Comments on Proposed Rule and Amendment to Change Gag, Red Grouper, and Shallow-Water Grouper Management Measures in the Gulf of Mexico
On December 13, 2011, Chad Hanson and Holly Binns of the Pew Environment Group's Gulf of Mexico Fish Conservation Campaign offered their comments on the proposed rule changes for Amendment 32 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The Amendment sets a rebuilding plan and revises management measures that achieve significant reductions in mortality, incorporates discards in these mortality reductions and catch levels, and adds in-season and post-season accountability measures which are intended to end overfishing and rebuild the depleted gag population. While generally supportive of the Amendment and urge expedient approval to ensure new measures are in place in early 2012 Hanson and Binns are concerned with several action items in Amendment 32 and the Proposed Rule:
- Recreational management measures do not provide a high probability of achieving the targeted catch levels in order to successfully rebuild gag.
- Recreational in-season AMs are implemented at the annual catch limit (ACL) level rather than explicitly at the annual catch target (ACT) level.
- Additional protections of gag spawning aggregations along the shelf break where gag are known to spawn or year-round protections of the severely depleted male population are not included.