CCA Action Alert: Meetings upcoming for grouper amendment

Gulf Council will hold public scoping meetings regarding reef fish Amendment 32 for gag and red grouper!

A recent stock assessment update concluded that gag is overfished and undergoing overfishing, conditions that require the Council to develop a rebuilding plan. The update assessment also indicates that the red grouper stock, while not in an overfished condition, has declined. This decline led the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee to recommend an acceptable biological catch that is below the current annual catch limit. As a result, a reduction in the annual catch limit and annual catch target is needed to bring management into compliance with the new acceptable biological catch.

CCA Recommendations:

CCA requested five years ago that the Gulf Council develop formal allocations for grouper based on maximizing the value and benefits of this common property resource. The Council began an amendment to do this and formed committees to set standards for this issue. However, for the past two years no further action has been taken. Given the apparent necessity of future restrictions on gag harvest, we believe that it is absolutely necessary for the Council to finally include allocation of this resource in Amendment 32. The Gulf Council's Grouper IFQ program allocates and grants exclusive right of access to more than 65 percent of all the Gulf red and gag grouper to a limited number of commercial interests. The magnitude of this giveaway of a public fishery is unprecedented. NMFS must stop enacting programs which subsidize marginal commercial fisheries while strangling the much more valuable recreational grouper fisheries.

YOU ARE STRONGLY URGED TO ATTEND ONE OF THE UPCOMING MEETINGS THAT WILL BE HELD BY THE GULF COUNCIL! IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATEND PLEASE SEND YOUR COMMENTS TO Amendment32@gulfcouncil.org BY JANUARY 26, 2010.

Meetings will start at 6 p.m. and will end no later than 9 p.m.

**January 12, 2010
**Hilton
950 Lake Carillon Dr.
St. Petersburg, FL 33716

January 13, 2010
Ramada Inn
4760 S. Cleveland Ave
Ft. Myers, FL 33907

January 14, 2010
The Boardwalk
9600 S. Thomas Dr.
Panama City, FL 32408