flexibility
to the individual regions by allowing them to modify season length, bag limits, size limits, and
establish closed areas within the EEZ adjacent to their region. Preferred Alternative 7 would
allow individual regions to further divide their portion of the recreational red snapper quota into
separate allocations for private anglers and the for-hire fleet. Because the overall quota will not
be modified under this alternative, no direct or indirect effects on the physical environment are
expected. The gear types used by private anglers and anglers on for-hire vessels are the same so
no additional impacts to the physical environment are expected. Instead, all of the selected
preferred alternatives (Preferred Alternatives 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7) are expected to provide added
flexibility for individual regions compared to Alternative 1 (no action).
4.4.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment
Action 4 could have indirect effects on the biological/ecological environment; however, each
individual region is expected to monitor their portion of the recreational quota and determine
when their portion is expected to be reached. Alternative 1 (no action) would continue federal
management of red snapper and is not expected to have any additional effects on the
biological/ecological environment. However, Preferred Alternatives 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 or any
combination of these alternatives could have indirect effects on the biological/ecological
environment. This action was developed to allow individual regions (defined in Action 2) the
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flexibility of establishing different fishing season and structure, bag limits, size limits, and closed
areas in order to meet their socio-economic needs while still maintaining landings within their
allocated quota. Because harvest restrictions that might ultimately result from the actions and
alternatives considered in this proposed amendment are unknown, the impacts that may result
from this action would depend on how the management measures adopted by a region vary from
Alternative 1 (no action) management measures. The designated range of bag limits
(Preferred Alternative 3) and minimum size limits (Preferred Alternative 4) could differ from
Alternative 1 (no action); however only indirect minimal impacts are expected from any of
these modifications. Based on yield-per-recruit (YPR) analyses conducted by Southeast
Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) in 2013 for the recreational sector all minimum size limits
considered in Preferred Alternative 4 from 14 to 18 inches TL are considered effective for
achieving high yield; although 15 inches TL is estimated to maximize yield in the recreational
sector
(http://gulfcouncil.org/docs/Presentations/Gulf%20Red%20Snapper%20Size%20Limit%20Anal
ysis%20-%20Presentation.pdf). Preferred Alternative 5 which would allow individual regions
to establish a maximum recreational red snapper size limit and could also increase regulatory
discards of larger older fish if a small maximum size limit were established. These individual
alternatives and combinations of management measures could differ from Alternative 1 (no
action) and would have to be taken into account during the stock assessment process. For
example, previous analysis completed by the SEFSC from fishery-dependent catch estimated
gear selectivities and discard mortality that could account for these regional differences in
management but, it should be noted these management modifications could add additional layers
of variability to the recreational fishery-dependent estimates of gear selectivity and size of
discarded fish. Preferred Alternative 7 is not expected to have any direct or indirect effects on
the biological environment because the overall quota is not being modified by this alternative.
Further the gear types used by private anglers and the for-hire fleet are similar; however, private
vessels are more likely to anchor over fishing spots; whereas, for-hire captains typically hold the
fishing vessel over a site without anchoring. Regardless these differences in fishing practices
and behavior are expected to be minimal and not expected to create any added negative impacts
on the biological environment compared to Alternative 1.
4.4.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment
Because the harvest restrictions that might ultimately result from all of the actions and
alternatives considered in this proposed amendment are unknown, the following assessment
provides a qualitative discussion of the expected economic effects of this proposed action.
Portions of the discussion of the expected economic effects for Action 1 provided in Section
4.1.3 are relevant to the discussion of the economic effects expected to result from this action.
Only some of the information provided in Section 4.1.3 is summarized in the following
discussion and the reader is encouraged to read Section 4.1.3 for a full discussion of this
information.
This proposed action would establish the harvest measures that would be subject to regional
management discretion under delegation. Similar to the discussion in Section 4.3.3, the
economic effects that would be expected to accrue to anglers as a result of regional management
discretion would be considered direct economic effects. Subsequent effects that might accrue to
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fishing or other businesses that occur as a result of changes in angler demand in response to these
management changes would be indirect economic effects of the proposed alternative.
As previously discussed, the foundation of this proposed amendment is that regional control of
the recreational harvest of red snapper would result in increased economic benefits because
regional management can result in the implementation of harvest regulations that better match
the preferences of local constituents. As discussed in Section 4.2.3, among the alternatives
considered, the establishment of more regions would be expected to result in greater economic
benefits than the establishment of fewer regions because of the increased opportunity for
regulatory localization. Extending this determination, the more regulatory parameters a region is
able to control, the closer a region can tailor management to the preferences of their constituents,
and the more economic benefits can be increased. Embedded in this conclusion, however, is the
assumption, as previously stated for the other actions, that the resultant regulations meet the
objectives of the FMP, which include, but are not limited to, limiting harvest to the allocation
and not harming the resource or compromising resource recovery.
The following discussion includes two perspectives of the conditions that could be expected to
occur under Alternative 1. The first perspective is the traditional perspective under which all
current federal regulations for management of red snapper recreational harvest in the Gulf EEZ
would be retained. These regulations are discussed in Chapter 2. The second perspective
assumes that a decision to adopt delegation (Action 1, Preferred Alternative 2) has occurred.
Under delegation, the current NMFS regulations that specify the start of the red snapper
recreational season, bag limit, and minimum size limit would no longer be in effect and would,
instead, be replaced with regional specifications. The remaining federal regulations would
remain in effect. The effect of this is that, under the second perspective, only those regulations
not subject to regional specification would remain in effect under Alternative 1. As a result,
specification of the start of the red snapper recreational season, bag limit, and minimum size
limit in the EEZ off the regions with delegation authority would not exist under Alternative 1.
The other measures proposed for delegation, i.e., a maximum size limit and sector separation, are
measures that are within the authority of the Council but are not currently regulated and would
remain unregulated under either perspective for Alternative 1. The final measure proposed for
delegation, closed areas, is also within current Council authority and some closed areas have
already been established. These closed areas would be unaffected under either of the two
Alternative 1 perspectives, as well as under any of the other proposed alternatives. Regions
that opt out of delegation, or for which delegation is suspended, are addressed by Action 7.
This proposed action establishes the range of management options that would be available for
regional specification under delegation. Significant differences would be expected to result
under the alternative perspectives of Alternative 1 and in the expected changes relative to
Alternative 1 of the proposed alternatives. Under the first perspective (all current federal red
snapper recreational regulations would be retained), none of the potential economic benefits of
delegation could be received because the regions could not make any regulatory change to the
recreational harvest of red snapper in the EEZ off the respective region to reflect local
preferences. Effectively, the economic effects of Alternative 1, assuming retention of all current
federal red snapper recreational harvest regulations, would be equivalent to the absence of
delegation (Action 1, Alternative 1).
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Alternatively, under the second perspective of Alternative 1 (elimination of a season start date,
bag limit, and minimum size limit), the economic consequences of Alternative 1 are
indeterminate. Under the elimination of these restrictions, fishermen would still be constrained
by the regulations in the state where they land their harvest and continuing federal restrictions
would restrict consumption at sea or use as bait. Further, total harvest would still be limited to
the regional allocation and the collective Gulf-wide total recreational quota. Although the
absence of specific season, bag, and minimum size limits in the EEZ may result in confusion or
potential harvest overages, appropriate corrective measures or adjustments could be enacted in
subsequent years to minimize persistent or long-term adverse biological and economic effects.
As a result, in the absence of regulations for these management aspects (season start date, bag
limit, and minimum size limit), the harvest control that would result from the various state
regulations under the second perspective of Alternative 1 (elimination of a season start date, bag
limit, and minimum size limit) may result in a decrease, an increase, or no change in economic
benefits compared to the first perspective of Alternative 1 (retention of all current federal
regulations).
Not all of the proposed alternatives for this action are comparable. Some of the proposed
alternatives consider different regulatory measures (season, bag, size limit, closed areas, or sector
separation) and not variations of the same measure. For example, Preferred Alternative 2
would require each region to set the season, while Preferred Alternative 3 would require each
region to set the bag limit. As a result Preferred Alternative 2, Preferred Alternative 3,
Preferred Alternative 4, Preferred Alternative 6, and Preferred Alternative 7 cannot be
ranked relative to each other based on the expected economic effects.
Although Alternatives 2-7 all state that, under delegation, the regions would be allowed to set
certain regulations, within bounds in some instances, the following assessment assumes that the
specification of appropriate regulations would be required under Alternatives 2-4 (season, bag
limit, and minimum size limit), and only be discretionary under Alternatives 5-7 (maximum size
limit, closed areas, and sub-allocations).
Because both Preferred Alternative 4 and Preferred Alternative 5 address red snapper size
limits, direct comparison of the expected economic effects of these two proposed alternatives
may be appropriate. However, potential comparison may be reduced because each addresses a
different aspect of the size limit, either the minimum size limit (Preferred Alternative 4) or the
maximum size limit (Preferred Alternative 5). Both proposed alternatives, however, may
affect the rate of harvest and status of the red snapper stock. Allowing the harvest of smaller fish
would be expected to both increase the harvest rate (the increase in fish numbers attributable to a
reduction in the minimum size limit would be expected to exceed the decrease in average weight
per fish and result in a net increase in the harvest rate) and increase the harvest of fish that may
never spawn. As a result, red snapper spawning could be reduced. Prohibiting the harvest of
larger fish would be expected to decrease the harvest rate by reducing both the number of fish
harvested and the average weight per fish and increase the protection of more valuable spawners,
thereby aiding spawning. Increasing the catch rate would be expected to shorten the season, if
monitoring or projection methods are effective, or increase the likelihood the allocation is
exceeded if quota monitoring is either not implemented or is ineffective. Decreasing the catch
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rate would be expected to lengthen the season and decrease the likelihood that the allocation is
exceeded. Generally, because long seasons are economically more beneficial than short seasons,
they are preferred by anglers and associated businesses. Also, as previously discussed, limiting
harvest to the allocation would be expected to result in greater economic benefits than exceeding
the allocation and triggering AMs. With respect to the benefits of protecting spawners, increased
protection would, within limits, be expected to produce greater economic benefits than decreased
protection because of potentially faster stock recovery and more stable recruitment. Finally,
changing the size limit may result in stock effects by impacting the total fishing mortality of the
resource (harvest mortality and bycatch mortality) independent of the effects of the total harvest
or the harvest of spawners. Despite these considerations, it is not possible with available data to
determine whether Preferred Alternative 4 or Preferred Alternative 5 would be expected to
result in greater economic benefits.
The economic effects of Preferred Alternative 6 cannot be definitively determined with
available data. The economic rationale for a region to close an area would be that the closure
would be expected to either directly or indirectly improve harvest and associated economic
benefits to the region as a result of harvest in areas that remain open. For example, it may be
possible to have either a higher bag limit or a longer open season in the rest of the respective
region as a result of closure of a portion of the region, and this higher limit or longer season
result in more economic benefits than the resulting regulations and season that would result in
the absence of the area closure. As a result, Preferred Alternative 6 would be expected to
result in increased economic benefits compared to Alternative 1.
In theory, Preferred Alternative 7 may be expected to result in increased economic benefits
compared to Alternative 1 because it would allow localization of an additional management
parameter (sub-allocations). Quota allocation should be based on considerations other than just
the change in economic value and available data does not support a specific allocation between
the private and for-hire sectors based on economic value considerations alone. Other
considerations, such as, but not limited to, historic harvest by sector, social effects, and economic
impacts, whether appropriate or not, may contribute to the allocation decision. As a result of
factoring in these other considerations, the establishment of sub-allocations of the red snapper
recreational quota, or re-allocation of sub-allocations, for the private and for-hire sectors may
result in an increase, decrease, or no change in the economic benefits associated with red snapper
recreational harvest compared to Alternative 1. Currently, the red snapper recreational quota is
not sub-allocated for the private and for-hire sectors and each sector harvests a portion of the red
snapper recreational quota circumstantially determined by the amount of effort expended and
catch rate that occurs for each sector. It might be argued that the effort rates of the two sectors
reflect the respective values placed on red snapper by each sector. However, this would be a
superficial conclusion because other factors, such as, but not limited to, cost, convenience, and
platform availability would be expected to influence the decision to fish, the platform chosen
(private or for-hire), port of departure, and how many trips to take. Additionally, catch rates are
likely more reflective of angler and/or captain knowledge and skill than valuation of the
resource. Although this assessment does not assert that this “circumstantial distribution of
quota” should be expected to result in the highest economic benefits, deviation from this
“circumstantial” harvest pattern through the use of sub-allocations, which could occur under
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Preferred Alternative 7, similarly holds no assurance that economic benefits would be
improved.
As previously stated, this action (as currently structured) is only relevant if delegation is the form
of regional management adopted. As a result, discussion of how the economic effects of these
alternatives may vary under delegation compared to Council-controlled regional management
(Action 1, Alternative 3) is moot.
4.4.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment
This action establishes the management measures which may be modified at the regional level,
and the parameters within which a region may modify each management measure. However, it
does not actually establish the management measures. Thus, the management measures that
might ultimately result from both this action and others in this proposed amendment are
unknown and direct impacts are not expected. Indirect impacts would be expected as a result of,
and in relation to, how each region applies the flexibility afforded by the selected alternatives of
this action to provide optimal fishing opportunities to its constituents. Additional impacts are not
expected from maintaining red snapper management measures under status quo (Alternative 1).
However, regional management is being considered in response to growing frustrations with
status quo federal management and indirect benefits to the social environment are expected from
enabling regional modification of management measures.
Potential indirect benefits would be undermined and potentially eliminated if the adopted suite of
management measures in a region results in the quota being caught faster. Structuring
management measures to maximize preferred fishing times and practices would be expected to
result in a region’s quota being caught in a shorter amount of time, thus shortening the season
and increasing the likelihood of an allocation overage if quota monitoring is either not
implemented or is ineffective. Because a longer season is generally preferred by fishermen,
there is a trade-off between providing greater flexibility to establish locally preferred
management measures and a resulting increase in effort as the management measures provide
anglers access under optimal conditions.
Compared with the preceding actions which involve selection of a single alternative,10 this action
allows for selection of multiple alternatives as preferred, each of which represents a management
measure that could be modified regionally. Because regional modification of the management
measures is assumed to provide benefits to the local social environment by increasing the ability
to tailor management to the preferences of local constituents, greater flexibility provided to the
regions to modify management measures is expected to result in greater benefits. (Because all
anglers in any region are not likely to agree completely on fishing preferences, these potential
benefits may not result for all anglers.) Thus, the alternatives of this action are not comparable
with one another in the same way as the alternatives of the preceding actions because they are
not variations of the same measure. For example, Preferred Alternative 2 would allow each
region to establish when the fishing season would occur, while Preferred Alternative 3 would
allow each region to set a bag limit up to four red snapper per angler per day. With available
10
Alternative 4 of Action 3 may be selected alongside Alternative 3, but it represents a condition for Alternative 3.
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information, it is beyond the scope of this assessment to determine if variation of one of these
measures would provide more benefits than variation of another, or how some combination
might rank. It is also unknown how each region may employ the flexibility afforded within each
preferred alternative and the resulting combination of management measures. As a result the
effects from Preferred Alternatives 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7, and Alternative 5 cannot be ranked
relative to each other but would individually and collectively be expected to result in greater
indirect benefits than Alternative 1.
Depending on the location of any resultant closed area, Preferred Alternative 6 may increase or
decrease the total social benefits for a respective region. For some regions, the proximity to
other regions could render Preferred Alternative 6 an ineffective option and could enable
unintended fishing activity to occur. For other regions, however, the ability to trade the benefits
of harvest in the selected areas of the EEZ for other management considerations could be
expected to result in greater benefits than Alternative 1.
4.4.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment
Alternative 1 (no action) would retain a single set of recreational red snapper management
measures (i.e., season, bag limits, and size limits) throughout the Gulf and would have no direct
or indirect effects on the administrative environment. Allowing individual regions to modify
management measures (Preferred Alternatives 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7) compared to Alternative 1
is expected to add administrative burden to the Gulf states, state marine law enforcement, and
their respective departments for marine resources, while reducing some of the administrative
burden on the Council and the NMFS Southeast Regional Office in the long-term. In the shortterm, differing regional management measures in each individual region are expected to have
some direct effects on the administrative environment including NMFS’ Office of Law
Enforcement, the United States Coast Guard, and state marine law enforcement operations.
Preferred Alternative 7 would allow individual regions to further apportion the recreational
allocation, but not require them to do so. If regions allowed for-hire vessels to have differing
seasons, bag limits, and size limits than private anglers there could be added administrative
burden to the regions and state marine law enforcement operations. However, it is expected after
individual regions establish their regional management measures and stakeholders educate
themselves about these changes in regulations only indirect effects on the administrative
environment are expected.
4.5 Action 5 – For-Hire Vessels Federal Permit Restrictions
4.5.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the physical environment resulting from the harvest of red snapper
by the reef fish fishery have been discussed in detail in Reef Fish Amendment 22, Reef Fish
Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2004b and 2007), and in the February 2010
Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010). The potential impacts from various gear types are
discussed in Section 4.1.1.
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The direct and indirect effects on the physical environment from this action would be related to
changes in fishing effort and would likely be similar under delegation or Council regional
management. The direct and indirect effects on the physical environment from Alternative 1
would not change the current fishing conditions. No change in fishing effort is expected to occur
because no new fishing regulations would be implemented; therefore, habitat-gear interactions
are estimated to remain unchanged. With delegation (Action 1), the effects of Preferred
Alternative 2 would not likely affect the physical environment. However, without delegation,
Preferred Alternative 2 could have additional effects because charter/for-hire reef fish permit
holders would not be required to comply with more restrictive federal reef fish regulations when
fishing in state waters. If a state adopts inconsistent regulations that are less restrictive than the
federal regulations, Preferred Alternative 2 would allow an increase in fishing effort in state
waters because federally permitted for-hire vessels could now fish there in compliance with the
less restrictive regulations. When state and federal regulations are consistent, no changes in
effects to the physical environment are expected from Preferred Alternative 2. If the states
maintain consistent regulations, then Alternative 1 would not provide any positive or negative
impacts. In comparison, if the states do not maintain consistent regulations, Alternative 1 would
provide slight benefits by requiring for-hire vessels to abide by more restrictive red snapper
regulations than allowed by the state. More restrictive regulations reduce effort and the amount
of time spent fishing, which would indirectly benefit the physical environment by reducing
habitat-gear interactions. If Preferred Alternative 2 or Alternative 3 are selected in Action 1,
the direct and indirect effects on the physical environment would be similar to those previously
discussed.
4.5.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the biological/ecological environments resulting from the harvest
of red snapper by the reef fish fishery have been discussed in detail in Reef Fish Amendment 22,
Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2004b and 2007), and in the
February 2010 Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010). The potential impacts are discussed in
Section 4.1.2.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act)
mandates that Councils prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks. The provision
restricting the vessels with a Gulf charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish to comply
with the more restrictive of federal red snapper regulations when fishing in state waters was
established in Reef Fish Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008b). The provision was intended to
encourage states to establish consistent regulations and decrease the likelihood of exceeding the
quota.
The effects on the biological/ecological environment would be related to the changes in the
amount of fishing effort and would likely be similar under delegation or Council regional
management. Alternative 1 would continue to require the federally permitted for-hire reef fish
permit holders to comply with the more restrictive of state or federal reef fish regulations when
fishing in state waters. During times when states do not have consistent regulations, this would
reduce the possible fishing effort of the federally permitted vessels. Restraining the fishing
effort would positively benefit the biological/ecological environment. Alternative 1 also
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maintains the likelihood of meeting the goals of the rebuilding plan in the necessary timeframe.
However, because this alternative would not affect non-permitted private anglers it would not
restrain the effort of those fishers.
With delegation or Council regional management (Action 1), the effects of Preferred
Alternative 2 would not likely affect the biological/ecological environments. However, without
delegation or Council regional management, Preferred Alternative 2 could have additional
effects. Preferred Alternative 2 would remove the permit provision for harvesting red snapper,
but would still apply when fishing for other reef fish species. With delegation state and federal
waters should have consistent regulations, which would not change the effects on the
biological/ecological environments. Preferred Alternative 2 would directly affect the
biological/ecological environments for red snapper in states with inconsistent regulations due to
the increase in fishing effort from the federally permitted for-hire vessels. This could result in an
increase in the likelihood of landing overages and overfishing occurring. Lack of state
consistency may also result in more restrictive AMs to ensure quotas/catch levels are not
exceeded. If AMs are implemented in Action 6, then quotas will be reduced in the fishing
season following an overage. However, the overage may have already affected the stock
abundance and the size and age-structure of these red snapper populations in which case, the
benefits of the overage adjustment may be reduced. If an increase in fishing effort occurs for red
snapper, then this could indirectly affect other reef fish and species caught as bycatch.
In comparison to Preferred Alternative 2, Alternative 1 would continue to have slight positive
benefits the biological environment by restraining the fishing effort during times with
inconsistent regulations and, in turn, decreasing the likelihood of overfishing. As discussed in
Section 2.5, Alternative 1, results in a longer recreational red snapper fishing season than is
projected under Preferred Alternative 2. However, if the red snapper recreational season
length is drastically reduced to account for an overage, then the likelihood of angler noncompliance with the regulations including keeping red snapper during the closed season and the
potential for derby fishing during the open season increases. Action 5 does not rely on the other
actions in this document. However, the direct and indirect effects of Preferred Alternative 2
could impact regional management by increasing the catch rates of red snapper and, in turn,
shorten the season lengths.
4.5.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment
Because the harvest restrictions that might ultimately result from all of the actions and
alternatives considered in this proposed amendment are unknown, the following assessment
provides a qualitative discussion of the expected economic effects of this proposed action. As
discussed in Section 4.1.3, this action is moot if regionalization is adopted. As a result, the
following discussion only applies if regionalization is not adopted.
This proposed action would be expected to have direct impacts on the red snapper recreational
season length and allowable harvest by for-hire anglers on federally permitted vessels and all
anglers who harvest red snapper in the EEZ. As a result, the economic effects discussed in this
assessment would be expected to be direct effects of the proposed action. Any subsequent
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effects that occur as a result of changes in angler demand that might accrue to associated fishing
and other businesses would be indirect economic effects.
The current requirement that a person on board a federally permitted for-hire vessel must follow
federal regulations when fishing in territorial (hereafter referred to as “state”) waters if the
federal regulations are more restrictive was intended to reduce the severity of the regulations in
the EEZ (by reducing harvest by these vessels in state waters, thereby extending the season in the
EEZ) and reduce the associated adverse economic effects of more severe regulations. This
requirement would continue under Alternative 1. As a result, the economic benefits of avoiding
more severe harvest regulations in the EEZ would continue under Alternative 1.
The current requirement applies to all reef fish species, but Preferred Alternative 2 would
exclude the recreational harvest of red snapper from the provision. This would be expected to
result in increased red snapper harvest by federally permitted for-hire vessels when fishing in
state waters. The red snapper recreational harvest is subject to quota management and the
harvest of red snapper in the EEZ must be prohibited when the quota is met or is projected to be
met. The red snapper recreational quota includes the harvest of red snapper harvest in both the
EEZ and state waters. As a result, any quota “shift” that occurs as a result of increased harvest in
any area is a zero-sum game; increased harvest in state waters must be offset by reduced harvest
in the EEZ. Although the total red snapper recreational harvest would remain the same, the
benefits associated with the increased harvest in state waters would be re-distributed away from
anglers in the EEZ to anglers in state waters. Although anglers who fish in the EEZ have the
option of fishing in state waters, which they must transit to reach the EEZ, the decision to fish in
the EEZ demonstrates an expectation they will receive greater benefits from fishing in the EEZ.
Additionally, reducing the allowable harvest from the EEZ would require a shortening of the
season in the EEZ. This would affect private anglers as well as for-hire anglers and result in
additional adverse economic consequences for businesses and communities associated with the
private angler sector. In summary, increasing the restrictions in the EEZ in order to allow
increased harvest in state waters would be expected to result in a net decrease in economic
benefits.
The economic effects of the alternatives considered under this action would not be expected to
be affected by the form of regional management adopted under Action 1, nor the specification of
regions adopted under Action 2.
4.5.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment
As discussed previously, the actions of this amendment build on one another to develop a
regional management program. Given the requirements for delegation of management (Action 1,
Preferred Alternative 2), federal and state regulations for recreational red snapper will be
consistent. Thus, if the Council retains the current preferred alternative for Action 1, Preferred
Alternative 2 would be redundant because the states’ regulations would have authority for both
state waters and the EEZ. Under these conditions, no effects would be expected from adopting
Preferred Alternative 2, and no additional impacts would be expected from retaining
Alternative 1 (no action).
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However, unlike the previous actions, Action 5 could stand as an independent action apart from a
regional management program. Under certain conditions, effects could result from Preferred
Alternative 2. For example, if 1) delegation is not adopted in Action 1, 2) one or more states do
not participate in regional management, or 3) delegation is suspended or revoked, Preferred
Alternative 2 would be expected to have negative direct effects on recreational red snapper
season length and allowable harvest by for-hire anglers on federally permitted vessels and all
anglers who harvest red snapper in the EEZ. Because a longer fishing season corresponds with
more fishing opportunities, it is assumed that more benefits result from a longer season. Under
the three scenarios, implementation of Preferred Alternative 2 would result in a shorter fishing
season in the EEZ. Thus, negative effects from Preferred Alternative 2 could be greater and
affect all recreational anglers, compared to Alternative 1. On the other hand, Preferred
Alternative 2 would result in benefits for those involved in the operations of federally-permitted
for-hire vessels (e.g., owners, captains, crew, and passengers), compared to Alternative 1 as they
would be enabled to fish under the same regulations as other recreational fishermen in their state.
Because a longer season in the EEZ would affect more anglers (those fishing from private
vessels and for-hire vessels), total social benefits would be expected to be greater under
Alternative 1.
4.5.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment
This action considers excluding vessels with a Gulf charter vessel/headboat permit from abiding
by the more strict federal regulations when harvesting red snapper. Alternative 1 is an AM that
encourages states to establish consistent regulations for recreational red snapper fishing and
reduces the probability of a landings overage occurring. Alternative 1 requires federally
permitted for-hire reef fish vessels to comply with the more restrictive federal reef fish
regulations when fishing in state waters. This alternative would not change the current
administrative environment.
With delegation (Action 1), the effects of Preferred Alternative 2 would not likely affect the
administrative environment. However, without delegation, Preferred Alternative 2 could have
additional effects. Preferred Alternative 2 would not require federally permitted for-hire reef
fish vessels to abide by the more restrictive federal regulations when harvesting red snapper in
state waters. However, this provision would still apply to the other reef fish species. This could
create additional enforcement issues. If state regulations are more liberal than federal
regulations, then permit holders could potentially increase the amount of fish they harvest.
Preferred Alternative 2 could increase the likelihood of quota overages, overfishing, and
triggering AMs associated with exceeding the quota. In turn, this could increase the burden on
the administrative environment to implement adjustments associated with AMs. Implementing
AMs could take up considerable staff time to monitor and quantitatively determine the
magnitude of an overage(s) and the subsequent AMs that are required to prevent the overage
from occurring if the states provide supplemental landings data. If the level of excess harvest
resulting from inconsistent state-federal regulations significantly affects management objectives,
such as avoiding overfishing and rebuilding overfished stocks, then subsequent amendments to
fishery management plans may be necessary to adjust management measures to prevent or end
overfishing and establish or revise rebuilding plans. Development of new amendments would
negatively affect the administrative environment by increasing costs and the burden on staff to
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draft such documents. In comparison to Alternative 1, Preferred Alternative 2 would
negatively affect the administrative environment by increasing the likelihood of landings
overages, overfishing occurring, and triggering AMs.
4.6 Action 6 – Post-Season Accountability Measures (AM)
Adjusting for Regional Overages
4.6.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the physical environment resulting from the harvest of red snapper
by the reef fish fishery have been discussed in detail in Reef Fish Amendment 22, Reef Fish
Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2004b and 2007), and in the February 2010
Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010). The potential impacts from various gear types are
discussed in Section 4.1.1.
The direct and indirect effects on the physical environment from this action would be related to
changes in fishing effort. The effects on the physical environment resulting from Alternative 1
are expected to be similar to current fishing conditions. No change in fishing effort is expected
to occur because no new fishing regulations would be implemented; therefore, habitat-gear
interactions are estimated to remain unchanged. Alternative 2 and Preferred Alternative 3,
Options a or b would provide slight benefits to reef fish habitat by reducing the fishing effort in
the following year if the landings indicate the quota was exceeded. This would increase the
likelihood of achieving the goals of the rebuilding plan and preventing overfishing. The delay of
Options a or b could allow slightly more impacts during those years; however, the impacts
would likely be similar to status quo. Alternative 4 may result in slightly negative or positive
effects to the physical environment depending on the calculation of the buffers relative to the
landings (GMFMC 2011b). If the fishing effort is reduced and the amount of time spent fishing
is reduced, then the decrease in fishing effort would indirectly benefit the physical environment
by reducing habitat-gear interactions.
4.6.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the biological/ecological environments from the harvest of red
snapper and from changes in total allowable catch (sector quotas) have been discussed in detail
in Reef Fish Amendment 22 and Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC
2004b and 2007) and in the February 2010 Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010). Potential
impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill on the biological/ecological
environment are discussed in the January 2011 Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2011a).
The direct and indirect effects on the biological/ecological environments from this action would
be related to changes in fishing effort. Alternative 1 would continue the current direct and
indirect effects on the biological/ecological environments. The effects are relative to the change
in fishing effort which may result in over or under harvest. This alternative does not implement
a reduction for the following recreational season’s red snapper harvest in the case of the quota
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being exceeded which in turn, may increase the direct negative effects to the
biological/ecological environment in relation to the other alternatives. Should an overharvest
occur, this alternative could adversely affect the red snapper stock; however, this has been
similar to status quo for several years. In contrast, Alternative 2, Preferred Alternative 3,
Option a and Preferred Option b, and Alternative 4 would adjust for any overage during the
following year, thus minimizing the effects on the biological/ecological environments relative to
the overage as discussed in Section 2.6 (Table 2.6.1). Both Alternative 2 and Preferred
Alternative 3, Option a and Preferred Option b result in a one-for-one reduction of the
following year’s quota for any overage. This reduces adverse effects on the biological/ecological
environment that would occur from the overharvest. However, if the red snapper recreational
season length is drastically reduced to account for an overage, then the likelihood of noncompliance of recreational anglers with the regulations increases as does the potential for derby
fishing. These activities could have negative indirect effects that would lessen the benefits of the
AM by increasing the harvest of red snapper as well as increasing bycatch and discards. The
overages could also be evaluated by future stock assessments and review through the SSC. For
Preferred Alternative 3, Option b, the effects would vary geographically as the reduction in
regional quota would be applied only to that state which exceeds its apportioned quota. This
could result in unevenly distributed effects depending on which regions exceed the quota and the
associated AMs. It is possible that if a region exceeds its quota by over 100%, then the
following year no harvest of red snapper in the region would be allowed unless the quota is
greatly increased. The effects of not allowing any harvest for a year in a specific area are not
known; however, these effects would be integrated into the next stock assessment. By selecting
Preferred Alternative 3, Option b, the quota adjustment would not begin until two years after
the implementation of the plan. This could decrease the ability to constrain harvest and increase
the risk of overfishing. It is unknown whether regional management would be able to constrain
harvest and allowing two years before applying the accountability measure could negatively
impact the biological environment. Alternative 4 may provide either slight positive or negative
effects on the biological/ecological environment depending on the landings of the previous years.
Calculations for Alternative 4 take into account the landings for the previous years and increase
the buffer based on the extent of the overages.
4.6.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment
Because the harvest restrictions that might ultimately result from all of the actions and
alternatives considered in this proposed amendment are unknown, the following assessment
provides a qualitative discussion of the expected economic effects of this proposed action.
Portions of the discussion of the expected economic effects for Action 1 provided in Section
4.1.3 are relevant to the discussion of the economic effects expected to result from this action.
Some of this information is summarized in the following discussion and the reader is encouraged
to read Section 4.1.3.
This proposed action addresses the potential imposition of a new AM. The current AMs, which
include harvest monitoring and closure of the EEZ if the red snapper recreational quota is met or
is projected to have been met, would continue under any of the alternatives adopted for this
proposed action. AMs are a component of the management structure and their adoption is an
administrative action. Because it is an administrative action, the adoption of an AM would not
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cause any direct economic effects. The direct economic effects of AMs occur only when the
AMs are triggered, if such occurs, and harvest restrictions are imposed. For the current proposed
action, the trigger event would be a quota overage.
The proposed AM would require a post-season payback of a quota overage. Quotas represent the
amount of allowable harvest that has been estimated to be acceptable given the biological status
of the resource, rates of natural and bycatch mortality, and management goals. These
management goals may include stock growth, decline, or maintenance at the current level of
biomass and stock composition. Embedded within the decision process of selecting these
management goals, and the path and pace through which they are to be reached, are
considerations of the economic and social consequences of the alternative options. In effect, the
management decisions reflect a balance of the best biological, economic, and social outcomes.
From this “best” perspective, despite the uncertainties that exist in the estimation process and
forecast of future biological and environmental conditions, exceeding the red snapper
recreational quota would logically be expected to have an adverse effect on either or both the
status of the resource and achieving the management goals. This, in turn, would be expected to
have adverse economic effects. Assuming this is the case, overages should be avoided and,
when they occur, attempt should be made to minimize their effects. Overage payback is a logical
tool to minimize the adverse effects of quota overage. The intent of a payback would be to
insure that the combined harvest over successive years does not exceed the combined quota for
that period.
It is noted that the proposed alternatives for this action only consider “following year” paybacks
and not multiple-year considerations, e.g., only impose a payback if the quota is exceeded in at
least two of the most recent three consecutive years. It is beyond the scope of this analysis to
evaluate which approach is better given the uncertainties associated with stock assessment in
general, forecasting stock recovery, harvest projection and monitoring, etc. Sizeable harvest
overages of the red snapper recreational quota have routinely occurred in recent years without
apparent disruption of stock recovery. However, because of the amount of time required to
conduct stock assessments, the potential cumulative harm of successive overages, and potentially
compounded payback effects on an already severely restricted open season, annual reaction
(payback) may be more prudent and effective in minimizing the potential adverse economic
effects of overages.
In general, it is expected that exceeding the quota and triggering AMs should be avoided. The
economic benefits to fishermen, and associated businesses and communities, are expected to be
greater when quotas, and associated seasons, are stable (or increasing), because this allows better
planning and utilization of resources. Although anglers may have flexibility in their choice of
recreational activity, businesses associated with the recreational fishing industry need regular
customer traffic to meet monthly expenses. Paybacks are costly and disruptive in the short term
because they disrupt this stability. Although a payback, in design, would result in a total twoyear allowable harvest equal to the sum of twice the normal annual quota, and increased benefits
the first year associated with the quota overage, the decline in quota the second year, and
associated decline in angler demand, could jeopardize the financial status of businesses that are
dependent on the harvest of the subject species.
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Additionally, a quota overage that harms the resource and progress towards recovery goals could
have adverse economic consequences for both the commercial and recreational harvest sectors
and not just the recreational sector. Adverse stock effects would be expected to harm the total
allowable harvest of the species. If the total allowable harvest is reduced as a result of an
overage by the recreational sector, both the recreational and commercial sectors would be
expected to experience a reduction in economic benefits.
In the long run, however, protection of the biological status of the resource and continued
progress towards recovery goals, where appropriate, as in the case of red snapper, provided by
paybacks would be expected to result in a net increase in economic benefits compared to not
having a payback.
Alternative 1 would not result in payback of red snapper recreational quota overages. As a
result, in the short term, no change in economic benefits to fishermen from either sector, or
associated businesses, would be expected to occur. However, if overages are individually (an
overage in a single year) or cumulatively (overages in multiple years) sufficient to harm progress
towards recovery goals, then the long-term net economic benefits accruing to the recreational
harvest of red snapper, and possibly the commercial harvest of red snapper, would be expected to
decline.
For the other proposed alternatives, harvest overage paybacks would be required, but only if the
total red snapper recreational harvest from all regions exceeded the combined quota. Otherwise,
the proposed alternatives vary by whether the payback would be shared across all regions
(Alternative 2 and Alternative 4), or borne only by the region(s) with an overage (Preferred
Alternative 3), and would require payback of the entire overage (Alternative 2 and Preferred
Alternative 3), or some portion thereof (Alternative 4).
With respect to sharing paybacks, the effects are less economic than an equity issue. As
previously stated for other actions in this proposed amendment, available information does not
support determination that valuation differs by region (i.e., anglers in one region value red
snapper more than anglers in another region). As a result, assuming red snapper are equally
valued by all anglers across the Gulf, the magnitude of the economic effects to anglers would be
unaffected by whether they are borne only by the region(s) responsible for the overage, or shared
by all regions. Distributional effects would occur (i.e., a portion of the effects of a payback
would be borne by regions where the overage did not occur if the payback is shared by all
regions), but the total change in economic value would be unaffected. However, from an equity
perspective, penalizing anglers, and associated businesses, in all regions for overages that only
occur in other regions may be perceived as inequitable because it would result in re-distribution
of economic benefits without apparent justification. Thus, from this perspective, Preferred
Alternative 3 would be more equitable than Alternative 2 and Alternative 4.
With respect to how much of the overage would be paid back, if an overage harms the resource
or recovery of the species, and reduces the economic benefits associated with the harvest of the
species, then complete payback would be expected to result in more economic benefits than
partial payback. This conclusion follows even if short-term or single-year overages are not
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significantly harmful to the biological status of the resource because persistent cumulative
overages would eventually be expected to be harmful. Under the control rule (Alternative 4),
the maximum payback (buffer) would be 20%, regardless of the actual overage in the most
recent year, whereas the payback would equal the overage in Alternative 2 and Preferred
Alternative 3. Thus, Alternative 2 and Preferred Alternative 3 would result in a larger
payback, and reduction of short-term economic benefits, if the overage is more than 20%. Under
the control rule and multiple annual overages in the previous four years, however, the payback
would exceed the overage in the previous year if the overage is less than 17% (a 1% to 10%
overage would result in a payback of 16% and an 11% to 30% overage would result in a payback
of 17%). As a result, it cannot be concluded that the payback, and short-term economic losses,
would always be greater for a particular alternative among the alternatives considered. However,
because of the increased opportunity for a higher payback under Alternative 2 and Preferred
Alternative 3 compared to Alternative 4 (the range of “more than 20%” is broader than “less
than 17%”), it is logical to conclude that Alternative 2 and Preferred Alternative 3 would be
expected to result in a greater reduction in short-term economic benefits than Alternative 4. In
the long term, assuming that cumulative payback shortfalls would be detrimental to the resource,
Alternative 2 and Preferred Alternative 3 would be expected to result in greater long-term
economic benefits than Alternative 4. It should be recalled, however, as previously stated, that
significant red snapper recreational harvest overages have occurred in recent years without
apparent disruption of the resource recovery.
The final aspect of the proposed alternatives to consider is the immediacy of payback.
Alternatives 2-4 are each accompanied by options that would delay the payback by either one
year (Option a, begin the quota adjustment one year after implementation) or two years
(Preferred Option b, begin the quota adjustment two years after implementation). In the
absence of the adoption of either option, assuming the implementing regulation is effective midto late-2014, quota adjustments could begin in 2016 based on the harvest assessment of the 2015
red snapper recreational fishing season. The economic effects of the options would depend,
similar to the determination of the need for an overage payback at all, on the impact of any
overage on the health of the resource and progress towards the rebuilding plan. Although the use
a payback would be expected to be economically disruptive in the short term, particularly in
situations where a payback has not historically been used, its use would be based on expectations
that the payback would improve the health of the resource and result in greater long-term net
economic benefits. As a result, if an overage is sufficiently important from a resource
perspective that it needed to be paid back, it matters little whether the overage occurs in the first
or second year of the “payback program.” Stated a different way, the adverse economic effects
of adjusting to a new program (paybacks) would not be expected to exceed the benefits of
correcting for the overage. It might be argued that current management is incapable of limiting
overages in the near-term (in the absence of regional management), and overages may be
inevitable at the beginning of a switch to regional management, but would be expected to be
reduced in subsequent years under both approaches. Nevertheless, information is not available
to demonstrate that the significance of these initial overages would be less than overages in
subsequent years and do not justify corrective action. As a result, from this perspective, the
economic benefits would be expected to be increased the sooner paybacks are put into effect,
which would occur if neither Option a or Preferred Option b is adopted, followed by Option a,
then Preferred Option b.
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It is noted that the magnitude of the overage (and subsequent payback) may factor into the
ultimate significance of any economic effects. An overage in the near-term (i.e., within the next
couple of years) could be sufficiently large that a payback be significantly economically harmful
compared to potentially smaller overages in later years. If that is the case, then the overage
would be expected to also be substantially harmful to the resource and reduce the associated
long-term economic benefits. If this is the case, then the relevant question is not whether to
require a payback at all, but rather whether to require the payback all at once or as a series of
incremental paybacks cumulatively equal to or greater than the initial overage. This option, a
multi-year payback, however, is not currently included as a proposed option and, as a result, is
outside the scope of this analysis.
Combining the conclusions of the previous two paragraphs, Preferred Alternative 3 would be
expected to be more equitable that Alternative 2 and Alternative 4. Preferred Alternative 3
would also be expected to result in the same short and long-term economic benefits as
Alternative 2, and result in more long-term benefits than Alternative 4.
The economic effects of the alternatives considered under this action would not be expected to
be affected by the form of regional management adopted under Action 1, nor the specification of
regions adopted under Action 2.
4.6.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment
This action proposes to add a post-season AM for recreational red snapper management based on
one of two actions: 1) reduce the following year’s quota by the amount it is exceeded the
previous year (Alternative 2 and Preferred Alternative 3), or 2) place buffers on the quota
following a year in which the quota was exceeded (Alternative 4). The post-season AM would
affect only the state or states that exceed their apportioned quota (Preferred Alternative 3) or
would be applied Gulf-wide, regardless of where the quota overage occurred (Alternatives 2 and
4). Direct impacts are not expected from the adoption of a post-season AM because an AM only
results in impacts if and when it is triggered. Indirect impacts would be expected from triggering
the AM under any of the alternatives, as the available quota for the subsequent fishing season is
decreased.
Additional impacts are not expected from maintaining the status quo (Alternative 1). Currently,
if total recreational red snapper landings are determined to have exceeded the annual quota, the
Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) reviews the extent of the overage in relation to the
acceptable biological catch (ABC) and any potential impact on the progress of the rebuilding
plan, and determines whether or not to modify the following year’s quota. Because there is, as
yet, no regional allocation of the recreational quota, the determination by the SSC is made in
regards to the Gulf-wide quota overage.
Exceeding the Gulf-wide recreational quota would trigger the remaining alternatives (except
Alternative 1). Different effects may be expected in terms of which region(s) would be
impacted, the action that would be taken, and the magnitude of the adjustment. In general, it is
expected that exceeding the quota and triggering AMs should be avoided, because fishing
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opportunities would likely be reduced for the following season. Preferred Alternative 3 would
only impact a region that exceeded its portion of the quota, and no impacts would be expected in
other regions. Alternatives 2 and 4 would affect all regions and the fishermen within those
regions, even if their region remained within the quota. A state or region that remained within its
quota would be negatively impacted by reduced fishing opportunities the following season. The
severity of the impacts would relate to the extent of the quota overage, as fishing opportunities
would be reduced in the following year to make up for the quota overage (Alternative 2 and
Preferred Alternative 3). It could be socially disruptive if large quota overages one year are
followed by severe paybacks the next. Introducing a buffer (Alternative 4) to the quota would
impact all regions, regardless of where the quota overage occurred. The severity of impacts
under the buffer (Alternative 4) would be expected to relate to the extent of the quota overage,
but the amount of the buffer would not necessarily correspond to the exact poundage of the
overage; the buffer could be more or less than the overage. The maximum buffer would be 20%,
regardless of the actual overage in the last year. Thus, it is not possible to determine if the
effects from triggering Alternative 4 would be greater or less than Alternative 2 or Preferred
Alternative 3 in terms of the reduction to fishing opportunities.
Given that post-season AMs do not currently exist for red snapper and that this is the first time
regions will have to monitor landings to avoid exceeding a quota, it is assumed that overages
would be most likely to occur while the regions adjust to the new management program.
Adopting a grace period to allow regions time to adjust (Alternatives 2-4, Option a and
Preferred Option b) would be expected to mitigate potential short-term negative impacts from
applying a post-season AM. The long-term effects of the options would depend on the impact of
any overage on the health of the resource and progress towards the rebuilding plan. An overage
adjustment (Alternative 2 and Preferred Alternative 3) is intended to improve the health of the
resource and result in greater long-term benefits. As a result, if an overage is sufficiently
important from a biological perspective that it needed to be paid back, it matters little whether
the overage occurs in the first or second year of the program. Thus, there may be a trade-off in
effects from avoiding application of an overage adjustment in the short-term at the expense of
delayed realization of long-term benefits from rebuilding. This trade-off would be greater under
a longer grace period (Preferred Option b) than a shorter grace period (Option a), depending
on the magnitude of the overage. On the other hand, any overage that occurs during the grace
period selected could be reviewed by the Council’s SSC in terms of its effect on the rebuilding
plan, as has been recent practice. Thus, adopting an option is equivalent to maintaining the
status quo for addressing quota overages for red snapper.
4.6.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment
The direct and indirect effects on the administrative environment from this action would be
related to analyzing the landings data and applying the post-season AM. Alternative 1 would
not change the administrative environment. However, this alternative results in continuously
updating the yield stream to account for any overages and determine the ABC for red snapper
each year, and developing a framework action to apply the revised ABC through updating the
quotas. This creates a burden on the administrative environment. Alternative 2, Preferred
Alternative 3, Option a and Preferred Option b, and Alternative 4 would provide specific
methods to determine the following years’ quota and subsequent regional quotas. However,
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selecting Preferred Option b would delay the quota adjustment for any overage until two years
after the implementation of the plan. This direct effect may benefit the administrative
environment if the quotas do not require a framework action to be implemented. These
alternatives may indirectly affect the enforcement of the regulations negatively. By
implementing adjustments for overages, the subsequent season may be shortened. Preferred
Alternative 3, Option b could result in a closed season off a state if the previous year’s regional
quota was exceeded by over 100%. If the adjacent states were open for the harvest of red
snapper, then the increased complexity of the regulations may confuse fishermen and result in an
increase in noncompliance and negative effects on enforcement and the administrative
environment. The necessity to increase enforcement in a state or states without a recreational red
snapper fishing season would increase the burden on the administrative environment.
The direct and indirect effects on the administrative environment from this action would be
related to analyzing the landings data and applying the post-season AM. Alternative 1 would
not change the administrative environment. However, this alternative results in continuously
updating the yield stream to account for any overages and determine the ABC for red snapper
each year, and developing a framework action to apply the revised ABC through updating the
quotas. This creates a burden on the administrative environment. Alternative 2, Preferred
Alternative 3, and Alternative 4 would provide specific methods to determine the following
years’ quota and subsequent regional quotas. The direct and indirect effects on the
administrative environment would likely be similar to status quo. Option a and Preferred
Option b would likely decrease the burden on the administrative environment slightly during the
delay.
These alternatives may indirectly affect the enforcement of the regulations negatively. By
implementing adjustments for overages, the subsequent season may be shortened. In addition, if
the SSC modifies the ABC due to an overage (Alternative 1) the season length could be
reduced. Preferred Alternative 3, Option b could result in no fishing days for red snapper off a
state if the previous year’s regional quota was exceeded by over 100%. The increased
complexity of the regulations may frustrate fishermen and result in an increase in noncompliance
and negative effects on enforcement and the administrative environment. The necessity to
increase enforcement in a state or states without a recreational red snapper fishing season would
increase the burden on the administrative environment.
4.7 Action 7 – Establishing Default Regulations
4.7.1 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Physical Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the physical environment resulting from the harvest of red snapper
by the reef fish fishery have been discussed in detail in Reef Fish Amendment 22, Reef Fish
Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC 2004a and 2007), and in the February 2010
Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010). The potential impacts from various gear types are
discussed in Section 4.1.1.
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The direct and indirect effects on the physical environment from this action would be related to
changes in fishing effort under delegation. Alternative 1 would not change the impacts physical
environment, if a region’s delegation is not suspended or opted out. However, if a region’s
delegation is suspended or opted out, then Alternative 1 could have effects on the physical
environment. In the absence of default federal regulations, the Gulf EEZ would need to be
closed to prevent the quota from being exceeded. This would likely decrease the direct and
indirect effects on the physical environment by reducing fishing effort. Preferred Alternative
2, Option a and Preferred Alternative 3 would have similar effects on the physical
environment. Both would restrict the recreational harvest of red snapper to the NMFS default
regulations. The effects are expected to remain similar to the current regulations, which are
based on the fishing effort. Alternative 2, Option b would be expected to reduce fishing effort
and potentially benefit the physical environment. However, if the fishing effort preceding the
suspension of delegation greatly exceeded the expected fishing effort (i.e. derby fishing) then the
benefits may be negated. Alternative 2, Option b could encourage a geographic effort shift to
regions with open seasons for harvesting red snapper. This shift in fishing effort could slightly
increase the negative effects on the physical environment to those regions with open seasons.
4.7.2 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Biological/Ecological Environment
Direct and indirect effects on the biological/ecological environment from the harvest of red
snapper and from changes in total allowable catch (sector quotas) have been discussed in detail
in Reef Fish Amendment 22 and Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14 (GMFMC
2004a and 2007) and in the February 2010 Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2010). Potential
impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill on the biological/ecological
environment are discussed in the January 2011 Regulatory Amendment (GMFMC 2011a).
The direct and indirect effects on the biological/ecological environments from this action would
be related to changes in fishing effort under delegation. Alternative 1 would not change the
biological/ecological environment, if a region’s delegation is not suspended or opted out.
However, if a region’s delegation is suspended or opted out, then Alternative 1 could have
effects on the biological/ecological environments as the Gulf-wide EEZ would likely be closed
to prevent the quota from being exceeded which would reduce fishing effort and possibly
decrease the direct and indirect effects. In the absence of default federal regulations, the Gulf
EEZ would need to be closed to prevent the quota from being exceeded. Preferred Alternative
2, Option a and Preferred Alternative 3 would have similar effects on the biological/ecological
environment. Both would restrict the recreational harvest of red snapper to the NMFS default
regulations. The effects are expected to remain similar to the current regulations which are based
on the fishing effort. Alternative 2, Option b would be expected to reduce fishing effort and
potentially benefit the biological/ecological environment. However, if the fishing effort
preceding the suspension of delegation greatly exceeded the fishing effort of consistent
regulations, then the benefits may be negated. Alternative 2, Option b could encourage a
geographic effort shift to states still harvesting red snapper. This shift in fishing effort could
slightly increase the effects on the biological/ecological environment. The concentration of
fishing effort associated with the geographic shift could increase the negative effects through
increased catch and bycatch.
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4.7.3 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Economic Environment
As discussed Section 4.1.3, this action would only be relevant if delegation of the management
authority of the recreational harvest of red snapper is selected as the preferred alternative for
Action 1. If delegation is not selected, current NMFS regulations for management of the
recreational harvest of red snapper would continue to be in effect. Because this action would
only be relevant under this circumstance, the following discussion assumes delegation has been
selected as the preferred action.
Action 4 establishes the range of management options that would be available to all regions
under delegation. These may include, but not be limited to, the specification of the season, bag
limit, and minimum size limit. The resultant management specifications would allow the
respective regions to establish localized red snapper regulations, but would only apply to regions
that accept delegation (“opt in”) and implement management measures determined to be
consistent with the objectives of the FMP, including, but not limited to, limiting harvest to the
regional allocation. The implementation of localized regulations would be expected to allow the
receipt of the associated increased economic benefits previously discussed for the other proposed
actions. The localized regulation and receipt of associated increased economic benefits are likely
to continue under Alternative 1 for these regions.
For regions that do not accept delegation (“opt out”) and regions with suspended delegation
authority, default regulations for the delegated management measures would not exist under
Alternative 1. As a result, for example, specification of the start of the red snapper recreational
season, bag limit, and minimum size limit in the EEZ off these regions would not exist under
Alternative 1. The economic consequences of this are undetermined. Actual harvest conditions
or opportunities would not be completely unrestricted. Fishermen would still be required to land
their harvest and would, therefore, be limited by the restrictions for the state of landing. For
example, suppose Mississippi opts out of delegation and has a two-fish state limit, Alabama opts
in and sets the bag limit at two fish, and Louisiana also opts in, but sets the bag limit at three fish.
Under Alternative 1, an angler could fish in the EEZ off Mississippi and keep two fish if they
land in Mississippi or Alabama, or three fish if they land in Louisiana. These fish would be
counted against the allocation for the state the fish are landed, regardless of the fact that they
were harvested in the EEZ off Mississippi. Thus, although a specific bag limit would not be in
effect in the EEZ off Mississippi, harvest would be effectively constrained by the limit for the
state where the fish are landed. Additionally, total red snapper recreational harvest would
continue to be limited to the regional allocation and the Gulf-wide total recreational quota.
Although the absence of specific regulations in a region could contribute to a harvest overage,
appropriate corrective measures and adjustments could be made in subsequent years to minimize
the development of persistent or long-term adverse biological and economic effects.
Nevertheless, the absence of specific regulations in some areas of the EEZ may result in
confusion and other problems, with associated economic costs, that would be avoided if default
regulations are specified.
Preferred Alternative 2 and Preferred Alternative 3 would establish the default regulations
that would be in effect for, alternatively, regions for which delegation is suspended (Preferred
Alternative 2) and regions that opt out of delegation (Preferred Alternative 3). Because these
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two alternatives address different circumstances, their expected effects should not be compared.
By specifying the default regulations, the adverse economic effects that may occur under
Alternative 1 would be expected to be reduced or, potentially, completely avoided. Reduction
or avoidance of these adverse economic effects would be expected to occur under Preferred
Alternative 3 and Preferred Alternative 2, Option a. The same conclusion does not apply for
Alternative 2, Option b. Under Alternative 2, Option b, all recreational harvest of red snapper
would be prohibited in the EEZ off states where delegation is suspended for the duration of the
suspension. Under the assumed worst case scenario, the suspension could last the entire calendar
year if the appropriate steps are not taken. Although red snapper harvest would be allowed to
continue in state waters, as allowed by state regulations, closure of the EEZ could result in the
appropriate regional allocation not being harvested. If the allocation is not harvested, a net loss
of economic benefits would occur at both the regional and Gulf level, because no provision is
proposed to allow any fish left over to be harvested by fishermen in other regions. This
conclusion assumes that the other regions do not exceed their allocation. If the other regions
exceed their allocations, then the net effect of a region not harvesting their allocation as a result
of the suspension of delegation would be a transfer of economic benefits to the regions that
exceed their allocation, and not necessarily a net loss. If the period of suspension of delegation
is less than the entire calendar year, it may be possible for the suspension to be lifted and the
entire allocation harvested. If this occurs, distribution effects may result (i.e., a transfer of
benefits amongst anglers, businesses, and communities within the region). The total economic
benefits could be equal to, or less than, the benefits expected to occur in the absence of a
suspension of delegation. These benefits would not be expected to be greater than the benefits
that would occur if delegation is not suspended. This is because the resultant season and
associated regulations, which would be put in place when the suspension is lifted, would be a
second best solution (the region was not allowed to implement their original regulations and the
season likely shifted to later in the year). Compared to Preferred Alternative 2, Option a, the
total economic benefits that could result from lifting the suspension under Alternative 2, Option
b could be equal to, less than, or greater than the benefits that would be expected to result from
Preferred Alternative 2, Option a. The logical assumption may be that, because the
regulations enacted upon lifting of the suspension should still better reflect local preferences than
the default regulations under Preferred Alternative 2, Option a; Alternative 2, Option b
should result in greater economic benefits than Preferred Alternative 2, Option a. However,
distributional effects and the potentially increased likelihood that the allocation not be harvested
could result in the economic effects of Alternative 2, Option b after suspension is lifted being
less than or equal to the economic effects of Preferred Alternative 2, Option a. Because of the
uncertainty with regard to the likely outcomes, definitive determinations and rankings cannot be
provided.
4.7.4 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Social Environment
Because this action would only be applicable if delegation is selected in Action 1 (Preferred
Alternative 2), the potential effects discussed here assume delegation has been selected as the
preferred action. After implementing delegated regional management authority for the
management measures selected in Action 4, there are two scenarios in which delegation may no
longer be active: 1) a region opts out, choosing not to participate in regional management, or 2)
a region’s delegation is suspended by NMFS.
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If a region opts out and does not accept delegation, or if a region has its delegation authority
suspended, default regulations for the delegated management measures would not exist under
Alternative 1. As a result, specification of the recreational season opening, bag limit, and size
limit in the EEZ off these regions would not exist under Alternative 1. The social consequences
of this are indeterminate (see Section 4.7.3 for further discussion).
The default regulations that would be in effect in regions for which delegation is suspended
(Preferred Alternative 2, Option a) and for regions that opt out of delegation (Preferred
Alternative 3) would be the same. However, because these two alternatives would result from
different circumstances, their expected effects should not be compared. By specifying the
default regulations, any adverse effects that may occur under Alternative 1 would be expected to
be reduced or, potentially, completely avoided. Reduction or avoidance of these adverse effects
would be expected to be the case for Preferred Alternative 3 and Preferred Alternative 2,
Option a.
Among the alternatives, the greatest social impacts could result from Alternative 2, Option b, as
all recreational harvest of red snapper would be prohibited in the EEZ off a region where
delegation is suspended, for the duration of the suspension. Under the worst case scenario, the
suspension could last the entire calendar year. Although red snapper harvest could be allowed to
continue in state waters if specified by state regulations, closure of the EEZ could result in the
corresponding region’s allocation not being harvested. Social impacts would be expected to
result at the regional level. Regional and Gulf-wide level impacts would be expected from
preventing the harvest of a region’s allocation, because no provision is proposed to allow an
underage to be harvested by fishermen in other regions. Also, the prohibition of all harvest of
red snapper in the corresponding region’s portion of the EEZ would apply to all recreational
vessels, affecting recreational fishermen and communities located near the closed region’s
borders. For a more detailed discussion of the potential impacts, see Section 4.7.3.
When delegation is effective for all regions, the EEZ will essentially remain open year round and
the regions will regulate access to the EEZ by establishing their fishing season. Under this
scenario, regardless if bordering regions have different fishing seasons, anglers will be able to
fish in the EEZ off any region, provided they abide by their region’s regulations (and a region
has not closed its portion of the EEZ as allowed under Action 4’s Preferred Alternative 6). On
the other hand, under application of the default regulations, NMFS would establish the fishing
season for a region that opts out or has its delegated authority suspended. If NMFS establishes
the default season for a region, that region’s portion of the EEZ (Figure 1.1.1) will be open only
during the NMFS-determined fishing season, and be based on the projected time it would take
for the region’s portion of the quota to be caught. Recreational fishers from other regions where
delegation remains effective would be prohibited from harvesting red snapper in the EEZ off
such states, except while both regions fishing seasons overlap. For example, if Florida opts out
of regional management, the fishing season would begin on June 1 and NMFS would project the
season closure date based on their portion of the quota. If Alabama opened their season May 1,
Alabama fishermen would be prohibited from harvesting red snapper in the EEZ off Florida until
June 1. Thus, should a region opt out or have its delegation authority suspended, impacts could
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result for fishermen in other regions. Should more than one region opt out or have its delegated
authority suspended, these impacts may be compounded.
4.7.5 Direct and Indirect Effects on the Administrative Environment
Alternative 1 would not change the administrative environment so long as a region’s delegation
is not suspended or opted out. Currently, NMFS determines the recreational season for red
snapper and publishes the dates in the federal register each year. However, if a region’s
delegation is suspended or opted out, then Alternative 1 could have effects on the administrative
environment, specifically enforcement. In the absence of default federal regulations, the Gulf
EEZ would need to be closed to prevent the quota from being exceeded. This could increase the
impact on enforcement to insure angler compliance; however the effects may be similar to status
quo during the closed season. The effects on the administrative environment for Preferred
Alternative 2, Option a and Preferred Alternative 3 would remain similar to Alternative 1.
Alternative 2, Option b could cause both negative and positive effects to the administrative
environment. If harvest of red snapper in the region’s EEZ is prohibited due to suspension, then
NMFS would not need to determine the season length. However, NMFS would still be required
to publish notice of the closure in the Federal Register. In addition, an increase in enforcement
may be necessary to ensure compliance with the closure. It is expected these effects would not
significantly alter the administrative environment.
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4.8 Cumulative Effects Analysis (CEA)
As directed by NEPA, federal agencies are mandated to assess not only the indirect and direct
impacts, but cumulative impacts of actions as well. NEPA defines a cumulative impact as “the
impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added
to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency
(Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result
from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time”
(40 C.F.R. 1508.7). Cumulative effects can either be additive or synergistic. A synergistic effect
is when the combined effects are greater than the sum of the individual effects.
This section uses an approach for assessing cumulative effects that is based upon guidance
offered by CEQ, Considering Cumulative Effects (1997). The report outlines 11 items for
consideration in drafting a CEA for a proposed action.
1.
Identify the significant cumulative effects issues associated with the proposed action and
define the assessment goals.
2.
Establish the geographic scope of the analysis.
3.
Establish the timeframe for the analysis.
4.
Identify the other actions affecting the resources, ecosystems, and human communities of
concern.
5.
Characterize the resources, ecosystems, and human communities identified in scoping in
terms of their response to change and capacity to withstand stress.
6.
Characterize the stresses affecting these resources, ecosystems, and human communities
and their relation to regulatory thresholds.
7.
Define a baseline condition for the resources, ecosystems, and human communities.
8.
Identify the important cause-and-effect relationships between human activities and
resources, ecosystems, and human communities.
9.
Determine the magnitude and significance of cumulative effects.
10. Modify or add alternatives to avoid, minimize, or mitigate significant cumulative effects.
11. Monitor the cumulative effects of the selected alternative and adapt management.
Cumulative effects on the biophysical environment, socio-economic environment, and
administrative environments are analyzed below.
1. Identify the significant cumulative effects issues associated with the proposed action and
define the assessment goals.
The CEQ cumulative effects guidance states this step is accomplished through three activities as
follows:
I. The direct and indirect effects of the proposed actions (Sections 4.1-4.7);
II. Which resources, ecosystems, and human communities are affected (Chapters 3 and 4); and
III. Which effects are important from a cumulative effects perspective (information revealed in
this CEA)
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2. Establish the geographic scope of the analysis.
The geographic scope affected by this action is described in Section 3.2 and pertains directly to
the Gulf. The Gulf has a total area of approximately 600,000 square miles (1.5 million km2),
including state waters (Gore 1992). It is a semi-enclosed, oceanic basin connected to the
Atlantic Ocean by the Straits of Florida and to the Caribbean Sea by the Yucatan Channel
(Figure 3.2.1). Oceanographic conditions are affected by the Loop Current, discharge of
freshwater into the northern Gulf, and a semi-permanent, anti-cyclonic gyre in the western Gulf.
The Gulf includes both temperate and tropical waters (McEachran and Fechhelm 2005). Gulf
water temperatures range from 54º F to 84º F (12º C to 29º C) depending on time of year and
depth of water. Mean annual sea surface temperatures ranged from 73 º F through 83º F (23-28º
C) including bays and bayous (Figure 3.2.1) between 1982 and 2009, according to satellitederived measurements (NODC 2012: http://accession.nodc.noaa.gov/0072888). In general,
mean sea surface temperature increases from north to south with large seasonal variations in
shallow waters. The physical environment for Gulf reef fish, including red snapper, is also
detailed in the EIS for the Generic EFH Amendment and the Generic ACL/AM Amendment
(refer to GMFMC 2004a; GMFMC 2011b). Detailed information pertaining to seasonal area
closures and preserves/sanctuaries is provided in the February 2010 Regulatory Amendment
(GMFMC 2010).
In the Gulf, fish habitat for adult red snapper consists of submarine gullies and depressions;
natural vertical relief structures such as coral reefs, rock outcroppings, and gravel bottoms; and
artificial structures such as oilrigs and artificial reefs (GMFMC 2004b). Many of these vertical
relief areas are identified as protected areas.
Red snapper demonstrate the typical reef fish life history pattern (Table 3.3.1). Eggs and larvae
are pelagic while juveniles are found associated with bottom features or over barren bottom.
Spawning occurs over firm sand bottom with little relief during the summer and fall. Adult
females may mature as early as 2 years and most are mature by 4 years (Schirripa and Legault
1999). Red snapper have been aged up to 57 years. Until recently, most caught by the directed
fishery were 2- to 4-years old (Wilson and Nieland 2001), but a recent stock assessment suggests
that the age and size of red snapper in the directed fishery has increased (SEDAR 31 2013). A
more complete description of red snapper life history can be found in the EIS for the Generic
EFH Amendment (GMFMC 2004a).
Red snapper are an important component of the recreational sector’s harvest of reef fish in the
Gulf. Recreational red snapper fishing includes charter boats, headboats (or party boats), and
private anglers fishing primarily from private or rental boats. As with the commercial sector, red
snapper are primarily caught with hook-and-line gear in association with bottom structures. Forhire vessels have operated under a limited access system with respect to the issuance of new forhire permits for fishing reef fish or coastal migratory pelagics since 2003.
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3. Establish the timeframe for the analysis
The timeframe for this analysis is 1986 to 2016. Additional information for the history of
management is provided in Section 1.4 and 3.1. Before 1984, there were no restrictions on the
recreational harvest of red snapper. In November 1984, a 12-inch TL size limit was
implemented, but with an allowance for five undersized fish per person. In 1990, the undersized
allowance was eliminated, and the recreational sector was managed through bag and size limits
with a year-round open season. In 1997, the recreational red snapper allocation was converted
into a quota with accompanying quota closure should the sector exceed its quota. Recreational
quota closures occurred in 1997, 1998, and 1999, becoming progressively shorter each year even
though the quota remained a constant 4.47 mp.
A fixed recreational season of April 21 through October 31 (194 days) was established for 2000
through 2007. However, NMFS and the Council returned to variable length seasons beginning in
2008. Under this management approach, due to a lag in the reporting of recreational catches,
catch rates over the course of the season were projected in advance based on past trends and
changes in the average size of a recreationally harvested red snapper. The recreational season
opened each year on June 1 and closed on the date when the quota was projected to be reached.
In 2008, the season length was reduced from 194 days to 65 days in conjunction with a reduction
in quota to 2.45 mp. The season length then increased to 75 days in 2009. In 2010, the
recreational red snapper season was originally projected to be 53 days. However, due to reduced
effort and large emergency area closures resulting from the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill,
catches were below projections, and a one-time supplemental season of weekend only openings
(Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) was established from October 1 through November 22. This
added 24 fishing days to the 2010 season for a total of 77 days. In 2011, the season was reduced
to 48 days despite an increase in the quota, due to an increase in the average size of a
recreationally harvested fish. In 2012 the season was initially scheduled to be 40 days, but was
extended to 46 days to compensate for the loss of fishing days due to storms (Table 3.1.3).
During the six years when the recreational harvest was an allocation, not a quota (1991 – 1996),
actual recreational harvests in pounds of red snapper exceeded the allocation every year except
1996. However, these harvests may have been overestimated due to the sampling method which
was altered in 1996 by implementing the for-hire phone surveys. During the period when the
recreational harvest was managed as a quota (1997 – 2012), actual recreational harvest in pounds
of red snapper exceeded the quota in 9 out of 16 years, including 5 of the last 6 years (Table
3.1.3). Historical recreational landings estimates have recently been revised to reflect changes in
methodology under MRIP.
The following is a list of reasonably foreseeable future management actions. These are
described in more detail in Step 4. Should new regulations be needed for the management of this
stock, they will likely not be implemented until 2015 at the earliest, or the end of the timeframe
discussed in this analysis.


The Council is developing an amendment to consider the allocation between the
commercial and recreational sectors.
The Council is developing an amendment to modify the individual fishing quota program
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

based on the five year review.
Inter-sector trading
Sector Separation
4. Identify the other actions affecting the resources, ecosystems, and human communities of
concern.
a. Past actions affecting the red snapper sector of the reef fish fishery are summarized
in Section 1.4. The following list identifies more recent actions (Note past actions
taken prior to Amendment 30B, and the cumulative effects of those past actions on the
Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico, are described in detail in that amendment
(GMFMC 2008b) and incorporated here by reference).





Amendment 30B was approved by the Secretary in January 2009 and the final rule was
effective May 18, 2009, except for the "Edges" portion for area closures, which was
effective June 24, 2009. The purpose of the amendment was to end overfishing of gag,
revise red grouper management measures as a result changes in the stock condition,
establish ACLs and AMs for gag and red grouper, manage shallow-water grouper to
achieve optimum yield, and improve the effectiveness of federal management measures.
In addition, the amendment requires that all vessels with federal commercial or charter
reef fish permits must comply with the more restrictive of state or federal reef fish
regulations when fishing in state waters.
Amendment 29 was approved by the Secretary July 2009. This amendment established a
grouper and tilefish individual fishing quota program (IFQ) for the commercial reef fish
sector.
Amendment 31 addressed sea turtle interactions with bottom longline fishing gear in the
reef fish fishery of the Gulf of Mexico. This was implemented May 26, 2010. The
management measures included a longline endorsement requirement, a restriction that
only allowed longline fishing seaward of the 35-fathom depth contour from June –
August, and a limitation to 1,000 hooks of which no more than 750 of which can be
rigged for fishing or fished. During development of the amendment, an emergency rule
was requested by the Council, effective May 18, 2009, restricting the bottom longline
component of the reef fish fishery in the eastern Gulf to fishing seaward of 50 fathoms
until the deepwater grouper and tilefish quotas were filled. The quotas were filled in June
2009, at which point, the reef fish bottom longline component of the fishery was closed.
Amendment 32 established annual catch limits and annual catch targets for 2012 through
2015 for gag and for 2012 for red grouper. The amendment also established a rebuilding
plan for gag; set recreational bag limits, size limits and closed seasons for gag/red
grouper in 2012; contained a commercial gag and shallow-water grouper quota
adjustment to account for dead discards; made adjustments to multi-use IFQ shares in the
grouper individual fishing quota program; reduced the commercial gag size limit;
modified the offshore time and areas closures; and revised gag, red grouper, and shallowwater grouper accountability measures. Amendment 32 became effective March 12,
2012.
Amendment 34 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan was approved by the Gulf of
Mexico Fishery Management Council in February 2012, and implemented November 19,
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

2012. The amendment addressed crew size limits for dually permitted vessels. Dually
permitted vessels are vessels with both a charter for-hire permit and a commercial reef
fish permit. The amendment eliminated the earned income qualification requirement for
the renewal of commercial reef fish permits and increases the maximum crew size from
three to four.
Amendment 35 set the ACL for greater amberjack at 1,780,000 pounds whole weight and
established an ACT of 1,539,000 pounds whole weight. The amendment also established
a 2,000-pound commercial trip limit. The rule was effective January 13, 2013.
Amendment 37 modified the gray triggerfish rebuilding plan based on new information
from the 2011 Update Assessment, which determined that the stock was not rebuilding on
target. This amendment reduced the commercial and recreational annual catch targets to
60,900 and 217,100 pounds whole weight, respectively. To meet the necessary
reductions, a fixed closed season from June 1 through July 31 was established for the
commercial and recreational sectors. In addition, this amendment implemented a
commercial trip limit of 12 gray triggerfish, established a recreational bag limit of 2-gray
triggerfish per angler bag limit within the 20 reef fish aggregate, and modified the
recreational accountability measures.
b. The following are recent reef fish actions not summarized in Section 1.4 but are
important to the reef fish fishery in general (Note actions taken prior to Amendment
30B are described in detail in that amendment (GMFMC 2008b) and incorporated
here by reference).
A 2011 regulatory amendment was approved that closed the recreational sector to harvesting
greater amberjack in June and July. This measure was implemented on May 28, 2011, with the
purpose of closing the sector in the summer to avoid closures in the fall and winter.
At their November 2007 meeting, the Council recognized the difficulties involved in decisions
allocating reef fish total allowable catches between recreational and commercial fisheries. They
established an Allocation Ad Hoc Committee to examine fair and equitable ways to allocate all
fishery management plan resources between recreational and commercial fisheries. This resulted
in the Council completing a Principles and Guidelines for Allocation document that is to be used
to guide the Council in its allocation deliberations. These guidelines provide for a more
transparent and understandable process to the various sectors in the fishery. Reef Fish
Amendment 28 will likely be the amendment addressing allocation for red snapper.
The Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act was enacted on January 12, 2007. It added
provisions strengthening the requirements to end and prevent overfishing and rebuild U.S.
stocks. It required ACLs and corresponding AMs to ensure that overfishing does not occur. It
also required conservation and management measures be prepared and implemented within two
years of notification that a stock is “overfished” or “subject to overfishing” to end overfishing
immediately and begin rebuilding stocks. An ACL means a specified amount of a fish stock
(e.g., measure of weight or numbers of fish) for a fishing year that is a maximum amount of
annual total catch that can be taken, taking into account projected estimates for landings and
discard mortality from all user groups and sectors (total annual catch limits can be divided into
sector ACLs, provided that the sum of all sector limits cannot exceed the total ACLs). The
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Magnuson-Stevens Act states that ACLs cannot exceed the recommendations of Council’s SSC.
Measures are required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to ensure AMs, to specify mechanisms for
establishing and setting ACLs. Reef Fish Amendments 30A and 30B addressed catch limits and
accountability measures for stocks undergoing overfishing, and a 2010 red snapper regulatory
amendment established that the red snapper total allowable catch is functionally equivalent to an
ACL. The modified accountability measure reduced the recreational season of only the species
for which the ACL was exceeded. Amendment 38, implemented in 2013, modified the reef fish
framework procedure to include the addition of accountability measures to the list of items that
can be changed through the standard framework procedure. This allowed for faster
implementation of measures designed to maintain harvest at or below the ACL. Measures for the
remaining reef fish species were developed through the Generic ACL/AM Amendment
implemented in 2012.
The Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) is modifying the catch estimation method
for recreational harvest from 2004-2010 to address improvements identified for estimation
algorithms. The modifications address concerns raised in the National Resource Council (2006)
that concluded the estimation methods were not be consistent with the sampling probabilities of
individually sampled access sites and could result in biased estimates. Revised estimation
procedures have been developed and have been applied to existing data going back to 2004.
Correction of estimates prior to 2004 will also be considered in the future.
To meet the Magnuson-Stevens Act mandates to establish ACLs and AMs, the Council and
NMFS implemented the Generic Annual Catch Limit Amendment in 2012, using the older
Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey landings (MRFSS) data. The Council is fully
aware of issues surrounding changes resulting from the shift from MRFSS to MRIP. Currently,
the Council is working on an amendment to revise ACLs and AMs to match the changes from
MRFSS to MRIP.
c. The following are non-FMP actions which can influence the reef fish fishery.
Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008b) describes in detail non-FMP actions relating liquefied
natural gas terminals, hurricanes, fuel prices, imports, and global climate change. These are as
follows:
 Some liquefied natural gas terminals use sea water to heat the gas back to its gaseous
phase. For open systems, high volumes of sea water are required and are likely to result
in large mortalities of marine organism eggs and larvae.
 For hurricanes, direct losses to the fishing industry and businesses supporting fishing
activities occur ranging from loss of vessels to destruction of fishery infrastructure
(Walker et al. 2006). However, while these effects may be temporary, those fishing
related businesses whose profitability is marginal may be put out of business should a
hurricane strike.
 Rising fuel costs have negative impacts on communities by increasing business costs and
lowering profits.
 Most seafood consumed in the United States is imported and the quantity of imports has
been steadily increasing. The effects of imports on domestic fisheries can cause
fishermen to lose markets through commercial sector closures as dealers and processors
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use imports to meet demand, and limit the price fishermen can receive for their products
through competitive pricing of imports.
In 2005, a red tide event on the west-Florida shelf may have impacted reef fish, including red
snapper populations. It has only been in the last 10 years that mortalities of higher vertebrates
have been indisputably demonstrated to be due to acute red tide blooms and their brevetoxins
(Landsberg et al. 2009). The extent of this event and possible effects of fish community
structure has been described in Gannon et al. (2009).
On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil rig, resulting in
the release of an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. In addition, 1.84 million
gallons of Corexit 9500A dispersant were applied as part of the effort to constrain the spill. At
its maximum extent, oil from the Deepwater Horizon MC252 incident has affected more than
one-third of the Gulf area from western Louisiana east to the panhandle of Florida and south to
the Campeche Bank in Mexico.
The cumulative effects from the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill may not be known for
several years. If there had been a reduction in spawning success in 2010, the impacts may not
begin to manifest themselves until several years later when the fish that would have spawned in
2010 would have become large enough to enter the adult spawning population and be caught by
red snapper fishers. For red snapper, this occurs at approximately 3 years of age, so a year class
failure in 2010 may not be detected in the spawning populations or by harvesters of red snapper
until 2013 at a minimum. The results of the studies detecting these impacts would not be
available until approximately 2015. The impacts would result in reduced fishing success and
reduced spawning potential, and would need to be taken into consideration in the next SEDAR
assessment. An increase in the ABC, combined with possible short-term increase in natural
mortality to the stock from the oil spill, could negatively impact the stock. While there have
been informal reports of lesions on red snapper in the oil affected areas, the information is
preliminary and has not been correlated with impacts from the oil spill. Nevertheless, absent any
firm information regarding the impacts to the red snapper stock from the Deepwater Horizon
MC252 oil spill, the proposed actions to delegate management measures for the recreational
harvest of red snapper would better account for biological, social, and economic differences
among the regions of the Gulf while providing a biological and ecological conservation
equivalent management strategy and optimizing the economic and social benefits.
There is a large and growing body of literature on past, present, and future impacts of global
climate change induced by human activities (Kennedy et al. 2002). Some of the likely effects
commonly mentioned are sea level rise, increased frequency of severe weather events, and
change in air and water temperatures. The Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change
Web page provides basic background information on these and other measured or anticipated
effects. In addition, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has numerous reports
addressing their assessments of climate change
(http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_and_data.shtml). Additional reports are
provided on the Global Climate Change website http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus.
Global climate changes could have significant effects on Gulf fisheries; however, the extent of
these effects is not known at this time. Possible impacts include temperature changes in coastal
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and marine ecosystems that can influence organism metabolism and alter ecological processes
such as productivity and species interactions; changes in precipitation patterns and a rise in sea
level which could change the water balance of coastal ecosystems; altering patterns of wind and
water circulation in the ocean environment; and influencing the productivity of critical coastal
ecosystems such as wetlands, estuaries, and coral reefs (Kennedy et al. 2002). It is unclear how
climate change would affect reef fishes, and likely would affect species differently; however,
would be reasonable for the species to migrate with the optimal environmental ranges, such as
water temperature. For example, there are anecdotal observations of the migratory king
mackerel stocks not moving as far south in the winter as in previous years and the Gulf group
king mackerel, which historically have migrated around the Florida peninsula to the east coast
have been observed in smaller numbers recently. Climate change can affect factors such as
migration, range, larval and juvenile survival, prey availability, and susceptibility to predators.
In addition, the distribution of native and exotic species may change with increased water
temperature, as may the prevalence of disease in keystone animals such as corals and the
occurrence and intensity of toxic algae blooms. Climate change may significantly impact Gulf
reef fish species in the future, but the level of impacts cannot be quantified at this time, nor is the
time frame known in which these impacts would occur. Actions from this amendment are not
expected to significantly contribute to climate change through the increase or decrease in the
carbon footprint from fishing.
5. Characterize the resources, ecosystems, and human communities identified in scoping in
terms of their response to change and capacity to withstand stress.
This step should identify the trends, existing conditions, and the ability to withstand stresses of
the environmental components. To do so requires information on socioeconomic driving
variables, such as the types, distribution, and intensity of key social and economic activities
within the region. In addition, indicators of stress on specific resources, ecosystems, and
communities need to be identified. To assess the cumulative effects, valued environmental
components (VECs) were applied.
VECs are “any part of the environment that is considered important by the proponent, public,
scientists and government involved in the assessment process. Importance may be determined on
the basis of cultural values or scientific concern” (NMFS 2012b). These VECs are the important
resources and communities potentially affected by the proposed actions. Specifically, the
important VECs for this analysis include 1) reef fish fishery; 2) Gulf ecosystem for red snapper;
3) red snapper; and 4) administrative environment relative to the management of red snapper
where past present and future actions combine to have a potential cumulative effect. These are
discussed in the sections that follow.
Previously, in Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008b), important VECs were identified to examine
the magnitude and significance of the cumulative effects. A total of 25 VECs were identified;
however some were combined into a revised VEC because many of the past, current, and
reasonably foreseeable future actions were similar. Four VECs were determined to be the most
important for further consideration. These are shown in Table 4.8.1. The consequences of each
alternative proposed within this document on each VEC were evaluated.
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Table 4.8.1. VECs considered, consolidated, or not included for further evaluation.
VECs considered for further VECs consolidated for
VECs not included for further
evaluation
further evaluation
evaluation
Recreational Sector of the Reef
Fish Fishery
Red snapper
Ecosystem
- hard bottom
- EFH
other reef fish species
Administration
Recreational Fishermen
For-hire Fishermen
Infrastructure
Fishing Communities
Red Snapper
Other snapper
shallow water grouper
Deepwater grouper
Other reef fish
Prey species
Competitors
Predators
Federal Rulemaking
Federal Permitting
Federal Education
State Rulemaking/Framework
Consumers
Commercial Fishermen
Dealers
Sharks
Protected species
Reef Fish Fishery
This amendment does not propose any changes to the commercial sector of the reef fish fishery,
which is currently under an IFQ and has not exceeded the commercial quota since the
implementation of the IFQ. Thus, the commercial sector is excluded from further analysis.
The recreational sector of the reef fish fishery is the focus of this amendment, specifically the red
snapper component. Recreational red snapper fishing includes charter boats, headboats (or party
boats), and private anglers fishing primarily from private or rental boats. A description of the
recreational component of the fishery is provided in Section 3.1. Descriptions of the economic
and social environments are provided in Section 3.4.2 and 3.5, respectively.
Determining the response to change and resilience of the recreational sector of the fishery can be
related to the changes in fishing effort. Recreational effort derived from the MRFSS/MRIP
databases can be characterized in terms of the number of trips as follows:
1. Target effort - The number of individual angler trips, regardless of duration, where the
intercepted angler indicated that the species or a species in the species group was targeted
as either the first or second target for the trip. The species did not have to be caught.
2. Catch effort - The number of individual angler trips, regardless of duration and target
intent, where the individual species or a species in the species group was caught. The
fish did not have to be kept.
3. Total recreational trips - The total estimated number of recreational trips in the Gulf,
regardless of target intent or catch success.
Other measures of effort are possible, such as the number of harvest trips (the number of
individual angler trips that harvest a particular species regardless of target intent), and directed
trips (the number of individual angler trips that either targeted or caught a particular species),
among other measures, but the three measures of effort listed above are used in this assessment.
Because of the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill, 2010 was not a typical year for recreational
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fishing due to the extensive closures (Figure 3.3.1) and associated decline in fishing in much of
the Gulf. For information on the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill and associated closures,
see: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/deepwater_horizon_oil_spill.htm. The effects of 2010 on fishing
effort can be seen by comparing average effort for the period 2006-2011 with and without 2010
effort (Table 3.4.2.1). The average annual red snapper target effort for 2006-2011 was increased
by approximately 9% when 2010 effort data is excluded. For red snapper catch effort, the
difference was approximately 7%. Because of these differences, this assessment excludes
recreational effort data for 2010 from further analysis.
Social and economic characteristics of recreational anglers are collected periodically as an addon survey to the MRIP. Data used to monitor recreational reef fish effort in the sector primarily
comes from MRFSS and MRIP and includes the number of trips and number of catch trips.
Declines in effort may be a signal of stress within the sector. These trends are described in
GMFMC (2010 and NMFS (2010). The level and pattern of change in recreational effort have
remained stable from 1993 through 1996, fluctuated between 1997 and 1999, and then increased
relatively fast since 2000. Private and charter fishing modes accounted for most of target trips,
for red snapper.
Summary characteristics of the for-hire fleet were analyzed as part of the analyses for the
development of the current limited access system (GMFMC 2005c). These analyses indicated
for-hire operations were generally profitable. Costs associated with these businesses include
bookkeeping services, advertising and promotion, fuel and oil, bait expenses, docking fees,
food/drink for customers and crew, ice expenses, insurance expenses, maintenance expenses,
permits and licenses, and wage/salary expense. Most vessels carry per trip about half of the
maximum passenger capacity. Therefore, substantial excess capacity exists in the sector. As
with the commercial sector, increases in fishing costs, increases in harvesting efficiency, more
restrictive regulations, and changes in the stock status of certain species may affect effort in this
sector.
In addition to the current stresses on the reef fish fishery, it is likely able to withstand the
additional stress from the actions implemented for regional management. The effects of regional
management previously analyzed indicate limited impacts to the recreational sector of the fishery
and the associated environments. The quota for red snapper would remain similar to status quo,
with limited adjustments based on new stock assessment advice. Therefore, the fishing effort for
red snapper should remain similar to status quo and not cause additional stress to the reef fish
fishery.
Red Snapper
The actions in this amendment could decrease the stress on the red snapper stock, if the fishing
effort is distributed over a longer time period and the harvest is constraining the recreational red
snapper catch to its quota. As discussed in Section 3.3, the response to change and resilience of
the red snapper stock is incorporated into the stock assessment. Variation in the spawning stock
biomass and yield per recruit could be indicators of changes to the status and resilience of the
stock. Some sources of stress include changes in fishing pressure, habitat degradation, and derby
fishing conditions from the progressively shortened seasons. Changes in fishing pressure can be
examined through the recreational fishing effort information. Although the recreational sector of
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the fishery does not likely cause significant habitat degradation, events such as the Deepwater
Horizon MC252 Oil Spill likely caused areas with habitat degradation. Unfortunately, the
information for this related habitat degradation information is not currently available. Additional
stress arises from the derby fishing conditions which have been an artifact of the progressively
shorter recreational seasons over the past few years. In 2013, the recreational sector had 28 days
to fish for red snapper in federal waters. This concentrates the fishing effort into a short time
period and likely increases the potential for high-grading, and intensified effort (vessels making
more than one trip per day to catch fish). High-grading refers to keeping a bigger fish that is
caught and, in turn, throwing back a previously caught smaller fish. In addition, the increased
catch rates, effort increases, and short seasons suggest that the harvest could exceed the quota
and OFL within a few days if the season projection is not accurate. Currently, federal
management calculates the recreational red snapper landings from MRIP including the for‐hire
charter survey, headboat survey, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s charter and
private/rental creel survey. After analysis, the projected season for the following year is
determined based on the bag limit and size limit. If regional management is implemented, each
region would need to calculate landings and catch rates, and project the season. It is unknown
whether the regions would be able to constrain harvest and that could increase the probability of
exceeding the quota and OFL, thus impacting the rebuilding plan. It is likely red snapper could
withstand the stress of exceeding the OFL on a short term basis, however continuous overages
could affect the progress of the rebuilding plan. In turn, the regions may be able to constrain
harvest as well as the current federal management, especially if the regions increase the inseason monitoring programs and real-time data for red snapper landings. This uncertainty
complicates the analysis of cumulative effects.
Ecosystem
With respect to stresses to the ecosystem from actions in this amendment, regional management
is not likely to create additional stress. Ideally, regional management would be a conservation
equivalent to the current management measures. However, if a geographical shift in fishing
effort occurs from fisherman moving to areas with different open red snapper seasons, then the
impacts could be spatially concentrated during the open seasons. In turn, these focused areas
could experience greater impacts on the ecosystem related to the increase in fishing pressure.
The primary gear type in the recreational harvest of red snapper is hook and line which can
damage habitat through snagging or entanglement; however, as described in Section 5.1.1, these
impacts are minimal compared to the overall effects of the fishery. Changes in the population
size structure as a result of shifting red snapper fishing selectivities and increases in stock
abundance could lead to changes in the abundance of other reef fish species that compete with
red snapper for shelter and food. Efforts to model these interactions are still in their
development stages, and so predicting possible stresses on the ecosystem in a meaningful way is
not possible at this time.
As described in Part 4c of this cumulative effects analysis, the Deepwater Horizon MC252
incident affected more than one-third of the Gulf area from western Louisiana east to the
panhandle of Florida and south to the Campeche Bank in Mexico. The impacts of the oil spill on
the physical and biological environments are expected to be significant and may be long-term.
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Administrative Environment
The stresses to the administrative environment from these actions would likely focus on the
determinations of regional consistency with the FMP, and the increase in complexity of the
regulations by changing from one to potentially five sets of regulations in the Gulf. However,
these stresses are not expected to significantly differ from the current stresses. In 2013, several
states established recreational red snapper regulations that were inconsistent with federal
regulations. This caused additional stress on the administrative environment requiring additional
regulations, analysis, presence of law enforcement, and increased confusion among the fishing
public. The actions in this amendment would allow regions to adjust regulations to meet their
regional needs while maintaining consistency with the FMP and likely reduce stress in this
environment. It is unknown whether the regions would be able to constrain harvest to the quota.
However, with the current federal management, the recreational sector has exceeded the
allocation in 14 of 22 years in which an allocation was specified. The stock could likely
withstand some overages without jeopardizing the rebuilding plan; however, continuous
overages could result in a change of the stock status. However, the regions have indicated they
intend to establish new monitoring procedures, which could improve the estimations for
landings, but the SEFSC would need to review the sampling designs and data to insure
compatibility with the current methods.
6. Characterize the stresses affecting these resources, ecosystems, and human communities
and their relation to regulatory thresholds.
This section examines whether resources, ecosystems, and human communities are approaching
conditions where additional stresses could have an important cumulative effect beyond any
current plan, regulatory, or sustainability threshold (CEQ 1997). Sustainability thresholds can be
identified for some resources, which are levels of impact beyond which the resources cannot be
sustained in a stable state. Other thresholds are established through numerical standards,
qualitative standards, or management goals. The CEA should address whether thresholds could
be exceeded because of the contribution of the proposed action to other cumulative activities
affecting resources.
Reef Fish Fishery
Both reef fish anglers and for-hire fishermen are subject to stress as a result of increases in
fishing costs, increases in harvesting efficiency, more restrictive regulations, and changes in the
stock status of certain species (effort shifting). Reductions in dollars generated by these entities
would likely be felt in the fishery infrastructure. For the reef fish fishery, an indicator of stress
would be a decline in the number of permitted vessels. Anglers are subject to increases in fuel
prices and boat maintenance. For the for-hire sector, analyses conducted on the effects of the
moratorium on for-hire vessel permits indicated operations were generally profitable (GMFMC
2005c). However, public testimony from for-hire operators in light of recent red snapper
regulations have suggested some for-hire operators may go out of business, particularly in the
northeastern Gulf (GMFMC 2007). The number of for-hire permits has declined since the
moratorium, both due to failure to renew the permits in a timely manner by the fishermen and
going out of business. Fishing for other species may generate distributional effects (i.e., the trips
may occur from different ports, modes, or seasons, resulting in one port/entity/season losing
business while another gains). These distributional effects, however, cannot be predicted with
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current data. It is possible that the progressively shorter red snapper seasons could cause a
fishing effort shift to other reef fish species. This additional fishing pressure could trigger AMs
for the targeted species. It is likely the targeted species can withstand the addition fishing
pressure, but it could alter the future quotas and season lengths.
Red Snapper
While the objective of this amendment is to provide for regional flexibility to reduce the stresses
on the stock, it is possible the stresses and their relation to the regulatory threshold would remain
consistent with the existing conditions. However, the ability of the red snapper stock to
withstand the pressures of continual overages, fishing, and rebuilding is unknown. However, it
may be assumed that more stresses on the stock may slow the rebuilding of the stock. It is
possible that the regional management would better constrain harvest than the current federal
management. In the past 22 years, the harvest has exceeded the quota or allocation 14 times. In
response, the federal management has improved the estimations and projections for the season
lengths. The implementation of regional management would provide five separate management
strategies. The uncertainty of the regional management measures and season lengths could
increase the probability of overages. In addition, delaying the AMs until two years after the
implementation of regional management could contribute to overages. Regardless of the
differences in regulatory management strategies of the regions, they are still constrained by the
recreational quota for red snapper. When the harvest of red snapper reaches the quota, the
federal waters must be closed to prevent overfishing. It is likely the red snapper stock could
tolerate some additional stresses associated with the uncertainty of regional management.
Ecosystem
The stresses associated with the proposed actions in relation to regulatory thresholds are not
likely to cause beneficial or adverse effects on the ecosystem. The actions would not change the
way the fishery is prosecuted. Thus, significant effects on the ecosystem are not expected. The
overall Gulf-wide fishing effort would remain constrained by the recreational quota.
Administrative Environment
The proposed actions could increase the stress on the law enforcement component of the
administrative environment. If each region establishes different management measures and
seasons, then the enforcement would be complicated. Although substantial enforcement occurs
at the landing dock, gross violations could still be enforced at sea. With the varying regional
management measures, enforcement at sea would rely on compliance with the ranges established
in Action 4. Although the stress on the enforcement would likely increase with the
implementation of regional management, the administrative environment should not experience
significant lasting effects. In turn, the stress on the regulatory component of the administrative
environment could decrease if all the regions are able to constrain recreational red snapper
harvest within the regional quota. However, if the regions exceed their quotas or establish
management measures inconsistent with the FMP, then the stress in relation to regulatory
thresholds could increase as corrective action would be required.
7. Define a baseline condition for the resources, ecosystems, and human communities.
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The purpose of defining a baseline condition for the resource and ecosystems in the area of the
proposed action is to establish a point of reference for evaluating the extent and significance of
expected cumulative effects.
Reef Fish Fishery
As noted in Section 3.1, a description of the fishery and affected environment relative to red
snapper was last fully discussed in joint Reef Fish Amendment 27/Shrimp Amendment 14
(GMFMC 2007). Red snapper landings for the recreational sector are not available at the
community level, making it difficult to identify communities as dependent on recreational
fishing for red snapper. Data reflecting commercial landings of red snapper may or may not
reflect areas of importance for recreational fishing of red snapper. It cannot be assumed that the
proportion of commercial red snapper landings among other species in a community would be
similar to its proportion among recreational landings within the same community because of
sector differences in fishing practices and preferences. Thus, in addition to communities with the
greatest commercial red snapper landings, the referenced analysis identifies communities with
the greatest recreational fishing engagement, based on numbers of: 1) federal for-hire permits, 2)
vessels designated recreational by owner address, and 3) vessels designated recreational by
homeport, plus availability of recreational fishing infrastructure. The 20 Gulf communities to
score highest for recreational fishing engagement based on the described analysis are listed in
Table 3.4.1. Because the analysis used discrete geo-political boundaries, Panama City and
Panama City Beach had separate values for the associated variables. Calculated independently,
each still ranked high enough to appear in the top 20 list suggesting a greater importance for
recreational fishing in that region.
Information is lacking on the social environment of these fisheries, although some economic data
are available, although primarily for the commercial sector. Fishery-wide ex-vessel revenues are
available dating to the early 1960s, and individual vessel ex-vessel revenues are available from
1993 when the logbook program was implemented for all commercial vessels.
Red Snapper
The baseline for the red snapper stock is based on the most recent red snapper stock assessment
completed in 2013 (SEDAR 31 2013). The details are discussed in Section 3.3. The primary
assessment model selected for the Gulf red snapper stock evaluation assessment was Stock
Synthesis (Methot 2010). Under the base model, it was estimated that the red snapper stock has
been overfished since the 1960s. Current (2011) stock status was estimated relative to two
possible proxies for FMSY: FSPR26% (i.e., the fishing mortality rate that would produce an
equilibrium spawning potential ratio (SPR) of 26%) and FMAX, which corresponded to FSPR20.4%
(i.e., the fishing mortality rate that would produce an equilibrium SPR 20.4%). A proxy of
FSPR26% was previously used as the overfishing and FMSY proxy in SEDAR 7 and the SEDAR 7
update assessment in 2009. FMAX was evaluated as an alternative proxy because at high
spawner-recruit steepness values near 1.0, such as the value of 0.99 fixed in the red snapper
assessment, FMAX approximates the actual estimate of FMSY. However, the actual estimate of
FMSY is sensitive to the parameters of the spawner-recruit relationship. The SSC did not have
confidence in using the direct FMSY estimate due to the fact that the spawner-recruit function is
poorly estimated and data exist for a very limited range of potential spawning stock biomass
(SSB) for the stock. In addition, the SSC felt that the equivalent SPR for FMAX (20.4%) was
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inappropriately low for species such as to red snapper. The SSC felt that the FSPR26% proxy,
while still somewhat low for species with life history parameters similar to red snapper, was
more realistic than the 20.4% SPR associated with FMAX. Furthermore, the FSPR26% proxy is
consistent with the current fishery management plan (FMP) and rebuilding plan for red snapper.
Although the red snapper stock continues to recover, spawning stock biomass is estimated to
remain below both the minimum stock size threshold (MSST) and the spawning stock size
associated with maximum sustainable yield (SSBMSY proxy) using either proxy described above.
Therefore, the SSC concluded that the stock remains overfished. With respect to overfishing, the
current fishing mortality rate (geometric mean of 2009-2011) was estimated to be below both
FMSY proxies. Therefore, the SSC estimated the stock is not currently experiencing overfishing.
Ecosystem
A baseline for analysis of the physical environment, as discussed in Section 3.2, was conducted
in the EIS for the Generic EFH Amendment (GMFMC 2004a). Detailed information pertaining
to the closures and preserves is provided in the February 2010 Regulatory Amendment
(GMFMC 2010). In the Gulf, fish habitat for adult red snapper consists of submarine gullies and
depressions; natural vertical relief structures such as coral reefs, rock outcroppings, and gravel
bottoms; and artificial structures such as oilrigs and artificial reefs (GMFMC 2004b). Many of
these vertical relief areas are identified as protected areas.
Other species in the ecosystem are discussed in Section 3.3. The Reef Fish FMP currently
encompasses 31 species (Table 3.3.2). Eleven other species were removed from the FMP in
2012 through the Generic ACL/AM Amendment (GMFMC 2011b). Stock assessments and
stock assessment reviews have been conducted for 13 species and can be found on the Council
(www.gulfcouncil.org) and SEDAR (www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar) websites.
Administrative Environment
The administrative environment is described in Section 3.6. Responsibility for federal fishery
management is shared by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) and the Council for the federal
waters of the Gulf. These waters extend to 200 nautical miles offshore from the nine-mile
seaward boundary of the states of Florida and Texas, and the three-mile seaward boundary of the
states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The state governments of Texas, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have the authority to manage their respective state fisheries.
Each of the five Gulf states exercise legislative and regulatory authority over their respective
state’s natural resources through discrete administrative units. Although each agency is the
primary administrative body with respect to the states’ natural resources, all states cooperate with
numerous state and federal regulatory agencies when managing marine resources.
Regulations contained within FMPs are enforced through actions of NOAA’s Office of Law
Enforcement, the United States Coast Guard, and various state authorities. To better coordinate
enforcement activities, federal and state enforcement agencies have developed cooperative
agreements to enforce the Magnuson-Stevens Act. These activities are being coordinated by the
Council’s Law Enforcement Advisory Panel and the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission’s
Law Enforcement Committee, which have developed a 5-year “Gulf of Mexico Cooperative Law
Enforcement Strategic Plan – 2008-2012.”
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The ability of the regions to constrain harvest causes uncertainty surrounding the effects of
implementing regional management. The federal management has experienced overages of the
quota or allocation in 14 of the last 22 years. However, the methods for estimating landings and
projecting the season have improved consistently over time. The question remains if regions
could constrain the harvest within the regional quotas; however, the regions have indicated they
intend to improve monitoring for their specific regions under this plan, which should ameliorate
any concerns about overages being worse. Nevertheless, NMFS would need to continue
analyzing the catch rates and landings to determine whether the regional management measures
constrain the harvest. If the quota is exceeded for Gulf recreational red snapper harvest, then
NMFS would be required to prohibit harvest in the EEZ regardless of the regional management
plans.
8. Identify the important cause-and-effect relationships between human activities and
resources, ecosystems, and human communities.
Cause-and–effect relationships are presented in the tables below.
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Table 4.8.2. The cause and effect relationship of fishing and regulatory actions for red snapper
within the time period of the CEA.
Time periods Cause
Observed and/or expected effects
Growth and recruitment
1986 -1989
Declines in mean size and weight
overfishing
Growth and recruitment
1984 -1990
overfishing
Declines in mean size and weight
Minimum size limit 13-inch
Rebuilding Plan established
Actions estimated to achieve 20%
1990
Commercial - 3.1 mp quota;
reduction in harvest and rebuild the
Rebuilding goal of 20% SSBR
stock
Recreational- 7-fish bag limit;
Actions estimated to achieve 20%
1990-1994
Minimum size limit 13 inches;
reduction in harvest
open 365 days; 1.96 mp quota
Commercial- Various quotas, trip
limits, and seasons ranging from
1992-2006
52 to 236 days leading to
Constrain commercial harvest.
exceeding the quota during 9
years.
Recreational- 5-fish bag limit;
Constrain recreational harvest to the
1995-1996
Minimum size limit 15 inches;
quota.
open 365 days
Recreational- Adjustments in
minimum size from 15 inches to
Constrain recreational harvest to the
1997-2006
16 inches, bag limit 5 to 4 fish and quota.
length of season.
End overfishing; reduce harvest;
provide harvest limits to achieve
CommercialEstablished
sustainability; IFQ to further control
2007-2013
Individual Fishing Quota Program
commercial sector to prevent
(IFQ)
overages; increase in administrative
work to manage the IFQ.
Recreational - Reduction of bag Constrain recreational harvest to the
2007-2013
limit to 2 fish and adjustment of quota. Progressively shorter
season length
seasons.
Overfishing has ended, but the
2013
Continue rebuilding plan
stock remains overfished.
9. Determine the magnitude and significance of cumulative effects.
The primary objectives of this amendment and associated EIS are to facilitate state management
of the recreational red snapper component in the reef fish fishery by reorganizing the federal
fishery management strategy to better account for biological, social, and economic differences
among the regions of the Gulf. Actions 1-4 address the components of the delegation of
management for the recreational harvest of red snapper. Action 5 considers a provision for the
charter for-hire vessels in the case of inconsistent regulations. Action 6 and 7 provide provisions
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for accountability measures and default measures. The short- and long-term direct and indirect
effects of each these actions are provided in Sections 4.1 through 4.7.
Recreational Sector of the Reef Fish Fishery
Adverse or beneficial effects of actions to vessel owners, captains, and crew are tied to the ability
for a vessel to make money. The greater the difference between expenses and payment for
caught fish or services, the more revenue is generated by the fishing vessel. Relative to this
amendment, both the commercial and recreational sectors have benefited from past actions in the
reef fish fishery. By being able to harvest these species unhindered by regulations prior to 1990,
many vessels have been able to enter the fishery. However, lack of management led to the
depletion of many stocks. Current management measures have had negative, short-term
economic impacts and have resulted in limiting fishing effort. Many reasonably foreseeable
future actions are likely to continue these short-term negative impacts on the sectors to rebuild
stocks as needed. However, as stocks continue to improve, economic benefits are being realized
by the sectors through increased harvest levels for some species. Non-management related
reasonably foreseeable future actions, which could affect the sectors, include hurricanes and
increases in fishing costs (e.g., fuel). Hurricanes are unpredictable and localized in their effects.
Increases in fishing costs, unless accompanied by a similar increase in price per pound of fish
(commercial) or price per trip (for hire), are likely to decrease the profitability of fishing
operations.
The effects of various past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions on anglers are
measured through levels of participation in the sector. It is difficult to assess what affects past
and present management measures have had on anglers because the amount of effort by the
private sector has continually increased where data were available. Therefore, it is difficult to
link changes in participation to specific management actions. Likely, the effects of how various
management measures have affected participation by anglers is similar to the effects on the forhire industry discussed above. This includes outside factors such as hurricanes and increasing
fuel and other costs.
The infrastructure that supports fisheries is tied to the commercial and recreational sectors and
can be affected by adverse and beneficial economic conditions in those fisheries. Therefore, the
effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions to the infrastructure should
reflect responses by the sectors.
Red Snapper
In the past, the lack of management of reef fish has allowed many stocks to undergo both growth
and recruitment overfishing. This has allowed some stocks to decline as indicated in numerous
stock assessments. Present management measures work to limit the harvest to sustainable levels;
however, these measures may have redirected fishing effort towards other reef fish species.
Reasonably foreseeable future actions are expected to benefit managed species as described in
steps 3 and 4 of this cumulative effects analysis.
While the objective of this amendment is to provide for regional flexibility to account for
differences between regions, the overall effects should remain consistent with the existing
conditions. Regardless of the differences in regulatory management strategies of the regions,
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they are still constrained by the recreational quota for red snapper. When the harvest of red
snapper reaches the quota, the federal waters must be closed to prevent overfishing. Action 4
limits the management measures and ranges for the regions to establish. It is uncertain if the
regions would be able to constrain harvest with their management measures. However, even if a
region does not establish management measures to adequately constrain the harvest, the
alternatives in Action 6 and Action 7 should prevent significant harvest overages of red snapper.
NMFS would need to analyze the landings in a timely manner and, if necessary, prohibit harvest
in the EEZ to prevent exceeding the OFL. It may be necessary to improve the timeliness of the
monitoring data to decrease the chance of exceeding the OFL.
Ecosystem
The past and present effects of different actions on habitat are described in detail in the
cumulative effects analysis of Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008b). Past management measures
have provided protections to reef fish by constraining gear types to those that have lower adverse
effects on habitat (e.g., vertical and longline) and outlawing gear types that damage habitat (e.g.,
roller trawls and fish traps). Current management measures of the reef fish fishery have likely
been beneficial to hard bottom areas because they limit effort, thus restricting the amount of gear
that interacts with the bottom. Reef fish EFH, particularly coral reefs and submerged aquatic
vegetation, are particularly susceptible to non-fishing activities (GMFMC 2004b) such as
dredge-and-fill activities, and oil and gas activities, and changes in freshwater inflows. As
described in Part 4c of this cumulative effects analysis, the potential harm to reef fish habitat was
highlighted by the Deepwater Horizon MC252 incident. Essential fish habitat (EFH) and habitat
areas of particular concern (HAPC) designations described in the Generic Essential Fishery
Habitat Amendment (GMFMC 2004b) are intended to promote careful review of proposed
activities that may affect these important habitats to assure that the minimum practicable adverse
impacts occur on EFH. However, NMFS has no direct control over final decisions on such
projects. The cumulative effects of these alternatives depend on decisions made by agencies
other than NMFS, as NMFS and the Council have only a consultative role in non-fishing
activities.
In the past, the lack of management of reef fish has allowed many stocks to undergo both growth
and recruitment overfishing. This has allowed some stocks to decline as indicated in numerous
stock assessments. Present management measures work to limit the harvest to sustainable levels;
however, these measures may have redirected fishing effort towards other reef fish species.
Reasonably foreseeable future actions are expected to benefit managed species as described in
steps 3 and 4 of this cumulative effects analysis. These measures are intended to prevent
overfishing and allow for sustainable fisheries.
Administrative Environment
The past and present effects of different actions on the administration of fisheries are described
in detail in the cumulative effects analysis of Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008b).
Administration of fisheries is conducted through federal (including the Council) and state
agencies which develop and enforce regulations, collect data on various fishing entities, and
assess the health of various stocks. As more regulations are required to constrain stock
exploitation to sustainable levels, greater administration of the resource is needed. The NMFS
law enforcement, in cooperation with state agencies, would continue to monitor regulatory
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compliance with existing regulations and NMFS would continue to monitor both recreational and
commercial landings to determine if landings are meeting or exceeding specified quota levels.
Further, stock status needs to be periodically assessed to ensure stocks are being maintained at
proper levels. Some present actions have assisted the administration of fisheries in the Gulf such
individual fishing quota programs and the use of vessel monitoring systems to track vessels.
Reasonably foreseeable future actions are designed to improve stock status. This will require
increases in the administrative burden to ensure harvest is constrained at a level maintaining
stock sustainability.
The Council aims to have consistent recreational red snapper regulations in the federal and state
waters. For the most part, the states have established consistent regulations for the red snapper
recreational season, excluding Texas. However, in 2013, only Alabama and Mississippi
established consistent regulations. The lack of consistent regulations is likely related to the
reduction of the season length from 2012 of 45 days to 2013 of 28 days. This amendment aims
to encourage consistent regulations in state and federal waters by delegating specific
management measures to the regions.
10. Modify or add alternatives to avoid, minimize, or mitigate significant cumulative
effects.
The objective of regional management is to provide flexibility to the regions to establish
management measures that account for the differences between regions while maintaining
conservation equivalent measures in comparison to the current regulations. It is reasonably
expected the effects on the physical environment would not change under the current
management regime. It is more likely cumulative effects from this action would occur in the
biological environment for red snapper stock to be overfished. Overfishing the stock would
jeopardize the goals of the rebuilding plan. Changing from one to potentially five management
regions through these actions could potentially lead to overharvesting the stock if proper controls
on fishing are not implemented. While NMFS would still oversee the management strategies of
each region to determine consistency, the regions would have authority establish various
regulations. In order to avoid, minimize, or mitigate significant cumulative effects; the
amendment includes Action 4, Action 6, and Action 7. The alternatives in Action 4 specify the
management measures delegated to the regions. The limited delegation minimizes the potential
for the region to set management measures inconsistent with the fishery management plan (FMP)
which would reduce the cumulative effects. The alternatives in Action 6 provide post-season
accountability measures to mitigate for a region not constraining harvest to the apportioned
regional quota. The states have indicated they will implement additional monitoring programs to
better estimate the recreational harvest during the open season. In addition, the alternatives in
Action 7 establish default regulations for situations in which a region is determined to be
inconsistent with the FMP or opts out of regional management. Action 6 and Action 7 minimize
and mitigate for the overharvest of red snapper by accounting for the potential overharvest and
constraining harvest.
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11. Monitor the cumulative effects of the selected alternative and modify management as
necessary.
The implementation of regional management would require NMFS to continue monitoring the
harvest of red snapper and analyzing the landings. Monitoring the harvest is necessary to
determine if the quota is exceeded and to prohibit further harvest to insure the OFL is not also
exceeded. It is uncertain if the regions would be able to constrain harvest within their quotas and
whether the monitoring data would provide timely data to prevent overages. The timing of the
data may be critical for NMFS to determine is the quota has been met. At this time, the MRIP
data is provided at two month intervals. This is problematic for analysis when the recreational
red snapper season is shorter than two months. The states have indicated they will implement
additional monitoring programs to provide more timely data for landings. However, to integrate
new datasets into the stock assessment, the SEFSC would need to determine the monitoring
programs would be compatible.
The effects of the proposed actions are, and will continue to be, monitored through collection of
landings data by NMFS, stock assessments and stock assessment updates, life history studies,
economic and social analyses, and other scientific observations. Landings data for the
recreational sector in the Gulf of Mexico is collected through MRIP, NMFS’ Headboat Survey,
and the Texas Marine Recreational Fishing Survey. MRIP replaced an older system (MRFSS),
and is designed to improve the monitoring of recreational fishing. Commercial data is collected
through trip ticket programs, port samplers, and logbook programs; for red snapper commercial
data is collected in near real-time through the IFQ system. The most recent SEDAR assessment
of Gulf red snapper was in May 2013 and the next is scheduled for 2015.
4.9 Unavoidable Adverse Effects
Unavoidable adverse effects are described in detail in Section 5.15 of Amendment 30B
(GMFMC 2008b). Until now, the Council has constrained recreational harvest of red snapper by
establishing catch quotas, minimum size limits, bag limits, and seasonal closures which are
generally effective in limiting total fishing mortality, the type of fish targeted, the number of
targeted fishing trips, and/or the time spent pursuing a species. However, these management
tools have the unavoidable adverse effect of creating regulatory discards. Discard mortality must
be accounted for in a stock assessment as part of the allowable biological catch, and thus restricts
total allowable catches. By delegating management measures to the regions, it will be more
difficult to estimate these adverse effects. The alternatives considered in this amendment for the
delegated management measures provide a range for the minimum size and bag limits.
However, the management measures set by the region will either directly or indirectly affect the
bycatch and discards. In addition, if regions establish varying seasons, then fishing effort shift
may occur. This would need to be considered for the catch and fishing effort.
Actions considered in this amendment should not have adverse effects on public health or safety
because these measures should not alter actual fishing practices, just how, when, and where
activities can occur. This could have indirect effects if a region selected an open season that was
more impacted by non-fishing events, such as weather (i.e., winter seasons with strong cold
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fronts and high seas, or a core fishing season during prime Gulf hurricane season). Unique
characteristics of the geographic area are highlighted in Chapter 3. Adverse effects of fishing
activities on the physical environment are described in detail in Section 3.2. This section
concludes little impact on the physical environment should occur from actions proposed in this
document as it will not change the way in which the fishery is prosecuted. Uncertainty and risk
associated with the measures are described in detail in the same sections as well as assumptions
underlying the analyses.
4.10 Relationship between Short-term Uses and Long-term
Productivity
The primary objective of this amendment and associated EIS is to facilitate management of the
recreational red snapper component in the reef fish fishery by reorganizing the federal fishery
management strategy to better account for biological, social, and economic differences among
the regions of the Gulf. The relationship between short-term economic uses and long-term
economic productivity are discussed in the preceding section. However, because red snapper is
but one species in the reef fish complex, these effects may be mitigated through effort shifting to
other species and may not be significant.
The alternatives being considered are not likely to have short-term negative effects. However, if
regional management is established and the regions cannot constrain harvest of red snapper to
the apportioned quota, then long-term negative effects on the biological environment could occur
from overharvests. In addition, corrective action to constrain harvest could have negative
impacts on the social and economic environments. The range of alternatives has varying degrees
of economic costs and administrative burdens. In general, some alternatives have relatively
small short-term economic costs and administrative burdens, but would also provide smaller and
more delayed long-term benefits. Other alternatives have greater short-term costs, but provide
larger and more immediate long-term benefits.
4.11 Mitigation, Monitoring, and Enforcement Measures
Mitigation, monitoring and enforcement measures are described in detail in the cumulative
effects analysis of Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008b). The process of delegating the
management for the harvest of recreational red snapper is expected to be a conservation
equivalent to the current management strategy concerning the impacts on the physical and
biological environments. The allocation of the recreational quota to the regions (Action 3)
would mitigate for overharvest by maintaining the total harvest to the Gulf-wide recreational
ACL even though it is divided between regions. The delegated management measures (Action
4) limit the ranges for the bag limit and minimum size limit based on the previous management
strategies and biological information, respectively. The impacts of the management strategies
established by the regions would be further mitigated by specifying the range for the delegated
management measures. The provision of the federal for-hire permit requiring compliance with
the more restrictive federal regulations while fishing in state waters (Action 5) was intended to
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Chapter 4. Environmental Consequences
mitigate for the potential overharvest of the for-hire/charter fishermen and promote state
consistency with the federal regulations. However, with regional management, this provision is
no longer necessary for red snapper and can be removed as the regions would be establishing
consistent regulations throughout their state and federal waters. The post-season accountability
measures (Action 6) intend to mitigate the potential overharvest of recreational red snapper by
encouraging the regions to constrain harvest each year to prevent a reduction of their quota for
the following year. The establishment of default federal regulations (Action 7) would mitigate
the harvest of red snapper in regions with suspended delegation or have opted out of regional
management. The default regulations provide the authority to close areas associated with those
regions, while still allowing compliant regions to be open for the recreational harvest of red
snapper.
To ensure red snapper continue to rebuild and harvest does not exceed optimum yield, periodic
reviews of stock status are needed. These reviews are designed to incorporate new information
and to address unanticipated developments in the respective fisheries and would be used to make
appropriate adjustments in the reef fish regulations should harvest not achieve optimum yield
objectives. The details for how assessments are developed, reviewed, and applied are described
in Amendment 30B, as are the rule-making options the Council and NMFS have for taking
corrective actions (GMFMC 2008b).
Providing regions flexibility to establish management measures is expected to benefit the social
and economic environments. This action may slightly increase resources needed by the
administrative environment through the increased complexity of the enforcement. This
complexity develops from each region setting regulations for season, bag limit, and size limit. In
contrast, the current management sets a Gulf-wide season for federal waters. Most states have
previously established seasons consistent with the federal season, excluding Texas. However,
Florida and Louisiana had inconsistent regulations in 2012. Thus, the current management
system could increase the degree of state inconsistency. Regardless, the effects of the actions
are not likely to require mitigation.
Current reef fish regulations are labor intensive for law enforcement officials. NMFS law
enforcement officials work cooperatively with other federal and state agencies to keep illegal
activity to a minimum. Violators are penalized, and for reef fish commercial and reef fish forhire operators, permits required to operate in their respective fisheries can be sanctioned.
Reef fish management measures include a number of area-specific regulations where reef fish
fishing is restricted or prohibited in order to protect habitat or spawning aggregations of fish, or
to reduce fishing pressure in areas that are heavily fished. Additionally, this amendment includes
alternative to expand existing or create new marine reserves. To improve enforceability of these
areas, the Council has established a vessel monitoring system program for the commercial reef
fish sector to improve enforcement. Vessel monitoring systems allows NMFS enforcement
personnel to monitor compliance with these area-specific regulations, and track and prosecute
violations.
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Chapter 4. Environmental Consequences
4.12 Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitments of Resources
There are no irreversible or irretrievable commitments of agency resources proposed herein. The
actions establishing regional management are changeable by the Council at any time in the
future. In addition, there are provisions for regions to opt out of regional management. These
actions should better account for biological, social, and economic differences among the regions
of the Gulf and provide social and economic benefits while maintaining conservation equivalent
management.
4.13 Any Other Disclosures
CEQ guidance on environmental consequences (40 CFR §1502.16) indicates the following
elements should be considered for the scientific and analytic basis for comparisons of
alternatives. These are:
a) Direct effects and their significance.
b) Indirect effects and their significance.
c) Possible conflicts between the proposed action and the objectives of federal, regional,
state, and local (and in the case of a reservation, Indian tribe) land use plans, policies
and controls for the area concerned.
d) The environmental effects of alternatives including the proposed action.
e) Energy requirements and conservation potential of various alternatives and mitigation
measures.
f) Natural or depletable resource requirements and conservation potential of various
alternatives and mitigation measures.
g) Urban quality, historic and cultural resources, and the design of the built environment,
including the reuse and conservation potential of various alternatives and mitigation
measures.
h) Means to mitigate adverse environmental impacts.
Items a, b, d, e, f, and h are addressed in Chapters 2 and 3, and Sections 4.1-4.7. Items a, b, and
d are directly discussed in Sections 2 and 5. Item e is discussed in the economic analyses. It is
unknown if these actions would result in energy conservation through fewer fishing trips;
however, it is more likely to be an energy conservation equivalent. Item f is discussed
throughout the document as fish stocks are a natural and depletable resource. A goal of this
amendment is to make these stocks sustainable resources for the nation. Mitigations measures
are discussed in Section 5.11. Item h is discussed in Chapters 3 and 5, with particular mention in
Section 5.12. (further update after RIR is provided)
The other elements are not applicable to the actions taken in this document. Because this
amendment concerns the management of a marine fish stock, it is not in conflict with the
objectives of federal, regional, state, or local land use plans, policies, and controls (Item c).
Urban quality, historic and cultural resources, and the design of the built environment, including
the reuse and conservation potential of various alternatives and mitigation measures (Item g) is
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Chapter 4. Environmental Consequences
not a factor in this amendment. The actions taken in this amendment will affect a marine stock
and its fishery, and should not affect land-based, urban environments.
On September 30, 2011, the Protected Resources Division released a biological opinion that
analyzed the best available data, the current status of the species, environmental baseline
(including the impacts of the recent Deepwater Horizon MC 252 oil release event in the northern
Gulf of Mexico), effects of the proposed action, and cumulative effects, concluded that the
continued operation of the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery is also not likely to jeopardize the
continued existence of green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, or loggerhead sea turtles,
nor the continued existence of smalltooth sawfish (NMFS 2011). On December 7, 2012, NMFS
published a proposed rule to list 66 coral species under the ESA and reclassify Acropora from
threatened to endangered (77 FR 73220). In a memorandum dated February 13, 2013, NMFS
determined the reef fish fishery was not likely to adversely affect Acropora because of where the
fishery operates, the types of gear used in the fishery, and that other regulations protect Acropora
where they are most likely to occur.
With regards to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, fishing activities under the FMP should
have no adverse impact on marine mammals. The proposed actions are not expected to
substantially change the way the fishery is currently prosecuted (e.g., types of methods, gear
used, etc.). The primary gears used in the recreational sector of Gulf reef fish fishery (hook-andline) are classified in the updated 2013 Marine Mammal Protection Act List of Fisheries as
Category III fishery (78 FR 53336). This classification indicates the annual mortality and
serious injury of a marine mammal stock resulting from any fishery is less than or equal to one
percent of the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be
removed from a marine mammal stock, while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its
optimum sustainable population.
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Chapter 4. Environmental Consequences
CHAPTER 5. REGULATORY IMPACT REVIEW
[This review is completed after selection of all preferred alternatives.]
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Chapter 5. Regulatory Impact Review
CHAPTER 6. REGULATORY FLEXIBILITY ACT
ANALYSIS
[This analysis is completed after selection of all preferred alternatives.]
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Chapter 6. Regulatory Flexibility
Act Analysis
CHAPTER 7. BYCATCH PRACTICABILITY ANALYSIS
Introduction
Bycatch is defined as fish harvested in a fishery, but not sold or retained for personal use. This
definition includes both economic and regulatory discards, and excludes fish released alive under
a recreational catch-and-release fishery management program. Economic discards are generally
undesirable from a market perspective because of their species, size, sex, and/or other
characteristics. Regulatory discards are fish required by regulation to be discarded, but also
include fish that may be retained but not sold.
Agency guidance provided at 50 CFR 600.350(d)(3) identifies ten factors to consider in
determining whether a management measure minimizes bycatch or bycatch mortality to the
extent practicable. These are:
1. Population effects for the bycatch species;
2. Ecological effects due to changes in the bycatch of that species (effects on other
species in the ecosystem);
3. Changes in the bycatch of other species of fish and the resulting population and
ecosystem effects;
4. Effects on marine mammals and birds;
5. Changes in fishing, processing, disposal, and marketing costs;
6. Changes in fishing practices and behavior of fishermen;
7. Changes in research, administration, and enforcement costs and management
effectiveness;
8. Changes in the economic, social, or cultural value of fishing activities and nonconsumptive uses of fishery resources;
9. Changes in the distribution of benefits and costs; and
10. Social effects.
The Regional Fishery Management Councils are encouraged to adhere to the precautionary
approach outlined in Article 6.5 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries when uncertain about these factors.
Bycatch practicability analyses of the reef fish fishery have been provided in several reef fish
amendments and focused to some degree on the component of the fishery affected by the actions
covered in the amendment. For red snapper, bycatch practicability analyses were completed for
Amendments 22 and 27 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf
of Mexico (GMFMC 2004b and 2007). Other bycatch practicability analyses were conducted in
the following amendments (component of the fishery affected by the actions): Amendment 23
(vermilion snapper; GMFMC 2004c), Amendment 30A (greater amberjack and gray triggerfish;
GMFMC 2008a), Amendment 30B (gag, red grouper, and other shallow-water grouper;
GMFMC 2008b), Amendment 31 (longline sector; GMFMC 2009), Amendment 32 (gag and red
grouper; GMFMC 2011c), Amendment 35 (greater amberjack; GMFMC 2012a); Amendment 37
(gray triggerfish; GMFMC 2012b), and Amendment 38 (shallow-water grouper; GMFMC
2012c). In addition, a bycatch practicability analysis was conducted for the Generic Annual
Catch Limits/Accountability Measures Amendment (GMFMC 2011b) that covered the Reef
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Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
Fish, Coastal Migratory Pelagics, Red Drum, and Coral Fishery Management Plans. In general,
these analyses found that reducing bycatch provides biological benefits to managed species as
well as benefits to the fishery through less waste, higher yields, and less forgone yield.
However, in some cases, actions are approved that can increase bycatch through regulatory
discards such as increased minimum sizes and closed seasons. In these cases, there is some
biological benefit to the managed species that outweighs any increases in discards.
Red Snapper Bycatch
The reef fish fishery directed at red snapper has been regulated to limit harvest in order that the
stock can recover from an overfished condition. Regulations for the recreational sector include
catch quotas, minimum size limits, bag limits, and seasonal closures. These are used to limit the
harvest to levels allowed under the rebuilding plan. For the commercial sector, regulations
previously included catch quotas, minimum size limits, seasonal closures, and trip limits. Now
the sector is managed under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program that was established in
2007. The program eliminates the need for seasonal closures and trip limits. Red snapper
regulations have been generally effective in limiting fishing mortality, the size of fish targeted,
the number of targeted fishing trips, and/or the time fishermen spend pursuing a species.
However, these management tools have the unavoidable adverse effect of creating regulatory
discards, which makes reducing bycatch challenging, particularly in the recreational sector.
An important aspect to red snapper bycatch is the penaeid shrimp fishery as previously described
in Amendment 27/14 (GMFMC 2007). The shrimp fishery catches primarily 0-2 year old red
snapper. To reduce red snapper bycatch, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
(Council) implemented regulations requiring the use of bycatch reduction devices (GMFMC
2002) and setting bycatch reduction targets (currently a 67% reduction from the baseline years
2001-2003; GMFMC 2007). Between the use of bycatch reduction devices and reductions in
shrimp effort due to economic factors (Figure 7.1), the target reductions have been met.
Although red snapper bycatch in the shrimp fishery is an important source of mortality for this
stock, this bycatch practicability analysis will focus on the directed reef fish fishery managed
under the Fishery Management Plan for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Bycatch
from the shrimp fishery has been and will be analyzed in the Fishery Management Plan for the
Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Waters.
Figures 7.2 and 7.3 show the relative number of discards for the recreational and commercial
sectors as estimated by SEDAR 31 (2013). For the recreational sector, open season discards
estimated through the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) (charter and private
angler) declined around 2007 as the recreational season got shorter due lower quotas. This trend
is also apparent in the headboat data for the western Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). However, with
shorter seasons of the past few years, the number of discards during the longer closed seasons
increased (Figure 7.2). For the commercial sector, discards in the eastern handline and longline
sectors have increased since the implementation of the IFQ program relative to the western Gulf.
This may reflect a shift in fishing effort that has resulted in the program. Note that for the
commercial sector, closed season discards after the IFQ program was implemented refers to
vessels with little or no red snapper allocation (see SEDAR 31 2013).
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Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
Figure 7.1. Gulf shrimp fishery effort (thousand vessel-days) provided by the National Marine
Fisheries Service Galveston Lab. The reported effort does not include the average effort values
used to fill empty cells. Source: Linton 2012b.
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Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
Figure 7.2. Observed (open circles) and predicted total discards (blue dashes) of red snapper
from the private angler open season (top), headboat open season (middle), and recreational
closed season in the eastern (left) and western (right) Gulf, 1997-2011. Source: SEDAR 31
2013.
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Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
Figure 7.3. Observed (open circles) and predicted total discards (blue dashes) of red snapper
from the commercial handline open season (top), longline open season (middle), and commercial
closed season in the eastern (left) and western (right) Gulf, 1997-2011. Source: SEDAR 31
2013.
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Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
Campbell et al. (2012) identified several causes of red snapper discard mortality in their review
of release mortality in the directed reef fish fishery. These included hooking injuries, thermal
stress, and barotrauma. Campbell et al. (2012) reviewed 11 studies that listed discard (release)
mortality rates ranging from 0 to 79%. They reported that mortality tended to increase with
capture depth, increasing water depth, or from some compounding effect of these two factors.
Burns et al. (2004) and Burns and Froeschke (2012) examined the feeding behavior of red
snapper and found red snapper quickly chew and swallow their prey. As a result, there is less
time to set a hook while fishing, resulting in greater probability of hooking related injuries.
Burns et al. (2004) concluded hook-related trauma accounted for a greater portion of release
mortality than depth, despite catching red snapper at depths ranging from 90 to 140 feet.
Although Campbell et al. (2012) did not specifically address surface interval and predation, these
factors were identified in GMFMC (2007) as contributing to release mortality. Burns et al.
(2002) found survival of red snapper increased the faster red snapper were returned to the water,
thus they considered any reductions in surface interval/handling time an important way to reduce
release mortality. Several studies have documented predation on released red snapper. Dolphins
and pelicans are the two most commonly observed predators and are known to pursue released
fish, as well as fish before they are landed (SEDAR 7 2005). Several studies, which assessed
release mortality through surface observations, accounted for predation when estimating release
mortality (Patterson et al. 2001; Burns et al. 2004; Wilson et al. 2004).
A variety of release mortality rates have been used in different stock assessment. The 1999 red
snapper stock assessment (Schirripa and Legault 1999) assumed release mortality rates of 33
percent for the commercial fishery and 20 percent for the recreational fishery. These release
mortality rates were derived from the literature and were determined by the Council’s Reef Fish
Stock Assessment Panel to be the best available estimates at the time (RFSAP 1999). During
development of the 2005 red snapper stock assessment, the SEDAR 7 data workshop panel
(SEDAR 7 2005) reviewed available information on depth of fishing and release mortality by
depth to produce fishery specific release mortality rates by region (eastern and western Gulf),
season (open and closed), and by sector (commercial and recreational). Estimates of release
mortality rates ranged 15% for recreationally caught and released red snapper in the eastern Gulf
to 88% for commercially caught and released red snapper in the western Gulf caught during a
season closure (Table 7.1).
Table 7.1. Mean/median depth of fishing and corresponding release mortality rates for red
snapper by fishery, region, and season.
Fishery
Commercial
Recreational
Region
East
East
West
West
East
East
West
West
Season
Open
Closed
Open
Closed
Open
Closed
Open
Closed
Depth of Capture
Release Mortality
180 ft (55 m)
71%
180 ft (55 m)
71%
190 ft (58 m)
82%
272 ft (83 m)
88%
65-131 ft (20-40 m)
15%
65-131 ft (20-40 m)
15%
131 ft (40 m)
40%
131 ft (40 m)
40%
Source: SEDAR 7 2005.
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Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
In the most recent benchmark stock assessment (SEDAR 31, 2013), a meta-analysis was used to
estimate red snapper release mortality using the 11 studies reviewed by Campbell et al. (2012).
A venting/no venting component was added to account for the requirement to vent reef fish put
in place through Amendment 27 (GMFMC 2007) as well as a gear component. For the
commercial sector, average depths at which discards occurred for each gear (handline or long
line), region (eastern or western Gulf), and season (open or closed) were calculated using
commercial observer program data. Consistent with how commercial discards have been treated
in other parts of the assessment, discards from trips with IFQ allocation were considered open
season discards, while discards from trips with no IFQ allocation were considered closed season
discards. For the recreational sector, average depths at which discards occurred for each region
(eastern or western Gulf) and season (open or closed) were calculated using self-reported data
from the iSnapper program. Estimated release mortality rates ranged from 10 to 95% with
commercial release mortality rates greater than recreational release mortality rates (Tables 7.2
and 7.3).
SEDAR 31 (2013) estimated the total number of fish killed (landed and discarded dead) by the
commercial and recreational sectors from 1983 to 2011 (Table 7.4). For the recreational sector,
the percentage of dead discards to total fish killed has declined since a peak in 2001. However, it
was not until 2007 that the number of dead discards was consistently less than the number of
landed fish. For the commercial sector, the percentage of dead discards peaked in 2000, but it
was not until 2010 that the number of dead discards declined less than 40% of the total fish
killed.
Since 1996, more red snapper have been landed in the eastern Gulf than the western Gulf by the
recreational sector (Table 7.5). A drop in the percentage of dead discards relative to the total
number of fish killed occurred in both regions in 2008. The percentage of dead discards fell
from 49.4% to 36.7% between 2007 and 2008 for the eastern Gulf and from 50.0% to 20.3%
between 2007 and 2008 in the western Gulf. For the commercial sector, in the eastern Gulf the
number of dead discards has generally been above 50% indicating that there are more discards
were killed than landed (Table 7.5). In contrast, in the western Gulf there has been a falling off
in the percentage of dead discards relative to the total number of killed fish since 2006 to well
below 50%.
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Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
Table 7.2. Average depths and associated discard mortality rates for commercial discards of red snapper in the Gulf.
Gear
Handline
Longline
Region
Season
Average Depth (m)
Disc Mort - no
venting
Disc Mort - venting
Source: SEDAR 31 2013.
East
Closed
24
West
Open
45
Closed
84
East
Open
53
Closed
66
West
Open
62
Closed
132
Open
104
0.74
0.75
0.87
0.78
0.82
0.81
0.95
0.91
0.55
0.56
0.74
0.60
0.66
0.64
0.88
0.81
Table 7.3. Average depths and associated discard mortality rates for recreational discards of red snapper in the Gulf.
Gear
Recreational
West
Region
East
Season
Open
Closed
Open
33
34
36
Average Depth (m)
0.21
0.21
0.22
Disc Mort - no venting
0.10
0.10
0.11
Disc Mort - venting
Source: SEDAR 31 2013.
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Closed
35
0.22
0.10
Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
Table 7.4. Estimates of the total number of red snapper landed, the number of dead discards,
and percent dead discards for all killed fish for the recreational and commercial sectors by year
in the Gulf.
Year 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Landed 3,314,185 1,232,024 1,427,026 1,265,955 1,022,844 1,241,859 1,060,456 625,933 1,060,610 1,609,040 2,202,931 1,615,241 1,384,049 1,180,361 1,547,317 1,235,683 1,031,284 1,002,899 1,075,115 1,372,415 1,224,547 1,365,946 1,024,641 1,196,183 1,397,237 821,804 979,945 447,991 670,910 Recreational Dead Percent dead Discards discards 8,599 0.3% 2,699 0.2% 255,716 15.2% 223,079 15.0% 271,426 21.0% 302,800 19.6% 289,201 21.4% 270,824 30.2% 353,327 25.0% 434,448 21.3% 581,455 20.9% 695,102 30.1% 1,008,873 42.2% 859,431 42.1% 1,342,121 46.4% 679,689 35.5% 549,708 34.8% 985,281 49.6% 1,792,155 62.5% 1,586,095 53.6% 1,204,754 49.6% 1,677,071 55.1% 1,433,508 58.3% 1,533,800 56.2% 1,370,519 49.5% 417,509 33.7% 339,988 25.8% 170,959 27.6% 220,515 24.7% Landed 4,559,794 2,775,042 1,234,986 875,494 661,469 950,904 742,388 703,020 691,943 995,013 1,011,914 869,075 698,404 1,011,328 1,122,447 1,167,877 1,190,580 1,088,667 1,030,580 1,145,169 1,080,662 1,036,860 973,109 1,193,134 851,537 671,979 656,148 833,253 808,582 Commercial Dead Discard 80,758 33,579 351,105 304,026 277,787 366,876 296,024 549,250 635,961 817,581 781,941 796,390 767,187 1,120,205 1,674,115 949,481 1,063,684 2,065,579 1,214,566 1,171,069 996,171 1,027,510 1,170,293 1,343,644 903,242 481,599 772,463 472,930 533,198 Percent dead discards 1.7% 1.2% 22.1% 25.8% 29.6% 27.8% 28.5% 43.9% 47.9% 45.1% 43.6% 47.8% 52.3% 52.6% 59.9% 44.8% 47.2% 65.5% 54.1% 50.6% 48.0% 49.8% 54.6% 53.0% 51.5% 41.7% 54.1% 36.2% 39.7% Source: Recreational data is from MRIP; headboat and commercial data is from the logbook and
SEDAR 31 2013; Jacob Tetzlaff, pers. comm. Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Miami,
Florida.
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Table 7.5. Estimates of the total number of red snapper landed the number of dead discards, and percent dead discards for all killed
fish for the recreational and commercial sectors by year and region of the Gulf.
Recreational East Commercial West Year Landed Dead Discard Percent dead discards 1983 1,055,691 4,455 0.4% 2,258,494 4,144 1984 192,098 332 0.2% 1,039,926 1985 482,587 51,497 9.6% 1986 574,495 63,839 1987 548,813 129,871 1988 524,591 1989 East Landed Dead Discard Percent dead discards West Landed Dead Discard Percent dead discards 0.2% 1,851,965 23,983 1.3% 2,707,829 56,775 2.1% 2,367 0.2% 1,077,487 5,872 0.5% 1,697,555 27,707 1.6% 944,439 204,219 17.8% 575,540 109,179 15.9% 659,446 241,926 26.8% 10.0% 691,460 159,240 18.7% 237,499 31,193 11.6% 637,996 272,833 30.0% 19.1% 474,031 141,555 23.0% 179,088 35,679 16.6% 482,381 242,108 33.4% 137,182 20.7% 717,268 165,618 18.8% 197,784 72,004 26.7% 753,120 294,872 28.1% 474,670 147,657 23.7% 585,786 141,544 19.5% 166,355 59,518 26.4% 576,033 236,506 29.1% 1990 314,036 161,286 33.9% 311,897 109,538 26.0% 208,799 169,101 44.7% 494,221 380,150 43.5% 1991 548,912 202,238 26.9% 511,698 151,089 22.8% 156,339 187,293 54.5% 535,604 448,669 45.6% 1992 886,594 272,181 23.5% 722,446 162,267 18.3% 155,044 294,315 65.5% 839,969 523,266 38.4% 1993 1,336,961 366,226 21.5% 865,970 215,229 19.9% 160,428 346,349 68.3% 851,486 435,592 33.8% 1994 819,900 379,092 31.6% 795,341 316,010 28.4% 161,842 341,927 67.9% 707,233 454,464 39.1% 1995 664,786 547,997 45.2% 719,263 460,876 39.1% 47,994 234,693 83.0% 650,411 532,493 45.0% 1996 608,817 519,005 46.0% 571,544 340,426 37.3% 66,458 384,466 85.3% 944,870 735,739 43.8% 1997 966,914 992,702 50.7% 580,403 349,419 37.6% 52,616 231,911 81.5% 1,069,832 1,442,204 57.4% 1998 814,811 485,790 37.4% 420,872 193,899 31.5% 112,125 271,377 70.8% 1,055,751 678,104 39.1% 1999 788,097 413,395 34.4% 243,187 136,313 35.9% 148,788 407,417 73.2% 1,041,792 656,267 38.6% 2000 741,378 753,560 50.4% 261,521 231,721 47.0% 169,886 1,375,667 89.0% 918,781 689,912 42.9% 2001 858,210 1,559,948 64.5% 216,905 232,208 51.7% 209,036 487,449 70.0% 821,544 727,118 47.0% 2002 1,137,262 1,374,869 54.7% 235,153 211,226 47.3% 300,706 459,631 60.5% 844,463 711,438 45.7% 2003 956,693 992,640 50.9% 267,854 212,113 44.2% 281,921 459,040 62.0% 798,741 537,130 40.2% 2004 1,128,710 1,429,531 55.9% 237,236 247,540 51.1% 251,425 392,841 61.0% 785,435 634,669 44.7% 2005 759,036 1,071,240 58.5% 265,605 362,268 57.7% 220,412 352,853 61.6% 752,697 817,440 52.1% 2006 839,855 1,076,677 56.2% 356,328 457,123 56.2% 212,766 329,879 60.8% 980,368 1,013,764 50.8% Amendment 39: Regional Management
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2007 1,087,060 1,059,975 49.4% 310,177 310,544 50.0% 311,729 626,004 66.8% 539,808 277,238 33.9% 2008 642,570 371,930 36.7% 179,233 45,579 20.3% 284,937 366,341 56.2% 387,042 115,258 22.9% 2009 773,394 303,722 28.2% 206,551 36,266 14.9% 302,568 682,585 69.3% 353,579 89,878 20.3% 2010 360,404 162,119 31.0% 87,587 8,840 9.2% 413,808 384,519 48.2% 419,445 88,411 17.4% 2011 552,878 192,184 25.8% 118,032 28,331 19.4% 423,809 445,771 51.3% 384,773 87,427 18.5% Source: Recreational data is from MRIP; headboat and commercial data is from the logbook and SEDAR 31 2013; Jacob Tetzlaff,
pers. comm. Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Miami, Florida.
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Other Bycatch
Species incidentally encountered by the directed red snapper fishery include sea turtles, sea
birds, and reef fishes. The primary gears of the Gulf reef fish fishery (longline and vertical line)
are classified in the proposed List of Fisheries for 2013 (78 FR 53336, August 29, 2013) as
Category III gear. This classification indicates the annual mortality and serious injury of a
marine mammal stock resulting from any fishery is less than or equal to one percent of the
maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a
marine mammal stock, while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable
population.
The most recent biological opinion for the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan was completed
on September 30, 2011 (NMFS 2011a). The opinion determined the continued authorization of
the Gulf reef fish fishery managed under this fishery management plan is not likely to adversely
affect Endangered Species Act-listed marine mammals or coral, and would not likely jeopardize
the continued existence of sea turtles (loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, green, hawksbill, and
leatherback), or smalltooth sawfish. However, in the past, actions have been taken by the
Council and NMFS to increase the survival of incidentally caught sea turtle and smalltooth
sawfish by the commercial and recreational sectors of the fishery. These include the
requirements for permitted vessels to carry specific gear and protocols for the safe release in
incidentally caught endangered sea turtle species and smalltooth sawfish (GMFMC 2005) as well
as restrictions on the longline portion of the commercial sector. Restrictions for longlines in the
reef fish fishery include a season-area closure, an endorsement to use longline gear, and a
restriction on the total number of hooks that can be carried on a vessel (GMFMC 2009).
Three primary orders of seabirds are represented in the Gulf, Procellariiformes (petrels,
albatrosses, and shearwaters), Pelecaniformes (pelicans, gannets and boobies, cormorants, tropic
birds, and frigate birds), and Charadriiformes (phalaropes, gulls, terns, noddies, and skimmers)
(Clapp et al., 1982; Harrison, 1983) and several species, including: piping plover, least tern,
roseate tern, bald eagle, and brown pelican (the brown pelican is endangered in Mississippi and
Louisiana and delisted in Florida and Alabama) are listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
as either endangered or threatened. Human disturbance of nesting colonies and mortalities from
birds being caught on fishhooks and subsequently entangled in monofilament line are primary
factors affecting sea birds. Oil or chemical spills, erosion, plant succession, hurricanes, storms,
heavy tick infestations, and unpredictable food availability are other threats. There is no
evidence that the directed red snapper fishery is adversely affecting seabirds. However,
interactions, especially with brown pelicans consuming red snapper discards and fish before they
are landed, are known to occur (SEDAR 7 2005).
Other species of reef fish are also incidentally caught when targeting red snapper. In the western
Gulf, vermilion snapper and some deep-water groupers are incidentally caught as bycatch when
harvesting red snapper. In the eastern Gulf, various species of shallow-water grouper and
vermilion snapper are the primary species caught as bycatch when targeting red snapper.
Vermilion snapper are not overfished or undergoing overfishing (SEDAR 9 Update 2011a) and
bycatch is not expected to jeopardize the status of this stock. Deep-water groupers are caught
both in the eastern and western Gulf primarily with longline gear (> 80 percent). The deep-water
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grouper fishery was managed with a 1.02 million pound quota. From 2004 until the
implementation of the grouper/tilefish IFQ program in 2010 (SERO 2012a), the fishery met their
quota and closed no later than July 15 each year. Deep-water grouper closures during this time
period may have resulted in some additional discards of grouper by longliners targeting red
snapper. Since the IFQ program was implemented, deep-water grouper species are landed yearround by holders of IFQ allocation and the quota has not been exceeded. Longliners account for
approximately 5% of the annual commercial red snapper landings since 2000 (SEDAR 31 2013).
It is unknown how increases in closed season discards might have affected the status of deepwater grouper stocks or the change to an IFQ managed sector. An updated assessment for
yellowedge grouper found the stock was not overfished or undergoing overfishing (SEDAR 22
2011a).
Red grouper and gag are the two most abundant shallow-water grouper species in the Gulf and
primarily occur on the west Florida shelf. Gag was recently assessed (SEDAR 10 Update 2009)
and determined to be overfished and undergoing overfishing. A rebuilding plan that takes into
account gag dead discards was implemented through Amendment 32 (GMFMC 2011c). Red
grouper were found not to be in an overfished condition and not undergoing overfishing
(SEDAR 12 Update 2009). Within the reef fish fishery, discards represent a large and significant
portion of mortality for gag and red grouper. In the past, these species were managed under a
shallow-water grouper quota which was met prior to the end of the 2004 and 2005 fishing years.
For the recreational sector, shallow-water grouper including gag and red grouper are managed
with size limits, bag limits, and season and area closures. The recreational gag season begins
July 1 and extends until the catch target is projected to be caught. Since 2010, the commercial
harvest of gag, red grouper, and other shallow-water grouper are managed under an IFQ program
and the commercial sector has not exceeded its quota under the program. Prior to the IFQ
program, quota closures at the end of the year have likely resulted in some additional commercial
discards when the red snapper fishery is open. However, most commercial landings of red
snapper occur in the western Gulf where gag and red grouper are less abundant or infrequently
caught.
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Practicability of current management measures in the directed red snapper fishery relative
to their impact on bycatch and bycatch mortality.
The bycatch practicability analysis in Amendment 27 (GMFMC 2007) indicated directed fishery
bycatch was believed to have a greater effect on red snapper stock recovery than the shrimp
fishery. Although shrimp bycatch still accounts for a majority of bycatch, bycatch from the
directed fishery is now known to have a greater effect on stock recovery. A quota, 16-inch total
length (TL) minimum size limit, 2-fish bag limit, closed season, and gear restrictions are
presently used to manage the recreational fishery. The commercial fishery is managed with an
IFQ program, a quota, a 13-inch TL minimum size limit, and gear restrictions. Prior to 2007
when the red snapper IFQ program was implemented, the commercial fishery was also managed
with closed seasons and trip limits. The following discusses current and historic management
measures with respect to their relative impacts on bycatch with particular reference to specific
management measures considered in Action 4 - Regional Management Measures.
Closed Seasons
Prior to 1997, the recreational sector was able to fish for red snapper year round. To prevent the
recreational quota from being exceeded, recreational fishing for red snapper was closed on
November 27, 1997, September 30, 1998, and August 29, 1999. In 2000, an April 21 through
October 31 red snapper season was established. This was modified to a June 1 through October
31 season in 2008 by Amendment 27 (GMFMC 2007). Currently, the recreational directed red
snapper fishery is closed in the exclusive economic zone from January 1 through May 31 each
year through a 2012 framework action. However, since 2008, the sector has been closed early
when the quota is projected to be caught. In addition, since 2008, the length of time red snapper
fishing has been open has become increasingly shorter such that for 2011 and 2012, the season
length has shrunk to 48 and 46 days, respectively. With these shorter seasons, the number of
released fish has decreased during the open season, but the number of releases during the closed
season has increased (Figure 7.2; SEDAR 31 2013). Reflected in this trend is that although the
estimated number of dead discards has decreased during the fishing season, the number of dead
discards has increased during the longer closed periods (Figure 7.4).
With the implementation of the IFQ program, there is no closed season for the commercial
sector. However, commercial vessels with little or no red snapper allocation cannot land red
snapper on most or all their trips. Thus, they effectively operate under closed season conditions.
SERO (2013b) indicated most discards were likely due to insufficient allocation, rather than the
minimum size limit, especially in the longline fleet. Most of these discards were recorded as
released alive.
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1,400,000
Number dead discards
1,200,000
1,000,000
800,000
East ‐ Open
East ‐ Closed
600,000
West ‐ Open
West ‐ Closed
400,000
200,000
0
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Year
Figure 7.4. The number of Gulf red snapper dead discards from the recreational sector by year
and by area. Source: Jakob Tetzlaff., pers. comm. Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Miami,
Florida.
Bag Limits
The recreational fishery is regulated by a 2-red snapper daily bag limit per person. Red snapper
discards while harvesting the daily bag limit are a result of incidental capture of undersized fish
prior to reaching the bag limit and targeting of other reef fish residing in similar habitat as red
snapper after bag limits have been reached. SERO (2012c) reported for-hire anglers, on average,
landed 1.23 red snapper per trip and private anglers landed 1.58 red snapper per trip when the
season is open. Based on average catch rates, the current two red snapper bag limit is not a
limiting factor for many trips. Therefore, the release of undersized fish while harvesting the bag
limit is still an important factor contributing to discards in addition to the release of legal-sized
red snapper after the bag limit is reached.
Size limits
The 16-inch recreational and 13-inch commercial TL minimum size limits are important factors
when considering bycatch in the directed fishery. Size limits are intended to protect immature
fish and reduce fishing mortality. The recreational minimum size limit is above the size at 50%
maturity and the commercial size limit is near the size at 50% maturity. Size-at-maturity varies
by region, with 75% of eastern Gulf female red snapper mature by 12 inches TL and 50% of
western Gulf red snapper mature by 13-14 inches TL (Fitzhugh et al. 2004).
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Several yield-per-recruit (YPR) analyses have previously been conducted to identify the size that
balances the benefits of harvesting fish at larger sizes against losses due to natural mortality.
Goodyear (1995) concluded YPR was maximized in the red snapper fishery between 18 and 21
inches TL, assuming 20 and 33% release mortality in the recreational and commercial red
snapper fisheries, respectively. A subsequent yield per recruit (YPR) analysis by Schirripa and
Legault (1997) indicated increasing the minimum size limit above 15 inches TL would result in
no gains in yield. Analyses of minimum size limits run for Amendment 27 (GMFMC 2007)
indicated red snapper projected recovery rates are slightly faster if the commercial minimum size
limit is reduced or eliminated, but increasingly slowed by smaller recreational minimum size
limits (Porch 2005). Decreasing the recreational and commercial minimum size limits was
projected to increase stock recovery slightly over the short term, but stock recovery would be
increasingly slowed if the recreational size limit were lowered over the long term (Porch 2005).
However, as discussed in Amendment 27, changes in spawning potential and the rate of stock
recovery were found to be negligible for recreational size limits ranging from 13 to 15 inches
TL. An YPR analysis conducted by SERO (2006), using current fishery selectivities and release
mortality rates from SEDAR 7 (2005) supported Porch’s (2005) findings. SERO (2006)
examined four commercial minimum size limits (12, 13, 14, and 15 inches TL) and five
recreational minimum size limits (6, 13, 14, 15, and 16 inches TL). Based on the range of size
limits analyzed, YPR was maximized at 16 inches TL in both the eastern and western Gulf
recreational fisheries, 12-inches TL in the western Gulf commercial fishery, and 15-inches TL in
the eastern Gulf commercial fishery. However, there was virtually no difference in maximum
YPR (< 0.3 percent) for any of the eastern Gulf commercial size limits analyzed. In a study by
Wilson et al. (2004) aboard commercial vessels using bandit rigs, 61% of red snapper released
were greater than 13 inches and 86% were greater than 12 inches.
For this amendment, an YPR analysis was applied to the recreational sector (SERO 2013). This
analysis indicates the Gulf-wide YPR is maximized at a recreational size limit of 15 inches TL.
However, there was not much of a change in YPR between lengths of 13 and 18 inches TL.
Thus, if the minimum size limit were changed from 16 to 15 inches TL, any gain in YPR would
be minimal. SERO (2013) also showed than any increase in the minimum size limit would
reduce the number of fish landed. This would probably result in more regulatory discards and an
increase in the number of dead discards.
Given the above discussion, a larger recreational minimum size limit is considered to be more
effective than a similar sized commercial minimum size limit because of lower release mortality
rates in the recreational fishery (Tables 7.2 and 7.3). High release mortality rates in the
commercial fishery provide little, if any, protection to the stock because the released fish mostly
die rather than contribute to filling the quota. In contrast, the current 16-inch TL minimum
recreational size limit was found to afford some protection to the stock, because a greater
percentage of discarded fish will survive to spawn and later contribute to the quota as larger
animals.
Area closures
Although the Council has not developed area closures specifically for red snapper, the Council
has created areas to protect other species. For example, two restricted fishing areas were
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developed to specifically protect spawning aggregations of gag in 2000 (GMFMC 1999). The
Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps marine restricted fishing areas are located in the
northeastern Gulf at a depth of 40 to 60 fathoms. Both areas prohibit bottom fishing. Bottom
fishing is also prohibited in the Tortugas North and South marine reserves in the southern Gulf
near the Dry Tortugas. Marine reserves and time/area closures benefit fish residing within
reserve boundaries by prohibiting their capture during part or all of the year. Within marine
reserves, fish that are undersized potentially have an opportunity to grow to legal size and are no
longer caught as bycatch. If these fish emigrate from the marine reserve (i.e., spillover effect),
then they may be caught as legal fish outside the reserve, thereby reducing bycatch. However,
anglers and commercial fishermen may redistribute their effort to areas surrounding the area
closure. If fishing pressure in these areas is increased, then any benefits of reduced bycatch of
fish in the marine reserve will likely be offset by increases in bycatch of fish residing outside the
marine reserve. Within restricted fishing areas or time/area closures, fishing is allowed under
restrictions that are intended to protect certain components of the populations within the area
(e.g., prohibitions on bottom fishing gear), or to protect populations during a critical phase of
their life history, such as during spawning. If area closures were to be developed under Action 4,
Alternative 6, the area where the closure occurs could increase or reduce bycatch. For example,
if the proposed area is primarily in deeper water, establishing a time/area closure is unlikely to
reduce bycatch by any significant amount unless the area is closed year-round. Any incidental
capture of red snapper in the area would likely suffer from barotrauma and die. If such areas are
sited in shallow-water, then reductions in dead discards may be more likely to occur because of
lower discard mortality rates.
The Council did develop a season area closure to reduce bycatch of sea turtles for the longline
component of the commercial sector. The use of longlines had been prohibited from waters less
than 20 fathoms east of Cape San Blas, Florida, and 50 fathoms west of Cape San Blas; however,
due to higher estimates of sea turtles caught in longline gear, measures were put in place through
Amendment 31 (GMFMC 2009) to reduce this bycatch. One of these measures was the
prohibition of the use of bottom longline gear in the Gulf reef fish fishery, shoreward of a line
approximating the 35-fathom contour east of Cape San Blas, Florida from June through August.
Most sea turtle takes by longline occur during the summer months.
Other measures
Allowable gear - Vertical hook-and-line gear (bandit rigs, manual handlines) is the primary gear
used in the commercial fishery (> 96% of annual landings). Longlines, spears, and fish traps
account for a small portion of the commercial harvest (< 5%). Longlines account for only a
small fraction of red snapper dead discards as most of the landings come from handline-caught
fish (Table 7.6). In addition, longlines are fished in deeper water, particularly in the west, and
select for larger, legal-sized red snapper. Longline vessels east of Cape San Blas, Florida are
also restricted to carrying 1,000 hooks onboard (only 750 rigged for fishing at any given time) as
part of a suite of measures put in place through Amendment 31 (GMFMC 2009) to reduce sea
turtle bycatch.
Rod-and-reel is the primary gear used in the recreational fishery. Recreational anglers also use
spears to capture red snapper. Spearfishing does not affect release mortality since all fish caught
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are killed. Only undersized red snapper mistakenly killed while spearfishing would contribute to
discard mortality. During the red snapper recreational fishing season, discards are primarily due
to the recreational size limit; however, allowable gears can affect release mortality rates.
Fishermen in both the commercial and recreational sectors are required to use non-stainless steel
circle hooks, if using natural baits, to reduce discard mortality. The size of circle hooks used in
the fishery varies by manufacturer, gear type, and species targeted (i.e., if targeting vermilion
snapper, smaller circle hooks may be used). Although circle hooks may not work as well to
reduce red snapper discard mortality, they are effective in reducing mortality in other species
such as red grouper (Burns and Froeschke 2012).
In addition to the circle hook requirement, Amendment 27 (GMFMC 2007) also put in place
requirements for both commercial and recreational fishermen in the reef fish fishery to carry
onboard dehooking devices. These gears are all intended to reduce bycatch and release
mortality. A dehooking device is a tool intended to remove a hook embedded in a fish. It
reduces the handling time releasing a fish from a hook and allows a fish to be released with
minimum damage.
IFQ program - The commercial sector was previously regulated by 2,000-lb and 200-lb trip
limits. With the establishment of the red snapper IFQ program, red snapper discards after a trip
limit was reached are no longer a factor. However, reef fish observer data since the IFQ program
was implemented indicate a large proportion of legal-sized red snapper continue to be discarded
by both the handline and longline fleets (2013). Discard rates do vary by gear. In 2011, 3.5 red
snapper were landed for every fish released in the vertical line fleet compared to a 0.5 red
snapper landed for each fish released in the longline fleet (SERO 2012). Discard rates greatly
varied by region. In 2011, 87% of observed red snapper caught in the Florida Panhandle were
landed, compared to 79% off Louisiana and Texas, and 47% off the Florida Peninsula. There
was also a noticeable difference in the size of red snapper caught, with red snapper along the
Florida Peninsula (mostly19-24 inches TL) generally larger than fish caught in other areas of the
Gulf (mostly 15-21 inches TL). Most discards were estimated to be released alive, regardless of
gear type used. Discards were likely due to insufficient allocation, rather than the minimum size
limit, especially in the longline fleet. In a study by Wilson et al. (2004) aboard commercial
vessels using bandit rigs, 61% of red snapper released were greater than 13 inches TL, the
minimum size limit.
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Table 7.6. Commercial red snapper landings and dead discards in the Gulf by year and area.
Eastern Gulf Western Gulf Landings Dead discards Landings Dead discards Year Handline Longline Handline Longline Handline Longline Handline Longline 1983 1,646,550 205,415 1,587
1,237 2,698,740
9,089 56,690
85
1984 949,341 128,146 309
388 1,625,800
71,755 27,160
547
1985 550,063 25,477 79,906
2,239
608,624
50,822 233,753
8,173
1986 222,738 14,761 21,314
646
564,277
73,719 261,093
11,740
1987 168,788 10,300 20,091
743
412,668
69,713 229,400
12,708
1988 186,924 10,860 51,433
738
686,680
66,440 285,429
9,443
1989 156,071 10,284 32,961
1,714
531,066
44,967 230,318
6,188
1990 198,778 10,021 94,242
4,552
482,224
11,997 377,444
2,706
1991 152,971 3,368 79,800
1,647
527,667
7,937 332,927
1,905
1992 153,940 1,104 54,930
484
837,699
2,270 380,571
460
1993 157,367 3,061 57,447
843
849,065
2,421 375,085
471
1994 160,369 1,473 87,448
568
705,354
1,879 412,546
407
1995 46,528 1,466 54,453
658
648,399
2,012 491,941
501
1996 65,129 1,329 62,736
925
941,768
3,102 695,812
699
1997 51,767 849 79,005
515 1,066,360
3,472 713,290
729
1998 111,068 1,057 99,004
494 1,052,750
3,001 605,570
522
1999 147,499 1,289 102,825
340 1,032,070
9,722 602,380
1,564
2000 168,301 1,585 107,368
556
899,899
18,882 634,841
3,146
2001 207,257 1,779 278,236
894
809,218
12,326 658,252
2,334
2002 297,471 3,235 319,910
1,555
830,146
14,317 584,024
2,481
2003 279,295 2,626 235,502
1,190
782,006
16,735 492,094
2,618
2004 247,833 3,592 251,909
1,633
741,737
43,698 598,933
8,157
2005 216,596 3,816 230,654
2,081
725,819
26,878 785,721
6,686
2006 209,704 3,062 221,631
1,394
955,637
24,731 992,193
6,781
2007 308,237 3,492 949,770
14,520
521,931
17,877 231,164
443
2008 277,716 7,221 660,738
24,096
381,349
5,693 115,150
108
2009 299,480 3,088 748,261
10,548
347,913
5,666 89,641
68
2010 398,806 15,002 1,111,727
53,620
415,081
4,364 85,851
56
2011 408,346 15,463 1,274,735
60,252
382,630
2,143 86,460
18
Source: SEDAR 31 2013; Jacob Tetzlaff, pers. comm. Southeast Fisheries Science Center,
Miami, Florida)
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Alternatives being considered and bycatch minimization
The actions in this amendment can indirectly affect bycatch in the Gulf reef fish fishery. These
actions are administrative and would develop regional management for red snapper recreational
fishing. Action 4 would establish what types of measures could be used in regional management
to constrain the recreational harvest to a region’s allocation. Depending on how these measures
are applied, as discussed above, they could either reduce or increase bycatch in the reef fish
fishery. The impacts of changing these measures from status quo will need to be evaluated if
changed.
Practicability Analysis
Criterion 1: Population effects for the bycatch species
This action establishes a red snapper regional management system for the recreational sector and
so does not directly affect bycatch minimization. However, management measures that result
from regional management are expected to affect bycatch. These include regional changes to
fishing seasons, bag limits, size limits, and area closures. Longer fishing seasons, higher bag
limits, smaller minimum size limits, and larger area closures can all minimize bycatch.
However, constraining the harvest to a certain regional quota (allocation) could result in
measures that work against each other in terms of reducing bycatch (e.g., a higher bag limit
would require a shorter fishing season). Therefore, it is difficult to predict how regional
management would affect bycatch.
As described above, the Council and NMFS have developed a variety of management measures
to reduce red snapper bycatch and these measures are thought to benefit the status of the stock.
These include bycatch reduction devices and effort targets in the shrimp fishery, size limit
reductions and the IFQ program for the commercial sector, and gear requirements, such as
dehooking devices and the use of circle hooks by the reef fish fishery. In addition, any increases
in bycatch resulting from proposed management actions are accounted for when reducing
directed fishing mortality. Any reductions in bycatch not achieved must be accounted for when
setting the annual catch limits; the less bycatch is reduced, the more the annual catch limits must
be reduced.
Criterion 2: Ecological effects due to changes in the bycatch of red snapper (effects on
other species in the ecosystem)
The relationships among species in marine ecosystems are complex and poorly understood,
making the nature and magnitude of ecological effects difficult to predict with any accuracy. The
most recent red snapper stock assessment (SEDAR 31 2013) indicated the stock is rebuilding.
Consequently, it is possible that forage species and competitor species could decrease in
abundance in response to an increase in red snapper abundance. Changes in the bycatch of red
snapper are not expected to directly affect other species in the ecosystem. Although birds,
dolphins, and other predators may feed on red snapper discards, there is no evidence that any of
these species rely on red snapper discards for food.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
Criterion 3: Changes in the bycatch of other species of fish and invertebrates and the
resulting population and ecosystem effects
Population and ecosystem effects resulting from changes in the bycatch of other species of fish
and invertebrates are difficult to predict. As discussed in Amendment 27 (GMFMC 2007),
groupers, snappers, greater amberjack, gray triggerfish and other reef fishes are commonly
caught in association with red snapper. Many of these species are in rebuilding plans (gag, gray
triggerfish, and greater amberjack) with the stocks improving. Regulatory discards significantly
contribute to fishing mortality for all of these reef fish species, with the exceptions of gray
triggerfish and vermilion snapper.
No measures are proposed in this amendment to directly reduce the bycatch of other reef fish
species. Bycatch minimization measures implemented through Amendment 18A, Amendment
27 and Amendment 31 are expected to benefit reef fish stocks, sea turtles, and smalltooth
sawfish. As mentioned, this action establishes a red snapper regional management system for the
recreational sector and so would indirectly affect bycatch depending on which management
measures are used in specific regions. For species with quotas (greater amberjack, gray
triggerfish, and recreational red snapper), this could lead to a shift in fishing effort during red
snapper season closures and negatively impact reef fish stocks not currently constrained by
annual quotas or IFQ programs. The magnitude of this impact would depend on the size of the
particular quota, the length of the closure, and the amount of effort shifting that occurs. Annual
catch limits and accountability measures are now in effect for species not considered undergoing
overfishing or overfished, thus potential for effort shifting and changes in bycatch may be
lessened for these species.
Criterion 4: Effects on marine mammals and birds
The effects of current management measures on marine mammals and birds are described above.
Bycatch minimization measures evaluated in this amendment are not expected to significantly
affect marine mammals and birds. There is no information to indicate marine mammals and
birds rely on red snapper for food, and measures in this amendment are not anticipated to alter
the existing prosecution of the fishery, and thus interactions with marine mammals or birds.
Criterion 5: Changes in fishing, processing, disposal, and marketing costs
The proposed management measures in this amendment would not be expected to result in any
changes in fishing, processing, disposal, or marketing costs of commercially harvested red
snapper because the measures only apply to the harvest of red snapper by the recreational sector.
Red snapper that are harvested by the recreational sector in the Gulf may not be sold.
Criterion 6: Changes in fishing practices and behavior of fishermen
It is not possible to determine whether bycatch, including the amount of regulatory discards, will
be affected following implementation of this action. The proposed measures of this amendment
will enable each Gulf state to establish management measures for its assigned portion of the
recreational red snapper quota. However, this action does not establish what those management
Amendment 39: Regional Management
162
Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
measures will be, which remains unknown. Thus, it also remains unknown how the management
measures that will be adopted by the regions will differ from the current regulations for red
snapper and thus, how newly established regional regulations will differ from current fishing
practices and affect fishermen behavior. It is possible that bycatch could be reduced if a region
adopts a recreational red snapper season that is contemporaneous with periods of highest fishing
activity. However, it is also likely that fishing activity will continue after the fishing season, and
regulatory discards will occur. The amount of red snapper quota to be harvested by each state
should theoretically approximate the catch that has been landed in that region, historically. Thus,
it is possible that the amount of regulatory discards remains more or less the same.
Criterion 7: Changes in research, administration, and enforcement costs and
management effectiveness
Proposed management measures are not expected to significantly impact administrative costs at
the federal level, but could increase costs at the regional level. Size limits, bag limits, quotas,
and closed seasons are currently used to regulate the recreational sector harvesting red snapper.
All of these measures will require additional research to determine the magnitude and extent of
impacts to bycatch and bycatch mortality. None of the measures are expected to affect research,
administration, or enforcement of the commercial sector.
Criterion 8: Changes in the economic, social, or cultural value of fishing activities and
non-consumptive uses of fishery resources
The establishment of a regional management program is not expected to affect the economic,
social, or cultural value of red snapper fishing. Red snapper is a highly desirable target species
and the proposed measures are intended to support the adoption of fishing regulations that better
satisfy the preferences of local constituents. This would be expected to improve fishing
opportunities, thereby increasing the economic and social benefits for fishermen and associated
coastal businesses and communities. No effects would be expected on the non-consumptive uses
of the fishery resources.
Criterion 9: Changes in the distribution of benefits and costs
The net effects of the proposed management measures in this amendment on bycatch are
unknown because the resultant management measures that will be enacted by the respective
regions are unknown. The proposed management measures would not be expected to affect the
amount of red snapper harvest normally harvested by anglers in each region. However, the
ability of each region to enact management measures that better match the preferences of local
constituents would be expected to increase the benefits, and possibly decrease the costs,
associated with the recreational harvest of red snapper.
Criterion 10: Social effects
Bycatch is considered wasteful by fishermen and it reduces overall yield obtained from the
fishery. Minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable will increase efficiency, reduce waste, and
benefit stock recovery, thereby resulting in net social benefits. It is assumed that if regions
Amendment 39: Regional Management
163
Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
establish a red snapper fishing season to coincide with regionally preferred fishing times, the
social effects will be positive.
Conclusion
Analysis of the ten bycatch practicability factors indicates there would be positive biological
impacts associated with further reducing bycatch and bycatch mortality in the reef fish fishery.
The main benefits of reducing red snapper bycatch are less waste and increased yield in the
directed fishery. Reducing discards and discard mortality rates would result in less forgone
yield.
When determining reductions associated with various management measures, release mortality is
factored into the analyses to adjust the estimated reductions for losses due to dead discards. The
increases in discards associated with each of these management measures varies and is
contingent on assumptions about how fishermen’s behavior and fishing practices will change. In
this action, establishing a regional recreational red snapper management system would indirectly
affect discards and bycatch. Discards and bycatch would be affected depending on the
application of regional management measures allowed under Action 4.
The Council needed to consider the practicability of implementing the bycatch minimization
measures discussed above with respect to the overall objectives of the Reef Fish Fishery
Management Plan and Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Therefore, given actions in this amendment combined with previous actions, management
measures, to the extent practicable, minimize bycatch and to the extent bycatch cannot be
avoided, minimize the mortality of that bycatch.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
164
Chapter 7. Bycatch Practicability Analysis
CHAPTER 8. LIST OF PREPARERS
PREPARERS
Name
Expertise
Ava Lasseter
Anthropologist
Cynthia Meyer
Carrie Simmons
Fishery biologist
Fishery biologist
Stephen Holiman
Steven Atran
Economist
Fishery biologist
Peter Hood
Andy Strelcheck
Fishery biologist
Fishery biologist
Responsibility
Co-Team Lead – Amendment development,
introduction, social analyses
Co-Team Lead – Amendment development,
purpose and need, cumulative effects analysis
Biological analyses
Economic analyses, Regulatory Impact
Review, Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis
Biological analyses
Biological analyses, bycatch practicability
analysis
Scientific analyses
REVIEWERS (Preparers also serve as reviewers)
Name
Expertise
Responsibility
Assane Diagne
Economist
Economic review
Heather Blough
Policy
Policy review
Akbar Marvasti
Economist
Economic review
Natural resource
National Environmental
Noah Silverman
management specialist Policy Act review
Mara Levy
Attorney
Legal review
Jason Brand
Law enforcement
Law enforcement review
Agency
GMFMC
SERO
GMFMC
SERO
GMFMC
SERO
SERO
Agency
GMFMC
SERO
SEFSC
SERO
NOAA GC
USCG
GMFMC = Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; NOAA GC = National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration General Counsel; SEFSC = Southeast Fisheries Science Center; SERO = Southeast Regional Office
of the National Marine Fisheries Service; USCG = United States Coast Guard
Amendment 39: Regional Management
165
Chapter 8. List of Preparers
CHAPTER 9. LIST OF AGENCIES, ORGANIZATIONS
AND PERSONS TO WHOM A COPY OF THE EIS WAS
SENT
National Marine Fisheries Service
- Southeast Fisheries Science Center
- Southeast Regional Office
- Office for Law Enforcement
- Endangered Species Division
- Domestic Fisheries Division
NOAA General Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency (Region 4 and 6)
United States Coast Guard
United States Fish and Wildlife Services
Department of Interior. Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance
Department of State, Office of Marine Conservation,
Marine Mammal Commission
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources/Marine Resources Division
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Amendment 39: Regional Management
166
Chapter 9. List of Agencies, Organizations,
and Persons Consulted
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GMFMC. 2002. Amendment number 10 to the fishery management plan for the shrimp fishery
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GMFMC. 2005. Final amendment 18A to the fishery management plan for the reef fish resources
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Amendment 39: Regional Management
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NMFS. 2002. Status of red grouper in United States waters of the Gulf of Mexico during 19862001, revised. Contribution No. SFD-01/02-175rev. National Marine Fisheries Service,
Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Miami, Florida.
NMFS. 2005. Endangered Species Act – Section 7 consultation on the continued authorization of
reef fish fishing under the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery management plan and proposed
amendment 23. February 15, 2005. National Marine Fisheries Service. St. Petersburg, Florida.
NMFS. 2009. Biological Opinion - the continued authorization of reef fish fishing under the Gulf
of Mexico reef fish fishery management plan, including Amendment 31, and a rulemaking to
reduce sea turtle bycatch in the Eastern Gulf bottom longline component of the fishery. October
13, 2009. National Marine Fisheries Service. St. Petersburg, Florida. Available at:
Amendment 39: Regional Management
173
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http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/esa/Fishery%20Biops/2009%20GOM%20Reef%20Fish%20Rein%20BO.pdf
NMFS. 2010. 2010 Recreational Red Snapper Quota Closure Analysis – Fall Reopening. SEROLAPP-2010-04. Southeast Regional Office, National Marine Fisheries Service. St. Petersburg,
Florida. Available at:
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/pdfs/2010_Recreational_Red_Snapper_Quota_Closure_Analysis_Fa
ll_Reopening.pdf
NMFS. 2011a. Biological opinion on the continued authorization of Reef Fish fishing under the
Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan. September 30, 2011. Available at:
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/esa/Fishery%20Biops/03584%20GOM%20Reef%20Fish%20BiOp
%202011%20final.pdf
NMFS. 2011b. Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2009. U.S. Department of Commerce,
NOAA Technical Memorandum. National Marine Fisheries Service-F/SPO-118. Available at:
http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/st5/publication/fisheries_economics_2009.html
NMFS. 2012a. Gulf of Mexico 2011 red snapper individual fishing quota annual report. SEROLAPP-2012-04. Southeast Regional Office, National Marine Fisheries Service, 263 13th Avenue
South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. 42 pp. Available at:
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/ifq/2011_RS_AnnualReport_Final.pdf.
NMFS. 2012b. Guidance on Cumulative Effects Analysis.
NMFS. 2013. Updated 2013 Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational season length estimates.
National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office, St. Petersburg, Florida. SERO‐
LAPP‐2013‐02 Addendum. 12 p.
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/red_snapper/documents/pdfs/2013
_red_snapper_emergency_regs.pdf
NOAA. 2010. Deepwater Horizon Oil: Characteristics and Concerns. NOAA Office of
Response and Restoration, Emergency Response Division. 2 p.
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O’Hop, J., M. Murphy, and D. Chagaris. 2012. The 2012 stock assessment report for yellowtail
snapper in the south Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida.
Parrack, N.C. and D.B. McClellan. 1986. Trends in Gulf of Mexico red snapper population
dynamics, 1979-85. National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Center, Miami,
Florida. Coastal Resources Division Contribution No. CRD-86/87-4. 116 p.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 10. References
Patterson, W. F. III, J. C. Watterson, R. L. Shipp, and J. H. Cowan, Jr. 2001. Movement of
tagged red snapper in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Transactions of the American Fisheries
Society 130: 533-545.
Porch, C. E., and S. L. Cass-Calay. 2001. Status of the vermilion snapper fishery in the Gulf of
Mexico – assessment 5.0. Sustainable Fisheries Division Contribution No. SFD-01/01-129.
National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Miami, Florida.
Porch, C. E., A. M. Eklund, and G. P. Scott. 2003. An assessment of rebuilding times for goliath
grouper. Contribution: SFD 2003-0018. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Miami, Florida.
Porch, C. E. 2005. Projected effects of changes in minimum size regulations on the future status
of the red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) fishery in the U. S. Gulf of Mexico. NOAA, NMFS,
SEFSC, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149. Contribution: SFD-2005-009. 7 pp.
Porch, C.E., G.R. Fitzhugh, and B.C. Linton. 2013. Modeling the dependence of batch fecundity
and spawning frequency on size and age for use in stock assessment of red snapper in U.S. Gulf
of Mexico waters-SEDAR31-AW03. Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Miami, Florida 33149.
RFSAP. 1999. September 1999 Report of the Reef Fish Stock Assessment Panel. Gulf of Mexico
Fishery Management Council. Tampa, FL.
Rico-Martínez, R., T.W. Snell, and T.L. Shearer. 2013. Synergistic toxicity of Macondo crude
oil and dispersant Corexit 9500A® to the Brachionus plicatilis species complex (Rotifera).
Environmental Pollution 173:5-10.
Savolainen, M. A., R. H. Caffey, and R. F. Kazmierczak, Jr. 2012. Economic and Attitudinal
Perspectives of the Recreational For-hire Fishing Industry in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Center
for Natural Resource Economics and Policy, LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant College
Program, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Louisiana State University,
Baton Rouge, LA. 171 p. Available at: http://www.laseagrant.org/pdfs/Gulf-RFH-SurveyFinal-Report-2012.pdf
Schirripa, M. J., and C. M. Legault. 1999. Status of the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of
Mexico: Updated through 1998. SFD-99/00-75. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Miami,
Florida.
SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment Division, NOS). 1998. Product overview: Products
and services for the identification of essential fish habitat in the Gulf of Mexico. NOS, Page 7-62
DEIS for EFH for the Gulf of Mexico FMPs July 2003 Silver Spring MD; National Marine
Fisheries Service, Galveston, Texas; and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Tampa
Florida.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 10. References
SEDAR 3. 2003. Complete stock assessment report of yellowtail snapper in the southeastern
United States – SEDAR 3, Assessment report 1. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review.
North Charleston, South Carolina. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 6. 2004a. SEDAR report 1 the goliath grouper in southern Florida: Assessment review
and advisory report. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 6. 2004b. SEDAR report 2 the hogfish in Florida: Assessment review and advisory
report. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 7. 2005. Stock assessment report of SEDAR 7 Gulf of Mexico red snapper. Southeast
Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 7 Update. 2009. Update stock assessment report of SEDAR 7 Gulf of Mexico red
snapper. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 9. 2006a. Stock assessment report 1 of SEDAR 9: Gulf of Mexico gray triggerfish.
Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 9. 2006b. Stock assessment report 2 of SEDAR 9: Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack.
Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 9. 2006c. Stock assessment report 3 of SEDAR 9: Gulf of Mexico vermilion snapper
assessment report 3. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South
Carolina. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 9 Update. 2010. SEDAR 9 stock assessment update report, Gulf of Mexico greater
amberjack. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 9 Update. 2011a. SEDAR update stock assessment of vermilion snapper in the Gulf of
Mexico. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 9 Update. 2011b. SEDAR update stock assessment of gray triggerfish in the Gulf of
Mexico. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 10. 2006. Gulf of Mexico Gag Grouper Stock Assessment Report 2. Southeast Data,
Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
176
Chapter 10. References
SEDAR 10 Update. 2009. Stock assessment of gag in the Gulf of Mexico. – SEDAR update
assessment. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 12. 2007. SEDAR12-Complete Stock Assessment Report 1: Gulf of Mexico Red
Grouper. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 12 Update. 2009. Stock assessment of red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico – SEDAR
update assessment. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 15A. 2008. Stock assessment report 3 (SAR 3) South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico
mutton snapper. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 19. 2010. Stock assessment report Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic black grouper.
Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 22. 2011a. Stock assessment report Gulf of Mexico tilefish. Southeast Data,
Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 22. 2011b. Stock assessment report Gulf of Mexico yellowedge grouper. Southeast
Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 23. 2011. Stock assessment report South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico goliath grouper.
Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina.
http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SEDAR 31. 2012. SEDAR 31 Section II: Data workshop report, Gulf of Mexico red snapper.
SEDAR, North Charleston, SC.
SEDAR 31. 2013. Stock assessment report Gulf of Mexico red snapper. Southeast Data,
Assessment, and Review. North Charleston, South Carolina. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/.
SERO. 2006. Red snapper yield-per-recruit analyses. NOAA, NMFS, SERO, 263 13th Ave.
South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701. 13 pp.
SERO. 2012a. 2011 Gulf of Mexico grouper-tilefish individual fishing quota annual report.
SERO-LAPP-2012-09. Southeast Regional Office. St. Petersburg, Florida. 49 p.
SERO. 2012b. Southeast Regional Office National Marine Fisheries Service. 2013 Recreational
Red Snapper Quota Closure Analysis. Southeast Regional Office, St. Petersburg, FL.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
177
Chapter 10. References
SERO. 2012c. Southeast Regional Office National Marine Fisheries Service. Estimated
reduction in Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper harvest associated with various bag limits.
Southeast Regional Office, St. Petersburg, Florida.
SERO. 2013a. Establishing Recreational Closure Authority Specific to Federal Waters off
Individual States for the Red Snapper Component of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery.
Emergency Action to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of
Mexico. Southeast Regional Office, St. Petersburg, FL.
SERO. 2013b. Red snapper individual fishing quota program 5-year review. Southeast Regional
Office. St. Petersburg, Florida. 94 p.
SERO-LAPP-2013-02. Southeast Regional Office National Marine Fisheries Service. 2013
Gulf-wide and State-specific Projected 2013 Red Snapper Federal Season Closure Dates.
Southeast Regional Office, St. Petersburg, FL.
Shipp, R.L. 2001. The snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico, an historical perspective, and
management implications. PowerPoint presentation to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management
Council, January 2001.
Sutton, S. G., R. B. Ditton, J. R. Stoll, and J. W. Milon. 1999. A cross-sectional study and
longitudinal perspective on the social and economic characteristics of the charter and party boat
fishing industry of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Report by the Human
Dimensions of Recreational Fisheries Research Laboratory, Texas A&M University, MARFIN
program grant number NA77FF0551.
Turner, S. C., N. J. Cummings, and C. P. Porch. 2000. Stock assessment of Gulf of Mexico
greater amberjack using data through 1998. SFD-99/00-100. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Miami,
Florida.
Turner, S. C., C. E. Porch, D. Heinemann, G. P. Scott, and M. Ortiz. 2001. Status of the gag
stocks of the Gulf of Mexico: assessment 3.0. August 2001. Contribution: SFD-01/02-134.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast
Fisheries Science Center. Miami, Florida.
Valle, M., C. Legault, and M. Ortiz. 2001. A stock assessment for gray triggerfish, Balistes
capriscus, in the Gulf of Mexico. Contribution: SFD-01/02-124. National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science
Center. Miami, Florida.
Walker, B. M., R. F. Zales II, and B. W. Rockstall. 2006. Charter fleet in peril: losses to the Gulf
of Mexico charter fleet from hurricane storms during 2005. National Association of Charterboat
Operators. 208 pp.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
178
Chapter 10. References
Wilson, C.A. and D.L. Nieland. 2001. Age and growth of red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus,
from the northern Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana. Fishery Bulletin 99:653-664.
http://fishbull.noaa.gov/994/wil.pdf
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Chapter 10. References
APPENDIX A. ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED BUT
REJECTED
REMOVED AT APRIL 2013 COUNCIL MEETING:
Two alternatives from Action 2 – Establish Regions for Management
Alternative 3: Establish an east (Florida, Alabama) and west (Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas)
region and allow for different management measures for each region.
* ALTERNATIVE 3 (ABOVE) SUBSEQUENTLY REPLACED IN ACTION 2 AT OCTOBER
2013 COUNCIL MEETING.
Alternative 4: Establish three regions representing the west (Texas), north (Louisiana,
Mississippi, Alabama), and east (Florida) region and allow for different management measures
for each region.
Remove entire Action 7:
Action 7 – In-Season Accountability Measure Establishing Regional Closures in the EEZ
*Note: Both Alternative 2 and Alternative 3 could be selected as Preferred Alternatives.
Alternative 1: No action. When the recreational red snapper quota is reached, or is projected to
be reached, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) files a notification with the Office of
the Federal Register that prohibits the recreational harvest of red snapper in the economic
exclusive zone (EEZ) for the remainder of the fishing year.
Alternative 2: If a region, as defined in Action 2, establishes an approved regional regulations,
NMFS has the authority to alter the recreational red snapper season in the EEZ off those states
(including a zero-day season) by the amount necessary to compensate for the additional harvest
that would occur in state waters as a result of the region’s regulations. (Boundaries for the EEZ
off each state are in Figure 1.2.1.)
Alternative 3: If a region, as defined in Action 2, does not have an approved regional regulations
and establishes regulations inconsistent with federal red snapper regulations, NMFS has the
authority to adjust the recreational red snapper season in the EEZ off those states (including a
zero day season) by the amount necessary to compensate for the additional harvest that would
occur in state waters as a result of the region’s inconsistent regulations. (Boundaries for the EEZ
off each state are in Figure 1.2.1.)
Discussion:
Under current management, state and federal waters Gulf wide are open during the red snapper
season. If the regions, as defined in Action 2, set their own fishing seasons through an approved
management plan or inconsistent regulations, some areas of the Gulf could be open while other
areas are closed. This action allows the Council to extend boundary lines of state waters into the
EEZ, to correspond with the regions. These boundaries would enable NMFS to close federal
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Appendix A. Alternatives
Considered but Rejected
waters off of a region when its regional quota has been reached. Or, the boundaries could be
used to close a portion of the EEZ off a state or region that establishes inconsistent regulations.
This in-season accountability measure would help prevent the annual catch limit from being
exceeded. The in-season and post-season (Action 6) accountability measures are not mutually
exclusive and could be used together where appropriate. Further information on accountability
measures is described in the Generic ACL/AM Amendment in Section 2.8 (GMFMC 2011).
In March 2013, NMFS implemented a temporary emergency rule that gives NMFS the authority
to set separate closure dates for the recreational red snapper season in federal waters off
individual Gulf states (Figure 1.2.1). This action was requested by the Council to provide a
fairer and more equitable distribution of recreational red snapper fishing opportunities among
anglers in all the Gulf states for the 2013 season. Although a temporary emergency rule will be
in effect for the 2013 season, it will not be used as the analytical baseline. The temporary
emergency rule, even if extended, would not be effective for the 2014 red snapper recreational
fishing season.
Alternative 1 would continue the current method of determining the closure date for the
recreational red snapper season and apply that date to all federal waters of the Gulf. NMFS
determines the length of the season based on the quota, average weight of fish, and estimated
catch rates. Because NMFS must ensure the entire stock harvest does not exceed the quota,
including harvest in state waters, if states establish less restrictive regulations, the federal season
must be adjusted to account for the additional expected harvest. For example, when calculating
the projected 27-day 2013 season length, NMFS adjusted the mean catch rate to account for the
year-round open season in state waters and 4-fish bag limit in Texas (SERO 2012). In addition,
Louisiana has proposed an 88-day season with a 3-fish bag limit and Florida has proposed a 44day season with a 2-fish bag limit in state waters. Based on the estimated catch rate with those
regulations in the three state waters, the 2013 federal recreational red snapper season could be
reduced to 22 days (SERO 2013). After the 22-day season, the entire EEZ would be closed for
the recreational harvest of red snapper.
Both Alternative 2 and Alternative 3 would use regions developed in Action 2 to establish
boundaries and allow NMFS to set different closure dates for the red snapper recreational season
in the EEZ adjacent to each Gulf state. If the Council chooses to delegate management to the
regions in Action 1 and Action 4, then there may be a review process to assess if the region’s
management plan is consistent with the goals of the FMP and red snapper rebuilding plan. A
specific process would need to be established for plan approval. Alternative 2 would apply to
regions with approved management plans. If the region has an approved management plan, but
the regional quota is determined to be met before the planned season closure, then NMFS could
close the harvest in federal waters to prevent overharvest. Alternative 3 would apply to regions
that do not have an approved management plan and establishes regulations inconsistent with the
federal regulations. If a region were to set red snapper regulations that were not less restrictive
than federal regulations, NMFS would calculate the red snapper recreational season within those
boundaries using an adjusted catch rate, to account for a longer season or larger bag limit in state
waters. In some cases, this could allow the EEZ off regions with consistent regulations to have
more days than if the season for the entire Gulf was adjusted. For example, if the 2013 federal
season was reduced off Texas, Louisiana, and Florida to account for inconsistent regulations in
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Appendix A. Alternatives
Considered but Rejected
those waters, the federal seasons could be as follows: Texas = 12 days, Louisiana = 8 days,
Mississippi = 28 days, Alabama = 28 days, and Florida = 21 days (SERO-LAPP-2013-2). If
increased catch from a region with inconsistent regulations exceeds its sub-quota regardless of
the adjacent EEZ being closed, then NMFS may need to adjust the federal season in other
regions to account for harvest. Conversely, if a state were to implement regulations in state
waters that were more restrictive than federal regulations, the federal season in the EEZ off that
state could potentially be increased. The Council could choose both Alternative 2 and
Alternative 3 to address situations where a region or state may or may not have an approved
management plan.
If the current regulations are maintained (Alternative 1), they could confound the goals of
regional management. If regions set varying seasons, it is possible the activities of one or more
regions could exceed the recreational sector quota before another region’s season occurs. In
turn, NMFS would close the remainder of the season to prevent over-fishing. When the total
recreational quota is met, all recreational harvest of red snapper would be prohibited regardless
of whether one or more regions have reached their respective apportionments. By establishing
varying closed areas, the enforcement issues would likely increase. Recreational fishermen
would need to abide by the area closures and be mindful of transiting through closed areas.
Provisions for transit through closed areas may need to be considered. If the EEZ was closed off
a region due to inconsistent regulations (Alternative 3), then a clear definition of the
state/federal boundary would help recreational fishermen to insure compliance. Currently, this
boundary is the 9-nautical mile buffer off of Texas and Florida, and 3-nautical mile buffer off or
Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
References
GMFMC. 2011. Final generic annual catch limits/accountability measures amendment for the
Gulf of Mexico fishery management council’s red drum, reef fish, shrimp, coral and coral reefs
fishery management plans, including environmental impact statement, regulatory impact review,
regulatory flexibility analysis, and fishery impact statement. Gulf of Mexico Fishery
Management Council. Tampa, Florida.
http://www.gulfcouncil.org/docs/amendments/Final%20Generic%20ACL_AM_AmendmentSeptember%209%202011%20v.pdf
SERO 2012. Southeast Regional Office National Marine Fisheries Service. 2013 Recreational
Red Snapper Quota Closure Analysis. Southeast Regional Office, St. Petersburg, FL.
SERO 2013. Southeast Regional Office National Marine Fisheries Service. 2013 Gulf-wide and
State-specific Projected 2013 Red Snapper Federal Season Closure Dates. Southeast Regional
Office, St. Petersburg, FL.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Appendix A. Alternatives
Considered but Rejected
APPENDIX B. OTHER APPLICABLE LAW
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act)
(16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) provides the authority for fishery management in federal waters of the
exclusive economic zone. However, fishery management decision-making is also affected by a
number of other federal statutes designed to protect the biological and human components of
U.S. fisheries, as well as the ecosystems that support those fisheries. Major laws affecting
federal fishery management decision-making are summarized below.
Administrative Procedures Act
All federal rulemaking is governed under the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act
(APA) (5 U.S.C. Subchapter II), which establishes a “notice and comment” procedure to enable
public participation in the rulemaking process. Under the APA, the National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS) is required to publish notification of proposed rules in the Federal Register and
to solicit, consider, and respond to public comment on those rules before they are finalized. The
APA also establishes a 30-day waiting period from the time a final rule is published until it takes
effect.
Coastal Zone Management Act
Section 307(c)(1) of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA), as amended,
requires federal activities that affect any land or water use or natural resource of a state’s coastal
zone be conducted in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent practicable, with approved
state coastal management programs. The requirements for such a consistency determination are
set forth in NMFS regulations at 15 C.F.R. part 930, subpart C. According to these regulations
and CZMA Section 307(c)(1), when taking an action that affects any land or water use or natural
resource of a state’s coastal zone, NMFS is required to provide a consistency determination to
the relevant state agency at least 90 days before taking final action.
Upon submission to the Secretary, NMFS will determine if this plan amendment is consistent
with the Coastal Zone Management programs of the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Texas to the maximum extent possible. Their determination will then be
submitted to the responsible state agencies under Section 307 of the CZMA administering
approved Coastal Zone Management programs for these states.
Data Quality Act
The Data Quality Act (DQA) (Public Law 106-443) effective October 1, 2002, requires the
government to set standards for the quality of scientific information and statistics used and
disseminated by federal agencies. Information includes any communication or representation of
knowledge such as facts or data, in any medium or form, including textual, numerical,
cartographic, narrative, or audiovisual forms (includes web dissemination, but not hyperlinks to
information that others disseminate; does not include clearly stated opinions).
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Appendix B. Other Applicable Law
Specifically, the DQA directs the Office of Management and Budget to issue government wide
guidelines that “provide policy and procedural guidance to federal agencies for ensuring and
maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information disseminated by federal
agencies.” Such guidelines have been issued, directing all federal agencies to create and
disseminate agency-specific standards to: 1) ensure information quality and develop a predissemination review process; 2) establish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons
to seek and obtain correction of information; and 3) report periodically to Office of Management
and Budget on the number and nature of complaints received.
Scientific information and data are key components of fishery management plans (FMPs) and
amendments and the use of best available information is the second national standard under the
Magnuson-Stevens Act. To be consistent with the Act, FMPs and amendments must be based on
the best information available. They should also properly reference all supporting materials and
data, and be reviewed by technically competent individuals. With respect to original data
generated for FMPs and amendments, it is important to ensure that the data are collected
according to documented procedures or in a manner that reflects standard practices accepted by
the relevant scientific and technical communities. Data will also undergo quality control prior to
being used by the agency and a pre-dissemination review.
Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as amended, (16 U.S.C. Section 1531 et seq.)
requires federal agencies use their authorities to conserve endangered and threatened species.
The ESA requires NMFS, when proposing a fishery action that “may affect” critical habitat or
endangered or threatened species, to consult with the appropriate administrative agency (itself
for most marine species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for all remaining species) to
determine the potential impacts of the proposed action. Consultations are concluded informally
when proposed actions may affect but are “not likely to adversely affect” endangered or
threatened species or designated critical habitat. Formal consultations, including a biological
opinion, are required when proposed actions may affect and are “likely to adversely affect”
endangered or threatened species or adversely modify designated critical habitat. If jeopardy or
adverse modification is found, the consulting agency is required to suggest reasonable and
prudent alternatives.
On September 30, 2011, the Protected Resources Division released a biological opinion which,
after analyzing best available data, the current status of the species, environmental baseline
(including the impacts of the recent Deepwater Horizon MC 252 oil release event in the northern
Gulf of Mexico), effects of the proposed action, and cumulative effects, concluded that the
continued operation of the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery is also not likely to jeopardize the
continued existence of green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, or loggerhead sea turtles,
nor the continued existence of smalltooth sawfish (NMFS 2011). On December 7, 2012, NMFS
published a proposed rule to list 66 coral species under the ESA and reclassify Acropora from
threatened to endangered (77 FR 73220). In a memorandum dated February 13, 2013, NMFS
determined the reef fish fishery was not likely to adversely affect Acropora because of where the
fishery operates, the types of gear used in the fishery, and that other regulations protect Acropora
where they are most likely to occur.
Amendment 39: Public Hearing Draft
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Appendix B. Other Applicable Law
Marine Mammal Protection Act
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) established a moratorium, with certain exceptions,
on the taking of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and on the
importing of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the United States. Under the
MMPA, the Secretary of Commerce (authority delegated to NMFS) is responsible for the
conservation and management of cetaceans and pinnipeds (other than walruses). The Secretary
of the Interior is responsible for walruses, sea and marine otters, polar bears, manatees, and
dugongs.
Part of the responsibility that NMFS has under the MMPA involves monitoring populations of
marine mammals to make sure that they stay at optimum levels. If a population falls below its
optimum level, it is designated as “depleted,” and a conservation plan is developed to guide
research and management actions to restore the population to healthy levels.
In 1994, Congress amended the MMPA, to govern the taking of marine mammals incidental to
commercial fishing operations. This amendment required the preparation of stock assessments
for all marine mammal stocks in waters under U.S. jurisdiction, development and
implementation of take-reduction plans for stocks that may be reduced or are being maintained
below their optimum sustainable population levels due to interactions with commercial fisheries,
and studies of pinniped-fishery interactions.
Under Section 118 of the MMPA, NMFS must publish, at least annually, a List of Fisheries that
places all U.S. commercial fisheries into one of three categories based on the level of incidental
serious injury and mortality of marine mammals that occurs in each fishery. The categorization
of a fishery in the List of Fisheries determines whether participants in that fishery may be
required to comply with certain provisions of the MMPA, such as registration, observer
coverage, and take reduction plan requirements. The primary gears used in the Gulf of Mexico
reef fish fishery are classified in the updated 2012 MMPA List of Fisheries as Category III
fishery (74 FR 73912). The conclusions of the most recent List of Fisheries for gear used by the
reef fish fishery can be found in Section 3.3.
Paperwork Reduction Act
The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) regulates the collection of
public information by federal agencies to ensure the public is not overburdened with information
requests, the federal government’s information collection procedures are efficient, and federal
agencies adhere to appropriate rules governing the confidentiality of such information. The PRA
requires NMFS to obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget before requesting
most types of fishery information from the public. Action 2 adds reporting and monitoring
requirements to the list of post-season accountability measures that can be implemented or
changed under the framework procedure and may have PRA consequences.
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Appendix B. Other Applicable Law
Executive Orders
E.O. 12630: Takings
The Executive Order on Government Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected
Property Rights that became effective March 18, 1988, requires each federal agency prepare a
Takings Implication Assessment for any of its administrative, regulatory, and legislative policies
and actions that affect, or may affect, the use of any real or personal property. Clearance of a
regulatory action must include a takings statement and, if appropriate, a Takings Implication
Assessment. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of General Counsel
will determine whether a Taking Implication Assessment is necessary for this amendment.
E.O. 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review
Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review, signed in 1993, requires federal
agencies to assess the costs and benefits of their proposed regulations, including distributional
impacts, and to select alternatives that maximize net benefits to society. To comply with E.O.
12866, NMFS prepares a Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) for all fishery regulatory actions that
either implement a new fishery management plan or significantly amend an existing plan (See
Chapter 5). RIRs provide a comprehensive analysis of the costs and benefits to society of
proposed regulatory actions, the problems and policy objectives prompting the regulatory
proposals, and the major alternatives that could be used to solve the problems. The reviews also
serve as the basis for the agency’s determinations as to whether proposed regulations are a
“significant regulatory action” under the criteria provided in E.O. 12866 and whether proposed
regulations will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities in
compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. A regulation is significant if it a) has an
annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affects in a material way the
economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public
health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments and communities; b) creates a serious
inconsistency or otherwise interferes with an action taken or planned by another agency; c)
materially alters the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the
rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or d) raises novel legal or policy issues arising out of
legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or the principles set forth in this Executive Order.
E.O. 12898: Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations
and Low Income Populations
This Executive Order mandates that each Federal agency shall make achieving environmental
justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high
and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on
minority populations and low-income populations in the United States and its territories and
possessions. The Executive Order is described in more detail relative to fisheries actions in
Section 3.5.1.
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Appendix B. Other Applicable Law
E.O. 12962: Recreational Fisheries
This Executive Order requires federal agencies, in cooperation with states and tribes, to improve
the quantity, function, sustainable productivity, and distribution of U.S. aquatic resources for
increased recreational fishing opportunities through a variety of methods including, but not
limited to, developing joint partnerships; promoting the restoration of recreational fishing areas
that are limited by water quality and habitat degradation; fostering sound aquatic conservation
and restoration endeavors; and evaluating the effects of federally-funded, permitted, or
authorized actions on aquatic systems and recreational fisheries, and documenting those effects.
Additionally, it establishes a seven-member National Recreational Fisheries Coordination
Council (Council) responsible for, among other things, ensuring that social and economic values
of healthy aquatic systems that support recreational fisheries are considered by federal agencies
in the course of their actions, sharing the latest resource information and management
technologies, and reducing duplicative and cost-inefficient programs among federal agencies
involved in conserving or managing recreational fisheries. The Council also is responsible for
developing, in cooperation with federal agencies, States and Tribes, a Recreational Fishery
Resource Conservation Plan - to include a five-year agenda. Finally, the Order requires NMFS
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a joint agency policy for administering the
ESA.
E.O. 13132: Federalism
The Executive Order on Federalism requires agencies in formulating and implementing policies,
to be guided by the fundamental Federalism principles. The Order serves to guarantee the
division of governmental responsibilities between the national government and the states that
was intended by the framers of the Constitution. Federalism is rooted in the belief that issues not
national in scope or significance are most appropriately addressed by the level of government
closest to the people. This Order is relevant to FMPs and amendments given the overlapping
authorities of NMFS, the states, and local authorities in managing coastal resources, including
fisheries, and the need for a clear definition of responsibilities. It is important to recognize those
components of the ecosystem over which fishery managers have no direct control and to develop
strategies to address them in conjunction with appropriate state, tribes, and local entities
(international, too).
E.O. 13158: Marine Protected Areas
This Executive Order requires federal agencies to consider whether their proposed action(s) will
affect any area of the marine environment that has been reserved by federal, state, territorial,
tribal, or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection for part or all of the natural or
cultural resource within the protected area. There are several marine protected areas, habitat
areas of particular concern, and gear-restricted areas in the eastern and northwestern Gulf of
Mexico.
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Appendix B. Other Applicable Law
Essential Fish Habitat
The amended Magnuson-Stevens Act included a new habitat conservation provision known as
essential fish habitat (EFH) that requires each existing and any new FMPs to describe and
identify EFH for each federally managed species, minimize to the extent practicable impacts
from fishing activities on EFH that are more than minimal and not temporary in nature, and
identify other actions to encourage the conservation and enhancement of that EFH. To address
these requirements the Council has, under separate action, approved an Environmental Impact
Statement (GMFMC 2004) to address the new EFH requirements contained within the
Magnuson-Stevens Act. Section 305(b)(2) requires federal agencies to obtain a consultation for
any action that may adversely affect EFH. An EFH consultation will be conducted for this
action.
References
GMFMC. 2004. Final environmental impact statement for the generic essential fish habitat
amendment to the following fishery management plans of the Gulf of Mexico: shrimp fishery of
the Gulf of Mexico, red drum fishery of the Gulf of Mexico, reef fish fishery of the Gulf of
Mexico, stone crab fishery of the Gulf of Mexico, coral and coral reef fishery of the Gulf of
Mexico, spiny lobster fishery of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, coastal migratory
pelagic resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic. Gulf of Mexico Fishery
Management Council. Tampa, Florida.
http://www.gulfcouncil.org/Beta/GMFMCWeb/downloads/Final%20EFH%20EIS.pdf
NMFS. 2011. Biological opinion on the continued authorization of Reef Fish fishing under the
Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan. September 30, 2011. Available at:
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/esa/Fishery%20Biops/03584%20GOM%20Reef%20Fish%20BiOp
%202011%20final.pdf
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Appendix B. Other Applicable Law
APPENDIX C. SUMMARIES OF PUBLIC COMMENTS
RECEIVED
Scoping workshops were held from January 14 – 22, 2013.
Public hearings were held from August 1 – 15, 2013.
Written comments submitted in response to Reef Fish Amendment 39 can be found here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Atgbk2rxQkqhdFViUTB3VERSX2ZwcXJmckl1
QTBXZkE#gid=0
Scoping workshops were held in the following locations:
January 14, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
DoubleTree by Hilton
4964 Constitution Ave.
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
(225) 925-1005
January 15, 2013
Biloxi, Mississippi
Four Points by Sheraton
940 Beach Blvd.
Biloxi, MS 39530
(228) 546-3100
January 14, 2013
Texas City, Texas
Holiday Inn Express
2440 Gulf Freeway
Texas City, TX 77591
(409) 986-6700
January 16, 2013
Orange Beach, Alabama
Hilton Garden Inn
23092 Perdido Beach Blvd.
Orange Beach, AL 36561
(251) 974-1600
January 15, 2013
Corpus Christi, Texas
Hilton Garden Inn
6717 S. Padre Island Dr.
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
(361) 991-8200
January 17, 2013
Destin, Florida
Destin Community Center
101 Stahlman Ave.
Destin, FL 32541
(850) 654-5184
January 22, 2013
St. Petersburg, Florida
Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park
950 Lake Carillon Dr.
St. Petersburg, FL 33716
(727) 540-0050
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
Summaries of Scoping Workshops
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
January 14, 2013
Council and Staff
Campo Matens
Ryan Rindone
32 members of the public attended.
Joe Macaluso - www.theadvocate.com
The big issue is that the federal government is ignoring the fishermen. How do the federal
fisheries managers know which survey, either the Texas Parks and Wildlife or MRIP, is correct?
Red snapper can be caught in less than 25 meters of water. Also, how is funding for data
collection going to be shared with the states who take on regional management? Allocation
should be based on biological criteria. There is a disparity between how recreational and
commercial catches figure into the overall red snapper quota. Louisiana's issue with respect to
regional management is Florida: Florida has all the people, and Louisiana has all the fish.
George Huye - CCA
Regional management should be done by state, with each state constituting its own region.
States should not have to share authority with other states with less resources.
Mike Montalbano - CCA
Regulations are intentionally cumbersome. The Gulf Council should pursue regional
management. The Gulf Council should remove as many regulations from the fishery as possible.
Austin Johnson - Private recreational angler
Supports regional management.
Trey Williams - CCA
There are lots of red snapper out there. A 27-day season is not sufficient. Anyone with a boat
can catch red snapper. The current system is broken. State-level red snapper is the way to go.
Rawlston Phillips - Private recreational angler
Regional management is the way to go. The money spent by Louisiana on the fishery goes much
further than the money spent by the federal government.
Rad Trascher - CCA
Supports regional management. LDWF has a better sense of the red snapper fishery than the
federal government and can better manage catch data and conduct stock assessments. Regional
management is a step in the right direction.
Larry Hooper - Our Freedom Charters
Will regional management lead to catch shares? Catch share programs haven't worked well
anywhere. Supports regional management. Let states handle their own fisheries. Would like to
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Public Comments Received
see the charter for-hire industry recognized as its own business. We pay for everything and get
punished for it. Regional management should be conducted at the state level. Red snapper
should be assessed using numbers of fish instead of pounds. Scientists need to count all the fish.
Andrew Roberts - CCA
Supports regional management, with Louisiana acting as its own region and governed by LDWF.
Ben Graham - CCA
There are tons of red snapper. Supports regional management of red snapper at the state level.
States can do a better job than the federal government. Allocation should be based on biological
criteria.
Chris Moran - Marina operator
Supports regional management of red snapper at the state level. Louisiana has the best red
snapper fishery and the smallest number of fishermen. There should be shorter seasons as you
go from the western Gulf of Mexico to the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Allocation should be based
on biological criteria. States could do a better job with sampling funding.
Jim McDowell - Private recreational angler
Supports regional management of red snapper at the state level, with Louisiana managed by
LDWF. Allocation should not be based on landings.
David Cresson -CCA Executive Director, LA
The Gulf Council proposed regional management plan is different from the Louisiana proposal.
One goal was to show that Louisiana can count fish better than the federal government. In favor
of management at the lowest possible level. In favor of regional management as proposed by
LDWF.
Texas City, Texas
January 14, 2013
Council and Staff
Patrick Riley
Emily Muehlstein
30 members of the public attended.
Bubba Cochrane - Charter, commercial, and recreational angler; Good News Charters and
Southern Seafood LLC
What is happening with red snapper management right now isn’t working and regional
management should be pursued. He likes the idea of managing with 3 regions. Bubba does not
want the states to manage red snapper without a regional system.
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
Shane Cantrell - Charter; Fishin’ Addiction Charters and Charter Fishing Association
Shane is a young captain and he believes that regional management has a lot of potential as long
as states can agree with one another. He would like to see regional management because it may
be a way to increase accountability for the recreational sector.
Tom Hilton - Private recreational angler
The Council is working backwards and should identify fishing effort first. He thinks that an
offshore boat permit would solve a lot of issues. The charter for-hire industry already has their
own permit and the private recreational anglers should, too. An offshore recreational permit
would allow for better determination of what the recreational sector is catching without the time
lag associated with MRIP. The permit could also solve the problem of National Standard 4 that
disallows discrimination between residents of different states by charging different fees for
resident and nonresident fishermen. The real solution is an honest stock assessment that gives
full credit to the fish on artificial structure in the Gulf. He could really get behind a regional
management system if the regions actually had control, but not if this is just a way to further
micromanage the fishery.
John Thomas - Private recreational angler
He echoes Tom Hilton’s perspective. He sees that there is more snapper out there than ever, and
even though he is allergic to fish he wants the system to be fixed.
Jonathan McKay - Private recreational angler
Jonathan suggests that permitting or buying a license that gives a certain number of fish to each
angler would be a good idea. A tag system should be considered; this could be considered using
regional management or it could be done Gulf-wide. Ultimately, Jonathan is worried about what
the overpopulation of snapper is doing to the other fish.
Roger Dickert - Private recreational angler
Roger would not want to trade more days for a smaller bag limit. He supports a tag system
because he would like to be given the opportunity to fish when he wants to so he doesn’t have to
risk unsafe seas. Regional management would be better because the local folks in control would
better be able to make management judgments for their region.
David Conrad - Charter; Circle H Charter
David supports the idea of using a tag system. He likes the idea of regional management and
would like to see the idea developed a little more.
Bill Platt - Charter boat captain and tournament angler
Bill likes the idea of a regional management system and he really wants accountability in the
recreational sector to be improved. 20 years ago there were way more offshore fishermen and
there are a lot less now. A tag system is a reasonable idea for Texas because better accountability
should let them fish longer.
Scott Hickman - Charter Captain; Circle H Charters
One size fits all management doesn’t work in the Gulf of Mexico. He would rather fish red
snapper in the fall, and he supports regional management on a state-by–state level so that they
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Public Comments Received
have the authority to come up with their own system under the federal quota and federal
accountability measures. Regional management will allow us to get to the accountable fishery
quicker than the federal fishery would allow. The status quo system does not work; 27 days is
ridiculous, and Texas may as well not have a federal season with the bad weather. Texas Parks
and Wildlife could do better for their fishermen and he applauds the Council for trying to give
the recreational fishermen a solution.
Tyler Walker - For-hire deckhand and recreational fisherman.
Tyler has seen how the fish population has grown and he supports the idea of moving forward
with a regional management program.
Billy Woolsey - Private recreational angler
Billy thinks regional management is a good idea. He wants accountability to be better and
believes that a tag system is a reasonable solution to the problem we’re facing. We need to do
something different.
Johnny Williams - Owner, Williams Party Boats
Jonny believes there needs to be some safeguards because management has potential to become a
derby where the state that opens first gets to catch their fish and the rest of the states are
punished when the quota is caught. If a state wants to participate in the program, then it should
have to agree that it will close its own state waters, not just the federal waters off the state if the
individual region’s allocation is reached. He thinks that NMFS should relinquish federal control
of snapper completely and allow the states to manage it.
Buddy Guindon - Commercial fisherman; Katie’s Seafood
Regional management and accountability would be good but he wants to ensure that the people
out there can continue to make a living taking people fishing.
Johnny Walker - Charter owner
Johnny thinks the states can better manage the fishery than the federal government. If the
Council can put in place measures that ensure one state’s harvest does not cut into another, then
regional management is a good idea. He also believes that a tag system is a reasonable solution
to the recreational season problems.
Todd Hanslik - Private recreational angler
He supports the idea of regional management and would like the Council to give the states a shot
at incremental management of this fishery. It will be very complex to develop the regional
management program and Todd would like to be sure that the Council continues to involve
fishermen in the development of the program by sharing information and inviting people to
comment. He wants to pass on the ability for future generations to fish, and he fears that the
fishery is slowly migrating to a liberal system that is similar to that of Canada where you must
pay someone to take you bluefin tuna fishing. He would really like the state to have the
opportunity to manage snapper on their own.
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
Gary Graham - Texas Sea Grant
He thinks tags should be considered because it is a potentially viable system that works in the
hunting world. He would like to discuss density-dependent allocation because population is
limited by habitat.
Corpus Christi, Texas
January 15, 2013
Council and Staff
Doug Boyd
Emily Muehlstein
37 members of the public attended.
Mary Ann Heimann – South Bay Marina
It’s a good idea that the states take control of the fishery but she thinks that the states should be
given full control.
Russell Sanguinet - Charter; Dolphin Dock Inc.
Council can’t allocate based on the number of licenses because we can’t use historical licenses to
determine it; people have not been buying licenses and won’t until there is something to catch.
He wonders how we are going to differentiate between federally permitted vessels and statepermitted for-hire vessels if the state of Texas gets regional control? Would federal permits be
allowed to fish in state waters? The whole purpose of this idea should be to make each state
responsible for their own fishery and not be managed by another mismanaged fishery (NMFS).
Jackie Romeyn - Charter; Fisherman’s Wharf
She would like to know what the distinction would be between the federal and state waters. She
does not currently have a federal permit and wonders what the distinction will be under regional
management. Jackie likes the idea of state-based regions or even smaller regions because she
believes it will allow for better scientific information, better allocation, and better local
regulations if the states are given more responsibility.
Troy Williamson - CCA
The concept of regional management has been developed because of frustration toward federal
management. Red snapper are more abundant than ever and management has worked, but it’s
time to reap the benefits of success. The CCA supports driving management to the lowest level
of government possible. The states should manage with as little federal influence as possible.
NMFS is “rewarding” anglers with a 27-day season and a 2-fish bag limit after they have
sacrificed to rebuild the stock. This short season will result in a wide-spread revolt to fisheries
management. The transfer of responsibility will be no easy task; enforcement, monitoring, etc.
will be difficult to control. The states should have the ability to manage both commercial and
recreational harvest of red snapper.
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
Mike Nugent - Port Aransas Boatman Association and Charter operator
They have been asking to split the Gulf for 10 years. This is the first time the Council has
responded and he hopes that people keep moving forward to get this plan to work. Each state
should get their allocation from historical landings and it’s really important that each state is
independent from the others. The mistakes other regions make should not affect each region. The
problems with MRIP could be solved by dividing it into other states who can take more control
of their data collection programs. Regional management is desperately needed and would take
away the state vs. federal permit issues.
Mike Miglini - Charter; Out to Sea Adventures
He would like allocation to be based on biological abundance of the fish. He supports regional
management because local folks can make better regulations for local needs. He sees problems
with Reef Fish Amendment 30b and section 407 of MSA which will kill charter boats and
headboats. Credit should be given for artificial reef and restocking programs when determining
abundance. He would like people to look at tags for recreational boats, and if that’s good for
private recreational boats he would like to see something for for-hire boats that would allow
anglers to fish the days they want; they could use an AB tag system to stay in business.
Mike O’Dell - Charter; A Fishing Fantasy Guide Service
He supports regional management because the states can make better regulations than NMFS
can.
Dennis Lug - Retired charter, now private recreational angler.
Would like to see some sort of regional management system worked out.
Steve Hardy - Private recreational angler
We are here because federal fisheries management is not working and it’s time for something
different. He supports any plan that has Texas as their own region. Boundaries would extend into
the EEZ. We are not managing licenses, we are managing fish, so allocation should be based on
abundance of fish. There are multiple stocks of red snapper based on habitat and reefs. He is
worried that we are having a discussion about how we divide the pie but we are saying nothing
about how to make the pie bigger. We need to do something about structure offshore.
Jim Smarr - RFA Texas
RFA believes in state management and has for 17 years. We should use the longest data set
possible (historical landings) so that Texas can be treated fairly. It should be a biological
abundance decision, period. The SEDAR-style stock assessments should be conducted regionally
so that Texas can fish their own stock; monitored and determined by Texas. Management
guidelines should not be established by the Council; the state should be given full control of their
allocation. There needs to be an amendment to the MSA that cures the system that allows the
other states to be affected by another region’s overrun of their own allocation.
Brett Casey - For-hire; Port Aransas Boatman Association
Out of all the discussion, it still boils down to NMFS still monitoring the red snapper, and if one
state catches the whole allocation, we’re still back to square one. We need to figure out what we
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
need to do to limit this. Texas should be given their own allocation and each region’s behavior
should not affect what the other regions do. It’s time to make a change for the good.
Tim Oestreich – Headboat Captain; Dolphin Dock Inc.
The federal limit seems to mainly limit the for-hire folks with federal permits. Some kind of
separation should be made for someone who owns a business, because as it is, private fishermen
can catch 4 fish all year-round, while federally permitted for-hire boats have a real short season.
It would be very helpful if the season can stretch.
Biloxi, Mississippi
January 15, 2013
Council and Staff
Dale Diaz
Ryan Rindone
23 members of the public attended.
Johnny Marquez - CCA Executive Director, MS
Local managers can do a better job of managing fisheries for constituents. Concerned about how
regions will be defined. Want fair and equitable access to the fishery. How would state
management entities be funded to conduct regional management?
Tom Becker - Charter for-hire captain
Red snapper are very abundant. Concerned about what Mississippi will get with respect to
allocation. Want to know who makes up the catch numbers.
J.R. Titmus - Private recreational angler, artificial reef builder
Louisiana is claiming 9 nautical miles for state waters. Has no idea how recreational catch data
are calculated. Would like to see state control out to 9 nautical miles in Mississippi, and the
federal government can control beyond that. It is not possible to fish all 27 days of the proposed
27-day red snapper season; it’s just too expensive.
Tim Knighten - Private recreational angler
Does not understand how the stock assessments work. It is hard to catch triggerfish because
there are so many red snapper. Red snapper are eating everything. Doesn't trust the federal
government or federally generated data. Supports state management of red snapper.
Gary Smith - Gulf Council Red Snapper Advisory Panel
There is a major issue with counting the recreational catch. The entire process is a joke, and the
federal government is screwing the recreational sector. Flew from Mississippi to Florida to
count the number of boats fishing to prove it. Mississippi needs regional management. What
happens when Texas removes all of the oil rigs?
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
Keith Cuevas - Marine Biologist, Gulf Coast Research Lab
Mississippi needs regulations extended into federal waters. Allocation should account for this.
Other states have shallow water oil rigs and Mississippi does not. The Gulf Council needs to get
involved in the rigs-to-reef process. Juvenile red snapper recruit to the oil rigs. Supports
regional management authorities, based on good communication. If states pursue regional
management individually, then their independent harvests could have a domino effect on the
other states.
Orange Beach, AL
January 16, 2013
Council and Staff
Bob Shipp
Ryan Rindone
125 members of the public attended.
Pat Willingham - Private recreational angler
Has seen a four- to fivefold increase in red snapper over the last 40 years. All of the fish are in
the 9-25 pound range. Divers tell him that the juvenile fish of other reef species are almost gone
due to the red snapper. The Gulf Council needs to consider the impact of large red snapper on
reefs.
Tom Steber - Charter for-hire captain
Need to look at regional management. The big issue will center around how the lines are drawn.
The overarching issue is the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Fishermen need to rally together to get
MSA redone or fixed. Alabama has the best reef zone in the world.
Kevin Sinyard - Private recreational angler
Watched the bag limit drop from five fish to two. It costs a fortune to go fishing for red snapper
now.
Dale Ruckle - Private recreational angler
Can't even get a charter to go out fishing for red snapper. Bag limits are too low. Local
businesses are losing tourism business as a result.
Troy Frady - Charter for-hire captain
Concerned about how to make a living. Bag limits have plummeted. Cautious about regional
management of recreational red snapper. Is regional management going to extend the season or
increase the creel limits? Is Alabama going to manage the fishery better than the National
Marine Fisheries Service? The regulations are affecting our livelihood.
Gary Malin - Private recreational angler
Fished only a few days last season and limited out on red snapper each time. Red snapper are
eating everything. Regional management should be done with a break between Florida and
Alabama; this would be more fair for Alabama. Current fisheries regulations don't make sense.
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Public Comments Received
John Kemper - Private recreational angler from Minnesota
Alabama anglers should fight for their rights.
Tim Wilson - Private recreational angler
Fishing is an inalienable right. There are plenty of fish in the ocean. The charter for-hire fleet is
afraid of the federal government. Fishermen need to protect their rights. Government has taken
all of those rights away. Shorter seasons make it less likely that people will fish. Local control
of fisheries is better.
Tom Ard - Charter for-hire captain
The best idea so far for red snapper is regional management. Alabama does a great job counting
fish. Each region should be held accountable for their allocation. Would fish tags be used?
How might regional management apply to grouper in the future? Use historical biological data
for setting the allocation and adjust it periodically. Fears noncompliance by states like Texas and
Louisiana.
Ben Fairey - Charter for-hire captain
The fisheries management process takes too long. Regions will all fight for allocation. Alabama
should not be grouped with Florida. Alabama only has 3 nautical miles worth of state waters,
while other Gulf states have more. Wants assurance from the Alabama Gulf Council
representatives that Alabama will be cared for in this process.
Bill Coursen - Private recreational angler, Pensacola, FL
Whenever the government takes anything over, they mess it up. Fishing rights are being denied.
Caught 76 red snapper last year, and discarded close to 400. Hopes that some regions won't be
unjustly shorted on their allocation.
Matt McLeod - Charter for-hire captain
There is a disparity between the number of fish caught and the reported landings. Both are total
unknowns. Supports states all going noncompliant. NMFS's red snapper management plan will
crumble with noncompliance, and NMFS will have to do what the fishermen want.
Chris Sherrill - Restaurateur
There will be economic problems if the season length drops to zero. He depends on recreational
fishermen eating at his restaurant during the summer; no red snapper, no customers.
Gary Bryant - Charter for-hire captain
Red snapper season should last 180 days at a 4-fish per person bag limit. Supports regional
management by individual states with accountability measures provided by the Gulf Council.
Likes the idea of fish tags. The charter for-hire industry could receive their annual allotment of
tags at the beginning of each year, and the private recreational anglers could get tags to catch red
snapper at will. Harder to find more desirable fish.
Rashley - Private recreational angler
The federal government is over-managing. Flawed management affects everything.
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Alan Taylor - Private recreational angler
Supports regional management of recreational red snapper by state.
Dwain Sanders - Private recreational angler
There are thousands of red snapper off Alabama. The charter for-hire industry is ruined.
Commercial fishermen are paying lobbyists to raise the price of red snapper.
Robert Turpin - Escambia County Marine Resources, Private recreational angler
Supports regional management of recreational red snapper with allocation based on biomass.
NMFS is currently trying to rebuild red snapper to a threshold that is too high. Will never be
able to meet the rebuilding threshold.
Destin, Florida
January 17th, 2013
Council and Staff
Pam Dana
Ryan Rindone
104 members of the public attended.
Candy Hansard - Private recreational angler
The portion of Amendment 30B requiring CFH fishermen to adhere to the strictest regulations
needs to be eliminated. States shouldn't be penalized for other states exceeding their allocation.
Regional management is needed. Need to solve fisheries problems, not manage them. Need
more artificial reefs. The Gulf Council needs to look into private artificial reef construction.
George Eller - Charter for-hire captain
Regional management of recreational red snapper may have merit under some conditions. There
are too many unanswered questions right now. Need to table the amendment until the next
assessment is completed. Until the CFH portion of Amendment 30B is gone, competition will be
unfair. Texas is in violation of current regulations. Louisiana extending their state waters will
take an act of Congress.
Matt McLeod - Charter for-hire captain
Been coming to these meetings for ten years. Lots of false hope. System has failed the
fishermen. The regions would be fighting over a constantly shrinking pie. Supports states all
going noncompliant. Fishermen need leverage against NMFS. States could grossly exceed the
TAC set by NMFS, and the NMFS's red snapper management plan would crumble. Fishermen
could then demand that NMFS work with them. The problem won't be solved by anything less.
BJ Burkhead - Charter for-hire captain
Opposed to regional management; table the amendment.
Stewart Miller - Charter for-hire captain
Opposed to regional management; table the amendment. Too many unanswered questions.
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Chuck Guilford - Charter for-hire captain
Opposed to regional management. Opposes all management without consideration of ecosystem
variations. Opposes any separation between the CFH and private recreational fishing groups.
Tom Adams - Charter for-hire captain, www.mexicobeachcharters.com
The Gulf Council should appoint new people to the Advisory Panels.
Dr. Rain - Private recreational angler, Destin resident
Has quit fishing deepwater outside of the red snapper season because red snapper are all you can
catch when you go out there. Huge red snapper off of Destin. Fisheries management needs to
focus on the data collection.
Brant Kelly - Charter for-hire captain, www.relentlesscharterfishing.com
Opposed to regional management. Table the amendment.
St. Petersburg, Florida
January 22, 2013
Council and Staff
Martha Bademan
John Sanchez
Ava Lasseter
24 members of the public attended.
Capt. Bob Bryant - Charter
In considering regional management, once again we are trying to manage something that we
don’t know what we’re managing; we don’t know the numbers. The stock assessment fails to
get a huge percentage of the fish from oil rigs and artificial reefs. The majority of the stock
assessment is based on natural structure that NMFS knows. The majority of fishermen are going
to artificial structures and we are not capturing fish from those places. Stock assessments are
useless without this, making catch data useless, too. There are more problems than benefits in
regional management and it seems to be a backdoor to sector separation. What we need to do is
to unite fishermen and provide good data to NMFS and have them provide good data to the
fishermen in return.
Bo Gorham - Private recreational angler
For-hire operators do a great service, but private anglers put money into economy and so have an
important voice. He works weekdays so only had 12 days possible to fish red snapper during last
year’s season, and was only able to go fishing four times. Investing in gas and boat wear and
tear for a derby fishery is not sustainable. Upon hearing this year’s estimated 27-day season, he
started running his own numbers. He compared MRIP’s effort data and number of fish caught a
day and the numbers don’t work out. If effort data stays constant, it shows they didn’t overfish
last year but came out right at quota. If that’s true, he should have 42-day season again this year.
But it’s a crap shoot because we don’t know the stock. He does agree that taking management to
the regional level now is crazy; the data are not there now to manage as a whole. Dividing into
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five ways creates new bureaucracy that taxpayers will have to pay for. The states don’t
cooperate now. It’s a way to avoid the hard part which is to validate what is going on in the
fishery. Data is the key.
Capt. Mark Hubbard - Hubbard’s marina, John’s Pass.
He is strongly against splitting up amongst the states and echoes Bo Gorham’s comments. He
doesn’t want another layer of bureaucracy on this fishery, especially since the Council can’t
manage fishery now. Plus, taxpayers can’t afford it; it’s more and bigger government. The plan
takes away from state powers and discriminates between for-hire, federal, and state permit
holders. It discriminates between the states, and appears to move toward sector separation. It
uses fatally flawed data to micromanage a fishery that is already screwed up. It seems to divide
and conquer the Gulf of Mexico. He is against regional management now, but would have
supported it with a 6-month season. A full benchmark assessment needs to be done on red
snapper. The fishery needs more days for open access fishing. It’s the opportunity to fish that
drives our economy, and a 27-day season is just silly with all the fish out there. Resources are
being spent on assessing smaller reef fish instead of the important species.
Before considering regional management of gag, a full benchmark stock assessment is needed.
The Council is restricting the gag fishery based on a flawed stock assessment. The gag fishery is
huge and more reliable data are needed. There aren’t as many boats fishing now because they
must spend so much money to go out. Ten years ago, there would be 15 boats at the Middle
Grounds, but that doesn’t happen anymore. The pressure isn’t on the fishery the way NMFS and
the Council say it is.
Concerning state boundaries and allocation of red snapper, if states get allocated pounds, could
those allocations start to migrate over from the commercial fishery? If that was the case, he
wants the commercial allocation that moves into the recreational sector to stay in the recreational
sector. He doesn’t want the commercial sector to buy out of the recreational sector. That would
give them some protection, in case catch shares take hold in the recreational fishery.
Stephen Furman - Tampa CCA
He hasn’t fished offshore much lately; fuel prices keep him in his kayak. He knows others don’t
do it as much anymore either, so offshore effort has gone down. He thinks people understand
regional management would allow states to manage the fishery and they can do a better job. But
it sounds to him like the feds would spread the 27-day season among the 5 states and each gets a
5-day season and that’s not appealing. He thinks a 4-day weekend season would help spread out
the days so people could fish longer. Concerning how to get better data, he supports the idea of
an offshore permit for collecting data from fishermen, and says it’s easy to do and is already
done for migratory game bird hunting.
Dennis O’Hern - FRA
This plan appears to increase uncertainty and it is uncertainty applied to allowable catch that is
hurting them. The idea for regional management, regional cooperation, is a great concept, but
it’s called the Gulf Council and you already have that. The problem seems like the Council is
told what they have to do. He is not sure where regional management is coming from; it looks
like sector separation. He doesn’t want to give NMFS more power to close a fishery arbitrarily.
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For greater amberjack, they closed the season in 5 days, in-season, based on MRFSS data which
is not supposed to be used for in-season quota monitoring. The MRIP data is still just random
telephone surveys; Florida is starting new data collection but it’s not making it to the top.
It’s been 10 years since having a full stock assessment on red snapper. The current one is a
modified benchmark assessment, and it should be a full assessment; the Council needs to make
some more noise about that. These plans take away state powers; if state waters are managed by
the states, anyone can fish in state waters, permit or no permit. The feds cannot come in and
chain you to that federal rule. That is for all the charter guys.
They had clamped down on red grouper even though they were thick as flies, and they won a
lawsuit against the regulations. The same thing has been going on with red snapper and gag; the
clamp is staying on it. Roy Crabtree is clamped by certain rules, as is the Council, but we threw
off slavery and other rules and putting up with this is just plain wrong. The spring shallow-water
grouper closure is not needed, and he can’t believe it isn’t done (the rule making), so Mark
Hubbard and his employees cannot access what is known to be a healthy fishery. There is no
reason the closure can’t be rescinded. If Dr. Crabtree can close amberjack in five days, he can
open shallow-water grouper. The analyses have already been done. There will be an online
petition up by tomorrow to address the 2-month closure, because it would be a half million dollar
bump to the fishing economy.
Libby Fetherston - Ocean Conservancy
She lauds the goal on increasing flexibility for recreational fishermen, but is concerned that
regional management isn’t the way to go. There are issues with monitoring and enforcement and
it is unclear where from the federal budget enforcement funds would come from. Without
additional funds for monitoring, they would need a bigger uncertainty buffer and she doesn’t see
that happening because it would further reduce the season. She is uncertain how much flexibility
states would have; it may be limited to when they have their seasons and the bag limit. She
doesn’t see this as a mechanism for optimizing recreational fishing opportunities.
As with all their comments on scoping documents, she feels that the Council and NMFS should
analyze a wide range of options that address this issue. She is concerned about how federally
permitted charter operators would be affected by regional management, and that warrants further
analysis. NMFS must ensure that this is consistent with federal law and the rebuilding goals for
red snapper. She predicts the assessment will show great progress has been made in rebuilding
red snapper, but that they aren’t there yet.
Vance Tice - FRA, Minnows and Monsters
He is still very upset that no Council member attended the last public hearing and he is
concerned that Council members did not receive their testimony. He had a tackle shop that is
closed because of draconian measures; 60% of his business was offshore fishing and there is no
more offshore fishing. He’s against catch shares but they keep trying to slide it in there; the
majority in Florida is against catch shares. Congress has addressed it but they move on with it.
The way effort is calculated is a big problem. He has called a lot of businesses and they report
that business is down, but the data show effort is up so there is a problem there. At the boat
ramps, you don’t see the big trailers anymore, you see smaller bay boats. He knows guys who
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have sold their offshore boats because it isn’t worth it anymore. When FWC goes out and does
mortality studies that show that the data are way off, their studies are ignored. Bob Shipp’s
paper says there is way more red snapper than the Gulf Council wants to admit. It’s hard to feel
a part of management when what they see is 180 degrees from what is being shoved down their
throats. For red snapper, they used to have a 192-day season, 4-fish bag limit, and they never
overfished the limit. Now with a 40 day season and 2 fish limit, they’ve somehow miraculously
overfished the limit. Factors like weather, price of gas, and the economy are not taken into
account. People are struggling. You’re not just affecting people who fish, you’re affecting every
Florida citizen because when you take that money out of the state, the state still needs money to
run.
Scott Moore
We don’t even know how many people are fishing in federal waters. He doesn’t like fishing
licenses, but he knows why you have to have them. Magnuson was enacted to get information
from the states on who was fishing in federal waters and he can’t understand how to do this
without knowing how many people are fishing in federal waters. He suggests that Florida
implement the same thing as fish and wildlife did with federal regulations on migratory birds.
The permits should be free because you’re collecting the data and the feds should pay the states
to do this. That’s the first thing that should have been enacted. Just because a guy catches
grouper onshore doesn’t mean he fishes in federal waters. The only way to get this right is to
permit the data. Another thing is poundage; Florida never went by pounds; they went by
individual catch. Poundage is way too confusing, you want to simplify as much as possible.
There are a lot of fish out there in trouble. There’s no fishery in the world that has ever
collapsed fishing on a slot [limit]; he feels slot limits should be used more.
Frank Bacheler - Captain, Hubbard’s Marina
Since he came back to the area he’s noticed an overwhelming change in the laws that have been
imposed. For groupers, there’s a big change in what you can’t keep in federal waters. He gets
gags year round and is not seeing the population decline like everyone is talking about. Out in
130 feet of water, red snapper are everywhere, and doesn’t understand how people are getting
these numbers. The FWC guys are there and they’re awesome, but they are counting the number
of runts coming on their boat, rather than figuring out other stuff out with their time. We’re so
limited with the season and we need to figure out what we’re doing here. He’s listening to
everyone out here saying the way they collect the data is wrong, and everyone here at this
meeting is against everything that’s going on. No one here supports the 27-day season, they
need better data.
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Public Hearings were held in the following locations:
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Call-in session
Monday, August 12, 2013
Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Parkway
950 Lake Carillon Drive
St. Petersburg, FL
Monday, August 5, 2013
Courtyard Marriott
11471 Cinema Drive
D'Iberville, MS
Monday, August 12, 2013
Hilton Garden Inn
6717 South Padre Island Drive
Corpus Christi, TX
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Holiday Inn Select
2001 N. Cove Boulevard
Panama City, FL
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Hampton Inn & Suites
2320 Gulf Freeway South
League City, TX
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel
64 South Water Street
Mobile, AL
Wednesday, August 14 2013
DoubleTree
4964 Constitution Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA
Summaries of Public Hearings
Call-in Session
August 1, 2013
Council/Staff
Kevin Anson
Ava Lasseter
Emily Muehlstein
Charlene Ponce
17 members of the public attended.
Tom Hilton - Recreational
Mr. Hilton believes that regional management puts the cart before the horse. The council is
pushing for a concept that uses knowingly-flawed data that overestimates recreational landings
by at least 70%. It would be better for the Council to help the Gulf states implement a statebased data collection system modeled after the existing Louisiana offshore landings permit.
Second, the concept of sector separation has been slipped into the regionalization concept. It is
irresponsible for the Council to give that type of decision-making power over to the states rather
than tackle the issue Gulf-wide.
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Dennis O’Hern- Fishing Rights Alliance
Mr. O’Hern wonders if there is no accountability measure for the recreational sector what is the
28-day season. The recreational sector is managed after the fact, due to the horrible
mismanagement of data by NMFS. He also mentioned that people often submit false
information to the Council and he asked for follow-up regarding the law and any past
prosecutions under said law. He also expressed concerned that regional management was based
on data that the Council knows to be wrong. The Gulf Council should be the management tool
that we want, but NMFS influence and control over the Council must be removed. He stated that
the Council should be run by the states with constituent input, and the members of the Council
should be appointed by the Governors; not hand-picked by NMFS.
B.J. Burkette - Charter; Florida
Mr. Burkette does not think that regional management is going to help because the NMFS data is
still a problem. There is no need to be so restrictive with the amount of fish and regional
management won’t solve that problem.
George McKinney - Commercial, For-Hire, Private; Pensacola, Florida
Mr. McKinney wondered how enforcement would work in a place like Pensacola, Florida with
Perdido Pass so close. He would like to see some sort of regional management. He wants small
boats and private recreational anglers who are limited in days to be able to safely and effectively
fish in the Gulf.
Bob Gill - Former Council member; Crystal River, Florida
Mr. Gill recommended that the Council require the states to come to full agreement on all points
relative to regional management prior to the Council taking further consideration or action. He
added that the Council ought to table the amendment until the states agree on all the issues. New
issues seem to be cropping up and it’s going to be very difficult for the Council to find an
endpoint if the states do not agree with every action and alternative.
Action 4 - Council should give serious consideration to a slot limit for red snapper. Spawning
success is greater for large fish and preserving the older fish in the truncated population may
have some merit. Mr. Gill acknowledges the discard problem and still believes a slot will be
useful.
Bill Teehan - Former Council member; Tallahassee, Florida
Mr. Teehan thinks the entire concept is very interesting. He supports Action 4’s Alternative 7
which would allow individual regions to establish sub-allocations for for-hire and private
anglers.
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Corpus Christi, Texas
August 12, 2013
Council/Staff
Robin Riechers
Lance Robinson
Emily Muehlstein
Charlotte Schiaffo
20 members of the public attended (mostly Texas Parks and Wildlife and Harte Research
Institute staff; about eight were members of the fishing public).
Cliff Strain - Port Aransas Boatmen Association
Mr. Strain commented that he understood the current data collection but believed that people
were unsatisfied with the federal government because the regulations were not in line with what
the people are seeing. He added that if a move toward regionally adjusting the data was not
made, then regional management would not have the punch or be as effective as anglers wanted
it to be. He noted that Texas had the structure and ability to manage red snapper, and while he
did not think there needed to be a year round season which could deplete the resource, he did
want to see a longer fishing season. He stated that he had not had to spend more than 30 minutes
fishing to limit out. He expressed concern that eventually, the destruction of habitat would have
an effect on fish populations and encouraged the Council to do what it could to control the
removal of rigs. He stated that his association wants to support regional management.
Ron Moser - Port Aransas Boatmen Association
Mr. Moser favored individual states having control over their waters (Action 2, Alternative 3).
He added that the data collected should be adjusted to account for the biomass of fish in the state
of Texas, as Texas seemed to be penalized more than other states because of this not being taken
into account. He supported Action 3, Alternative 1; do not apportion the quota based on
historical landings. On Action 4, he recommended the Preferred Alternative 4, to allow
individual regions to set recreational red snapper season start and end dates and season structure.
On Action 5, he believes that for-hire vessels and federal permit restrictions should be left to
Texas to manage the resource. On Action 6, he agreed a 2-year grace period (Option b) would
be best so that the new program had opportunity for error without penalizing fishermen while the
program adjusts.
Pat Harris - Private recreational angler
Mr. Harris would like to see as much effort from the Gulf Council to increase habitat quality as
they did in forcing regulations on anglers. He added that trying to improve everything instead of
concentrating on improving the fishery was the wrong path for the Council to take.
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League City, Texas
August 13th, 2013
Council/Staff
Robin Riechers
Lance Robinson
Emily Muehlstein
Charlotte Schiaffo
21 members of the public attended.
Kristen McConnell - Senior Conservation Manager Environmental Defense Fund
Ms. McConnell expressed concern about the regional management proposal. She is cautiously
supportive because Environmental Defense Fund agrees with the idea of increasing access and
flexibility for anglers but finds it difficult to support an idea with so many outstanding issues.
Regional management will present challenges to law enforcement; it may have unforeseen
impacts on other species due to effort shifting. It is hard to move forward without a better
understanding of what the states will do. States should provide details on what direction they
will take and their proposals should include accountability measures in case of a quota overage.
She fails to see the relative benefit of regional management for private and for-hire anglers in the
long term because the concept simply promotes the use of the same management tools with the
same pitfalls. A real solution that potentially uses regional management is needed, but the
current amendment does not seem to provide that solution.
Bill Bahr - Charter Captain
Mr. Bahr is largely concerned with the health of the snapper fishery and properly assessing that
population. He is a Texas native and he has confidence that Texas Parks and Wildlife will be
able to manage red snapper. He is concerned about the discrepancy between Louisiana and
NMFS landings data, and he would support Action 6, Option b which would create a 2-year
grace period for the regions to establish their own programs without having the NMFS numbers
shoved down their throats.
Scott Hickman - Charter Captain and owner of Commercial Red Snapper IFQ
Status quo is not working. The commercial IFQ program can be credited for success of some of
the red snapper recovery and he would like a similar tool to be considered for the for-hire sector.
Mr. Hickman can’t participate in his own state waters, so he supports Action 5, Alternative 2 to
remove the requirement for for-hire vessels to adhere to the strictest regulations. Mr. Hickman
also supports Action 4, Alternative 7 which would allow for a separate sub-allocation for the
private for-hire industry. Amendment 39 has a lot of holes in it and he is afraid that Texas will
have a weekend season or something that will shut out the charter industry. He is tentative about
supporting the amendment and wants the charter boat fleet to have assurance before he can move
forward.
Paul Bitner - Charter Captain
There are a lot of holes in how the landings are calculated and he would like to see greater
accountability in how those numbers are collected. Mr. Bitner does not think we can get a grip
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on the numbers without implementing a tag program to keep better track of the fish. Mr. Bitner
has limited days to catch fish and make business work and the current management does not
allow for success. He supports Action 4, Alternative 7 because he would like the private and forhire fishermen to be managed separately.
Johnny Williams - Headboat owner/operator
Mr. Williams thinks there are going to be winners and losers under a regional management
program, and we are in a situation where we don’t know who those winners or losers will be.
Texas landings have decreased but it’s not because the fishing is getting worse; he predicts that
under status quo, the Texas proportion of the harvest will continue to decrease. He supports
states’ rights and wants the federal entities to stay out of his business. Mr. Williams has a hard
time supporting the amendment without a better understanding of what the program would look
like if delegation were given to Texas. He would be opposed to a situation where the red
snapper fishing would be open only on Saturdays during the summer and he does not know
where the State stands.
Tom Hilton
The data is showing that headboats are landing 68% of all the red snapper, so headboat operators
have nothing to worry about. Mr. Hilton wants to Council to get a hard handle on exactly what
we are doing before jumping off into the unknown using flawed data to determine allocation
percentages in Action 3. There are no regional assessments of biomass and the feds have taken
control of the commercial fishery without regional control. Off Texas the working allocation is
not 51% commercial and 49% recreational. There are far more commercial harvesters off Texas,
and here it may be closer to 70% commercial and 30% recreational. He says that there is nothing
regional about this concept because the federal agencies will still hold critical control points.
The Louisiana offshore landings permit should be a sounding bill for every Gulf state to
implement their own data collection system. Louisiana didn’t believe the feds and they proved
them wrong. In Mr. Hilton’s opinion, it is a dereliction of duty for all involved to move forward
with this amendment with this flawed data.
He proposes a better solution:
1. Implement a data collection system across the Gulf for each state modeled after the
Louisiana offshore permit.
2. Implement an 11 million pound annual catch limit over the next 3 years.
3. Give any increase in quota to the recreational fishermen because their season and bag
limit has been slashed while commercial folks have had full access to their quota.
4. Reinstate the 149-day season.
Steve Cunningham - Charter Captain
Mr. Cunningham shares the other speakers’ opinions. Caution is important and using only
fishery dependent data needs to change. 30B needs to be removed so he can be successful as a
charter operator. Mr. Cunningham supports Action 2, Alternative 4 which would create 5
regions, one for each state. He supports Action 3, Alternative 3 which would remove landings
from 2006 and 2010 from the allocation decisions. He made it clear that biomass data needs to
be included somehow even if it’s not given the weight that the historical landings are given. We
know there are more fish in the western Gulf and that needs to be accounted for. He supports
Action 5, Alternative 2 which would create a 2-year grace period. A 3-year period may be even
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better. He is slightly leaning towards having more faith in Texas than he does in NMFS. There
are a lot of issues in the document so before any radical changes are made, we need to look at
this idea very carefully. The fishermen on charter boats are recreational anglers and they, along
with seafood consumers, are important contributors to the fishery.
Shane Cantrell - Charter owner/operator
Mr. Cantrell is disappointed that regional management does not allow for planning or provide for
additional methods of data collection. He would prefer a multispecies IFQ program for the
charter industry. The commercial program works well for commercial fishermen and he
understands that changes would be made to accommodate his industry. He wants the real time
accountability. He thinks harvest tags would work out very well for the private recreational
anglers. As it is proposed, regional management is just a reshuffling of the deck with the same
management tools and he would rather new novel approaches to management be considered.
David Conrad- Charter Captain
He fully supports Action 5, Alternative 2 to allow for-hire boats to participate in the state season.
30B needs to go away because recreational fishermen on their boat should be allowed to fish just
like recreational boat owners. He sees issues with allocation for the states. He needs to see
what’s in the details before fully supporting this document.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
August 14, 2013
Council/Staff
Camp Matens
Emily Muehlstein
Charlotte Schiaffo
24 members of the public attended.
Chris Macaluso - Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
As an organization, they are trying to work within the system to better manage the recreational
fisheries. Trying to manage red snapper to a total allowable catch is destined for failure because
the Marine Recreational Information Program does not reflect an accurate count of the fish that
are being caught or how many people are fishing. For Action 3 he is concerned with basing the
quotas on historical landings. Historical landings from Alabama and Florida will reflect more
landings but that is a measure of fishing pressure not abundance of fish. He does not want to
restrict pressure but if the target in MSA is to end overfishing and the Council allows states with
less biological availability to out fish the areas with greater availability, we are going to fail.
Managing the red snapper as one stock may be a problem. The fish don’t migrate from west to
east; there are fish in each region. Allowing an area with less fish to harvest more of the fish will
not end overfishing. The only way we will successfully end this problem is to allow more
fishing where there is more biological availability and less where there are less fish.
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Ed Fike - Environmental Consultant and private recreational angler
He is supportive of what he has heard this evening. He is happy that Louisiana is taking the
charge and that NMFS is working with fish. Biological availability of the fish is very important
and he thinks that needs to be considered during allocation (Action 3). During the fall
supplemental season, he fished every weekend and never saw anyone at one of the key landings
sites. Based on his observations, he does not think that fishing is that important here in the fall.
Kenny Acostu - Private recreational angler
Mr. Acostu likes the opportunity to go fishing and he enjoys it, but opening June 1st with 2-3
foot waves is hard on him. Let the states manage using the weekend season and if it’s
recreational that’s great because it will benefit him. There is no reason to go fishing for anything
outside of red snapper season because you can’t catch anything but red snapper; it makes his
other fishing less enjoyable. He wants to fish without feeling like he is being wasteful and
killing something by accident.
George Huye – CCA; Private Recreational Angler
He is in favor of regional management. For Action 3 he is concerned about the use of historical
landings data because it does not fix the problem of inaccurate fisheries dependent data and it
doesn’t make much sense to perpetuate the current system forward. He sees enough alternatives
for the Council to be able to make good decisions here. Regional management will give the
people of Louisiana a better opportunity to have a chance to catch what they may have had in the
past. We know the stocks are strong and this will give the Louisiana fishermen an opportunity to
put their trust and faith in their own resource management department.
Rebecca Triche - Louisiana Wildlife Federation
Ms. Triche noted that red snapper is a hot topic for her members. The Federation submitted
comment in January already. She would like to see a regional approach because the Louisiana
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has the capability to assess the stocks. She wants limits to
be set based on biological availability because the western region can sustain more harvest than
the east. There was lots of activity in legislation regarding the passion Louisiana anglers have.
She urges the Council to continue moving forward with this idea to acknowledge the frustrations
of recreational anglers.
Rad Trashe - CCA Louisiana
Mr. Trashe expressed his full support for regional management. We all know that we’ve had
faulty science and poor management. This is an opportunity to do what everyone wants; what’s
best for the resource and what’s better for the fishermen. The Department of Louisiana Wildlife
has proven that they do better science than NMFS. This year there was someone at the ramp
every single day. We should put the power in Louisiana’s hands and let them run with it.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
D’Iberville, MS
August 5, 2013
Council/Staff
Dale Diaz
Corky Perret
Ava Lasseter
7 members of the public attended.
Tom Becker - Mississippi Charter Captains Association
The Association discussed this the other night and decided that they need to go along with this
and see what happens. There are problems with the data because they were never checked to see
what they’re catching on his headboat. He wants to see someone checking landings more often
instead of telling him when they can get there. The Department of Natural Resources is hurting
for people. There are so many places to unload your fish and that’s what’s happening.
Gary Smith - Recreational
Mr. Smith’s first concern is the legality of regional management. There needs to be a non-biased
person looking into it, in case in a couple of years it’s determined they did something they
shouldn’t have done. He doesn’t have a problem with regional management, but it needs more
thought about how to divide the quota. Texas, the largest state, only got 12%, but Florida landed
so much [2012 landings]; what’s going to happen as the population changes? There are a lot of
areas that need to be addressed: will there be annual adjustments, what process will be required,
what happens when Texas demands more? The biggest issue is how you’re going to
count/estimate the data. Everyone agrees the data is flawed, but we’re not addressing that. To
fix it, got to count the number of boats. Don’t worry about the number of fishermen, just the
number of boats. Then each state could require a boat permit and you couldn’t have red snapper
aboard until you have the boat permit. Looking at Mississippi’s data, it comes up to 22,000 fish
they could catch. He has counted the number of boats and has never counted more than 50 boats.
The most he’s ever counted was 88; the boats just aren’t there. You’ll be back to 21 days even
with regional management. Counting the boats is how you have got to correct the problem.
John Marquez Jr. - CCA Mississippi
He supports regional management and wants management taken to the state level, which allows
them to control the fishery, best for their anglers. CCA wants to see the states have the ability to
manage the commercial red snapper quota and be allowed to allocate among sectors. They
would like red snapper removed from the reef fish FMP, as has been done for misty grouper and
other species. He echoes Mr. Smith’s comment that any plan needs to contain flexibility to allow
for change within the states over time. Mississippi has concerns about how this would be
funded, as they have a different sort of funding mechanism for data collection.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
Panama City, FL
August 7, 2013
Council/Staff
Martha Bademan
Ava Lasseter
Ryan Rindone
7 members of the public attended.
Chris Niquet - Commercial
He noted the differences between the percentage of red snapper landed by state since the oil spill
and the allocation under Alternative 4, which would be based on the ABCs [separate east Gulf
and west Gulf stock assessments]. So recreational allocations would be 48.5% for the eastern
Gulf and 51.5% for the western Gulf, which lands the least recreationally. He thinks this seems
backward. It seems like Florida and Alabama would get the bulk of the ABC.
Bart Niquet - Commercial
He feels the charter and headboats are stepchildren in all of this; they get no consideration from
the commercial side or the recreational, side and they are being put out of business. They need
their own sector and own bag limits. For red snapper, the recreational sector should go to 60
days with a 2-fish limit and set that in stone. He thinks they should be given something they can
depend on so they can make a living.
Bob Zales, II - Charter Captain
He is speaking for himself, as the PCBA has not taken a position yet. He is conditionally
supportive of regional management if it is only being discussed for the recreational sector, and
will have no impact on the commercial sector. He supports the preferred alternatives in Actions
1 and 2. For Action 3, he supports Alternative 2 Option d, which doesn’t benefit Florida the
most out of all the options, but seems like a fair allocation. For Action 4 he supports only the
Preferred Alternatives 2, 3, and 4. He is a little confused by Action 5; he wants the provision
removed so supports that. But even if regional management does not go forward, he wants this
action to go forward and be finalized before the 2014 season. For Action 6, he prefers Preferred
Alternative 3, Option b, to allow the longest grace period to adapt to the change in management.
He’s confused by Action 7 because he doesn’t see how it’s going to work. Under the MagnusonStevens Act, the fishery must be closed when the quota is met. What happens if Mississippi
fishes a lot? They could effectively cause the closure of the rest of the Gulf. He recommends
rescinding 406b of Magnuson-Stevens Act that includes that requirement. It may have been
necessary in 1996; it’s clearly no longer necessary. Finally, as a for-hire operator, he
emphasized that his passengers are private recreational anglers, just like those fishing on their
own boats.
Jim Clements - Commercial
Although CCA and RFA have criticized the IFQ program, Mr. Clements supports regional
management if it will help the recreational fishers catch more fish and have more days to fish.
But, this must not affect the commercial red snapper fishery.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
Mike Eller – Charter and Commercial
Mr. Eller is speaking for himself and his own for-hire vessel. For Action 1 he prefers Alternative
3 [Council-implemented regional management]; for Action 2: he supports the preferred
alternative for 5 regions. Action 3, he supports Alternative 2 Option d, combining the long and
short time series.
Regional management is a slippery slope that could result in benefits or could turn into a total
fiasco. He is asking himself, can his state can do a better job than what is going on now? If the
states get together and make a big advance on data collection, it could be better. But if they
don’t do that first, then this is putting the cart in front of the horse. This is hard for him to
support when he doesn’t know the long-term ramifications. His state will make decisions
dependent on the current political persuasion at the time. What if his state chooses to adopt a
weekends only season? That would really hurt the for-hire fleet. At least with the Council, you
have diverse opinions represented. He would like the individual states to have leeway in setting
opening season dates, but maybe not to set different size limits. He supports increased flexibility
but it is a slippery slope. He wants to see the regional plan for each state before he supports it
and they don’t have that yet because it is still new. He wants to hear from a state how it would
actually manage red snapper better than the NMFS. He does not want the commercial sector to
be impacted by this.
He supports the preferred alternative in Action 5 and thinks the 30B provision is unfair and
unconstitutional. In Action 4, he supports Preferred Alternatives 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. Anglers that
fish on for-hire vessels should be protected and shouldn’t be lumped in with private anglers who
fish differently. He feels there should be the possibility for sub-allocations. In Action 6, he
supports Alternative 4, Option b; establish a 2-year grace period before implementation of
overage adjustments.
Don Whitecotton - Charter
We have all looked at how we are going to protect the life of the fish, but we are putting our
industry at risk by setting the season in the middle of hurricane season. Even if the weather is
bad, charter boats have to go out to make a living. We need a way for the for-hire boats to go
out, and this is a big socio-economic issue. They have been lucky nothing has happened on the
headboats yet [accidents]. He suggests a year round season with a number of days you can go
out to fish. We can surely regulate ourselves [when we go out] if we can regulate these fish.
Warner Foster - Recreational
He is very interested in the quota issue and wants to know how they get the quota. He hears they
just pull it out of somewhere. He has never had his fish counted and weighed checked on his
boat. Commercial guys have to weigh in all their fish, but no one is ever at the ramp asking him
what he caught. With the size of his boat, he’s not going to go out in the rough weather and get
beat up. The June 1 season start was during rough weather and they couldn’t get out most of the
season.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
213
Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
*The following comments were received in Panama City on August 6, 2013 at a hearing on
Coastal Migratory Pelagics.
BJ Burkett - Charter and commercial
Capt. Burkett thinks the whole program is going to be a logistical nightmare. Red snapper isn’t
being managed appropriately now, but they’re going to throw 5 more leaders into it? It’s going
to be very complicated because the regulations change so often. On all the actions, except
Action 5, he wants no action. He does not want regional management. The issue we should be
fixing is the flawed data. Regional management will make regulations based on incorrect data
instead of tackling the issue of getting more days. He has heard we’re never going to get back to
where we were just a few years ago [longer season], but that’s what people want. Regional
management might leave them with 25-30 day seasons, which doesn’t take us anywhere close to
what people want. Therefore, he doesn’t see the benefit of doing it. Maybe one state can fish a
few days longer, or keep one fish more than another region’s bag limit, but he does not see
benefits to the whole Gulf and for all anglers.
Randall Akins - Recreational, retired charter captain
Capt. Akins has a historical captain permit that he can’t transfer to his children and that’s not the
way of doing things in America. His children should be able to receive his permit. When he was
in the Coast Guard, he was told you couldn’t sell permits, but now you can so he is confused. At
least 50% of the time he has broken the law because he has to throw back red snapper that are
not at least 16”. He has to throw them back and the dolphins get them. Feeding dolphins is
against the law and he knows someone who was fined for feeding dolphins. This can be solved
by keeping the season open year round and you can keep your first five fish. He was told that
would be culling the fish, but that’s what he’s doing now. He doesn’t support setting seasons or
size limits.
Mobile, AL
August 8, 2013
Council/Staff
Kevin Anson
Chris Blankenship
Ava Lasseter
Ryan Rindone
11 members of the public attended
Palmer Whiting - Recreational, Alabama CCA Chairman
Mr. Whiting thinks the state has done a good job of managing its inshore fisheries and can do a
good job with offshore fisheries. They built this habitat and they can manage it. Alabama has a
lot of habitat and a lot of snapper. CCA members are in favor of that and having it on a more
local level, with local scientists, who are more than capable. Bring management down to the
state level is preferred.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
Captain Mike Thierry - Charter
Capt. Thierry thinks states can manage it better. The inconsistency of allocations needs to be
addressed so everyone is on the same playing field, and the number of days each state is allowed
to fish is not impacted because of another state’s regulations. Basing allocations on landings
when some states who were open while Alabama was closed is like rewarding them for not
playing by the rules. Sub-allocations are needed because one size does not fit all. The
weekends-only season that private vessel anglers prefer would not work for the charter fleet.
There should be no more restrictions than the for-hire fleet already has compared to the private
recreational anglers. He supports the states taking over management and feels they are up to the
job. He would like to have states do their own stock assessment. They are here locally every
day and could do a better job. Each region needs to be accountable to its own quota. For
example, Destin’s rodeo is in October and they’d like to have the season open then. We’d like
our own rodeo season in July; so one size doesn’t fit all. Texas wants to be open in the winter as
it’s a good time for them. Alabama has got some of the best people in the world working on this
stuff right here.
Skipper Thierry - Charter
He supports state management of red snapper and the ability of a state to establish suballocations. He would like for the state to conduct its own stock assessment, eventually. He
wants the accountability measure, but they need to be flexible because landings often fluctuate
annually for all kinds of reasons beyond our control.
St. Petersburg, FL
August 12, 2013
Council/Staff
Martha Bademan
Ava Lasseter
Ryan Rindone
Doug Gregory
8 members of the public attended.
Buddy Bradham - Recreational Fishing Alliance, retired charter and commercial fisherman
The RFA has a lot of problems with this so for right now, they prefer No Action be taken on all
actions. They’re behind on getting data sets in place. Florida is working on it but it is unknown
when this will be available. There is the potential for going over the quota. The season dates
would have to come from each state. There was a meeting on Friday morning where it was said
it may cost 2.5 million dollars per year, and that’s funding Florida doesn’t have. These are
problems that need to be solved before we go into regional management. If the improved data
collection is in place, they would support regional management with the following preferred
alternatives:
Action 1: prefer no action until data is fixed. Action 2: support the preferred alternative of 5
regions. For the quota (Action 3), they have a big problem with the data sets that may be used.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
Louisiana has just proved how bad the NMFS estimates are: 70% off from their catches. They
would like any new data program to run for 3 years then base the quota allocations on that.
Action 4: they support the Preferred Alternatives 2, 3, and 4. But, they strongly speak out
against Preferred Alternative 7, as this is a form of sector separation. They are still against it and
feel the Council is trying to push it into this amendment. For Action 5, they support the
preferred alternative. They don’t support 30B at all and it should be completely removed, not
just for red snapper but also for all reef fish. For Action 6, they prefer Alternative 3, Option b,
allowing a 2-year grace period. For Action 7, they support Preferred Alternative 3 for a state that
opts out.
Libby Fetherston - Ocean Conservancy
The Ocean Conservancy supports the Council’s attempt to consider alternative management for
the recreational sector. They do not take positions on allocation decisions. They think data
collection and validation is critical to the success of any regional management plan and will need
minimum data standards. They encourage the Council to think about ways that the restoration
funds could support these goals in terms of quality and quantity of sampling. They also
encourage the use of ACTs because they provide a reasonable buffer based on past performance
and warrant consideration.
Sharon McBreen - Pew Charitable Trusts
Pew recommends revising the amendment’s purpose and need to reflect that rebuilding red
snapper is the top priority. They recommend that the amendment include the following three key
components needed for the program’s success:
1. AMs are safeguards and should include payback provisions, to maintain rebuilding. So they
support the preferred alternative in Action 6. They also encourage the states to set up a system to
constrain catches to within their quota. They do not oppose the Option a for a 1-year grace
period, to allow state programs time to adjust their management process. This will be a learning
process between NOAA and the states.
2. The states will need to retool their data collection systems to avoid triggering AMs. States
should consider the use of ACTs to build in a margin of error to avoid triggering AMs, especially
while adjusting to the new management system. This includes the option to use an ACT.
3: They support Action 4’s Preferred Alternative 7: establish sub-allocations. If a state chooses
that this is right for them, they should be allowed to pursue it.
Stephen Furman - CCA Florida, Tampa chapter
CCA supports regional management. He found the example of regional management for king
mackerel an interesting example, because it is a migratory fish, and red snapper is not migratory.
We had no red snapper off this coast for a long time but they came back because of Hurricane
Katrina. This is a good start but the states would do a good job figuring it out if the feds would
step away from the table. The states should have that authority, and the data and law
enforcement is available. NOAA is paying FWC for nice boats to patrol offshore and there is no
reason to stop that.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Appendix C. Summaries of
Public Comments Received
APPENDIX D. DELEGATION PROVISION
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 16 U.S.C. §1856(a)(3), (b)
(3) A State may regulate a fishing vessel outside the boundaries of the State in the following
circumstances:
(A) The fishing vessel is registered under the law of that State, and (i) there is no fishery
management plan or other applicable Federal fishing regulations for the fishery in which the vessel is
operating; or (ii) the State's laws and regulations are consistent with the fishery management plan and
applicable Federal fishing regulations for the fishery in which the vessel is operating.
(B) The fishery management plan for the fishery in which the fishing vessel is operating delegates
management of the fishery to a State and the State's laws and regulations are consistent with such fishery
management plan. If at any time the Secretary determines that a State law or regulation applicable to a
fishing vessel under this circumstance is not consistent with the fishery management plan, the Secretary
shall promptly notify the State and the appropriate Council of such determination and provide an
opportunity for the State to correct any inconsistencies identified in the notification. If, after notice and
opportunity for corrective action, the State does not correct the inconsistencies identified by the Secretary,
the authority granted to the State under this subparagraph shall not apply until the Secretary and the
appropriate Council find that the State has corrected the inconsistencies. For a fishery for which there was
a fishery management plan in place on August 1, 1996 that did not delegate management of the fishery to
a State as of that date, the authority provided by this subparagraph applies only if the Council approves
the delegation of management of the fishery to the State by a three-quarters majority vote of the voting
members of the Council.
(C) [Pertains to Alaska, only.]
(b) EXCEPTION.—
(1) If the Secretary finds, after notice and an opportunity for a hearing in accordance with section 554
of title 5, United States Code, that—
(A) the fishing in a fishery, which is covered by a fishery management plan implemented under this
Act, is engaged in predominately within the exclusive economic zone and beyond such zone; and
(B) any State has taken any action, or omitted to take any action, the results of which will
substantially and adversely affect the carrying out of such fishery management plan; the Secretary shall
promptly notify such State and the appropriate Council of such finding and of his intention to regulate the
applicable fishery within the boundaries of such State (other than its internal waters), pursuant to such
fishery management plan and the regulations promulgated to implement such plan.
(2) If the Secretary, pursuant to this subsection, assumes responsibility for the regulation of any
fishery, the State involved may at any time thereafter apply to the Secretary for reinstatement of its
authority over such fishery. If the Secretary finds that the reasons for which he assumed such regulation
no longer prevail, he shall promptly terminate such regulation.
(3) If the State involved requests that a hearing be held pursuant to paragraph (1), the Secretary shall
conduct such hearing prior to taking any action under paragraph (1).
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Appendix D. Delegation Provision
APPENDIX E. FISHERY ALLOCATION POLICY
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Fishery Allocation Policy
This allocation policy was developed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to
provide principles, guidelines, and suggested methods for allocation that would facilitate future
allocation and reallocation of fisheries resources between or within fishery sectors.
Issues considered in this allocation policy include principles based on existing regulatory
provisions, procedures to request and initiate (re)allocation, (re)allocation review frequency,
tools and methods suggested for evaluating alternative (re)allocations.
1.
Principles for Allocation
a. Conservation and management measures shall not discriminate between residents of
different states.
b. Allocation shall:
(1) be fair and equitable to fishermen and fishing sectors;
(i) fairness should be considered for indirect changes in allocation
(ii) any harvest restrictions or recovery benefits be allocated fairly and equitably
among sectors
(2) promote conservation
(i) connected to the achievement of OY
(ii) furtherance of a legitimate FMP objective,
(iii) promotes a rational, more easily managed use
(3) ensure that no particular individual, corporation, or other entity may acquire an
excessive share.
c. Shall consider efficient utilization of fishery resources but:
(1) should not just redistribute gains and burdens without an increase in efficiency
(2) prohibit measures that have economic allocation as its sole purpose.
d. Shall take into account: the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities by
utilizing economic and social data in order to:
(1) provide for the sustained participation of fishing communities
(2) minimize adverse economic impacts on fishing communities.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Appendix E. Fishery Allocation Policy
e. Any fishery management plan, plan amendment, or regulation submitted by the Gulf
Council for the red snapper fishery shall contain conservation and management
measures that:
(1) establish separate quotas for recreational fishing (including charter fishing) and
commercial fishing.
(2) prohibit a sector (i.e., recreational or commercial) from retaining red snapper for
the remainder of the season, when it reaches its quota.
(3) ensure that the recreational and commercial quotas reflect allocation among sectors
and do not reflect harvests in excess of allocations.
2.
Guidelines for Allocation
a. All allocations and reallocations must be consistent with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery
Management Council’s principles for allocation.
b. An approved Council motion constitutes the only appropriate means for requesting the
initiation of allocation or reallocation of a fishery resource. The motion should clearly
specify the basis for, purpose and objectives of the request for (re)allocation.
c. The Council should conduct a comprehensive review of allocations within the
individual FMPs at intervals of no less than five years.
d. Following an approved Council motion to initiate an allocation or reallocation, the
Council will suggest methods to be used for determining the new allocation. Methods
suggested must be consistent with the purpose and objectives included in the motion
requesting the initiation of allocation or reallocation.
e. Changes in allocation of a fishery resource may, to the extent practicable, account for
projected future socio-economic and demographic trends that are expected to impact
the fishery.
f. Indirect changes in allocation, i.e., shifts in allocation resulting from management
measures, should be avoided or minimized to the extent possible.
3.
Suggested Methods for Determining (Re)Allocation
a. Market-based Allocation
(1) Auction of quota
(2) Quota purchases between commercial and recreational sectors
(i) determine prerequisites and conditions:
(a) quota or tags or some other mechanism required in one or both sectors
(b) mechanism to broker or bank the purchases and exchanges
Amendment 39: Regional Management
219
Appendix E. Fishery Allocation Policy
(c) annual, multi-year, or permanent
(d) accountability for purchased or exchanged quota in the receiving sector
b. Catch-Based (and mortality) Allocation
(1) historical landings data
(i) averages based on longest period of credible records
(ii) averages based on a period of recent years
(iii) averages based on total fisheries mortality (landings plus discard mortality) by
sector
(iv) allocations set in a previous FMP
(v) accountability (a sector’s ability to keep within allocation)
c. Socioeconomic-based Allocation
(1) socio-economic analyses
(i) net benefits to the nation
(ii) economic analysis limited to direct participants
(iii) economic impact analysis (direct expenditures and multiplier impacts)
(iv) social impact analysis
(v) fishing communities
(vi) participation trends
(vii) “efficiency” analysis
(a) lowest possible cost for a particular level of catch;
(b) harvest OY with the minimum use of economic inputs
d. Negotiation-Based Allocation
(1) Mechanism for sectors to agree to negotiation and select representatives
(2) Mechanism to choose a facilitator
(3) Negotiated agreement brought to Council for normal FMP process of adoption and
implementation.
Amendment 39: Regional Management
220
Appendix E. Fishery Allocation Policy
APPENDIX F. RECREATIONAL RED SNAPPER
LANDINGS BY STATE
Table F-1. Annual recreational red snapper landings by state (1986-2012), based on whole
weight of fish.
Year
Alabama
Florida
Louisiana
Mississippi
Texas
Total
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
323,492
318,901
424,538
444,786
643,616
723,034
1,246,134
1,718,626
1,605,971
1,444,968
1,593,566
761,209
792,595
406,266
337,062
395,507
315,810
1,057,854
727,962
463,310
524,552
233,706
863,520
586,819
230,085
805,909
947,733
1,362,129
1,089,102
1,294,673
2,869
44,526
17,900
284,300
45,609
147,953
630,219
747,229
404,108
128,605
525,242
454,200
622,381
980,566
360,242
451,819
840,845
1,281,487
1,502,841
1,455,779
2,969,721
1,812,542
2,720,934
2,702,738
1,616,614
2,524,222
3,980,742
6,167,324
5,329,984
4,787,335
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
1,444,014
2,203,725
1,182,803
1,617,501
1,155,519
1,834,889
2,174,740
1,910,897
827,485
827,976
1,177,238
1,209,612
1,427,335
1,742,575
2,098,746
1,849,232
754,168
968,193
612,436
664,834
734,885
270,461
341,127
454,021
175,169
547,479
155,699
166,199
44,043
89,262
195,786
301,260
1,490,081
1,325,782
1,104,927
588,084
707,746
509,885
743,411
666,135
4,690,917
5,873,155
4,233,104
4,246,230
4,069,528
4,447,073
5,553,810
5,181,545
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
1,426,192
1,027,670
725,489
897,641
519,715
887,926
277,001
1,767,756
3,116,124
1,868,668
2,018,215
2,794,730
2,157,390
2,493,005
1,475,034
1,683,222
316,965
471,898
598,502
602,891
568,063
667,761
57,341
326,803
44,168
3,421
22,656
5,865
37,279
65,869
8,381
46,161
636,651
582,182
659,988
466,981
345,989
660,335
459,653
482,047
5,540,101
3,953,838
4,024,849
4,768,107
3,628,435
4,774,895
2,277,410
4,305,989
2012
1,444,412
2,136,520
759,205
189,658
616,525
5,146,321
Source: Southeast Fisheries Science Center annual catch limit dataset, including the Marine
Recreational Information Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Southeast
Headboat Survey landings. Headboat landings from Alabama and the Florida Panhandle are
initially reported to the same headboat fishing area. Landings have been assigned to each state
based on the survey’s vessel landing records (May 2013).
Amendment 39: Regional Management
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Appendix F. Recreational Red Snapper
Landings by State
APPENDIX G. CURRENT FEDERAL REGULATIONS
FOR GULF OF MEXICO RECREATIONAL RED
SNAPPER MANAGEMENT
1.
§ 622.9 Prohibited gear and methods--general.
(e) Use of Gulf reef fish as bait prohibited. Gulf reef fish may not be used as bait in any fishery,
except that, when purchased from a fish processor, the filleted carcasses and offal of Gulf reef
fish may be used as bait in trap fisheries for blue crab, stone crab, deep-water crab, and spiny
lobster.
2.
§ 622.20 Permits and endorsements.
(b) Charter vessel/headboat permits. For a person aboard a vessel that is operating as a
charter vessel or headboat to fish for or possess Gulf reef fish, in or from the EEZ, a valid charter
vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish must have been issued to the vessel and must be on
board.
(1) Limited access system for charter vessel/headboat permits for Gulf reef fish. No
applications for additional charter vessel/headboat permits for Gulf reef fish will be accepted.
Existing permits may be renewed, are subject to the restrictions on transfer in paragraph (b)(1)(i)
of this section, and are subject to the renewal requirements in paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section.
(i) Transfer of permits--(A) Permits without a historical captain endorsement. A charter
vessel/headboat permit for Gulf coastal migratory pelagic fish or Gulf reef fish that does not
have a historical captain endorsement is fully transferable, with or without sale of the permitted
vessel, except that no transfer is allowed to a vessel with a greater authorized passenger capacity
than that of the vessel to which the moratorium permit was originally issued, as specified on the
face of the permit being transferred. An application to transfer a permit to an inspected vessel
must include a copy of that vessel’s current USCG Certificate of Inspection (COI). A vessel
without a valid COI will be considered an uninspected vessel with an authorized passenger
capacity restricted to six or fewer passengers.
(B) Permits with a historical captain endorsement. A charter vessel/headboat permit for
Gulf coastal migratory pelagic fish or Gulf reef fish that has a historical captain endorsement
may only be transferred to a vessel operated by the historical captain, cannot be transferred to a
vessel with a greater authorized passenger capacity than that of the vessel to which the
moratorium permit was originally issued, as specified on the face of the permit being transferred,
and is not otherwise transferable.
(C) Procedure for permit transfer. To request that the RA transfer a charter
vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish, the owner of the vessel who is transferring the permit
and the owner of the vessel that is to receive the transferred permit must complete the transfer
information on the reverse side of the permit and return the permit and a completed application
for transfer to the RA. See § 622.4(f) for additional transfer-related requirements applicable to
all permits issued under this part.
(ii) Renewal. (A) Renewal of a charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish is
contingent upon the permitted vessel and/or captain, as appropriate, being included in an active
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survey frame for, and, if selected to report, providing the information required in one of the
approved fishing data surveys. Surveys include, but are not limited to–(1) NMFS' Marine Recreational Fishing Vessel Directory Telephone Survey (conducted
by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission);
(2) NMFS' Southeast Headboat Survey (as required by § 622.26(b)(1));
(3) Texas Parks and Wildlife Marine Recreational Fishing Survey; or
(4) A data collection system that replaces one or more of the surveys in paragraph
(b)(1)(ii)(A),(1),(2), or (3) of this section.
(B) A charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish that is not renewed or that is
revoked will not be reissued. A permit is considered to be not renewed when an application for
renewal, as required, is not received by the RA within 1 year of the expiration date of the permit.
(iii) Requirement to display a vessel decal. Upon renewal or transfer of a charter
vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish, the RA will issue the owner of the permitted vessel a
vessel decal for Gulf reef fish. The vessel decal must be displayed on the port side of the
deckhouse or hull and must be maintained so that it is clearly visible.
(2) A charter vessel or headboat may have both a charter vessel/headboat permit and a
commercial vessel permit. However, when a vessel is operating as a charter vessel or headboat,
a person aboard must adhere to the bag limits. See the definitions of "Charter vessel" and
"Headboat" in § 622.2 for an explanation of when vessels are considered to be operating as a
charter vessel or headboat, respectively.
(3) If Federal regulations for Gulf reef fish in subparts A or B of this part are more
restrictive than state regulations, a person aboard a charter vessel or headboat for which a charter
vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued must comply with such Federal
regulations regardless of where the fish are harvested.
3.
§ 622.26 Recordkeeping and reporting.
(b) Charter vessel/headboat owners and operators–-(1) Reporting requirement. The
owner or operator of a vessel for which a charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish has
been issued, as required under § 622.20(b), or whose vessel fishes for or lands such reef fish in
or from state waters adjoining the Gulf EEZ, who is selected to report by the SRD must maintain
a fishing record for each trip, or a portion of such trips as specified by the SRD, on forms
provided by the SRD and must submit such record as specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this
section.
(2) Reporting deadlines--(i) Charter vessels. Completed fishing records required by
paragraph (b)(1) of this section for charter vessels must be submitted to the SRD weekly,
postmarked not later than 7 days after the end of each week (Sunday). Information to be
reported is indicated on the form and its accompanying instructions.
(ii) Headboats. Completed fishing records required by paragraph (b)(1) of this section for
headboats must be submitted to the SRD monthly and must either be made available to an
authorized statistical reporting agent or be postmarked not later than 7 days after the end of each
month. Information to be reported is indicated on the form and its accompanying instructions.
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4.
§ 622.27 At-sea observer coverage.
(a) Required coverage. A vessel for which a Federal commercial vessel permit for Gulf
reef fish or a charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued must carry a
NMFS-approved observer, if the vessel’s trip is selected by the SRD for observer coverage.
Vessel permit renewal is contingent upon compliance with this paragraph (a).
(b) Notification to the SRD. When observer coverage is required, an owner or operator
must advise the SRD in writing not less than 5 days in advance of each trip of the following:
(1) Departure information (port, dock, date, and time).
(2) Expected landing information (port, dock, and date).
(c) Observer accommodations and access. An owner or operator of a vessel on which a
NMFS-approved observer is embarked must:
(1) Provide accommodations and food that are equivalent to those provided to the crew.
(2) Allow the observer access to and use of the vessel's communications equipment and
personnel upon request for the transmission and receipt of messages related to the observer's
duties.
(3) Allow the observer access to and use of the vessel's navigation equipment and
personnel upon request to determine the vessel's position.
(4) Allow the observer free and unobstructed access to the vessel's bridge, working decks,
holding bins, weight scales, holds, and any other space used to hold, process, weigh, or store
fish.
(5) Allow the observer to inspect and copy the vessel's log, communications logs, and
any records associated with the catch and distribution of fish for that trip.
5.
§ 622.29 Conservation measures for protected resources.
(a) Gulf reef fish commercial vessels and charter vessels/headboats--(1) Sea turtle
conservation measures. (i) The owner or operator of a vessel for which a commercial vessel
permit for Gulf reef fish or a charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued, as
required under
§§ 622.20(a)(1) and 622.20(b), respectively, must post inside the wheelhouse, or within a
waterproof case if no wheelhouse, a copy of the document provided by NMFS titled, "Careful
Release Protocols for Sea Turtle Release With Minimal Injury," and must post inside the
wheelhouse, or in an easily viewable area if no wheelhouse, the sea turtle handling and release
guidelines provided by NMFS.
(ii) Such owner or operator must also comply with the sea turtle bycatch mitigation
measures, including gear requirements and sea turtle handling requirements, specified in §§
635.21(c)(5)(i) and (ii) of this chapter, respectively.
(iii) Those permitted vessels with a freeboard height of 4 ft (1.2 m) or less must have on
board a dipnet, tire, short-handled dehooker, long-nose or needle-nose pliers, bolt cutters,
monofilament line cutters, and at least two types of mouth openers/mouth gags. This equipment
must meet the specifications described in §§ 635.21(c)(5)(i)(E) through (L) of this chapter with
the following modifications: the dipnet handle can be of variable length, only one NMFSapproved short-handled dehooker is required (i.e., § 635.21(c)(5)(i)(G) or (H) of this chapter);
and life rings, seat cushions, life jackets, and life vests or any other comparable, cushioned,
elevated surface that allows boated sea turtles to be immobilized, may be used as alternatives to
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tires for cushioned surfaces as specified in § 635.21(c)(5)(i)(F) of this chapter. Those permitted
vessels with a freeboard height of greater than 4 ft (1.2 m) must have on board a dipnet, tire,
long-handled line clipper, a short-handled and a long-handled dehooker, a long-handled device to
pull an inverted "V", long-nose or needle-nose pliers, bolt cutters, monofilament line cutters, and
at least two types of mouth openers/mouth gags. This equipment must meet the specifications
described in § 635.21(c)(5)(i)(A) through (L) of this chapter with the following modifications:
only one NMFS-approved long-handled dehooker (§ 635.21(c)(5)(i)(B) or (C)) of this chapter
and one NMFS-approved short-handled dehooker (§ 635.21(c)(5)(i)(G) or (H) of this chapter)
are required; and life rings, seat cushions, life jackets, and life vests, or any other comparable,
cushioned, elevated surface that allows boated sea turtles to be immobilized, may be used as
alternatives for cushioned surfaces as specified in § 635.21(c)(5)(i)(F) of this chapter.
(2) Smalltooth sawfish conservation measures. The owner or operator of a vessel for
which a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish or a charter vessel/headboat permit for Gulf
reef fish has been issued, as required under §§ 622.20(a)(1) and 622.20(b), respectively, that
incidentally catches a smalltooth sawfish must-(i) Keep the sawfish in the water at all times;
(ii) If it can be done safely, untangle the line if it is wrapped around the saw;
(iii) Cut the line as close to the hook as possible; and
(iv) Not handle the animal or attempt to remove any hooks on the saw, except for with a
long-handled dehooker.
(b) [Reserved]
6.
§ 622.30 Required fishing gear.
For a person on board a vessel to fish for Gulf reef fish in the Gulf EEZ, the vessel must
possess on board and such person must use the gear as specified in paragraphs (a) through (c) of
this section.
(a) Non-stainless steel circle hooks. Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when
fishing with natural baits.
(b) Dehooking device. At least one dehooking device is required and must be used to
remove hooks embedded in Gulf reef fish with minimum damage. The hook removal device
must be constructed to allow the hook to be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging
during the removal process. The dehooking end must be blunt, and all edges rounded. The
device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the Gulf
reef fish fishery.
(c) Venting tool. At least one venting tool is required and must be used to deflate the
abdominal cavities of Gulf reef fish to release the fish with minimum damage. This tool must be
a sharpened, hollow instrument, such as a hypodermic syringe with the plunger removed, or a
16-gauge needle fixed to a hollow wooden dowel. A tool such as a knife or an ice-pick may not
be used. The venting tool must be inserted into the fish at a 45-degree angle approximately 1 to
2 inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm) from the base of the pectoral fin. The tool must be inserted just deep
enough to release the gases, so that the fish may be released with minimum damage.
7.
§ 622.32 Prohibited gear and methods.
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Also see § 622.9 for additional prohibited gear and methods that apply more broadly to multiple
fisheries or in some cases all fisheries.
(a) Poisons. A poison may not be used to take Gulf reef fish in the Gulf EEZ.
(b) [Reserved]
8.
§ 622.33 Prohibited species.
(d) Gulf reef fish exhibiting trap rash. Possession of Gulf reef fish in or from the Gulf
EEZ that exhibit trap rash is prima facie evidence of illegal trap use and is prohibited. For the
purpose of this paragraph, trap rash is defined as physical damage to fish that characteristically
results from contact with wire fish traps. Such damage includes, but is not limited to, broken fin
spines, fin rays, or teeth; visually obvious loss of scales; and cuts or abrasions on the body of the
fish, particularly on the head, snout, or mouth.
9.
§ 622.34 Seasonal and area closures designed to protect Gulf reef fish.
(a) Closure provisions applicable to the Madison and Swanson sites and Steamboat
Lumps, and the Edges-- (1) Descriptions of Areas. (i) The Madison and Swanson sites are
bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points:
Point
North lat.
West long.
A
29°17'
85°50'
B
29°17'
85°38'
C
29°06'
85°38'
D
29°06'
85°50'
A
29°17'
85°50'
(ii) Steamboat Lumps is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following
points:
Point
North lat.
West long.
A
28°14'
84°48'
B
28°14'
84°37'
C
28°03'
84°37'
D
28°03'
84°48'
A
28°14'
84°48'
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(iii) The Edges is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points:
Point
North lat.
West long.
A
28°51'
85°16'
B
28°51'
85°04'
C
28°14'
84°42'
D
28°14'
84°54'
A
28°51'
85°16'
(2) Within the Madison and Swanson sites and Steamboat Lumps, possession of Gulf reef
fish is prohibited, except for such possession aboard a vessel in transit with fishing gear stowed
as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.
(3) Within the Madison and Swanson sites and Steamboat Lumps during November
through April, and within the Edges during January through April, all fishing is prohibited, and
possession of any fish species is prohibited, except for such possession aboard a vessel in transit
with fishing gear stowed as specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section. The provisions of this
paragraph, (a)(3), do not apply to highly migratory species.
(4) For the purpose of paragraph (a) of this section, transit means non-stop progression
through the area; fishing gear appropriately stowed means-(i) A longline may be left on the drum if all gangions and hooks are disconnected and
stowed below deck. Hooks cannot be baited. All buoys must be disconnected from the gear;
however, buoys may remain on deck.
(ii) A trawl net may remain on deck, but trawl doors must be disconnected from the trawl
gear and must be secured.
(iii) A gillnet must be left on the drum. Any additional gillnets not attached to the drum
must be stowed below deck.
(iv) A rod and reel must be removed from the rod holder and stowed securely on or
below deck. Terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or bait) must be disconnected and
stowed separately from the rod and reel. Sinkers must be disconnected from the down rigger and
stowed separately.
(5) Within the Madison and Swanson sites and Steamboat Lumps, during May through
October, surface trolling is the only allowable fishing activity. For the purpose of this paragraph
(a)(5), surface trolling is defined as fishing with lines trailing behind a vessel which is in
constant motion at speeds in excess of four knots with a visible wake. Such trolling may not
involve the use of down riggers, wire lines, planers, or similar devices.
(6) For the purpose of this paragraph (a), fish means finfish, mollusks, crustaceans, and
all other forms of marine animal and plant life other than marine mammals and birds. Highly
migratory species means tuna species, marlin (Tetrapturus spp. and Makaira spp.), oceanic
sharks, sailfishes (Istiophorus spp.), and swordfish (Xiphias gladius).
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10.
§ 622.35 Gear restricted areas.
(a) Reef fish stressed area. The stressed area is that part of the Gulf EEZ shoreward of
rhumb lines connecting, in order, the points listed in Table 2 in Appendix B of this part.
(1) A powerhead may not be used in the stressed area to take Gulf reef fish. Possession
of a powerhead and a mutilated Gulf reef fish in the stressed area or after having fished in the
stressed area constitutes prima facie evidence that such reef fish was taken with a powerhead in
the stressed area. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to hogfish.
(2) A roller trawl may not be used in the stressed area. Roller trawl means a trawl net
equipped with a series of large, solid rollers separated by several smaller spacer rollers on a
separate cable or line (sweep) connected to the footrope, which makes it possible to fish the gear
over rough bottom, that is, in areas unsuitable for fishing conventional shrimp trawls. Rigid
framed trawls adapted for shrimping over uneven bottom, in wide use along the west coast of
Florida, and shrimp trawls with hollow plastic rollers for fishing on soft bottoms, are not
considered roller trawls.
(b) Seasonal prohibitions applicable to bottom longline fishing for Gulf reef fish. (1)
From June through August each year, bottom longlining for Gulf reef fish is prohibited in the
portion of the Gulf EEZ east of 85°30' W. long. that is shoreward of rhumb lines connecting, in
order, the following points:
Point
North lat.
West long.
A
28°58.70'
85°30.00'
B
28°59.25'
85°26.70'
C
28°57.00'
85°13.80'
D
28°47.40'
85°3.90'
E
28°19.50'
84°43.00'
F
28°0.80'
84°20.00'
G
26°48.80'
83°40.00'
H
25°17.00'
83°19.00'
I
24°54.00'
83°21.00'
J
24°29.50'
83°12.30'
K
24°26.50'
83°00.00'
(2) Within the prohibited area and time period specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this
section, a vessel with bottom longline gear on board may not possess Gulf reef fish unless the
bottom longline gear is appropriately stowed, and a vessel that is using bottom longline gear to
fish for species other than Gulf reef fish may not possess Gulf reef fish. For the purposes of
paragraph (b) of this section, appropriately stowed means that a longline may be left on the drum
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if all gangions and hooks are disconnected and stowed below deck; hooks cannot be baited; and
all buoys must be disconnected from the gear but may remain on deck.
(3) Within the Gulf EEZ east of 85°30' W. long., a vessel for which a valid eastern Gulf
reef fish bottom longline endorsement has been issued that is fishing bottom longline gear or has
bottom longline gear on board cannot possess more than a total of 1000 hooks including hooks
on board the vessel and hooks being fished and cannot possess more than 750 hooks rigged for
fishing at any given time. For the purpose of this paragraph, “hooks rigged for fishing” means
hooks attached to a line or other device capable of attaching to the mainline of the longline.
(c) Reef fish longline and buoy gear restricted area. A person aboard a vessel that uses,
on any trip, longline or buoy gear in the longline and buoy gear restricted area is limited on that
trip to the bag limits for Gulf reef fish specified in § 622.38(b) and, for Gulf reef fish for which
no bag limit is specified in § 622.38(b), the vessel is limited to 5 percent, by weight, of all fish on
board or landed. The longline and buoy gear restricted area is that part of the Gulf EEZ
shoreward of rhumb lines connecting, in order, the points listed in Table 1 in Appendix B of this
part.
(d) Alabama SMZ. The Alabama SMZ consists of artificial reefs and surrounding areas.
In the Alabama SMZ, fishing by a vessel that is operating as a charter vessel or headboat, a
vessel that does not have a commercial permit for Gulf reef fish, as required under §
622.20(a)(1), or a vessel with such a permit fishing for Gulf reef fish is limited to hook-and-line
gear with three or fewer hooks per line and spearfishing gear. A person aboard a vessel that uses
on any trip gear other than hook-and-line gear with three or fewer hooks per line and
spearfishing gear in the Alabama SMZ is limited on that trip to the bag limits for Gulf reef fish
specified in § 622.38(b) and, for Gulf reef fish for which no bag limit is specified in § 622.38(b),
the vessel is limited to 5 percent, by weight, of all fish on board or landed. The Alabama SMZ is
bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points:
Point
North lat.
West long.
A
30°02.5'
88°07.7'
B
30°02.6'
87°59.3'
C
29°55.0'
87°55.5'
D
29°54.5'
88°07.5'
A
30°02.5'
88°07.7'
11.
§ 622.37 Size limits.
All size limits in this section are minimum size limits unless specified otherwise. A fish
not in compliance with its size limit, as specified in this section, in or from the Gulf EEZ, may
not be possessed, sold, or purchased. A fish not in compliance with its size limit must be
released immediately with a minimum of harm. The operator of a vessel that fishes in the EEZ is
responsible for ensuring that fish on board are in compliance with the size limits specified in this
section. See § 622.10 regarding requirements for landing fish intact.
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(a) Snapper—-(1) Red snapper–-16 inches (40.6 cm), TL, for a fish taken by a person
subject to the bag limit specified in § 622.38 (b)(3) and 13 inches (33.0 cm), TL, for a fish taken
by a person not subject to the bag limit.
12.
§ 622.38 Bag and possession limits.
(a) Additional applicability provisions for Gulf reef fish. (1) Section 622.11(a) provides
the general applicability for bag and possession limits. However, § 622.11(a) notwithstanding,
bag and possession limits also apply for Gulf reef fish in or from the EEZ to a person aboard a
vessel that has on board a commercial permit for Gulf reef fish-(i) When trawl gear or entangling net gear is on board. A vessel is considered to have
trawl gear on board when trawl doors and a net are on board. Removal from the vessel of all
trawl doors or all nets constitutes removal of trawl gear.
(ii) When a longline or buoy gear is on board and the vessel is fishing or has fished on a
trip in the reef fish longline and buoy gear restricted area specified in § 622.35(c). A vessel is
considered to have a longline on board when a power-operated longline hauler, a cable of
diameter and length suitable for use in the longline fishery, and gangions are on board. Removal
of any one of these three elements, in its entirety, constitutes removal of a longline.
(iii) For a species/species group when its quota has been reached and closure has been
effected, provided that no commercial quantities of Gulf reef fish, i.e., Gulf reef fish in excess of
applicable bag/possession limits, are on board as specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
(iv) When the vessel has on board or is tending any trap other than a stone crab trap or a
spiny lobster trap.
(2) A person aboard a vessel that has a Federal commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef
fish and commercial quantities of Gulf reef fish, i.e., Gulf reef fish in excess of applicable
bag/possession limits, may not possess Gulf reef fish caught under a bag limit.
(b) Bag limits-(3) Red snapper--2. However, no red snapper may be retained by the captain or crew of a
vessel operating as a charter vessel or headboat. The bag limit for such captain and crew is zero.
13.
§ 622.39 Quotas.
See § 622.8 for general provisions regarding quota applicability and closure and
reopening procedures. This section, provides quotas and specific quota closure restrictions for
Gulf reef fish.
(a) Gulf reef fish-(2) Recreational quotas. The following quotas apply to persons who fish for Gulf reef
fish other than under commercial vessel permits for Gulf reef fish and the applicable commercial
quotas specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section.
(i) Recreational quota for red snapper--4.145 million lb (1.880 million kg), round weight.
(c) Restrictions applicable after a recreational quota closure-(1) After closure of the recreational quota for red snapper. The bag and possession limit
for red snapper in or from the Gulf EEZ is zero.
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