Day 1 of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council

KeepAmericaFishing is at the Gulf Council meeting and we hope you will be too! 

Libby-Yranski-2-576x1024By: Libby Yranski
October 21, 2014

Day 1 has been different than expected. Thus far there have been two very clear observations. First, there has been an underlying tone of strong science. Second, there is a lot of work being done via side conversations as the Council is meeting. The science has been focused on red snapper sampling and how the stock is actually doing. All in all, they are saying the same thing that the recreational sector has said for the last few years – the sampling that is occurring is not happening fast enough, nor is it robust, BUT the stock is recovering well and booming. There are a couple of stats you should know:

The amount of red snapper has dramatically increased since 2006 when new fishery management programs went into effect. From 2000 – 2006 the spawning percentage held steady at 4.4%. Today, spawning is at 15% and growing.

Not only is spawning increasing but the number of old fish in the Gulf is growing dramatically. A few years back there was a strong presence of young 2 and 3 year old fish. Now there is still a strong presence of these young fish, but fish are growing older and there is a countable presence of 10+ year old fish. Why is this good? Old fish produce stronger and more viable eggs.

A 5 year old red snapper produces 58x more eggs than a 2 year old. A 10 year old red snapper produces 249x more eggs than a 2 year old. The stock growing older is great news. A larger number of older fish means better opportunities for the red snapper stock to continue growing. Now, as far as the “extracurricular” work being accomplished around the room – it is very apparent that paid coaches from the environmental community are actively working against recreational anglers. These groups blanket the room and take one, two and three people aside to talk over the strategy for how to split the recreational sector into joe-anglers and the charter boats. One comment I overheard today was, “If you want to fish, you can cut a check and pay a charter boat.” Don’t let recreational anglers lose the ability to fish for red snapper on their own! These paid coaches from the environmental community are actively working against recreational anglers. I urge all of you to show up to Wednesday’s meeting and speak up! If you want to catch red snapper it is vital that you come to Mobile and voice your opposition.