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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)

The Great Red Snapper Count

The report has been released early.
For those interested, 439 pages

What did they do:
This project surveyed the same areas as the feds do with the Stock Assesment,
natural and artificial reefs, in those locations, the GRSC found similar amounts
of fish as the feds did at those locations, validating the fed counts for those areas as accurate.

They also looked at areas the fed does not,
the sand and mud bottom between the reefs,
they call this UCB Uncharacterized Bottom.
These will be small rocks or pieces of coral,
or a discarded tire, natural depression or hole, etc,
that hold a fish or three on them.
They formed a 1km x 1km grid, mapped all the natural
and artificial reefs, did fish count, then swept the entire box
looking for additional fish on the UCB.
This was done in a number of locations in different states,
then this data was multiplied out based on how much UCB bottom,
basically the rest of the ocean bottom that is not a natural/manmade reef,
and assumed fish would be found on all this remaining bottom in similar
quantity as their survey boxes.
On this UCB bottom, that was multiplied out,
was where the 3x potential extra fish were theoretically "found".


What did they find:
They found Red Snapper in very small groupings on the UCB.
Majority of the fish were in the 2-8 year range, with very few larger fish,
and of the 2-8 year range fish, majority were in the 8-12" range.


How will it effect fishermen immediately:

Based on my knowledge of the process,
I do not see any increase in quota/bag limit occurring in 2021.
A change in quota comes after a new stock assessment,
this information could POSSIBLY be incorporated into the
next stock assessment, which I think is in 2022.
I would not expect any increase in bag limits or season length
until 2023 potentially.

Of course, the states could once again choose to ignore the Fed,
decided to expand their season/bag,
go out of compliance, overfish the quota,
have the overage deducted from the following year,
and get back to 2 week federal seasons again,
because the states overfished in state waters.
Highly likely, as usually the worst choice is selected
when it becomes political.



Concerns fisheries managers will potentially have:

1. Stock Recruitment
- this is how many fish made it
to year 1, based on how many breeders are projected to be in the ocean.
For years, with RS, the one thing that puzzled fisheries scientists
was the SR for red snapper was unusually high, meaning far more fish
were surviving from egg to year 1 than should have.
They assumed there had to be a "cryptic biomass" an unaware biomass
that was adding to the reproduction efforts, but with no proof of this,
they assigned this higher productivity to the breeders they assessed in the ocean.
Meaning, a larger breeder RS on paper, was producing more young fish than they actually were,
as some of this extra productivity is coming from these extra red snapper that were found.

This is an important factor, as the stock can only be considered rebuilt,
and quotas expanded once there is enough older breeders to provide the
proper stock recruitment to keep the population sustainable,
there are federal fisheries laws that require this.
So, if you have 100 breeders, and now you learn they are not solely responsible
for all these new fish, then you need MORE breeders,
meaning a potential DELAY in the rebuilding of the stock,
and extending the time period of when quotas can be expanded fully.


2. This survey found that fishing pressure was disproportionally
focused on areas that had the minority of the biomass, artificial/natural reefs,
as 1/3 the fish in this survey are found on that type of structure,
and the majority, 2/3 of the biomass is found on UCB.

The concern will be, any increase in bag limit will focus more
fishing pressure on the artificial/natural reefs,
creating a situation where they will be fished hard/out by midseason,
and in subsequent years, fishing productivity will decline for the fishermen
in these locations.
It will be hard for most fishermen to target tiny groups of snapper on UCB /open bottom,
so the extra effort/harvest will occur on the reefs.


118008


118009
 

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Stock recruitment is looked at in 2 levels:-
- recruitment of juveniles into the stock
&
- recruitment of adults into the stock.

The latter data is the most significant.
Depends on what the size limit / slot size is for the fish in question.

IF the minimum size limit is set at minimum viable spawning size, or higher, then recruitment of juveniles or discovery of a larger juvenile stock will have NO influence on Quotas.
The relationship of fishing mortality to natural mortality in the adult population is the pre-eminent relationship in fisheries management setting quotas.

If a stock has been fished down & is in a rebuilding phase then :-
fishing mortality<< natural mortality.

FWIW
 

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interesting Report , well presented.
Pretty hefty rebuilding program to 2032.
Stock Target B(50)is a bit higher than the target downunda B(40) & a ways to go from 2020 status.( if I read it right at B(19)).
Lifetime natural mortality at 9% p.a. & a max age of 35-50 is a tough deal to manage recovery to B(50) once the stock has been fished down.
I skimmed sections & didn't pick up on shrimp bycatch in the more recent years.............I assume ,like most other countries, the Industry has moved to turtle/fish excluder devices to minimise juvenile fish bycatch. & threatened/protected species bycatch. ????
FWIW
 

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Discussion Starter #5
interesting Report , well presented.
Pretty hefty rebuilding program to 2032.
Stock Target B(50)is a bit higher than the target downunda B(40) & a ways to go from 2020 status.( if I read it right at B(19)).
Lifetime natural mortality at 9% p.a. & a max age of 35-50 is a tough deal to manage recovery to B(50) once the stock has been fished down.
I skimmed sections & didn't pick up on shrimp bycatch in the more recent years.............I assume ,like most other countries, the Industry has moved to turtle/fish excluder devices to minimise juvenile fish bycatch. & threatened/protected species bycatch. ????
FWIW
Yes on the turtle/fish excluders, been in place about 20+ years or so.

Most fish species in the US use a B(40) target.
I think they are being extra conservative in the case of RS
due to long life cycle compared to most other fish.

I think the new survey information will eventually subtract or add
2 - 3 years to the rebuilding target date, depending on how they utilize it.

There are issues going forward with mortality from regulatory discards
and catch/release activity. While in shallower water, sub 80 feet and with smaller/younger fish,
the mortality is around 8%.
Deeper than 120 feet and bigger fish, the mortality skyrockets.
And while descending devices do help reduce the mortality a bit,
compliance is an issue.
Other factor amount of effort, lots of trips taken.
Even with desceding devices and complaince,
sheer numbers still create an issue with this mortality.

This is happening not just with RS, but many other reef fish as well.

My crystal ball tells me the eventual solution will be restrictions
on what depth anglers can fish at (already in california) and potentially
"offshore reef season" where bottom fishing will be allowed for a few weeks,
then essentially the areas will be off limits to boats for bottom fishing or possibly
any fishing except trolling.

Other real big headache is,
the bulk of the effort is to the east in the gulf,
and the majority of the RS are to the west.
 

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Discussion Starter #6

NOAA Fisheries is incorporating these data into an interim analysis to help inform quotas and management measures for the 2021 Gulf red snapper season. Results of the Great Red Snapper Count and this interim analysis are expected to be reviewed by independent experts.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee will also review the results March 30-April 2 and the analysis will be available for the Gulf Fishery Management Council meeting the week of April 12th.
We will continue to work with our partners on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and its Scientific and Statistical Committee to peer-review the assessment and adjust red snapper management as appropriate.

The next full, operational assessment for Gulf Red Snapper is scheduled to begin in late 2022 and be completed in 2023. The Great Red Snapper Count will be an important input in this stock assessment along with other fishery independent and fishery dependent data
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ocean Conservancy Urges Caution on Results
of Great Red Snapper Count


The following statement was issued by Meredith Moore, director of the Fish Conservation Program, after the release of independent expert analysis reviewing the Great Red Snapper Count:

Ocean Conservancy strongly recommends that managers and scientists delay use of the results of the Great Red Snapper Count in management advice until the study can be incorporated into an integrated stock assessment for red snapper.

“The Great Red Snapper Count is an unprecedented effort and will be an important contribution to our understanding of red snapper, but it is essential that it be given the full treatment of scientific rigor.

“Invited reviewers from the Center for Independent Experts, who performed the first external peer review of the Great Red Snapper Count, identified issues around methodology, calibration, sample sizes and uncertainty that warrant further review, particularly given the magnitude of changes to red snapper management being considered.
“Given the ecological and economic importance of red snapper to the region, the Great Red Snapper Count should be integrated into the established peer review and stock assessment program in the Gulf – the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review process.”

#conservation
 
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