Fishing Regulations and Passive Population Sampling

Early in my business education I was taught that people have an innate desire to be well led. They like to believe in the wisdom of leaders who demonstrate fairness in the application of rules and regulations that make sense. Morale and loyalty thrive under such leadership. Why NOAA seems oblivious to such truths amazes me.

Case in point is the recent announcement that the Recreational For-Hire segment of the Gulf Red Snapper fishery would be granted additional fishing opportunity beginning October 15 through November 6. According to NOAA, the for-hire component did not achieve their annual catch target of 2,848,000 pounds. Somehow though, private recreational anglers managed to achieve theirs, and would not be included in the additional fishing opportunity.

Snapper fishing is highly dependent on prevailing weather and wave heights; we all know this. I am therefore at a loss to understand how private anglers, who fish from smaller vessels on average, could have been more successful. Forgive me if I fail to recognize the wisdom and fairness of this decision.

Spotted seatrout regulations continue to command center stage along the Middle and Lower Texas coasts. The emergency regulations enacted earlier this year expired by design and the question now looms whether these were sufficient to boost the post-freeze recovery of Texas’ most popular inshore fishery, or more conservative regulations are warranted going forward. Given the data obtained in the spring population sampling and what we saw in our fishing efforts throughout summer, I am of the opinion that more is needed.

My suggestion would be to renew and expand the emergency regulations, to include all Middle and Lower coast waters, to be reviewed on an annual basis, until such time that population sampling data can be seen to equal or exceed the ten year average for two consecutive years. Some may not agree but the future of the fishery must always take precedence over all other considerations. Simply put, we cannot enjoy catching what we do not have swimming in our bays. 

I would like to draw your attention to a very informative article in this issue from TPWD Coastal Fisheries that highlights their research into the use of hydrophones to detect the presence, movements, and abundance of certain species – namely, spotted seatrout, red drum, and black drum. While it may be a long way into the future, the research could actually present more passive opportunities to determine relative abundance than traditional gill net surveys.

November is a glorious month to be outdoors. Frontal systems will become more prevalent but there are still many great weather days to be enjoyed. Pack up the family and head for the bay.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November Issue Highlights