Feds Release Private Red & Gray Snapper “Callibrations”

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NOAA Fisheries is implementing a final rule for a framework action under the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) to update the private angling red snapper calibration ratios and increase Gulf gray snapper catch limits. The framework action and final rule:

• Modify the calibration ratios for Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, and the state-survey calibrated annual catch limits (ACL) accordingly. The modifications increase the state-survey calibrated ACLs.

• Increase the overfishing limit (OFL), acceptable biological catch (ABC), and ACL for gray snapper based on the results of the most recent stock assessment, which included recreational data estimates calibrated to the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP)-Fishing Effort Survey (FES).

Summary of Changes: Red Snapper

• The framework action and final rule modify the calibration ratios for Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi based on updated state survey data provided to the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). Louisiana did not provide updated state survey data, so a change to Louisiana’s ratio was not considered in this rule. Texas has never participated in the federal survey, so no conversion is needed.

• The current calibration ratios and those being implemented with this rule, as well as the corresponding state ACLs are outlined in Table 1.

Table 1: Current calibration ratios and those being implemented for Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. The federal ACL, which is based in part on landings estimates generated by the MRIP-Coastal Household Telephone Survey (CHTS) is multiplied by the applicable state ratio to get the state-survey based annual catch limit. All weights are in pounds whole weight.

State Current Being Implemented
ACL – MRIP-CHTS Based* Ratio ACL (State-Survey Based) Ratio 2024+ ACL (State-Survey Based)**
Alabama 1,212,687 0.4875 591,185 0.548 664,552
Florida 2,066,889 1.0602 2,191,316 1.34 2,769,631
Mississippi 163,702 0.3840 62,862 0.503 82,342
*Note that the MRIP-CHTS based ACLs will not change for any state.

**The 2024 State-Survey Based ACLs are subject to adjustment based on overages of 2023 catch limits by each of these states.

Summary of Changes: Gray Snapper

  • The framework action and final rule will increase catch limits for the Gulf gray snapper stock (Table 2).
  • The catch limits are based on the results of the most recent stock assessment, which included recreational landings estimates calibrated to the MRIP-FES, which is a change from the recreational landings estimates calibrated to the MRIP-CHTS used in setting previous catch limits.

Table 2: Catch limits being implemented for Gulf. Weights in million pounds whole weight.

Years OFL ABC ACL
2024 – 2028 7.547 6.226 5.728

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is NOAA Fisheries announcing today?

  • NOAA Fisheries is announcing the filing and publication of a final rule to:
  • update recreational Gulf red snapper state calibration ratios for Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, and
  • increase the catch limits for Gulf gray snapper.

What is the purpose of red snapper calibration ratios for the Gulf states?

  • As a condition of state management for the red snapper private recreational angling sector, each Gulf state is allocated a portion of the component’s red snapper ACL, and is responsible for constraining landings to its ACL.
  • However, the current federal ACLs for each Gulf state are not all set in the same units, or currency, in which each state estimates landings.
  • Because the state-specific landings are in a different currency than the federally-set state ACLs defined in MRIP-CHTS, calibration is necessary to convert the state ACLs into the currency in which each state monitors landings.

Why are the red snapper calibration ratios for Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi being updated?

  • At its June 2022 meeting, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) directed its SSC to review state private recreational red snapper calibration ratios using more recent state survey data and provide a recommendation on changes to the ratios, if necessary, prior to its January 2023 meeting.
  • State agency staff from Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida analyzed more recent landings data and produced updated calibration ratios. Louisiana did not provide updated data, so revisions to that state’s calibration ratios are not considered in this action. Texas has never participated in the MRIP recreational data collection survey.
  • The SSC recommended and the Council approved this framework action that increases the calibration ratios for Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi based on the more recent data they provided.

Are there separate ACLs for the recreational and commercial gray snapper sectors?

  • No, the stock ACL is not divided between recreational and commercial sectors. It is one ACL for both sectors combined.

Why are the gray snapper catch limits increasing?

  • The catch limits are increasing because the stock is healthy. A 2022 gray snapper population assessment found that overfishing of gray snapper was not occurring and that the gray snapper stock is not overfished, as had been found in the previous assessment.
  • Catch limits are also increasing because of a change in recreational survey data used to generate those limits.
  • Previously, catch limits were calculated using recreational data from MRIP-CHTS.
  • The gray snapper catch limits are now calculated using MRIP-FES.
  • Conversion from the old survey to the new survey resulted in greater recreational catch and effort estimates because the new survey indicates greater recreational fishing effort than previously estimated.
  • The SSC determined the interim analysis suitable for providing catch advice and recommended an increase to catch levels.

Why is monitoring of gray snapper recreational landings switching from MRIP-CHTS to the MRIP-FES?

  • NOAA Fisheries transitioned recreational catch monitoring from the legacy MRIP-CHTS to the mail-based survey MRIP-FES beginning in 2015, and in 2018, FES replaced the CHTS.
  • NOAA Fisheries conducted side-by-side testing of the two methods from 2015 to 2017 to develop a calibration model. MRIP-CHTS landings estimates are now back calculated from MRIP-FES estimates for species that still are managed recreationally under MRIP-CHTS.
  • The recent SEDAR 75 stock assessment for gray snapper utilized MRIP-FES estimates for recreational catch. Gray snapper will now be monitored in MRIP-FES moving forward.

Where can I find more information on Red Snapper Calibration/ Gray Snapper Catch Limits Framework Action?

  • Contact NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
  • By Mail: Daniel Luers
  • NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office

Sustainable Fisheries Division

263 13th Avenue South

St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505

  • By FAX: (727) 824-5308
  • By Phone: (727) 824-5305
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