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South Atlantic Red Snapper Season Announced

Printed From: North Carolina Waterman
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Forum Name: Fisheries Issues/Fisheries Politics/Fisheries Government.
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Printed Date: 08 July 2020 at 6:52pm
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Topic: South Atlantic Red Snapper Season Announced
Posted By: BrackishWater
Subject: South Atlantic Red Snapper Season Announced
Date Posted: 10 June 2020 at 9:28am

The South Atlantic red snapper season is set to open July 10 - 12, and on July 17. 

Four Days.

For immediate release                                                                                            Email:

Anglers shortchanged with four-day red snapper season

Federal mismanagement virtually eliminates access to popular recreational fishery


Continuing a downward spiral in South Atlantic red snapper seasons, NOAA Fisheries has announced a four-day recreational season for 2020. While expectations in March were that the federal agency in charge of the nation’s fisheries would disallow any recreational red snapper season, the move to a four-day season is hardly a victory for anglers who have seen their access to the fishery severely curtailed for the last decade even as the red snapper population expands.

“A four-day season is marginally better than a zero-day season, but it is profoundly disappointing that this is the best result available after 10 years of intense scrutiny and federal management. This is certainly not where anglers deserve to be with a fishery that is clearly recovering and expanding,” said Bill Bird, chairman of the CCA National Government Relations Committee.

Since 2010, the recreational sector has been allowed to harvest red snapper in South Atlantic federal waters a cumulative total of 37 days despite increasing abundance of fish. In recent years, NOAA Fisheries has maintained that recreational bycatch mortality – red snapper caught and released by anglers when the season is closed that the agency believes do not survive – is calculated to be more than what the sector would be allowed to harvest, resulting in no season or extremely limited seasons.

“Federal recreational data collection methods are not believed to be reliable by most private recreational fishermen; but the manner by which they calculate bycatch mortality for anglers is a particularly questionable component,” said Bird. “As the population increases and anglers encounter – and release – more red snapper, it becomes apparent that the healthier the population is, the less access anglers will have to it. That is the definition of a fundamentally flawed system.” 

The introduction of a descending device requirement earlier this year may provide a path to greater access, but until the results can be quantified and determined in a stock assessment, it is unlikely NOAA Fisheries will credit the conservation ethic of recreational anglers with a longer season. Even if NOAA Fisheries supported the descending device requirement, which it did not, the process of quantifying those savings could take years and it is doubtful whether it would truly reflect the degree to which anglers are participating.

“Recreational anglers want to do everything they can to reduce dead discards in every fishery, which is why we actively supported the requirement for descending devices in the South Atlantic even though many anglers already use various tools to successfully release fish alive,” said Ted Venker, conservation director for CCA. “There are questions over everything in this fishery and if the past is any indication, we expect NOAA to apply the same questionable methods to calculating the true positive impact of descending devices. If that is the only lifeline the fishery has to work with then perhaps it is time to push for state-based management of this fishery to get a workable system for recreational anglers.”

A rising tide lifts all boats...

Posted By: Get Bowed Up
Date Posted: 11 June 2020 at 10:47pm
I think with the new MRIP numbers this will be played out in other fisheries.

Posted By: chriselk
Date Posted: 12 June 2020 at 8:25am
You haven't been paying attention.  It already has.  Importantly, these MRIP numbers have changed the management based on biological science and it should also change the management based on economic science. 

Bluefish, specs, Southern flounder already have been impacted, and many others and others to follow, including the topic of this post, red snapper.

The MRIP says recreational fishing effort is up 2 to 5 fold over previous estimates in some fisheries.  That multiples rec catches.  When they backdated the bluefish rec catches, it greatly impacted the harvest, resulting in a new 4 fish bag limit.  

Essentially all species of rec harvest and bycatch (historical and present) has instantly increased, such as speckled trout whose harvest has gone up almost 5 fold when the MRIP Fishing Effort Survey (often referred to as FES) was applied.  To be clear, the catch estimates (creel surveys) did not change, the number of fishing trips increased.

That also means the economic value of rec fishing is many fold larger than previously thought.  Too often the economic science is ignored, and with the new MRIP numbers these need to be communicated to our leaders.  Unfortunately, leaders seem intent on only stepping up to support the commercial fishing industry, which is a small fraction relative to recreational fishing industry.

The above comments are my personal opinion and do not represent those of any organizations or agencies I may be a member of.

Posted By: Get Bowed Up
Date Posted: 17 June 2020 at 12:12am
I was referring to the low limits and resulting estimates of DDs and how it leads to total loss of harvest. Red snapper estimates were saying 1/3rd of the biomass was being killed, wasted. The last meeting I attended it was pretty much how the hell do we get out of this absent of making "areas off limits to fishing" (Roy's words).

Bluefish they knew years in advance the calibration would cause the overfishing status, my understanding is this was compounded by not separating Pier and or man made from shore mode. The Rec limit of 3 not 4, in my opinion SHOULD have had separate limits for pier LIKE they did with the charter of 5 per paying customer.

NMFS choose not to seperate businesses ie piers within MRIP, like they had done before. However they then allowed the council to seperate out other businesses who service a higher paying customers base (and hey, the charter fleet fought for it so no complaints from me). However the last sentence is what I've heard from pier owners and their paying customers many of who can not, for several reasons, seek the services of a charter.

It is again my understanding the letter NC wrote questioning this decision on lumping pier/man made with shore has yet to be officially answered.

Rockfish per the meeting the other day, same deal.

I'm with ya chris, we have agreed on many such topics like economics, but these new MRIP estimates will either fast track changing social norms making across the board catch and release as marketable as harvest to a limit, or it has the potential to push users to other recreational activities while unjustly taking a food source from many who do fish for consumption not just recreation.

Posted By: chriselk
Date Posted: 18 June 2020 at 6:32am
The Piers have taken a beating with lack of stocks such as spot, and now with a 4 fish bluefish limit whose numbers always seem abundant.  A large proportion of current (and future anglers) grew up as pier "Rats".  Kept kids out of trouble, off the streets and currently off the screen.  

As you are well aware of, bluefish has saved many a day for charter guys when nothing else is around.

Funny thing, we are often trying to get away from blues when fishing for trout, and then the 4 fish limit.  It's counterintuitive for shore.  

As we all know, bluefish really do not freeze well, so perhaps the 4 fish limit will end up preventing a lot of freezer burn.  You don't see much frozen bluefish for sale in the market do you, as compared to salmon, cod, pollock, flounder, swai, tilipia etc.

The above comments are my personal opinion and do not represent those of any organizations or agencies I may be a member of.

Posted By: cnaff
Date Posted: 27 June 2020 at 7:40pm
I had a conversation with a seasoned charter mate who works out of OI on a boat that does some inshore and nearshore fishing, with bottom fish such as BSB and other favorites like AJ's frequently targeted. He allowed that in the past couple of years, and as I write, a number of the reefs and wrecks off the northern outer Banks have been crawling with red snapper weighing four pounds, and that the BSB seem to have been displaced during the summer season. If this is true, then not only is our vaunted team at the snapper control board proceeding as a steatopigious mass with regard to the fish's historical place in the angler's bag, but, as well, finds itself fut-futting about with regard to the fish's dynamic equilibrium in terms of location. This does not portend well for those who would hold hope for a rational staff at the controls... nor for a future stake in the species which become abundant through dynamic processes. Surely they must represent some etherial constituency , but the anglers of North Carolina, they do not.

V/H Dog

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