Recreational red snapper fishermen were dealt another blow last week when the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted to defer action on a plan that would have expanded that group’s share of additional red snapper annual allocations.
Labeled as a preferred alternative in Amendment 28, a move to reallocate the take allowed for recreational and commercial sectors in the annual red snapper quota, the council shelved a plan that would give recreational fishermen a 75 percent share (25 percent to commercial interests) of any annual allowable catch exceeding 9.12 million pounds.
Current rules allow recreationals 49 percent of the annual quota with 51 percent going to the commercial side. The current annual catch quota is 11 million pounds.
The council’s postmeeting report stated the 17-member GMFMC “agreed to defer action on the allocation of red snapper until Amendment 40 — Sector Separation — is completed.”
Sector Separation is a move to further divide recreational red snapper annual take into what the council describes as “distinct private angling and federal for-hire components.”
The GMFMC also opted to establish what federal fisheries managers call “accountability measures” in a separate amendment, thereby removing “catch target” options from the overall red snapper regulations. This action mandates a 20 percent “buffer” be applied as a reduction in the recreational catch allowance. It’s a move to prevent recreational fishermen from taking over the sector’s quota.
When applying this buffer to a 49 percent share of 11 million pounds (5.39 million pounds), the recreational sector’s allowable catch for 2015 shrinks to 4.312 million pounds.
It was applying this 20 percent buffer that reduced the 2014 recreational red snapper season to nine days.
The recreational take of greater amberjack also was discussed after federal managers declared the species’ stock in the Gulf of Mexico was “still overfished and undergoing overfishing, although the rate of overfishing has decreased.”
Using this information, the council will review recreational amberjack regulations at its August meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi, with possible changes in the amberjack season to include an increase in the recreational minimum size limit, moving the closed season from June 1-31 to “the springtime spawning season,” and the possibility of providing “for multiple species to be available when the recreational red snapper season is open.”
Helping the champs
Bass anglers showed up in big enough numbers Sunday to raise $1,900 to help defray the expenses to compete in the upcoming national tournament for state high school bass champions Dillon King and Kody Kelly.
Held out of Doiron’s Landing, Willie Couch and Ben Babin won $700 for their 14.33-pound catch that stood them ahead of the 12.6-pound brought in by James Edwards and Tyler Lee. George Shaheen and Bill McCarty had a 4.38-pound big bass.
The father-son team of Wayne and Todd Murray and the team of Brad Theriot and Richard Brister donated their winnings back into the pot to help the youngsters get to the B.A.S.S. High School Nation Championship on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee later this month.
Metairie fishermen Josh Hall and Mitchell Chevalier took home $4,000 Saturday for their two-redfish Louisiana Saltwater Series catch weighing 15.61 pounds out of Sweetwater Marina in Delacroix. State biologists reported tagging and releasing 86 redfish from the event.
The next LASS event is set for July 19 at Port Fourchon Marina. ... Jesuit High’s annual Blue Jay Fishing Rodeo drew a record 263 anglers. Lee Pierce stole the spotlight when he weighed in an an 8.14-pound speckled trout.