Proposed Charter-for-Hire Days-at-Sea Pilot Program for Red Snapper

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council recently held a series of workshops around the Gulf to take comments on proposed Charter-for-Hire Days-at-Sea Program.

If you missed the meetings, don’t worry, you can watch the virtual presentation on Gulf Council TV. Simply visit and scroll down to the presentation section.


Gulf Headboats Request Allocation Based Management System Comments Requested

NMFS announces the receipt of an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from the Gulf Headboat Cooperative (Cooperative). The Cooperative proposes to evaluate the efficacy of an allocation-based management system, using a limited number of headboats in a 2-year pilot study. This study, to be conducted in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf), is intended to assess whether such a system can better achieve conservation goals established in the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico; evaluate the effectiveness of a more timely electronic data reporting system; and evaluate the potential social and economic benefits of an alternative management strategy for the headboat segment of the recreational fishing sector within the Gulf reef fish fishery.

Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., eastern time, on May 2, 2013.


April Brings Great Fishing in Florida

April showers bring May flowers, but in Florida there is already an abundance of blooms and a bonanza of freshwater fishing opportunities that began earlier this spring. All across the state, anglers have reported great catches of a  variety of freshwater fishes. Anglers especially target sunfishes moving into the shallows to spawn in spring.

Black crappie (specks), redbreast sunfish and largemouth bass begin spawning when water temperatures get over 62 degrees. Crappie will stop spawning before bass, which continue to work the beds until it warms up to about 75 degrees. They are followed by redear sunfish (70- to 80-degree waters) and bluegill (75-85). Research and angler lore indicate these fish key their peak activity to a few days before and after full and new moons during spring.


Alabama Striped Bass Record Shattered

Alabama has a new state record for striped bass, and it is a whopper. On February 28, James Bramlett of Dora, Ala. hauled a 69-pound, 9-ounce striped bass from the Black Warrior River near the Gorgas Steam plant in north-central Alabama. After being weighed on certified scales, this fish beat the previous record by more than 14 pounds and measured 46.75 inches long with a 37.75 inch girth.

The previous Alabama record for striped bass was caught by Charles Totty on the Tallapoosa River in 1959. It weighed 55 pounds.


Possible Changes for Tarpon and Bonefish Management

The proposal, which will be discussed by the Commission as a draft rule at the April 17 meeting in Tallahassee, will include the following possible changes for tarpon and bonefish management in state and federal waters off Florida:

  • Eliminating the tarpon bag limit and allowing the harvest and possession of a single tarpon in conjunction with a tarpon tag only when in pursuit of an IGFA record,
  • Modifying the tarpon tag program, including reporting requirements and calendar year, and
  • Discontinuing the bonefish tournament exemption permit that allows tournament anglers to temporarily possess bonefish for transport to a tournament scale.  


90-day Finding on a Petition to List Sperm Whales in the Gulf of Mexico as a Distinct Population Segment Under the Endangered Species Act

We, NMFS, announce a 90-day finding on a petition from WildEarth Guardians to list the sperm whale (Physter macrocephalus) as an endangered or threatened distinct population segment (DPS) in the Gulf of Mexico. We find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. As a result, we hereby initiate a status review of sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico to determine whether the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information pertaining to this species and potential critical habitat from any interested party.

Scientific and commercial information pertinent to the petitioned action must be received by May 28, 2013.


Grouper Season Opens April 1


The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council reminds anglers that the recreational harvest of shallow-water groupers - except for gag - reopens April 1 in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  Gag opens July 1.

The annual February 1 - March 31 closure of Gulf recreational shallow-water groupers includes gag, black, red, yellowfin, scamp, and yellowmouth. 

Gulf grouper, Atlantic Vermilion Snapper Recreational Openings, Spiny Lobster Closure Start April 1


Atlantic vermilion snapper and several species of Gulf of Mexico grouper will be back on the list of fish that recreational anglers in state waters can take home for dinner starting April 1. The first day of the spiny lobster closed season is also April 1.

Vermilion snapper that are 12 inches total length or longer will be open to recreational harvest in state waters of the Atlantic through Oct. 31. State waters in the Atlantic are from shore to three nautical miles out. Anglers may take up to five fish per day in Atlantic waters; however, the captain and crew of for-hire vessels may not keep the daily limit.


Gulf Council Meeting In Gulfport MS

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet April 15 - 18, 2013, at the Courtyard Marriott, 1600 East Beach Boulevard in Gulfport, Mississippi. After spending most of Monday in closed session to make appointments to the Science Committees and Advisory Panels, the Council Committees will convene Monday afternoon beginning at 2:30. 

The full Council will convene at 1:30 pm Wednesday and is expected to adjourn by 4:30 pm Thursday. Agenda highlights are summarized below.  

Committee meetings will open Monday with the Budget/Personnel Committee review of the 2013 Budget. The Shrimp Management Committee will then meet to review a Framework Action to Fund an Electronic Logbook Program for the Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Fishery. The day will conclude with a meeting of the Red Drum Management Committee, which will review the history of red drum management, along with past meeting discussions, and escapement rates.  The Committee will also:


Emergency Rule Red Snapper

NMFS issues this emergency rule to authorize NMFS to set the closure date of the recreational red snapper fishing season in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off individual Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) states. At its February 2013 meeting, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) requested an emergency rule to give NMFS this authority. The intent of this rulemaking is to constrain recreational red snapper harvest within the quota while ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of fishing privileges among participants in all the Gulf states.

This emergency rule is effective March 25, 2013, through September 23, 2013.


Based on the expected regulations for Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, and assuming the recreational quota is increased to 4.145 million lb, the closure dates for each state have been tentatively projected as follows: Texas, June 12, 2013; Louisiana, June 9, 2013; Mississippi, June 28, 2013; Alabama, June 28, 2013; and Florida, June 21, 2013.