Letter to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Regarding Gag Grouper, Jan. 2011

Gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is heavily overfished with excessive fishing rates and is in need of significant reductions in harvest in order to end overfishing and rebuild the population. The recent revisions to the gag update assessment, which have been reviewed and approved by the Scientific and Statistical Committee reveal only slight improvement in the population status. The revised assessment shows the population level to be at 49% of the level at which stocks are determined to be overfished, up from 47% prior to the re-evaluation. Unfortunately, substantial reductions in harvest and release mortality up to approximately 70% relative to the status quo are needed to end overfishing.