Complicit Partners in the Red Snapper Management Failure
21 May 2017

I posted yesterday that both the NMFS and the States are complicit together in the failure to get private boat anglers more access to federal water fisheries. Also the fact that fixing the model that is used to estimate ( a dirty word but scientifically acceptable) harvest rates and unit per effort will take more money and a commitment from the states and NMFS to implement a system that is legal,affordable, verifiable and timely. This will take a two tier approach first by the states and then the NMFS.

Today the biggest theft of private angler access is  two words EXTRAPOLATION and SURVEY. Presently fishing data collected by the states is given to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission  who gather this data and compile it from all five states. The end product they compile is then sent to the NMFS who use computer models to estimate catch and effort and here lies the problem. Included in this package of data from the states are the number of boat registrations and saltwater fishing licenses. These inputs are used in assessing participants, so believe it or not, every wave runner, canoe, kayak, pontoon boat etc, is used along with your blue water capable boat as participants in the red snapper fishery. Also added are the number of saltwater license sales that consist of scallopers, red fish fishermen , snook and beach fishermen catching pompano.
This is a huge problem because it makes the potential level of participants a much larger universe of anglers and needless to say ,a very  false picture of who is actually catching reef fish outside of 9 miles. And until recently the state have done nothing to change this flaw in their data collection.

The second critical issue is the survey process. There are two components to this ,the first is a phone or Mail survey that now is sent to saltwater license holders ( small improvement)  ( before it was random coastal  households ) that ask you how many times you fished?, what was the targeted species?,how long you fished and how many folk were with you? But what is glaringly missing  is the question what did you catch ? The second component to the survey is dock side sampling were they will randomly stop boat at marinas and boat launched to inspect your catch. Here is were there is potential for vast errors in results of the survey. If they stop 10 boats with a limit of fish and only 2 without, that will be Extrapolated into a estimate that 80 % of all boats and saltwater licenses have caught a limit of fish in the state for that day added to the 10 % survey sample size( the average sample size of saltwater licensees) over the phone or in the mail and those responses said they targeted red snapper with 6 guys and all of the sudden you have a catch rate that is astronomical yet far from reality. Tomorrow I will give a simple solution to improve the reality of the universe of anglers and still incorporate the present MRIPP system and state data collection protocols. Until then ” Lets Go Fishing”

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