Cobia: Possible trip limit of 2 and size limit of 36 inches
Due to a fear of cobia depletion in the Gulf of Mexico, the Council has selected preferred alternatives which would limit recreational and commercial vessels from harvesting more than two cobia per trip and would raise the minimum size limit to 36 inches fork length.
During discussion on this topic, data showed that the vast majority of cobia taken Gulf-wide are the only ones taken per trip. Therefore, reducing the bag limit to two would have very little effect on the total cobia taken, while it would prohibit federal guides from taking several cobia on rare days where it is all that can be caught.
Data also showed that increasing the bag limit to 36 inches would result in harvesting a greater percentage of females, which is not how to protect a resource.
Upon hearing these stats, it feels possible that the Council will choose to take no action.
If you don’t feel there is a cobia shortage in your area of the Gulf, it is important to email the Council and tell them you feel this potential measure is premature and unnecessary. Conversely, if you have been struggling to catch cobia and you feel there may, in fact, be a depletion, you are encouraged to email your thoughts in order to protect the resource.
NOAA Fisheries announced at the August Council meeting that it will shoot for logbooks to be required on all federally-permitted vessels beginning April 1, 2019.
As you recall, it was decided by the Council and NOAA Fisheries in early 2017 that logbooks for federally-permitted charter vessels would become mandatory at a later date.
This date could be April 1, 2019.
With that said, however, there are many questions NOAA Fisheries could not answer at the August Council meeting, and NOAA Fisheries may not have the funding for data validation, GPS integration and other vital pieces of the program, so an April 2019 start date might not be possible.
Reminder, captains, that there is a grant opportunity for you to receive a free logbook through LDWF and CLS America. This opportunity ends at the end of 2018. You should consider this so that you do not have to purchase a logbook later. For more information on this opportunity, please read this FAQ, and if you are interested, please email CLS America at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Historical Captain Endorsements
The Council held a discussion on a document which would convert about 30 Historical Captain Endorsements into the pool of regular federal permits. It feels as if the document has lots of support behind it.
Because some captains were already in the process of becoming federally-permitted captains when the feds instituted a moratorium on federal permits in the 90s, these captains were given what was called a Historical Captain Endorsement. As part of the compromise, captains with Historical Captain Endorsements can participate in the fishery like any other federally-permitted captain, but they cannot sell their permit, pass it on to the next generation or hire someone else to run their boat.
Since the moratorium, the number of federal permits has dropped from about 1,900 to about 1,250. Converting these roughly 30 endorsements and adding them to the pool of about 1,250 regular permits will have no effect on the value of regular permits. Converting these permits would mean a lot to these roughly 30 captains, a couple of which are in Louisiana, and it would mean very little to the rest of the fleet.
Two decades have passed since the moratorium. Captains with Historical Captain Endorsements have contributed to the industry all this time, and the reasons to keep them in a separate category do not exist anymore. Conversion feels like the right thing to do, and we urge you to support it.
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