Ahoy, here it is live and direct from the Council meeting in Baton Rouge.
Amberjack- Council has selected to close the recreational greater amberjack season for the months of June and July.
Current projections estimated that the 2011 quota will be reached by late August if no in-season closure was made. Council has chosen to have an in-season closure to avoid the early seasonal closure, and allow the amberjack season to extend further into the fall than projected.
There is an update stock assessment being done on greater amberjack as we speak. The council expects to have the results of this assessment reported at the February meeting. If the stock assessment shows that the greater amberjack total allowable catch can be increased, the council intends to reconsider the necessity for the June and July season closure.
Red Snapper- Council has selected to increase the red snapper 2011 total allowable catch to 7,185,000 pounds, contingent upon the 2010 total allowable catch not being exceeded. This increase will result in a 3,664,000 pound quota (51%) for the commercial fishing sector, and a 3,521,000 pound quota (49%) for the recreational sector.
Additionally, Council requested that staff create a new regulatory amendment to be presented at the February meeting that will change the recreational season end from the current September 30th closure to December 31st. Red snapper season has closed before the September 30th season end for the past 3 years because accountability measures have required NOAA Fisheries Service to close recreational season when the quota is projected to be met. Council has made this request for a regulatory amendment because it will give them more management options including an alternative that will look at the possibility of opening red snapper season on weekends in the fall.
Red Grouper- Council directed staff to include options for increasing the recreational bag limit for red grouper in Amendment 32. Because the recreational fishery has not been meeting its red grouper allocation, even with a reduced total allowable catch, council reasons that new management measures may be required to allow the recreational fishermen a chance to meet its quota.
Fisheries Outreach Specialist
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council