NOAA Gag Grouper Numbers Defy Belief
This is not a joke. NOAA’s preliminary recreational harvest estimates for gag grouper are astounding. The federal harvest numbers are seven times greater than Florida’s estimates.
Here’s what the Coastal Conservation Association Florida had to say about it:
NOAA Fisheries recently released preliminary numbers for Florida’s recreational harvest of gag grouper and the results are baffling. According to the federal data system, recreational anglers caught a total of 1.67 million pounds of gag grouper in 2023:
Private boat anglers-1.4 million pounds
Charter boat-162,832 pounds
Shore-based anglers-106,602 pounds
The State of Florida’s Reef Fish Survey reports that private boat anglers—the only category for which it collects data—caught just 240,000 pounds of gag grouper in 2023.
NOAA announced last summer that its data system was overestimating recreational harvest by up to 40 percent in some fisheries, but the gag grouper numbers indicate even bigger problems for NOAA’s recreational data system. In addition to being roughly seven times larger than the Florida survey estimate, the NOAA data system somehow computes a whopping 106,000 pounds of gag grouper caught by shore-based anglers, roughly 12 times the amount caught by headboats!
Coastal Conservation Association is among many groups and individuals who find it hard to believe the federal numbers could possibly be correct in this and other fisheries. This is yet another example of why CCA supports letting the states manage the nation’s offshore resources. NOAA is failing recreational anglers, and the present course will not change unless anglers make their voices heard.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meets next week in New Orleans. It is a simple process to make your voice heard in support of abandoning the federal data system, once and for all, during the public comment period on Wednesday, Jan. 31.
On Jan. 29, a link will activate on THIS PAGE on the Gulf Council web site for people to sign up and provide public testimony virtually. This is your opportunity to tell NOAA we have to find a better way to manage our recreational fisheries.
CCA will be there to argue again for the states to be given full authority to manage the resources off their coasts, but the Gulf Council also needs to hear from you, the recreational angler. Spread the word and encourage your fellow anglers to support abandoning the federal data system and allow Florida and the other Gulf states to take a greater role managing our fisheries.
For more, go to CCAflorida.org.