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2015 Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper recreational season length estimates
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  • Description:
    "The Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) red snapper recreational fishing season in federal waters opens each year on June 1 and closes when the recreational quota is met or projected to be reached. Prior to June 1 each year, NOAA Fisheries projects the season closing date based on previous years of data, and notifies the public of the closing date for the upcoming season. On April 1, 2015, NOAA Fisheries published a letter seeking comments on changes to the red snapper quota in response to an updated stock assessment. If this quota increase is implemented, the recreational annual catch target (ACT) in 2015 would be 5.608 mp ww. On April 10, 2015, the Secretary of Commerce approved Amendment 40 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (RF-40). RF-40 allocates 2,372,184 lb ww (42.3%) of the recreational ACT to the for-hire sector and 3,235,816 lb ww (57.7%) to the private sector (including state-licensed charter vessels). The purpose of this report is to project the 2015 federal fishing season length based on the proposed 2015 recreational ACTs with and without the implementation of RF-40's sector-specific sub-quotas, and with and without compatible fishing seasons in Gulf state waters. In 2014, with incompatible state seasons and a 9-day federal season, approximately 3.853 mp ww of red snapper were recreationally landed in the Gulf (89% of the 2014 ACT). For 2015 projections, a similar approach was followed. The analysis projected Eastern and Western Gulf catch rates and average weights by mode of fishing using the previous year's landings, the mean of the past two years, and regression modeling incorporating uncertainty in landings estimates from the various recreational fishing surveys used to provide information on harvest of Gulf red snapper during the federal season. A range of projection scenarios were used to encompass uncertainty in catch rates due to uncertainty in recreational catch estimates, potential reductions in the rate of average weight increase, changes in state seasons and catch rates. For 2015, projections showed that states adopting incompatible seasons could reduce the federal season length by 22-30% in the absence of RF-40, and by 29-45% for private and state-licensed charter vessels if RF-40 is implemented. In the absence of RF-40, the federal season in 2015 was projected to be between 9-21 days (up to 2.3 times longer than 2014). The implementation of RF-40 allows a much longer federal season for federally-permitted for-hire vessels (40-67 days; median = 46 days), with private seasons between 5-16 days, depending on catch rates and state compatibility. Several issues emerged during the regression modeling process incorporating the 2004-2014 data, including poor or insignificant model fits and potentially unrealistic trends. To address this uncertainty, projections scenarios were developed using only 2013-2014 data. Mean season lengths for projections based on recent data only, assuming RF-40 is implemented and state seasons are incompatible, were 44 days for for-hire and 10 days for private vessels"--Executive summary.
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