Calls for responsible increase in red snapper catch levels

03 Feb 2010

Red snapper. Credit: NOAA

First Gulf council meeting of the year to focus on continued red snapper rebuilding.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional councils responsible for co-managing the nation’s fishery resources. The Council meets throughout the year to establish management measures for Gulf fisheries such as red snapper, grouper, and shrimp. The Scientific and Statistical Committee will present a new population assessment for red snapper – the first assessment since a science-based rebuilding plan was implemented in 2007 – at its meeting from 1-4 February.

The Gulf Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee completed a new population assessment of red snapper in December. They will present their findings to the Council during the meting. According to a NOAA press release, “Science-based management has helped end overfishing for iconic fish”, and red snapper have increased in size, abundance, and geographic range. In August, the National Marine Fisheries service also released the 2008 Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Individual Fishing Quota Annual Report showing commercial fishermen are earning more for their landings, fishing in a safer manner, and taking fewer snapper out of the water.

Ocean Conservancy believes the success of the red snapper management plan allows for a “responsible increase” in catch levels and fishing opportunities, but any decisions must be science-based and ensure continued success in rebuilding red snapper. The organization is also calling for a science-based fishery management plan for gag grouper, currently experiencing overfishing.

ccording to Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Act guidelines, all federally managed species must have fishery management plans approved by 2011.

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