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Old 06-08-2022, 08:36 AM   #54
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: FL
Age: 42
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

see page 3 Ted. i assure you it's not for lack of dive numbers, it's a lack of fish numbers.

Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
Good stuff, Ben. I remember this vid because I was practically shouting at the computer 'Why aren't you shooting any fish!" .

at least we have some footage of the good ol' days and we can still shout at our computer.

i started this thread mostly out of frustration for believing that our government had begun a program to ensure the vitality of our reef fish fishery. i was part of the program and looked forward to years of sustainable fishing. the red snapper fishery had rebounded so abundantly that i thought our grouper fishery would do the same.

if a fishery is overfished or undergoing overfishing then strict measures must be put into place to correct the fishery. while the devastating red tide was killing it's way up and down the gulf coast in 2015 the gulf council didn't apply any kind of emergency closures. then the next year (2016) the commercial red grouper quota was increased by 3,000,000 lbs. Quotas and Catch Shares Reports

it wasn't until 2019 that the quota was reduced from 7.7 million pounds to 3 million pounds. by then the red grouper were gone.

i was asked by a fisheries scientist at a fisheries meeting in the summer of 2018, "where do you think the red grouper went?" i answered, "to the restaurant." at that time we were getting $5 a lb for red grouper. i asked the fisheries scientist, "do you honestly think that the red grouper swam to some place that no fisherman (fisherpersons) is willing to take their boat? i'm sitting on 3,000 lbs of red grouper quota. why wouldn't i take my boat another 50 or 100 miles to go make $15,000 in a week?"

when this reason for reducing the red grouper quota was posted on the gulf council web site and emailed out to all the commercial fishermen i knew there was no chance for our fishery to thrive.

"Although the most recent red grouper population assessment did not show red grouper was undergoing overfishing (too many fish being caught) or being overfished (the populations is too low), the assessment did find the population was below a level that could support the optimal harvest."

so i guess no one is to blame!?! did the red tide kill all the fish? did the fishermen catch all the fish? was it a little bit of both? did the fisheries managers ignore an impending problem so that they could say they had another healthy fish species population?

when a fishery is undergoing overfishing or is overfished drastic measures have to implemented to bring the fishery back into compliance. red snapper is the only "healthy" fishery in the gulf. it is the most strict as far as limits commercially and recreationally. the NMFS and gulf council needed at least one more fishery to be healthy in the gulf and for a few years there was some promise that red grouper would be something they could hang their hat on. instead either through incompetence or intention fishermen were ignored, scientists were ignored and the party kept on going. i knew after reading that statement our fishery doesn't have a chance.

with the average recreational guy being 1000% more effective at finding fish and catching fish than just 10 years ago and the commercial sector having every rock, pothole, wreck, piece of metal debris, ledge, and sinkhole there is no place for the grouper to group. there are a few tiny slivers of bottom that are protected from fishing but they are over 100 miles offshore and are not monitored very effectively.

in my experience so far in the last 20 years it seems like the fishery gets fished down hard, some extreme measures are put into place and then the fishing is good for about 5 years until the next collapse. 10 years of rebuilding then 5 years of good fishing.
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