Strong Comment on Closures
To: SA Council
Regarding the possibility of a short red snapper season in 2013, I would say this: There were overages (more catches than planned) in almost every year of the black sea bass rebuilding plan. Despite these overages, the stock recovered twice as fast as the plan had allowed for. The most recent assessment and update on bsb, lack the proper data across the entire bsb habitiat and seasonality (no sampling in winter) of this species. Because of this, the assessment and update on bsb have vastly underestimated the size of the bsb stock. Even with this we will still see the acl (allowable catch limit) more than double even though the model has underestimated this stock in a huge way.
We now know from the current red snapper assessment in the Gulf of Mexico that red snapper are quite possibly the most productive reef species on the planet (doubling for age 0 and 1 from previous assessment). The only thing lacking regarding red snapper in the SA is proper data across the entire habitat and the proper adjustments to the current data that are lacking in all areas. All attempts to assess this species properly have been hampered by only using landings data, which as we know can tell us nothing about what is really out there.
The people of this region have suffered long enough from this closure based on inadaquate data and an extremely flawed assessment. There should be an opening in July, regardless of the results of the formula, as the formula will be flawed because it is based on a flawed assessment. This opening will be another great opportunity to collect data and also durrig the height of the tourist season will give suffereing businesses a needed boost. The commerical fishery should be opened for one day in July with a 500 to 1000 pound trip limit so that the commerical allocation can be caught and sampled at this precise time.
This Council has the power to make this happen and it would really help the fishermen of this region in a difficult period.