This is what i was talking to you about on our Keys trip- about the Wahoo.
Approved motions from the December 2010 South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting reveal potential bag-limit changes to wahoo, cobia and dolphin.
With the latest South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) meeting wrapped up, important motions were approved that could lead to regulation changes to popular pelagic species such as dolphin, wahoo and cobia. As part of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the SAFMC is now forced to put into place Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) for popular fish species that don’t have yearly catch limits.
“The ACLs will be determined by a mix of commercial catch data and Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey (MRFFS) data,” says Capt. Rob Harris, a member of the SAFMC’s Snapper Grouper Advisory Panel. “There’s some commercial data available for dolphin and cobia, but next-to-no data for wahoo because they’re not commercially viable.
“Stock assessments are not available for migratory species like cobia (coastal migratory) and dolphin and wahoo (highly migratory). Given the lack of data, they are going to take the numbers (in perceived poundage), cut that by 20 percent and come up with new bag limits.”
Though the ACLs have not been set for cobia, wahoo or dolphin, motions are already being made to meet those yearly limits. For recreational anglers, this may mean a reduction in the bag limit, even if the fish species are not overfished. See below:
Cobia: A motion under Action 21 entitled, “Management Measures for Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia” states that the preferred alternative aims for a 1-cobia-per-boat bag limit, and an additional alternative looks at a closed season for the recreational fishery. Current regulations limit recreational catches to one per person or six per vessel in state waters; in federal Atlantic waters, the bag limit is two per person. There is no closed season for cobia presently.
Dolphin: Two motions under Action 21 entitled, “Management Measures for Dolphin” would set a minimum size limit of 20 inches for dolphin from Florida to New England, as well as set a bag limit of 9 dolphin per person. Current regulations for recreational anglers in Florida state and federal waters already have a 20-inch minimum and 10-fish bag limit. In federal waters north of Florida and parts of Georgia, there are no current minimum size limits.
Wahoo: A motion under Action 26 entitled, “Management Measures for Wahoo” would establish a recreational boat limit of 2 wahoo per vessel per day. Another motion would allow the regional administrator to reduce the bag limit to one fish per boat and shorten the “wahoo season” if Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) for recreation anglers are exceeded. Current wahoo limits for recreational anglers in state and federal Atlantic waters are 2-fish per person. There are no vessel limits, minimum sizes or closed seasons presently.
Recreational anglers are urged to voice their concerns and make sure there is sound scientific data supporting any changes to bag limits. Proposed dolphin and wahoo ACLs fall under the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment which establishes Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs), but the cobia ACLs will be addressed later in Amendment 18 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan. (It’s often referred to as “Mackerel Amendment 18”, but cobia is included in the Coastal Migratory Management species group.)
These motions are not rules and have not been implemented into law under an amendment. But adopted alternatives are the initial steps that lead to regulation changes. A series of SAFMC public scoping meetings that will discuss wahoo and dolphin are set to start Jan. 24. See the complete list of scoping meeting locations. The first Florida meeting is Monday, January 31 at the Jacksonville Marriott Hotel. Public hearings for cobia will take place in April. For more information from December 2010 SAFMC meeting, see all the approved motions.