Gulf Council Update on Red Snapper

The Council received a presentation on the preliminary results of “The Great Red Snapper Count” that involved the collaboration of 21 scientists and 12 institutions across the Gulf of Mexico. These scientists used novel approaches to estimate the absolute abundance of age 2+ red snapper Gulf-wide. The project estimates that there are 23,000,000 red snapper off Texas; 29,000,000 off Louisiana; 10,000,000 off Mississippi and Alabama; and 48,000,000 off Florida. It also showed that large fish are comparatively more abundant in the western Gulf than the eastern Gulf. These estimates of red snapper abundance are much higher than previously estimated through the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review stock assessment process. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee will review the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s plan for integrating the results of the Great Red Snapper Count into an interim analysis for red snapper at its January 2021 meeting. The results of the integrated Great Red Snapper Count and interim analysis will be reviewed by the Scientific and Statistical Committee in March 2021. The Scientific and Statistical Committee is anticipated to complete the review of the study and recommend updated catch level recommendations to the Council for its April 2021 meeting.

Framework Action to Adjust State Recreational Red Snapper Catch Limits

The Council reviewed a draft framework action that considers adjusting individual state private recreational red snapper catch limits. NOAA Fisheries has been using the federal Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) in concert with landings and effort data collected from Gulf state data collection programs to monitor private recreational red snapper seasons. Adjustments to the state-specific catch limits are being considered to account for the harvest monitoring programs used by each state. The Council will resume work on this document at its January 2021 meeting.

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