Red snapper is one of the Gulf of Mexico’s most iconic species and perhaps one of the region’s greatest management success stories. Federal and state partners, fishermen, and other stakeholders collaborated to develop new and innovative solutions to rebuild the red snapper stock. These solutions included establishing a commercial individual fishing quota program and a state management component for the recreational sector. These programs provided the states more flexibility to set fishing seasons, monitor landings, and increase fishing opportunities—expanding economic benefits to the Gulf of Mexico region. However, climate change could have detrimental effects on red snapper and reef fish species, and these effects are not fully understood. We will use this transformational funding to increase the certainty of stock assessment data and management to allow NOAA Fisheries and state partners to better respond to climate change.
We will work with the Gulf of Mexico states to improve data collection for recreational fisheries. This will result in more timely and accurate scientific advice for managing red snapper and other reef fish. In collaboration, we will determine the best tools for collecting reliable recreational fishing data that support our science and management decisions for red snapper and other reef fish.
Overview of Red Snapper Funding
With $20 million of Inflation Reduction Act funding, NOAA Fisheries will focus efforts on:
- Improving recreational catch, effort, and discard estimates from federal and state surveys
- Strengthening state-federal data exchange
- Harnessing the power of advanced technology and artificial intelligence to enhance video and acoustic surveys
We anticipate using the funding as follows (amounts approximate):
Video/Acoustic Camera Surveys: $2 million
The funding will be used to develop and implement Gulf of Mexico video and acoustic camera surveys to improve reef fish.
Partner with Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission: $7.35 Million
Funding will allow us to continue working collaboratively with Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and state partners to increase accessibility of state survey data.
Fishing Effort and Discards: $10.65 Million
Funding will be used to augment the estimates of recreational fishing effort and discards. These estimates represent two of the greatest sources of uncertainty in managing and assessing Gulf of Mexico reef fish.
Initial Distribution of FY 2023 Funds
We will begin this distribution of funding by awarding the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission approximately $1.5 million through a cooperative agreement. Of this amount, $1.3 million will be used to improve data collection and management for recreational fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. The Commission, in coordination with NOAA Fisheries, will work with state and federal partners to ensure common data standards, create and enhance certified state data systems, and host workshops to improve data accuracy.
In fiscal year 2024, Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission will convene two workshops to plan future activities. These activities will include:
- Improving the accuracy of recreational fishing effort estimates
- Improving the coverage of at-sea observer programs
- Investigating new methods for collecting discard data from the private boat sector
The Commission will open a competitive request for proposals for workshop facilitation, software development, and data management expertise.
Overall, the Inflation Reduction Act funding enhancements will help address scientific and management uncertainty for red snapper and dozens of other species. This will benefit millions of anglers in the world’s largest recreational fisheries. Our intention is to set the gold standard for validation and improvement of state and federal recreational data collection to provide better measures of catch, effort, and discards. The Gulf Fisheries Information Network, administered by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, will become a central clearinghouse for all Gulf of Mexico recreational data. This includes enhancements to state data management and processing systems. This will allow for increased data timeliness and seamless data integration for use in science and management. We will use advanced technologies and artificial intelligence to capture more reliable reef fish abundance data.