SAFMC Comments

June 2014 SAFMC Meeting Public Comments

I am Chris McCaffity. Please post these comments in the public record for Regulatory Amendment 16, Regulatory Amendment 17, Amendment 29, and Ecosystem-Based Amendment 3.

Regulatory Amendment 16 needs to include ways we can avoid total closures of Black Sea Bass for hook and line fishermen to limit Regulatory Discards.

Regulatory Amendment 17 needs to include ways we can reduce by-catch mortality for Speckled Hind and Warsaw Grouper without closing more traditional fishing grounds. Descending Devices have proven to greatly improve survival rates for fish suffering from barotrauma that have similar life histories and anatomies as these two species. I have taken researchers out twice this year to study the effectiveness of Descending Devices and the results are very positive. We are planning a trip to target Warsaw Grouper this summer. It would be helpful if we had a pop-up satellite tag to use so we could collect valuable data on this data poor species. Please consider helping us get one of these tags. We could also take a fin clip for DNA testing if the SAFMC or NMFS is interested.

Amendment 29 needs to make sure we avoid the extended closures of Gray Triggerfish like we have seen the past two years. Please split the annual quota into two seasonal quotas that align with Vermilion Snapper. Please set a reasonable commercial possession limit for the first 75% of each seasonal quota and a by-catch allowance for the final 25% that is low enough to avoid long closures. Please do not put a size limit on Gray Triggerfish without talking to John Carmichael about the fact that is does not matter what size the fish we harvest are as long as the quota is not exceeded. It is actually better to leave more of the big breeders to keep stocks producing at Optimum Yield.

Ecosystem-Based Amendment 3 needs to be focused on reducing how much seafood we are required by law to discard while ensuring illegal fish have the best chance of survival. Please consider reducing Discard

Cliff Notes for the response of the average fisherperson… " I have no idea what you just said". Reely.

empty pockets, thanks for the opportunity to explain what my comments mean. Most of them are concerning commercial fishing and avoiding closures of one species after another. These closures force us to throw back illegal fish (Regulatory Discards) that live around legal fish. A good example is that Vermilion Snapper will open on July 1 and Gray Triggerfish will be illegal. These two fish live together in many of the same areas making it hard to avoid catching some of each. We need to manage quotas so co-occurring species are legal at the same time. Some fish will have higher limits than others based on the amount of quota available. A by-catch allowance is simply a reduction in the possession limit that avoids a total closure by allowing us to keep some fish without much quota left as we target those with more quota and higher limits.

Descending Devices can be a barbless hook, SeaQualizer, or other gear that allows fishermen to send a bloated fish back down to a depth where the gas in them recompresses to the point it can swim home. Research shows that almost all floating fish die while 90% of fish released with a Descending Device live. The stated goal of Regulatory Amendment 17 is to reduce by-catch mortality of Speckled Hind and Warsaw Grouper. The council plan is to close large areas of traditional fishing grounds like the Georgetown Hole that might hold these fish. Releasing any Warsaw Grouper and Speckled Hind that are accidentally caught while targeting legal fish with Descending Devices is a very simple and effective way to avoid massive closures of prime fishing areas to recreational and commercial fishing.

I hope this helped. Please let me know if you have any questions.