If you have not seen this yet, it's time to get busy FOR INFORMATION CONTACT: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Peter Hood, or [email protected] December 13, 2006 727/824-5305, FAX 727/824-5308 FB06-061 http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov NOAA FISHERIES SERVICE IS SEEKING COMMENTS ON A PROPOSED TEMPORARY RULE TO ADDRESS OVERFISHING OF GULF OF MEXICO RED SNAPPER DURING 2007 Comment period ends January 26, 2007 NOAA Fisheries Service is requesting comments from the public regarding the proposed temporary rule to address overfishing of Gulf of Mexico red snapper during 2007. The proposed temporary rule will be published in the Federal Register on December 14, 2006. The proposed rule would: · Reduce the red snapper total allowable catch (TAC) quota to 6.5 million pounds (mp), resulting in a commercial quota of 3.315 mp and a recreational quota of 3.185 mp. · Reduce the red snapper recreational bag limit from four fish to two fish per person per day. · Prohibit the captain and crew of for-hire vessels from retaining the recreational bag limit. · Reduce the commercial minimum size limit from 15 inches to 13 inches total length. · Establish a target red snapper bycatch mortality reduction goal for the shrimp fishery that equates to 50 percent of the bycatch mortality that occurred during 2001-2003 and a level of shrimp effort equal to that observed in the fishery in 2005. The Gulf of Mexico red snapper stock is overfished and undergoing overfishing. Multiple sources of fishing mortality influence the status of this stock, including the commercial and recreational red snapper fishery, and the shrimp trawl fishery, which takes red snapper incidentally when harvesting shrimp. At the August 2006 Council meeting, the Council voted to delay consideration of regulatory actions needed to address red snapper overfishing until January 2007 when additional data and information are available. The Council’s decision to postpone regulatory action effectively prevents NOAA Fisheries Service from implementing any permanent regulations proposed by the Council in time to address overfishing during 2007. If overfishing continues in 2007, then substantially more severe harvest reductions would be required in 2008 to end overfishing within the time frame the Council approved in the red snapper rebuilding plan. Consequently, NOAA Fisheries Service has determined interim measures are needed to address overfishing of red snapper during the 2007 fishing year. NOAA Fisheries Service is aware that there has been considerable discussion among affected stakeholders since the agency announced its intent to develop an interim rule for the 2007 red snapper fishing season, and that the Council has also received input on the matter. The public comment period on the proposed temporary rule will extend through the last day of the January 2007 Council meeting to allow the Council to review the issue in light of that input and the provisions of the proposed rule. NOAA Fisheries Service encourages the Council to carefully consider the proposed temporary rule and, in making any suggested revisions, to ensure consistency with the mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Similarly, the agency encourages the affected public to participate in the Council process. Written comments on the proposed rule must be received no later than 5 p.m., eastern time, on January 26, 2007. See the Addresses section at the end of this bulletin for information on where and how to submit comments. More information on this proposed temporary rule and answers to frequently asked questions on red snapper can be found on the Southeast Regional Office’s Web page at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. Addresses Written copies of the proposed temporary rule may be obtained from: NOAA Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office Sustainable Fisheries Division 263 13th Avenue South St. Petersburg, Florida 33701 Electronic copies of the proposed temporary rule may be obtained from the Federal Register website at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/ index.html. Comments regarding the proposed temporary rule should be sent to Mr. Peter Hood at NOAA Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office at the address provided above. Comments may also be submitted via fax to 727-824-5308 or by e-mail to: [email protected]. For e-mail comments, include in the subject line the following identifier: 0648-AT87. The futility of this announcement is that the commercial fishermen have had their season extended again this year. No part of this announcement addresses the illegal overfishing by the commercial fishermen. And not one mention of any provisions for increased enforcement of the regulations currently in place. Bottom line is recreational fishermen cannot destroy a fishery with a rod and reel. However, commercial fishermen, unchecked by the authorities, can bring in as many snapper as they like whenever they like and they know it. Make your voice heard because the only people these measures are going to affect will be the recreational fishermen.