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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This was forwarded to me today:

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) will hold public hearings later this month on the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment, which will establish Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures for species not currently listed as undergoing overfishing as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Annual Catch Limits (pounds or numbers of fish) will be set for species in the snapper grouper management complex as well as dolphin, wahoo, and golden crab.

Click here for the public hearing notice, which contains the hearing locations. Note that there are a number of other amendments that are up for either public hearing or informal public scoping.

I want to make you aware of some concerns I have about the Comprehensive ACL Amendment as applied to dolphin and wahoo, which could result in substantial reductions in catch despite the fact these fisheries are not listed as undergoing overfishing. It has to do with which Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) control rule is applied to these fisheries.

Additionally, the same concern exists with Cobia, which is included in Mackerel Amendment 18. Public hearings for the Mackerel Amendment will be held in April.

Here's a short explanation taken from the ACL Amendment (PDF pages 29-32) about ABC control rules:

"The Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act (MSRA) in 2006 required specification of additional management criteria in federal fisheries management plans. These criteria include an Overfishing Limit (OFL), an Annual Catch Limit (ACL), an Annual Catch Target (ACT), and appropriate Accountability Measures (AM). The Act also stated that Council Scientific and Statistical Committees (SSCs) should specify an Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) that is reduced from the OFL to address assessment uncertainty. Guidance in National Standard 1(NS1) of the MSRA suggest that the Council should establish a process for developing ABC control rules and to establish ABC control rules based on scientific advice from the SSC. ABC control rules should specify a level of separation between OFL and ABC that is based on scientific uncertainty in the estimate of OFL and the level of scientific knowledge about the stock. The SSC is charged with recommending an ABC to the Council based on the control rule while also having a role in advising the Council on establishing the initial control rule."

(This is the only version of the ACL Amendment that's currently available. It has not been updated to reflect fishery council actions from our December meeting and therefore does not contain the information below. A public hearing document should be available soon that includes this information.)

The SAFMC has not formally adopted an ABC control rule that applies to fisheries like dolphin, wahoo, and cobia, for which there are no stock assessments, but are not considered overfished. So in the case of these fisheries the SAFMC is considering two ABC control rule alternatives in the amendments. One has been developed by the SAFMC and the other one is used by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC).

Here are tables that show the impacts of the two ABC control rule alternatives on the ACL calculations:

Dolphin
<image007.png>
Wahoo
<image008.png>
Cobia
<image009.png>

The bottom-line is the application of the SAFMC ABC control rule results in ACLs that will require substantial catch reductions for dolphin (11%), wahoo (25%), and cobia (57%). The application of the GMFMC ABC control rule and its variations results in ACLs that will not require catch reductions for these species.

To achieve the catch reductions required under the application of the SAFMC ABC control rule would require a two wahoo per boat per day limit, a one cobia per boat per day limit combined with a closed season, and a slight reduction in the dolphin daily bag limit to nine fish.

I highly recommend that you take advantage of the public hearing process to voice your support for using the GMFMC ABC control rule for dolphin, wahoo, and cobia (Mackerel Amendment 18) which results in an ACL that requires no reduction in catch.

Please let me know should you have any questions.

Tom Swatzel
843-222-7456
 

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It is obvious that you have a much better understanding of the possible impact this could have on these species, however not many "average" anglers would be able to make much sense of what is being discussed or how to easily voice public comment on the topic. Would you be willing to develop a simple form letter that anglers could e-mail to their respective representatives that indicates support for using the GMFMC ABC control rule for dolphin, wahoo, and cobia (Mackerel Amendment 18) which results in an ACL that requires no reduction in catch.

Just a thought. Thanks for posting this information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Would love to but I'm just out of resources and time for the next month or two. Come to the Dolphin/Wahoo meeting on Jan 24 in New Bern, NC and you can just tell them there's no need to reduce the quotas because wahoos and dolphin are not overfished, even according to their own data, and arbitrarily setting lower quotas than have always existed would be without merit and therefore unnacceptable to fishermen.

Measuring a flopping dolphin would be difficult at best and hard to do in an accurate way, and by the time you subdued him/her enough to measure, it might not survive release anyway. Better to leave no size limit and just adjust number of fish retained to achieve the quota you need.

For wahoo, many days you catch zero and others you catch 1 to a "good many" (my best are 14, 13, and 8). So a two per day limit is unreasonable, especially for charters who might not catch much other than wahoo on some days.

CP
 

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Wow this is a bit crazy same as all the other recent regs that have passed. As far as the Cobia scene...I feel 1 per boat per day will be extremely drastic. Even though 95% of the people that fish for them in VA waters will only catch 1 or 2 fish per day I feel this will kill lots of people in NC and further south where the regs are currently 2 per person. Put 6 people on a boat plus captain and crew thats 16 Cobes at the dock, now cut that down to 1 per boat. OUCH!

Anyone want to ride down to New Bern from Va (Va Beach Chesapeake area) let me know I am making plans for this trip. Split fuel to save some $$$$$
 

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I can't stand seeing boats bringing back 30 peanuts all under a foot long. Having said that, personal discretion sure would be a lot better than more regulations. If they are not overfished or in danger of being overfished then it shouldn't be the government's job to further regulate them.

I don't even understand the proposal for wahoo. I don't remember many days when people are loading up on wahoo. A 14 wahoo day Charlie?! That is awesome. Must have found a floating telephone poll!
 
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