Recreational Greater Amberjack Closed Season and Fishing Year
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8/28/2017 18:26:20Christopher WilkeCrwilke@att.netSeabrook, TX, 77586Private Recreational AnglerOne amberjack per boat with a minimum size of 38 inches.
8/28/2017 18:26:24Mark Primo Millermark@msdivers.comGautier, MS, 39553Private Recreational Angler, Charter/Headboat For-Hire, Commercial FisherInstead of closing the season, please implement 1 fish per boat open year round. These are large fish and everyone deserves a trophy.
9/4/2017 7:53:30Roy Brockelmanroy.brockelman@thexyz.orgCove, TX 77523Private Recreational AnglerPlease implement 1 fish per boat limit for recreational anglers. I know that the GMC has a better feel for the biomass tally than we do, but where I fish out of Freeport TX this species seems abundant. We have released many up to 80# this year with apparent 0% mortality, and routinely have to reposition over structure to avoid the AJ hot zones or that is all we catch.
9/5/2017 15:20:02Ed Greene Miramar Beach, FL 32550Private Recreational AnglerI have been fishing in the gulf out of destin for 12 years. The federal regulations continue to oppress the recreational fishermen by reducing our ability to keep a fish for dinner in spite of the tremendous increase of the amount and size of all fish. It is obvious that the regulations are not about the fish quantity. The fishery should be controlled by the state's. The federal government is out of control. The feds are controlled by special interests. Examples are commercial boats should be required to keep fish at least 30 miles offshore. Many many things council could use to create balance. Council is lost in beauracracy. Average taxpayer Joe is at bottom of list the American way. Should be able to keep one fish per person per day 365. Dinner are you kidding me.
9/12/2017 9:43:14Travis Woodardtravis.woodard@csrsinc.comBaton Rouge, LA 70817Private Recreational AnglerI am an avid recreational angler and diver. Off the coast of Louisiana, we see amberjack at almost every rig in 150' of water or greater. The science used to estimate the recreational take is laughable in its assumptions. Most recreational anglers are unable to fish most of the days that the season was open due to weather. If we are going to continue with the completely aggressive approach to catch estimates, please move the season dates to later in the year when more anglers have access to the resource.
9/12/2017 17:05:43Martha Spencerwxstormlady@gmail.comMetairie, LA 70005Private Recreational AnglerI am a spearfisher and R&R angler and we see AJ's all the time. They were closed far too early and never appeared to be sparse. Please keep the season open next year!
9/19/2017 8:23:33Mark Hollandmarknkelly10@yahoo.comBay City,Texas 77414Private Recreational Angler, Charter/Headboat For-HireSplit the gulf into regions. If Florida overfished Amberjack, then close their season. Why should our area of the Texas Gulf Coast have a closed or shortened season because of that. Capt Mark- Matagorda Sportfishing Offshore Charters
9/19/2017 8:57:42Danny Hebertdhebert@hebertengineering.comLuling, LA 70070Private Recreational AnglerWe are not greedy but we need to fish for therapy and to have a break from the rat race. We would be happy with 1 AJ per vessel with a year round weekend season open Friday, and Saturday; closed Sunday thru Thursday. 1-30# AJ will feed 4 families for 1-2 meals. We only eat fresh fish and never freeze our catch. This would also be a year-round economic boost to our economy. Thanks for the consideration. Danny Hebert cell 504-494-6758
9/19/2017 8:58:48Mark Odomthemarkodom@gmail.comchipley, florida 32428Private Recreational AnglerIf any fish is truly in danger then it should be off limits to everyone. Commercial and Recreational. This is a natural resource and the American Citizens have ownership of these fish.
None of us want to see any fish overfished. So if they are overfished they should be 100% off limits. Rebuilding would occur organically in a very short time and everyone could resume fishing much quicker and with decent seasons.
Recreational anglers ownership should come before commercial industry but, to make it fair just shut it down for all of us
9/19/2017 13:53:18
Norman Michael Walker Jr.
padrefishing@yahoo.comLaguna Vista, TX 78578Charter/Headboat For-HireI just have a real problem with the numbers. I had boat problems last season so I only caught 9 Amberjack for this year and the other charter boats around me fished for them less than 10 times. Some guys had transferred their reef permit to another boat so they could fish for red snapper in state waters. As it is every year for charter boats, they don't get offshore more than 2 times a week average. I say that because some weeks with great weather they may fish 4 times and another week not at all.

I agree with seasonal closures but January-February is hardly a dent in the overall catch for the recreational sector. It is however a lean time of year for charter boats and the option to catch amberjack during those two months is what keeps many of us afloat. Please do not close it January-February.

A second season beginning September 1 would be great imo as well. It is also a slower time of year for charters and not as many recreational boats get out overall after Labor Day weekend.
9/20/2017 13:57:08Tom Adams4tomadams@gmail.comMexico Beach, FLCharter/Headboat For-Hire I believe a split season april.may and Sept,oct,nov would be the best bet ! fish per 2 people, It would make the season longer for both recreational fishermen and charter for hire. The CFH are being pushed out of business by short seasons on all species which is bad for the economy of all the gulf states . If you get one fish per 2 people that should surely extend the season to 5 months.
Capt Tom Adams
9/20/2017 23:25:11Andy Mckeown Andymc@techwire.usPensacola, FL 32505Private Recreational Angler1. I dive and see greater amberjack everywhere. I do not agree with the assessment. 2. I think with the high gas prices that recreational anglers should have at least a couple of weeks if not a month during the summer where they can keep any reef fish they catch, amberjack ,trigger snapper, and grouper. How do they know what fish they are going to pull up? Why fish out the snapper on a reef and leave it out of balance with the trigger and AJ. I was born and raised in Pensacola and I've been fishing these water since I was 11 years old, for 36 years, and this is my opinion of it.
9/21/2017 14:52:04Adrian Ochoaadrian1ochoa@hotmail.com77019Private Recreational AnglerI strongly and fully support a 1-2 yr moratorium on AJ fishing. I would also strongly and fully support a 1-2 yr total fishing moratorium in the Gulf.

Those of us who know better understand that the highly ignorant, uneducated, misinformed opinions would be screamed from the highest mountain as anything and everything but the right thing to do for the sake of all fish species and fishing itself. It would take a constant barrage of information in easy to read and understand articles, charts, and videos to counter the protest and, hopefully, reduce it by educating the most feeble.

When dealing with these type of negative opinions and logical fallacies, it is imperative to counter them directly- "This is about money" (No, this is about saving the fishing population) "You're trying to destroy the fishing charter" (No, we're trying to save fish so you CAN have a fishing charter for more years down the road) "You don't care about the recreational fisherman and are only protecting the commercial" (No, we're trying to protect and save everyone.)

I know I would miss it, but 1-2yr is not the end of the world. But a closed season, for me to support it 100%, would require heavy if not total cutbacks on the commercial side. Doing this would not only be a convincing move on the council's part, but also give it a huge injection of credibility in a depressing age of low information distrust, anti-science, and anti-intellectualism.

I understand some make a living on fishing, but if we don't do something about the low numbers for some species now, especially the popular ones, when will we ever?

It's time to swap out the trout, redfish, snapper, flounder, and tuna for other species that are in high numbers. Even a 1 yr moratorium across the board would make a huge impact. I think asking for 1 yr is acceptable and doable.

9/21/2017 19:32:34Thomas W Phelps Jrtommyphelps@cableone.netGautier, MS 39553Private Recreational AnglerGulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council , wouldn't it be better for everyone if the numbers of actual fish in the gulf were more accurate? Determining how many fish of a certain type are actually out there could more accurately be obtained through videos, pictures , and rov . There are divers, spearfishermen , biologists , etc that would volunteer to get this data. BUT , this has been brought up before and " It's more scientific to do it their way" . Everyone knows the habitats the fish hang at, divers can video ANY spots you want data from, even if you dropped them on nothing but rigs and public numbers to video, your people could sit in their office pull a few frames at different times on any number of wrecks, reefs, and rigs and actually SEE to get a good idea of what is out there.
If you don't accurately know what's out there, then even the season and allocations are no good
9/22/2017 1:59:04Omar Vasquez Jacquet allpropaintingandmore@yahoo.comOcean Springs Ms 39564OtherI'm a dive master I've been diving and Spearfishing making lots of dive videos you can see the amount of fish we have here in the gulf why does comercial fishermen have more rights than us your data is unacceptable you guys need to find a better way to have this data divers can be your best source thank you
9/22/2017 7:32:33Brian ForeBrian.fore@yahoo.comMoss Point, MS 39562Private Recreational AnglerI still cannot grasp where your numbers are coming from. I would love to know how you estimate the fish population in our area. Amberjack are plentiful at every rig I fished this year. Heck I would love to know why in past did amberjack season close the day snapper season opens.
9/22/2017 7:52:59Andrew Pensacola, FL. 32507Charter/Headboat For-HireThe season was cut short for 2017 and it was deemed the we hit out quota limit. That does not seem posssible since the weather was pretty bad for the first 3 months of the year and fisherman couldn't have fished enough to pull that many fish out of the water. The evaluation process in inadequate for recreational and charter harvest. It seems that the commercial fisherman do what ever they want as they are never cut off early.
9/22/2017 8:49:18Jim McKayJdale_us@yahoo.com77632Private Recreational AnglerI support Action 1, alternative2 and Action 2, alternative 2. Usually in Texas the season is closed because of met quota before we have weather good enough to go fish for them.
9/22/2017 21:37:26Charles r Anderson'Bayoumoondog@me.comGautier,MS 39553Private Recreational AnglerThe fish are out there, limits are two slim, it's not worth the money to fish off shore anymore unless you are an outlaw and noaa has turned everyone into outlaws, called filllet and release. Amberjacks aren't worth keeping for recreational fishermen except maybe for one to put on the grill fresh, not worth a crap for freezing and we can't keep not even one. The commercial guys can sale them to the restaurants because you could sale a hard head cat fish to a restaurant. What the hell is going on with you communist bastards.
9/26/2017 7:48:10Bob Zales bobzales2@gmail.comPanama City BeachCharter/Headboat For-HireOn behalf of the members of the National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO) and the Panama City Boatmen Association (PCBA) please our recommendations for the proposed greater amberjack season.

Apparently the NMFS staff is still working on a bag limit analysis so we cannot provide a definitive answer of how long of a season we can get with a 1 fish bag limit at the current size limit. Apparently there could be an August thru December season but for those of us east of the MS river such a season is unacceptable. We must have a spring season for greater amberjack and have made some proposals which we encourage all to support. Our proposal is to have a season of April and May and August thru October with a 1 fish bag limit. Should 1 fish for those months be projected to exceed the allocated quota then we would prefer part of April, all of May, part of Aug and all of Sept and Oct. We fully support a 1 fish bag limit for every 2 people with an April/May and Aug thru Oct season which we feel can be done with no worry about exceeding the quota. This is based on a personal conversation between Scott Robson and Andy Strelcheck, NMFS, where Scott asked this question and Andy told him that according to memory from a previous bag limit analysis several years ago Andy thought a 1 fish for every 2 people would reduce harvest by around 45% which would allow for the full 5 months of fishing.

Should a 1 fish for 2 people projection stay within quota and even allow for more to be harvested we would support some days in Mar and even some in Nov. In any fractional bag limit the lower of the bag per odd number of people would be expected to be allowed, ie 3 people = 1 fish, 5 people = 2, etc. While we support 1 fish per person for as many days as possible we stress the need for the season to be open for as long as possible in the spring and fall with remaining open thru October at a minimum. The key is to have the season "OPEN" and not closed which is why we can support 1 fish for every 2 people. Enforcement should not be an issue as the fish are being counted and measured not weighed.

We feel either of these bag limits will achieve our need for a spring and fall season. The current closure for both has been devastating to many charter businesses this past spring and currently for the fall. The fact that amberjack cannot be harvested has caused a large number of boats to sit at the dock with all the resulting negative impacts to supporting businesses and communities. I will be glad to answer any questions during my testimony at the Council meeting.
Thank you,

Capt Bob Zales, II
9/28/2017 8:30:30Mark Thomas Kelley
Panama City Florida 32408
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
I want to see an April, May, August, Sept and October season at one fish per person. If this does not keep us from fishing willing to give up first fifteen days of April and May. If that still don't keep us from overfishing our quota I want one fish per two people. It is all about being able to sale a amberjack fishing trip.
9/29/2017 8:10:40Will Copelandflcfuinc@gmail.comCommercial FisherThe Florida Commercial Fisheries United Inc (FLCFU) was formed in June 2017. Our mission is to support the interests of Florida's commercial fishing industry, promote sustainable fisheries policies, and advocate on behalf of commercial fishermen, fishing businesses, and consumers of saltwater products. The FLCFU hereby submits our comments relevant to the October 2017 GMFMC meeting. Please consider the following actions and recommendations in priority order: FLCFU supports change in both the commercial and recreational Greater Amberjack fisheries.
a. The Council should consider requiring a tag to recreationally harvest or possess a Greater Amberjack. The recreational sector routinely exceeds their ACL and this would better control the harvest. Another option would be a one fish per vessel daily bag limit.
b. FLCFU supports a decrease in the daily trip limit for commercial harvest of Greater Amberjack to 500 pounds. This will extend the season for commercial harvest, reduce derby fishing, and provide a longer and more consistent supply of fresh amberjack to markets and restaurants.
c. FLCFU supports an increase in the commercial sectors portion of the TAC from 29% to 35%. That will provide a more equitable distribution of the Greater Amberjack TAC.
10/2/2017 10:17:03Robbie Robinette
Panama City Beach. FL
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
My name is Robbie Robinette and I am writing on behalf of Charter Boat Gotta Believe from Panama City Beach Florida. We are members of Panama City Charter Boat Association and National Charter Boat Association and have a Charter Reef Fish Permit. We agree with both Associations on the position that we want the longest season possible for Amberjack. Even if we have to go to a fractional bag limit of 1/2 fish per person. We need the longest season possible before and after Red Snapper season for Amberjack. Hopefully this will make all fisherman happy across the Gulf. Thanks
Captain Robbie Robinette.
10/3/2017 21:43:46Jason Mikel
Destin, Fl 32541
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
I own and operate the charter boat Finest Kind in Destin, Fl. I speak for myself along with the 1434 recreational anglers who accessed the gulf fishery aboard my vessel this year, to date. The majority of American anglers only access to the gulf fishery is aboard charter vessels since they are not privileged to live along the coast and own their own private vessel.
We are asking for a 1/person bag limit with a 4/vessel limit or 1 fish/2 people with a 4/vessel limit. we would like to see a April-May and Sept.-Oct. season. NO WEEKEND ONLY FISHERIES PERIOD!
10/3/2017 22:14:15Joseph Nash
Private Recreational Angler, Charter/Headboat For-Hire
Amberjacks to open Aug 1 2018
10/4/2017 14:03:13Dylan Hubbard
Maderia Beach, FL
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
My family business has been fishing central west coast of Florida for nearly 90 years and four generations. Today we operate 6 federally permitted vessels including two 65+ passenger head boats and four federally permitted charter vessels. On top of these permits, I am also here today to represent the Florida Guides association as their Offshore Director. Finally, I am a CCA life member as well.Amberjack season for 2018
We would like to see a spring amberjack season consisting of April and May then followed by an August through October season. This would be a five-month season and would allow a short spring season followed by a longer fall season to accommodate all concerned GOM anglers. Also, to have this reliable five-month season, we would prefer one fish per person but would be supportive of a fractional bag limit of 1 fish per two persons to ensure a five-month fishing period and the fall season that is needed in the western gulf. Hopefully this fractional limit would also leave fish on the table allowing for the five-month season to be increased in future years.
Many on the council have commented their concern for opening amberjack at all in the spring due to the ‘fairly certain’ possibility of a spawning period that extends into the early summer. However, we have seen spring spawning closures for Amberjack in the commercial sector for years and has that increased the numbers of amberjack significantly, correct? Also, if there’s so much concern with fishing a species during their spawn, then why are we fishing Red snapper in June and July?

10/7/2017 11:21:14Robert J Mercierjobomerc@aol.comPunta Gorda, FL 33855
Private Recreational Angler
The latest recreational proposed regulations are particularly punishing to those of us who fish out of SW Florida. The prime season in SW FL for Greater Amberjack that would meet the new 34" minimum is Nov thru April. Summer fishing for this species would promote catch and release which will be mostly under 34" and possibly experience high mortality rates
I fish primarily for Amberjack offshore and we enjoy bringing back a couple of these good eating fish to make the expense of the round trip (usually 80 mi) worthwhile.
It is hard to comprehend how this fishery quota was exceeded in 2016 by almost 80% by June of 2016 and yet the Council was unaware of the excess until it closed the season after a few open days in August. Then the closure was made in March of 2017 stating that the reduced quota for 2017 was exceeded. How did the Council come to that conclusion when they were apparently oblivious of the 2016 excess for two months?
These factors raise a serious credibility question.
My biggest beef with the regulations is that they are particularly detrimental to SW Florida anglers. Gag Grouper is best here in the winter (season closed), Amberjack is best in the winter and now closed as well. It raises a question as whether owning and using an offshore boat is worthwhile.


Captain Bob Mercier,
vessel "Jersey Devil"
10/9/2017 20:27:59Cecil Fort Myers, FL, 33913
Private Recreational Angler
I fish from Engelwood to Naples from Freedom boat club boats off shore. I fish 2-3 days a week in October, November and January-May. The group of guys I fish with support a 1 fish per boat limit several months per year. The proposed season seems very punitive for the recreational anglers.
1/6/2018 9:21:21Capt. Mike Graefcapt.mike@cox.netDestin, Fl 32541
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
I'm all in favor of a spring & fall season April and May! Reopen Sept.1st till Oct 31st. 1 fish per angler 34" size limit stays the same. We as charter for hire fisherman have year after year always had to pick our poison and which is the lesser of two evils we were told that when Jacks went to 34" we would have them for 10 months of the year! (Didn't quite work out that way) I'm asking for a set season not just for 2018 but future years to come! My customers tell me all the time well we could keep them last year as we throw them back that's just one of the problems!
1/24/2018 14:44:30Bob Zalesbobzales2@gmail.comPanama City, FL
Charter/Headboat For-Hire

As everyone knows the many charter for hire vessel owners I represent across the Gulf and many others as well feel that the decisions reached at the last council meeting were rushed and approved without adequate data and little if any projections on the future harvest of recreational greater amberjack. A prime concern is the change of fishing year from the current calendar year to an Aug/July fishing year. This change was approved without any information, preliminary or actual, on how the change in fishing year will change the dynamics of recreational fishing across the Gulf. There was no analysis provided on how the change would alter angler behavior thus changing the harvest rates of AJ. Most should remember and for those who do not, all you have to do is look at the past history of fishery management from the first recreational king mackerel closure to the recreational red snapper fishery.

In the past, in every fishery that has been closed and a fishing season was created, effort shifted. Each regulatory change created new angler fishing behavior based on the season opening dates. In every case the prior effort and catch scenarios had no bearing on the new effort and catch once a season was created and the “opening day” was established for a limited season. Changing the fishing year will completely change how the recreational amberjack fishery is prosecuted and no analysis has been provided to indicate how severe it could be. In addition, changing the fishing year creates a whole new set of data collection efforts and analysis by the science center and will require new calculations of how the past catches relate to the future catches and all of the other calculations necessary to ensure the fishery is managed within the required quota, ACLs, and ACTs. We see absolutely no reason to change the fishing year as there are a multitude of management measures available to provide fishing for amberjack in the spring and fall so everyone in the Gulf will have some access to the fishery.

After several discussions with vessel owners on the SW FL coast their traditional charter season begins in November and goes though Jan to Feb and amberjack are part of that season. The current proposed May, Aug/Oct season precludes them from fishing during their traditional season. In discussions with others in the panhandle and other parts of the Gulf the month of August is not that important and they have no problem with eliminating Aug and replacing it with Nov. Establishing a May, Sept/Nov season would allow most, if not all of the Gulf to be able to participate in a limited amberjack fishery. While the ultimate goal for all fisheries is year round access the reality is such access is many years away. All efforts should be geared toward some type of access for everyone.

After many requests for more analysis on bag limits and seasonal quotas on amberjack we now have Tab B-12. According to the info a 1 fish bag limit for every 2 anglers will provide a reduction in the current harvest of 38%. This is a significant reduction which could work to ensure we could all have some type of access to amberjack across the Gulf. We feel that changing the bag limit to 1 fish per 2 anglers and setting the initial seasonal months of May, Sept, Oct, and Nov will maintain the harvest within the quota while allowing some access to most everyone. While we continue to work to rebuild the amberjack fishery we do not want to change the fishery so much unless change is necessary. Adjusting the season and bag limits is a good initial step toward achieving our goals.

Too many times the council and nmfs rush to initiate changes in regulations without considering the unintended consequences. While there has been much work done on amberjack the analysis for potential bag limits and other changes have been slow to be received. We feel that by changing the months of access and changing the bag limit to 1 fish per 2 people will produce access to most everyone during a period where the access is needed most while keeping the harvest within the quota. As the quota increases and harvest rates stay within the quota there will be future opportunities to increase the number of days of access.

I and others will be glad to answer any questions at the meeting.


1/28/2018 7:39:18Capt. Mike Graefcapt.mike@cox.netDestin, Fl 32541
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
My name is Capt. Mike Graef I own the Charter Boat Huntress in Destin Florida. I would like to express my disappointment that the council is considering moving the current calendar Greater Amberjack year from Dec/Jan to Aug/Jul.
Making such a move would almost certainly eliminate a spring season in 2019! I’m in favor of the current Dec/Jan calendar year with a slit season & separate quotas for April/ May opening and a fall season of September to November also with its own quota. In order to get greater access to this fishery for my customers I’m also in favor of 1 fish per 2 people bag limit, we gain a 38% reduction of the current harvest level which will help to ensure we stay within the quota! Opening in August with only increase pressure since were still in our busy summer season thus raising the possibility of going over our tac for all coming years. We just don’t need a change of calendar year to Aug/July!!

Thank You,
Capt. Mike Graef
C/B Huntress
1/28/2018 8:06:30Isabel Graef
Destin, Fl 32541
Charter/Headboat For-Hire, Other
My name is Isabel Graef and I own Destin Fishing Charters, a charter boat booking service providing charters to over 25 boats in Destin, Florida. I would like to express my disappointment that the council is considering moving the current calendar Greater Amberjack year from Dec/Jan to Aug/Jul.
Making such a move would eliminate a spring season in 2019 which would be detrimental to our charter boat fleet. I am in favor of the current Dec/Jan calendar year with a split season and separate quotas for April/May opening and a fall season of September to November. In order to get greater access to this fishery for my customers I am also in favor of a 1 fish per 2 people bag limit. This would help ensure that we stay within the quota.
Thank you for your consideration.
Isabel Graef
Destin Fishing Charters
2/2/2018 7:21:00Daryl Carpenter
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
Amberjack - It has also come to our attention that there is a movement and effort to bring to the table once again at this meeting. This issue was voted on and settled at the last Gulf Council meeting. There was much discussion about the issue and votes were taken. Trips have been booked and promises made. The adjustments to the AJ season conducted at the last meeting should stand as approved as this insures the greatest chance at participation for all interested parties throughout the Gulf.
2/16/2018 9:23:45Mike
Dauphin Island, AL 36528
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
I would like to see the amberjack season open in April and May. At that time, if there is any quota left, open it back up August 1 until the quota is met. Half of a fish bag limit to help extend the season will be helpful.
2/16/2018 9:34:20Mike
Dauphin Island, AL 36528
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
I would like to see the amberjack season open in April and May.
If there is any quota left, open it August 1 until the quota is met.
Capt Ed Livelylivelyonefishing@aol.comCharter/Headboat For-Hiresplit amberjack season
1/29/2018BJ Burketthookemupcharters@gmail.comSubject: Amberjack and catch shares

My name is BJ Burkett. I charter, commercial and recreational fish out of Panama City Beach, Fl. I own Hookem up Charters LLC and a commercial fishing vessel Lady Raye, also I am an IFQ holder.

I cannot attend this meeting due to helping my wife with our twin boys she recently delivered. Otherwise I would be there in person to express my complaints. I hope several members of the council wake up to the corruption.

First off, whoever is responsible for not putting triggerfish and Amberjack into the FR in a timely manner needs actions brought up against them. We were told at the August meeting by Mr. Crabtree that a decision must be made at that time to make sure there were no issues in closing these 2 species starting Jan 1st. Its sad to see this mistake and for it to possibly affect all the stakeholders and there businesses in the anticipated spring seasons. At the least I personally want to know who is responsible for this mistake. I will be waiting for a response. I will not let this be “swept under the rug”and forgotten.

Secondly. The calendar year on Amberjack and any other species must remain January-December. NMFS has a hard enough time managing the fisheries with all species having the same calendar year. How in the hell are you going to manage them with each species having a different calendar year. Don’t kid yourself you know all the other gulf species will be to follow if you let this pass. What a management nightmare you all are about to start. There will never be a spring season again if the calendar year is changed. The TAC will be totally caught in the fall.

Again keep the calendar the same as it has been since 1984. Make 2 seasons a spring and fall. 45 days in the spring and 45 in the fall. If it cannot be 1 fish per person by all means go to 1 fish per two people. On odd numbers of people either round up or round down, councils choice. If spring or fall exceeds it’s TAC decrease the number of days for the following year for whichever season overfished. You must realize we need the days to fish when our customers want to fish.

Historical landings on Amberjack has always been Approx 90% in the eastern gulf and less than 10% in the western gulf. Keep the harvest in its historical area. By changing the calendar year you will be shifting effort West. Why?? Maybe a hidden agenda?

Everyone keeps bringing up the spawn that NMFS is only “fairly certain” on. Please seek other avenues for this information such as fish processors. These fish are not spawning in March and April. It is early summer end of May til the mid part of June for spawning.

Catch shares. Please table catch shares forever for Charterboats. After being involved with IFQ on the commercial side,
any type of catch shares system is the wrong attempt to solve the management issues.
Sector separation is not needed to keep the charter and rec fisheries split. It is only a ploy to help advance and push everyone into a catch share system. Do what is right and table it!

I realize we have a few new council members who are probably still learning lots of needed info to make their decisions on the process. Feel free to contact me.

Thank you for your time and consideration in your decisions.

Capt. BJ Burkett
850 774 8333
02/01/2018Dylan Hubbarddylanhubbard@hubbardsmarina.comMadeira Beach, FL 33708
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
Letter to the Gulf of Mexico fishery management council
January 31st, 2018
By: Capt. Dylan Hubbard, Hubbard’s Marina – MREP graduate

Hello, my name is Captain Dylan Hubbard and my family business has been fishing central west coast of Florida for nearly 90 years and four generations, plus I am a recent MREP graduate. We operate 6 federally permitted vessels both charter and head boats, and I represent the Florida Guides association as their offshore director.
Amberjack season for 2018
It was very disheartening that the rule making discussed at the October biloxi meeting is not complete. Hopefully it will be done in time for May 2018. This is what we were told and this is what we are planning our business around.
Also, we would fully support seeing the idea of split quota. A 70% fall and 30% spring season split quota would allow for greater gulf wide access which was the goal of the fishing year and season changes made back in Biloxi.
0201/2018Bob Zalesbobzales2@gmail.comPanama City, FLCharter/Headboat For-HireAll,
To say the folks I represent and others are disappointed in no action by the council is an understatement. The greater amberjack issue of requesting action to try to ensure as much of a season as possible for the most people as possible has been ongoing since the August 2017 meeting. The continued request for a spring and fall season has been ongoing with the request for a fractional bag limit scenario being made at the Aug meeting. This request was continued to the October ’17 meeting and was finally presented at the meeting this week. Many from the eastern Gulf have written and provided testimony of the need for a spring and fall season and a way to help insure that the recreational harvest could remain within the quota. Preliminary discussions between Scott Robson from Destin with Andy Strelcheck beginning in Aug ’17 indicated up to a 38% reduction of current harvest if a 1 fish per 2 person bag limit was implemented. This week the bag limit analysis verified this plus the fact that a split season quota could also help to keep harvest within the quota.

The Council rushed to create a May and Aug/Oct season and going so far as to change the historical fishing year from the calendar year of Jan/Dec to an arbitrary Aug/Jul season which will only serve to completely change the dynamics of how the recreational fishery has been prosecuted. The lack of major attention to this issue this week after so many folks traveled and gave up their time to seek adjustments to the amberjack regulation only to have the council discuss the issue for a brief 15 minutes late this afternoon shows the continued lack of concern of stakeholder input. This type of regulatory action by a body who is supposed to consider stakeholder comments and requests to seek a simple compromise that could help the majority of the anglers of the Gulf share in some type of amberjack fishery and provide the council with strong suggestions as to how to help ensure the harvest stays within the quota for both the spring and fall seasons is completely unacceptable. Over 90 people traveled to New Orleans to provide their recommendations and their efforts went completely in one ear and out the other. This is a shameful way to regulate.

In addition, on my ride back to Panama City and listening to the council discussions there was further discussion on proposed amendments 41 and 42. A request was made by Martha Guyas and a couple others for council and/or nmfs staff to provide a tool at the next council meeting in April to provide the federally permitted charter for hire vessel owners information on how much red snapper quota could be provided under the proposed IFQ plan. A council staff member said they would work on it. Above I state how poorly the council is working on regulating fishermen. So surely y’all are not surprised at the attachment I have provided on this email. IMAGINE THIS, after years of working on a proposed IFQ plan for the recreational charter industry in the Gulf, after unknown amounts of tax dollars and staff time, and numerous meetings of ad hoc APs, apparently y’all are completely unaware of the attachment that was provided to the ad hoc AP a long time ago that provides the very information requested today. Unless every member and staff person at the table was brain dead this afternoon after more senseless discussion on a proposal that the majority of fed permitted charter boat owners do not want then no one is paying attention to what has already been created and provided to discuss.

This excel tool is why many of us have told the council over and over and over that what an IFQ program will provide us in quota is nowhere near what we currently harvest. We do not make up this information based on nothing. You can clearly see that when you provide the quota to the excel program and provide the buffer % and provide the passenger capacity, you clearly see the projected poundage of red snapper to be provided. When you then take that poundage and divide it by the current average size of red snapper harvested you see what each type vessel owner can expect. Has this excel tool not been provided to the council members, and if not why???? Some council members, those who have attended the ad hoc AP meetings have seen it so have they purposely kept quiet on its availability? It has been available for some time.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not rocket science and it is simple to see that the proposed IFQ plan will provide less than 40% of what most charter vessels currently harvest during the 40 day and more seasons we have enjoyed. In addition, we could have harvested more if the buffer was not so high as we have been 30% below ACL and up to 15% below ACT since amendment 40 was approved. I respectively submit that if y’all were paying more attention and if the staff provided you the tools you need to make quality decisions we would not be discussing A41/42 and more time could be provided to creation of a simple web based data program similar to what several states have created and we could be looking to an amberjack spring and fall season with temporary bag and seasonal quotas to help ensure we remain within the quota.

We deserve far better management and reactions to our proposals to help manage these fisheries for the benefit of the resource and communities who depend on them. In my over 30 years of active involvement in this management process I can honestly say it is far from a success and can use much improvement. I apologize if I have stepped on some toes and this appears to be a personal attack as it is not. The system is failing and must be improved. Stakeholders have had serious issues with trying to participate over the 30 years I have been involved and there has been little improvement. We must have change and deserve a better system. When information is available but either misplaced or ignored we have a genuine problem. Too much time is spent by staff and others to be tasked with creating a tool again that is already available. Surely y’all can understand my frustration and I assure you mine is not unique. The many people I represent are pretty much fed up as well.

Bob Zales, II
3/28/18Sam Youngyoung456@aol.comFLI totally disagree with this Amberjack season, as a diver/spearfisherman, Recreational and Charter Captain, this is just bad science run amuck. The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming from my POV. The Commercial sector was not discussed in terms of allocation and closures, which makes me very curious as to how they are affected by this rule that is pointed at Recreational Anglers.