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<SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Contact: Kim Amendola FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
727- 551-5707 December 11, 2009
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Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Recover
ing

Science-based management has helped end overfishing for iconic fish


A recent scientific update on Gulf of Mexico red snapper shows that fishermen may be able to catch more fish next year. This news shows that when fishermen follow management measures based on science, they lead to rebuilding of fish populations and increased opportunities to fish.

?The update showed harvest levels were still a bit too high in 2008; however, scientific projections are promising for 2009, indicating that the stock may improve enough to support higher harvest lev<SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">els,? said Dr. Bonnie Ponwith, Southeast Fisheries Science Center director for NOAA?s Fisheries Service. ?This is very exciting news and is evidence of how science and management can work together to protect our natural resou<SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">rces.?

Historical records indicate fishermen have targeted red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico since the late 1800s as a subsistence fishery. However, fishing pressure became too great throughout the mid-1900s as coastal populations increased and saltwater sport fishing became more popular. Heavy fishing since then brought this population to a level that could not be sustained or reproduce as much as it could.

In response to the poor condition of this once prolific population, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council began to address the issues in the mid-1980s. The actions taken by the council have ranged in variety and degree, from adjusting recreational size limits to implementing a catch share program for commercial fishermen in 2007.

?This has been our most challenging fishery issue in the Gulf of Mexico to date,? said Dr. Roy Crabtree, southeast regional administrator for NOAA?s Fisheries Service. ?The Gulf Council deserves a lot of credit for making some very difficult decisions and commercial and recreational fishermen deserve equal credit for complying with the regulations to help this species recover.?

The red snapper population is still a long way from making a full recovery, but reducing fishing pressure has expedited the recovery process and continues to provide long-term benefits to the fish, as well as to those dependent upon it for business and recreation. As the species? condition continues to improve, fishermen are reporting red snapper in areas where they haven?t been seen in many years, such as off of Tampa Bay, Fla., and southward.

The scientific update was completed by a panel of experts selected by the Gulf Council and comprised of academic, state, and federal scientists. This panel presented their results to the Gulf Council?s Scientific and Statistical Committee in early December.

The Gulf Council may review this information at their next meeting in February in Mobile, Ala., and make a recommendation to NOAA?s Fisheries Service to increase the current red snapper catch levels. The update suggests the current catch level can be increased from five million pounds to slightly more than 6.9 million pounds.

While this is good news, an increase to the total allowable catches may not support an increase to the length of the recreational fishing season. Preliminary data indicate the recreational fishery exceeded its annual quota by more than one million pounds in 2009. Any decision regarding the length of the 2010 recreational fishing season will need to take into account final information on the extent of that overage. NOAA's Fisheries Service will determine the length of the recreational season early next year; however, the season will begin on June 1.

NOAA is committed to responding as quickly as possible to any Gulf Council proposals to reward fishermen for their sacrifice while ensuring continued success in rebuilding this population.

It is important to note that red snapper are managed separately in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida?s east coast). Earlier this month, NOAA?s Fisheries Service announced a temporary rule to protect red snapper in the South Atlantic as its population is in poor condition, much like the Gulf of Mexico population once was. The temporary measures for the South Atlantic become effective on Jan. 4, 2010, and will not apply in Gulf of Mexico waters.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth?s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit http://www.noaa.gov.
 

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I think the increases seen are going to be found to be directly proportional to the increasing numbers of artificial reefs deployed by the state, charter and recreational anglers. Red Snapper need structure, natural or man made for them to call a place home in the Gulf of Mexico.
 

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Kim (12/13/2009)I think the increases seen are going to be found to be directly proportional to the increasing numbers of artificial reefs deployed by the state, charter and recreational anglers. Red Snapper need structure, natural or man made for them to call a place home in the Gulf of Mexico.
You're right about structure but NMFS does not count artifical habitat when it figures stock assesments.

The article kinda makes me ill. Even when we're finally gaining ground and they're beginning to see there is no shortage of snapper they make it sound as if they've done something. All they've done is make snapper the dominant fish in a once-diverse fishery. They (snapper) are pushing everything else out as they grow to numbers never before seen.
 

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JoeZ (12/13/2009)
Kim (12/13/2009)I think the increases seen are going to be found to be directly proportional to the increasing numbers of artificial reefs deployed by the state, charter and recreational anglers. Red Snapper need structure, natural or man made for them to call a place home in the Gulf of Mexico.
You're right about structure but NMFS does not count artifical habitat when it figures stock assesments.

The article kinda makes me ill. Even when we're finally gaining ground and they're beginning to see there is no shortage of snapper they make it sound as if they've done something. All they've done is make snapper the dominant fish in a once-diverse fishery. They (snapper) are pushing everything else out as they grow to numbers never before seen.


You know it makes me ill too. For the life of me I cannot figure out why, if you were doing a stock assesment, would you not count ALL fish on ALL KNOWN STRUCTURE. This just seems so idiotic. Snapper move around some but they will move to where the food is at any given time, which may be natural, or manmade structure. So what if you miss ALL of the secret reefs and coups, etc, etc, at least count at the ones that are known public reefs and rigs/platorms. Its as if they don't want to know the true numbers. This sh*t smells like dead fish!
 

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JoeZ (12/13/2009)
The article kinda makes me ill. Even when we're finally gaining ground and they're beginning to see there is no shortage of snapper they make it sound as if they've done something.
They have done something, and they intend to do more of that something to ensure their current "success", like:

Catch Shares for recreational fishermen!

Look at what this is saying, or more importantly what it is not saying.

There is no real eplaination offered for this mysterious success,only self-certificationgiven for the GOM Council (staff) taking action. So what actions did they take? Only seasonal restrictions and catch shares on the commercial side.

So if that worked, what they are positioning themselves for is more of the same if not an expansion of the current policies to new sectors.

Government agencies do not announce "nice" things just to be nice. They telegraph what they are up to. Press releaseslike this are drafted , re-drafted , reviewed and approvedby the guys who make policy,to assure it meets with those policies, mission and vision.

It's a warning, alright.
 

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Itotally understand your thinking here! There coming in throught he back door saying that, "see, told ya, what we did is working"
 

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CAPT Gary

I thought Iheard NOAAwas moving "slower" on catch shares. Does the Gulf Council intend to speed "catch shares" back up? When is the next Gulf Council meeting to discuss rec sectorsplit/catch shares?

Mark W
 

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Thanks. For some reason, I thought there was one coming up in Tampa that incuded rec sector split discussion?

Mark W
 

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markw4321 (12/14/2009)CAPT Gary

I thought Iheard NOAAwas moving "slower" on catch shares. Does the Gulf Council intend to speed "catch shares" back up? When is the next Gulf Council meeting to discuss rec sectorsplit/catch shares?

Mark W


Yeah, I'd like to think that, with Pew moving towards being cautious. I think EDF is still driving the train though. Hard to tell at a distance. But somethng does not smell quite right to me.
 

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Sounds to me like Science based studies are recovering. Let's hope so and maybe someone there will actually know what to do with the numbers.The snapper have not been the problem.
 
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