RED SNAPPER “TAGS” IN THE FOR-HIRE FISHERY

This is a “plan” for red snapper management applied to the for-hire sector. It is a government plan, so of course difficult to impossible for most folks to understand. Basically, it is another scheme to divide up the Gulf snapper quota, using “Historical Catch Data” to give Florida by far the largest snapper allotment, with Texas near the bottom. This can sort of be justified because the catch data supplied by the state of Texas is never submitted in time to be included in the NOAA/NMFS calculations – so Texas has really zero historical catch data. Although this might seem unbelievable, the entire snapper management system has operated with false and fabricated catch data for as long as red snapper have been closely regulated.

Charter For-Hire Red Snapper Fishery Management Plan
INTENT:
The Charter For- Hire Red Snapper Fishery Management Plan (CFHRSFMP) promotes federally permitted charter boats to fish in a manner that provides increased flexibility for all permit holders in each historic region. By implementing this plan charter vessels will be less likely to exceed the Annual Catch Limit. This plan will increase flexibility for all “opted in” permit holders by allowing them to fish year-round for Red Snapper.
VALIDATION / ENFORCEMENT / MONITORING:
All eligible and qualified vessels participating in the CFHRSFMP will be distributed 2-part plastic carcass tags to be used to tag each harvested Red Snapper onboard the vessel. Part one will attach to the fish carcass, part two will be removed and documented by vessel operator. Part two of the tag must be sent to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) within 30 days and with proper documentation (length and harvest date). Carcass tags will be usable anytime throughout the calendar year. Charter boats in possession of Red Snapper without a tag will be considered in violation of federal law resulting in fines and possible sanctions against permits. Law enforcement will enforce Red Snapper monitoring by dockside sampling and vessel intercepts.
QUALIFICATIONS AND ELIGIBILITY:
Anyone holding a Gulf of Mexico Federal Charter For-Hire Permit will be eligible for participation.
To participate in the CFHRSFMP, all monitoring and reporting requirements must be met within the given timeline:
1. By October 1st, each permitted vessel must have completed and returned the letter of intent to participate in the CFHRSFMP for the upcoming calendar year. If letter of intent is not completed for the upcoming year, the vessel will not be able to participate in the recreational CFHRSFMP until the following year.
2. Permits wanting to qualify for class 2 or class 3 allocations must have a current Certificate of Inspection (COI). The COI passenger number must be equal to or higher than the class you are qualifying for (see example below). Vessels COI must accompany the letter of intent.
3. Example: A 6-pack boat with a 20 passenger Charter For-Hire permit would only qualify for class 1 allocation. The Charter For-Hire Allocation will be determined by NMFS no later than December 1st, and carcass tags will be mailed to participants by Dec.15th.
CARCASS TAGS:
Each “opted in” vessel will receive carcass tags marked for their specific region, and those tags must be landed within that region. Tags can be used at any time during the calendar year they are issued for. Carcass tags are non-transferable, and tags must stay with each permit.
STATEMENTS:
The CFHRSFMP is an alternative to the evenly distributed plans. The evenly distributed plan allocates every Charter For-Hire permit an even amount of allocation regardless of region. The CFHRSFMP will distribute a certain percentage of allocation to every permit holder and a larger percentage to permit holders in historic regions. This is beneficial because different regions of the Gulf catch different species of fish. For example, Red Grouper are historically more abundant in certain regions and less abundant in other regions. More allocation would be distributed to regions where historic catch of Red Grouper is greater if Red Grouper were added to this plan in the future.
ALLOCATION:
Due to historic records, NMFS has determined that recreational anglers harvested 58% of the Red Snapper Recreational Allocation whereas Charter For-Hire and Headboat permits harvested 42%. The Charter For-Hire Allocation is 67% of the Charter For-Hire and Head Boat Allocation after a 20% buffer has been removed. The CFHRSFMP is based on Charter For-Hire Allocation which is 1,593,248 lbs. and is calculated from a 14.3 million lb Total Allowable Catch. The following, Steps 1 and 2 must be added together for total allocation.
Step 1: All permits that have “opted in” to the CFHRSFMP will automatically receive 25% of the Charter For-Hire Allocation distributed evenly between all “opted in” Charter For-Hire permits. For example, 25% of 1,593,248 lbs is 398,312 lbs divided evenly by 1,204 Charter For- Hire permits equals 330 lbs per permit.
2014 active Charter For-Hire permits are used for example, assuming that all permits (approx. 1,204 permits) “opt into” the program. Each vessel would receive 330 lbs. If less Charter For-Hire permits “opt into” this plan, the allocation for each participating permit will increase.
Step 2: The remaining 75% of the allocation will be distributed between the “opted in” permits based on 2004-2012 historic landings of Red Snapper by regions as follows in the table below. Each “opted in” permit will be in one of the following three classes.
Class 1 = 6 pack Class 2 = 7-30 passengers Class 3 = 30+ passengers

Region 75% Region Allocation (LBS) Historic Catch % Class 1 LBS Class 2 LBS Class 3 LBS
ALABAMA 342,946 28.7% 1,689 3,378 5,067
FL KEYS 1,194 0.1% 10 20 30
FL PANHANDLE 630,926 52.8% 1,686 3,372 5,058
FL PENNINSULA 21,508 1.8% 54 108 162
LOUISIANA 167,291 14% 1,371 2,742 4,113
MISSISSIPPI 1,194 0.1% 23 46 69
TEXAS 29,873 2.5% 127 254 381
Total 1,194,932

COMBINE STEP 1 AND STEP 2 FOR TOTAL PERMIT ALLOCATION

Example: Alabama Class 2 permit allocation would be 330 + 3,378 = 3,708 lbs of Red Snapper Allocation for the year.

Call or email with any questions, comments, or suggestions about this plan.

About MikeH

Texas hunter and fisherman for 50 years, published outdoor writer since 1979, licensed charter boat operator from 1982 to 2013. Past Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Charterboat Operators, current member Environmental Advisory Committee to the DOE and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Married to Dorothy since 2000, one son, Michael who is recently married and living in Nederland, Texas. My wife and I live in Oyster Creek, Texas, near Freeport, and have a hunting property outside of Brazoria, Texas.
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