Gulf Council to Decide Red Grouper Allocation
Red grouper reallocation could set negative precedent for all federally managed reef fish
At its meeting June 21-24 in Key West, Florida, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will be taking final action on Reef Fish Amendment 53, which adjusts recreational and commercial red grouper quotas based on the newest assessment results and recommendations. This is a critically important, precedent-setting amendment.
Amendment 53 should be a relatively simple, technical fix to the allocations of red grouper between the commercial and recreational sectors based on the newest data available as part of revisions to historical recreational harvest data collected by the federal government. It is important to note that this is not a true reallocation process, which is not scheduled until 2026.
In short, past federal recreational data collection efforts were found to be significantly in error and Amendment 53 is an attempt to fix those errors. Feeding the corrected recreational data into the latest red grouper assessment results in a larger recreational allocation. Not adjusting the allocations or allocating less than the corrected data indicates is a de facto increase in allocation to the commercial sector.
Corrections of this type to historical federal recreational data will be occurring in many fisheries and it is important that the Council and NOAA be consistent and fair in how they apply the new data. That is why this decision on red grouper will set an important precedent. Although this should be an automatic fix based on the best available data, the Gulf Council will vote to select one of 6 alternatives in Amendment 53, and three of those alternatives are arbitrary and unacceptable.
CCA believes that the Gulf states are far more capable of collecting accurate recreational data and would be the best option to manage all reef fish fisheries. Since the red grouper fishery is prosecuted almost entirely in Florida, it makes perfect sense for the state of Florida to manage it. However, until that occurs, this is a moment for recreational anglers to demand that NOAA and the Gulf Council use the best scientific information that they have to establish sector allocations. In Amendment 53, the best information available supports Alternative 3. There will be a strong push from the commercial sector for Alternative 1 – No Action – which will result in a significant reallocation to commercial harvesters. That would be a terrible precedent.
Please take a few minutes and click HERE to voice your support to the Council for Alternative 3 in Amendment 53. This is a rare opportunity in federal fisheries management to begin to correct a history of flawed recreational data and could have significant implications in all federally managed fisheries.
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