Gulf Council to postpone red snapper re-calibration til 2023
By David Rainer
Al.Dept. of Conservation & Nat. Resources
Discussion centered on calibration of Alabama’s estimate of red snapper harvest data during the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council).
The calibration pushed by NOAA Fisheries would take the data collected by the five Gulf states and “calibrate” it with the data collected through the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). This “calibration” would cause Alabama to lose almost half of its red snapper quota.
Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship attended the public comment portion of the meeting in San Antonio and gave an impassioned speech to the Gulf Council concerning multiple facets of red snapper management.
He also met individually with Council members from the other Gulf States to explain Alabama’s position on the issues. His efforts proved fruitful as the Gulf Council voted 13-3 to continue to postpone any calibration until 2023 when the new stock assessment should be completed. This new assessment should contain data from the Great Red Snapper Count that was recently completed that showed the Gulf of Mexico has more than three times the red snapper previously counted by NOAA Fisheries.
Surprisingly, Susan Boggs of Orange Beach voted with NOAA Fisheries to reduce Alabama’s quota. Had the motioned passed, it could result in a loss of more than $45 million from the Coastal Alabama economy over the first three years of the change.
The next Gulf Council meeting will be held October 25-28 at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, where one of the subjects of discussion will be the status of the cobia fishery.
“Cobia has been a hot topic lately,” MRD Director Scott Bannon said. “The Council is holding public meetings on cobia management options, and one of those meetings being planned is to be held in conjunction with the Council meeting. We want people who want to discuss their concerns about cobia to come to the Council meeting in Orange Beach.”